Parents’ Weekend attendance increases by six percent

Parents’ Weekend, an annual showcase for the parents of current undergraduates, brought more than 3,500 pre-registered family members to campus over the weekend. This attendance level represented a six percent increase from last year’s 3,300 attendees.

University President John Hennessy gave a talk and held a Q&A session with parents in Memorial Auditorium on Friday. The event was just one in a weekend packed with programming for parents. (MEHMET INONU/Staff Photographer)

“We have had a pretty steady increase in attendance in the past, but over the last three years, particularly, it has continued to grow,” wrote Elaine Enos, executive director of the Office of Stanford Events and Protocol, in an e-mail to The Daily.

According to Enos, the increase in attendance may be due to a reconfiguration of the Parents’ Weekend website for this year’s event. She said the site included a “more user-friendly online registration system” and an extended online registration date to give family members additional time to plan. Enos added that promotion of the weekend during New Student Orientation (NSO) in September was another contributing factor to the bump in attendance.

Parents’ Weekend organizers followed the strategy of attracting parents of students in all class years, rather than focusing on the freshman class. This approach appears to be successful; nearly half of all registrants were parents of upperclassmen, with almost equal numbers from each of the three classes, Enos said.

Many freshman parents were eager to participate and, on the whole, made up the largest block of attending parents. The weekend was the first major event designed specifically for parents since NSO and allowed them to interact with their children in the campus setting.

“I loved having the opportunity to see my son play in the band during the sporting events that are taking place this weekend,” said Kathy Griffis, mother of Max Praglin ’14.

In addition to visiting with children informally and formally at residence receptions and in dining halls, parents’ itineraries included many workshops, panels, specialized tours and classes to occupy their time on the Farm.

In recent years, the variety of tours has expanded to include sites such as the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, the new Science and Engineering Quad and Sustainability on the Farm. Staples such as the Stanford libraries and the Campus and Architecture Tours were still offered.

“Our ‘Back to School’ classes continue to be a highlight of the weekend for parents,” Enos said.

These classes covered a range of topics, covering fields such as music and medicine. Keynote events included Provost John Etchemendy’s official “Welcome to Parents” on Friday and President John Hennessy’s Q&A session later that afternoon.

Parents from California constituted the largest percentage of attendees, but many came from far and wide to explore the University. Enos said that of the 1,857 households that registered online, about 50 percent were from California, with the rest traveling from across the U.S. and even some from foreign countries.

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