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A Miami Moment with ... Betsey Dietrich

10/25/2012

Betsey Dietrich
Betsey Dietrich
Betsey Dietrich is famous - at least to Miami parents. They point her out at events, recognizing her face from the parents office website. They know her voice, too, from the other end of the phone when, as program associate for the parents office, she lends them her ears.

Q: The parents office advocates for Miami families’ needs and concerns to administration, but it also provides key information to help them transition to the college experience. How have parents changed over the years?

A: Parents are much more involved now. I began working at Miami 15 years ago, first in housing and dining and then human resources before coming to the parents office 5 years ago. I’ve noticed that today’s parents want to know much more about their students, however, because of FERPA laws, we can’t tell them much. I spend a lot of my time explaining the laws to them, but once they understand the policies, and whom they can talk to for more help, they are grateful. They just want someone to talk to them.

Q: I bet your ear gets a workout. What types of issues do parents call about?

A: Most of the time they just want to know how things work at Miami. They want to know about our roommate procedures, and where they can call for various types of information. For some, they just want to talk through their concerns. I carefully remind parents that although they are paying the bills, its important to remember their son or daughter is an adult now. It’s time the student develops his or her own coping skills, like resolving roommate conflicts. Our director, Kris Stewart, provides tips to parents throughout the year in our monthly newsletters on ways parents can help students adapt to college and become successful.

Q: How does working in the parents office help you with being a parent of a student at Miami?

A: It is somewhat easier for me because if she has questions, I know the answers, or at least know whom she should go speak to about her issue. I also think it makes it easier, but also harder for her having me working just three buildings down from her residence hall. But, I still miss her. We don’t see each other daily. She stops in once in awhile, when she needs something. But that is normal for a student in college, and I relay that to other parents. However, we do communicate. Today, parents can check in much more easily with their students through texts, email, Skype. Parents can see that they are OK.

Q: You and Kris coordinate the Parents Council and the Parents Fund. How does the fund help our students?

A: This is one of my favorite parts of my job. Each year, the parents office staff and other student affairs professionals select current students who will be attending conferences, presenting research projects, or traveling for research. The Parents Fund supports them in their travels from donations made by current and past parents of Miami undergraduate students. The Parents Council members are leaders in this effort. The Parents Fund helps many students throughout the year and receives thank you notes and pictures from these students. It’s great to see what parent contributions are doing to help our students. Recently a student traveled to Uganda to help build a preschool, and the Parents Fund also contributed travel expenses toward the ensemble groups who traveled to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall.

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