Sunday, August 23, 2009

ASU - Be a Relational Parent

Some Perspectives on the ASU Parents Association from a past president ... be a "Relational Parent"

I have had the great pleasure of being associated with ASU as a parent for the last nine years and while I have recently scaled back my involvement because my children have graduated I still remain connected to the leadership team of the ASU Parents Association, ASU Foundation Staff and ASU Staff. As a past president (‘05/’06 school year) of the ASU Parents Association it was clear to me the role that the parents association plays in making a difference for students and for their life on campus. In my mind it was always about making ASU better and filtering our ideas and actions for relevancy through the eyes of the students while focusing on three primary areas: 1] providing scholarships to the capable but financially challenged, 2] providing grants to support tutoring, mentoring of our scholarship winners, community building and safety related efforts across all our four campus’s, and 3] to honor the vision of excellence established for the gifted professors who teach our children ... I should add area #4 ... working with our student scholars on the Parent Association Float and marching at the October Homecoming parade!

There are so many things like tuition costs, same sex dorms, drinking policy, drug abuse, emergency support, the number of light poles on a street, and even really important things like the price of football tickets (I actually had quite a heated argument over that one) that come up on the radar from time to time that we periodically need to review as to whether the ASUPA should take a position or be involved and on a selective basis step in and be the voice of the parents. My own personal sense is that the ASUPA cannot be everything to everybody and must focus on our core mission ... representing all parents to make ASU the best place we can for our students within real financial and time constraints and to work with the ASU professional staff to make the maximum effect with our limited resources.

I thought I would share with ASU parents some key thoughts from a training session I attended recently that brought out to me some wonderful concepts of civic and institutional responsibility. My thinking being that some of the training and thoughts presented might apply to parents in general in your own communities and would be helpful as we think of the ASU Parents Association and the role of parents as a group supporting ASU, the largest civic institution in the state of Arizona. The training I received was focused on developing people who have a passion for making a positive difference in our communities and in our institutions. An institution (for example) can be a school, a church, or a YWCA and serves a role in the community (or nation) of bringing people together for a shared purpose. Institutions also serve the role of teaching community values and/or reinforcing family values. I could bore you with a lot of other information from the class and would be happy to blog with those interested but there are just a couple key training take aways I would like to mention that I think are directly applicable to the ASUPA membership.

  1. Unless community members get involved in their civic institutions their voices will not be heard and more importantly the civic institution will whither.
  2. The ASU Parents Association leaders are dedicated to making a difference at ASU and to make change happen. They engage in a relational dialogue with ASU Foundation and ASU Staff to create wonderful programs for our students. This "Relational Power" brings together the best aspects of each to make real positive change at ASU.
  3. Relational Power characteristics; shared and interactive, public and accountable, is expansive in nature, and is only limited by the level of broad based participation.
  4. Relational power depends on several things; a) informed consent ... members participate voluntarily based on transparency of operation, b) judgement is applied versus acting on opinions, and c) an interactive dialogue based on civility versus emotional reactions.

The ASU Parents Association represents the interests of over 54,000 undergraduate students and is part of the largest civic institution in the state of Arizona. The leadership of the Parents Association is responsible for supporting a civil relational dialogue among parents and the university. By default, having a student at ASU makes you part of the ASU Parents Association but it is my hope that every parent would take the opportunity to become involved in a direct way. The easiest way is to financially support the programs of the ASUPA but the most important way is through your time and talent. See the following web site for ideas on how to step up your involvement with the Parents Association:

Be involved ... be a "Relational Parent".

Dave Ryan

ASU Parents Association Past President ('05/'06)

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