UCI parents and family members zot at the university's annual Homecoming event. Photo: Steve Zylius/UCI

Parent Engagement on the Rise at UCI

“The whole experience of UCI for both our children has been nothing but positive,” says Nigel Ball, a parent of two UCI students. “That is why we’re so keen to continue to help UCI be successful.”

Over the last 10 years, Ball has seen his son, now an alumnus, and daughter embrace new challenges and develop as leaders through the opportunities available on campus. It was because of these transformative experiences that Ball and his wife, Pam, decided to become more involved first through the Campuswide Honors Program and later through more structured parent engagement activities.

And they are not alone. Increasingly, UCI parents are recognizing the value of increased participation in their children’s university lives.

Nigel and Pamela Ball with their daughter, Rosalind, a UCI student.

The amount of parents attending on-campus and regional UCI events, for example, has grown significantly. Anteater Family Weekend, an event hosted annually in the spring, allows parents to experience UCI as their children do. Parents take classes, meet with professors and deans and explore all that the university has to offer. Held for the second time last March, the event welcomed more than 420 parents and family members – almost double last year’s 220 – back to campus.

Anteater Welcome Receptions and Parent & Family Coffee Socials are two regional event series that have also surged in demand. Only in its third year, the latter brings UCI parents and family members together in local neighborhoods throughout California and around the world. There, attendees receive university updates and connect with other parents. Last fall, nearly 450 parents and family members participated in Parent & Family Coffee Socials in 39 locations – a 180 percent increase compared to the prior season.

Responding to this mounting desire from parents, UCI has created more organized and robust parental opportunities. One of these is the newly formed Parent Executive Board, whose members serve as trusted advisers and philanthropic partners to UCI. Since its genesis in December 2017, the PEB has expanded to include 17 families.

Believing they could make an impact on student success at UCI, PEB members established a grant program through which their support could advance meaningful projects and programs across campus. Paid student internships, course books and tutoring sessions for first-generation college students are some of the initiatives to be funded through the program in its inaugural year.

Nigel Ball, who serves as a co-chair of the PEB with his wife, identifies two essential roles of the board. “As PEB members, we get a much larger view of student life and the tremendous energy that exists on campus,” says Ball. “I think that seeing that and being able to hopefully help move some of those things forward financially is hugely satisfying. But there is also an advocacy side, and being able to have a voice and provide advice on challenges university leadership is facing is incredibly valuable.”

Being engaged with their children’s university can mean many different things for parents. From attending events, volunteering, joining the PEB to giving, UCI parents across the globe are discovering what level of involvement is right for them.

To learn more about parental opportunities at UCI, contact the director of parent engagement, Christina Johnson: chrisrj@uci.edu, 949-824-8185.

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