Parents help determine donation use

Marci Kacsir

Parents of Western students can help make an impact on campus.

Through the Parents Association, in its third year on campus, parents have a voice on where their donation dollars will go.

Donald Smith, executive director of Alumni Relations, said the main functions of the association are to determine how the money raised by parents will be used on campus and to give parents an opportunity to give feedback for Western.

Smith said the university gave the Parents Association Council authority to decide what will be funded by the annual donations from parents.

“It’s an avenue and an outlet for parents to voice their opinions and stay connected with the campus,” he said.

Council co-chair Michael Littell, parent of Louisville sophomore Ashley Littell, said the project ideas come primarily from the school administration.

“It’s much better for them to identify priorities than for us to act as kind of cowboys and try to identify the priorities ourselves,” Littell said.

Last year, by constructing an emergency light pole by Southwest Hall, the council set the precedent that funded projects will have a direct benefit for students.

“We’re looking for things that have an immediate impact,” Littell said about future projects that could be funded by the association.

This year’s funds went to support a leadership development program run by student services and help provide uniforms, mountain bikes and job training for the student escort service run by WKU police.

Littell said the parents of the association were getting a lot of positive feedback from their children.

“The parents are excited and motivated because their kids are excited and motivated,” he said.

Parents automatically become members of the Parents Association when they give a donation of any dollar amount, and the council encourages them to get involved, Littell said.

The council stays connected to what is happening on campus through an online newsletter while the office of Alumni Relations keeps them connected to the administration.

The council meets three or four times a year, usually around events like football or basketball games, to discuss project plans and plan publicity for the association.

The association helps out with Parent’s Weekend and uses the event to recruit parents and raise money. There is also an open forum for parents to ask members questions about the Parents Association and how to get involved.

The association also has representation at OAR, information on Western’s Web site and a listing in the alumni magazine.

The council is still fairly young, but Littell said there is a lot of positive momentum going on with the parents right now.

“This is kind of a starting point, but not necessarily an ending point,” he said.

Reach Marci Kacsir at [email protected]