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Washington State University

Office of the PResident

Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D. - 11/6/08

Proud Parents, Successful Students

Dad's Weekend is one of those special occasions on the Washington State University calendar, as we welcome dads (and more than a few moms) to our campus to re-connect with their sons and daughters and with the life of our university.

Some returning dads will be remembering their own days as WSU students, perhaps even meeting up with some of the people with whom they shared their college experiences. We welcome them back and appreciate their continued support of their alma mater.

Many other fathers, however, don’t have a college experience to remember. Their sons and daughters are the first in their families to attend a university. We estimate at least 30 percent of this year’s incoming freshmen and transfer students are first-generation.

Perhaps, when those dads visited campus with their prospective students or when they dropped their children off in the fall of their freshman year, that was the first time they had ever been on a college campus.

Different fathers, different stories, different jobs for our university.

While it is vital for us to provide the outstanding educational experience that will attract students who grow up in families in which higher education is expected, it is equally important for us to work, both on our campuses and around the state, to help expand the pool of prospective students. We need to send the message that, yes, college is possible for them as well.

Personally, I have seen this from both sides. As the oldest of three sons who were sent through college by parents who only attended high school, I know about the parental hard work and sacrifice that makes that happen. And as parents who have sent two children off to college ourselves, Carmento and I know about the concern you feel when you drop a child off at college and the pride you feel in his or her accomplishments.

This is a time of heightened economic anxiety. Parents worry more and more about meeting the cost of a college education;  at the same time, they realize that a college degree is increasingly important to their children’s future. So, it becomes even more vital for our university to do everything possible to keep a college education accessible to all who can benefit from it, and are willing to work for it.

This weekend, I expect to be talking to lots of proud parents. I hope they will be telling me about the great things that their children are doing at WSU. And I plan to tell them, by helping make it possible for their sons and daughters to attend our university, they are doing something pretty great as well.

Sometimes, parents need to hear that.