New Parent and Family Council established to help Rider community

By Tatyanna Carman

The Parent and Family Council is a new addition to the Rider community that allows more family engagement on campus, according to Associate Director of Philanthropy and Parent Engagement and Founder of the council Gabriella Hill

Hill said her position was created specifically for the council and started working on it once she started in March 2019. 

According to the Parent and Family Council page on the university website, some of the responsibilities of the members are to share the university’s mission and values, to provide guidance to other parents, attend at least two council meetings, be a mentoring resource to students, volunteer and make an annual leadership gift of at least $1,000. 

“The goal of the council is to not only connect and engage parents to the university and to one another, but the council’s main goal is to raise funds for the university,” said Hill. “There is a philanthropic component of being on the council, in addition to volunteering, if a parent works for a company that might be able to provide an internship or a job opportunity, this is a great way that we can home in on these parents that have so many great experiences and skills and resources that we haven’t been able to utilize in the past.” 

Junior communications studies major Regina Askew-Jones expressed her criticism of the requirements for being a part of the council. She said that the council seems like “a ploy to get more money out of parents.” 

“One of their requests for council members is to give a philanthropic gift, a minimum of $1,000. I understand Rider’s attempt to develop leaders in the community but a minimum gift of $1,000 in order to be a part of a community program is attaching a price to something that should be free,” Askew-Jones said. 

She also added that the requirement discriminates against families that want to contribute something to the university that doesn’t involve money. 

“Instead they may want to really dedicate their time, energy and resources to helping the students besides simply giving financial contributions,” said Askew-Jones. “The financial portion can be seen as somewhat discouraging to parents that can’t afford to give that amount of money annually.” 

However, Hill explained that there was a high demand from parents and families to form a council because “there’s never been a clear avenue on how to get them engaged.”

“They gave great feedback and we learned a lot about what parents really want,” Hill said. “Then most recently, I sent out communications to all first-year parents by letter inviting them to be on the council and then parents of sophomore, junior and senior students received an email asking them to join the council. This council is open to every parent or family member that would like to join.” 

She also mentioned that she has been working closely with one family already. Marc Suntup ‘74, one of the parents, is a Rider alum as well. 

“One student that I have been working well with is Sara Suntup. Her mom and dad have been really great and a huge support for this parent and family council. Sara is really excited because her dad is an alum and he wants to get involved and she’s really happy to have them come to campus for certain events and be able to create that connection, not only with me, but with other administrators across the campus,” she said. 

“We’re very excited because parents are such an important aspect of every students’ life and we hope that many parents will join our parent council,” Hill said. 

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