Parents, Students and Alumni Join Together for Family and Alumni Weekend
By Solvegi Shmulsky
Putney, Vt. - Amid refreshing fall weather and beautiful foliage, 165 families and 50 alumni traveled to Landmark College on Friday and Saturday, September 27 and 28th. A semi-annual event, Family and Alumni Weekend is a festive, education-focused two days. The engaging programming for 2013—which included a barbecue and soccer game—was designed for parents who have recently brought their sons and daughters to live and learn on a college campus, sometimes for the first time.
At the start of the weekend, families meandered through a faculty art exhibit in the Fine Arts Building to attend the President’s Welcome. Dr. Peter Eden, president of Landmark College, greeted the visitors enthusiastically, pointing out the refurbished fountain splashing at the entrance of the building—a symbol of renewal and perseverance that are core values of the institution. “We don’t want anything unloved on this campus,” Eden said. “It would not make sense at an institution that delivers the best education for college students who learn differently.”
The importance of family and community threaded through talks at the President’s Welcome. Dr. Eden said, “People stay connected here, and you are part of the Landmark family.” In an overview of the history of the College, Senior Vice President Dr. Brent Betit showed colorful photos of students, faculty, and staff standing on the steps between upper and lower campus. “Here are early images of a cohesive community,” he said. “That cohesive family environment continues today.”
Part of the cohesive environment are the alumni who remain connected to the College. Why are families of current students and alumni invited on the same weekend? “For parents of current students, seeing happy, successful alums who are still connected to the college and returning in numbers for an enjoyable and fun-filled autumn weekend demonstrates the long-term value of a Landmark education,” said Dr. Betit.
“Every parent wants their son or their daughter to enjoy fulfilled, happy lives,” Betit continued. “Current parents are able to engage with Landmark alums who are visible examples of assured adults, with vibrant careers, growing families (and mortgages!), and to project into the future their children's likely life trajectory. It is a concrete demonstration of the positive outcomes associated with a Landmark College degree.”
In all, nearly 20 separate offerings were held in the two days of Family and Alumni Weekend. Sessions ranged from the practical “What to Expect the First Year” and “Tax-Saving Opportunities Available to Landmark College Parents and Students,” to the relaxed and fun Friday evening reception, intramural soccer game, and campus barbecue. Education was the theme of most sessions, which informed families about the specifics of Landmark’s programs while offering broader support for transitional concerns that families may have at the start of college. Two features of the weekend—the honor society induction ceremony and advisor conferences—are highlighted below:
Phi Theta Kappa—Embodying the height of academic achievement, 11 new students were inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the Landmark College honor society, making a chapter total of 43 in 2013. A grade point average of 3.5 is required to join this nearly 100-year-old honor society, and Landmark College has inducted 529 members in its history. Phi Theta Kappa advisor and associate professor Denise Manning-Higgins addressed the audience, saying “It is humbling to be in the presence of these, our finest students, who have achieved the highest standards of academic excellence despite earlier learning challenges. Their academic achievement is also a testimony to the values that you as family members, instructors, and advisors have demonstrated … by achieving this honor, they honor us all.”
Advisor Conferences—In a more private venue, advisors held conferences to talk with current students and their families. Supportive, resource-rich advising is a distinctive feature of the Landmark College educational model, and the advisor meeting is a unique feature of Family Weekend. Advisors log two full days of meetings—sometimes back to back—in an effort to build rapport and understanding within the students’ team.
What is the value of the advisor conference? “In optimal situations, we all—parents, advisees, and advisors—come away from the experience with greater knowledge, insight, and new direction,” explained Meg Murtha, associate professor and advisor.
Many other weekend sessions addressed families’ questions and provided meaningful ways for them to connect with the institution. Landmark College is built on the principle that face-to-face contact and personal relationships are essential in the growth and development of its students—and Family and Alumni Weekend is one way this principle comes to life.
Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today Landmark College, offering two and four-year degree options, a graduate level certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently, is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and other professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model—designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners.