Camille Dolansky, associate director of Parent
Programs and Development, makes daily contact with parents of graduating
Associate Director of Parent Programs Preparing for Reunion,
Q: Camille, when did you come to Wesleyan and
what were you hired in as?
A: I came to Wesleyan in April of 2000, as the assistant to the director of
Q: What is the mission of the Office of Parent Programs and Development?
A: Our mission is to facilitate communication between parents and the
University, as well as within the parent constituency, and to promote the
inclusion of parents in the greater Wesleyan community.
My job is to support that mission through our written communications with
parents; and through the active engagement of volunteers, who focus their
efforts in the following main areas: parent-to-parent outreach, career
resources, communications and ParentLine, fundraising through The Wesleyan
Fund, campus events and local Wesleyan club events.
Q: Who do you work with in Parent Programs and Development?
A: I work with Meg Zocco, director; Frantz Williams, associate director; and
Beth Watrous, administrative assistant.
Q: What are some ways Parent Programs helps build relationships with
students’ parents and why is this connection important?
A: We begin communicating with parents as early as the Early Decision
admission phase of their student’s experience, and maintain regular contact
with them throughout the four years via our publications, regularly
scheduled email correspondence, the parents Web site, and our
parent-to-parent volunteer outreach programs. We engage parents as
volunteers, and as resources for future program planning. We serve as a
front-line resource for parents who have questions about housing, health and
safety issues, academics, dining, and student life, providing information
and connections with other University staff as appropriate. As a result of
these efforts, parents feel engaged with the University in appropriate and
productive ways, and are better able to help guide their students to greater
success while here at Wesleyan.
Q: What are some programs your office puts on? How are these staffed?
A: We work closely with the office of the dean of the college to provide
Arrival Day programs for parents on academic and co-curricular life on
campus. We work closely with special events staff to help develop
Homecoming/Family Weekend and Reunion and Commencement programs of interest to
parents. We work with regional clubs and networks on off-campus programs and
special events for parents. We partner with the office of admission to host
admission events and welcome parents to campus during WesFest. We work with
other University Relations staff members to enhance fundraising success with
parents. Many of these programs benefit from the active participation of
parent volunteers and all are supported by colleagues all across campus.
Q: With Reunion and Commencement right around the corner, what
is your schedule like?
A: We all are in high gear, in daily contact with many parents of graduating
students, answering myriad questions about the weekend ahead and working
with our special events team on last-minute details of the events
specifically designed for parents. We join a few parents of graduating
seniors in hosting two wonderful events: the Champagne Reception for
graduating seniors, their families and friends and the Grandparents
Reception for graduating seniors and their grandparents. At the invitation
of President Bennet, parents working in the field of education may elect to
march in a special section of the commencement procession to honor their
Q: How often do you interact with students’ parents?
A: I spend a significant portion of each day talking with parents on the
phone and corresponding with parents via e-mail, especially at key points
during the year like just prior to Arrival Day, Homecoming/Family Weekend,
and Reunion and Commencement. As time and financial resources permit, I
visit parent volunteers, and attend off-campus events, such as summer
send-offs and regional programs involving parents.
Q: What are typical questions or concerns parents have? How do you help
answer the questions or resolve problems?
A: Questions from parents cover a very broad spectrum, from “where can I
stay when I come to visit?” to “My student is graduating but hasn’t yet
secured a job… who can help?” to “My student’s advisor is on sabbatical…to
whom should he turn for academic advice?” In many cases, I’m able to provide
answers myself. In other cases, I connect the parent with the appropriate
person on campus. Many times, I simply listen long enough to help ease the
tension. Parents often want to intervene, to fix whatever problem exists. I
encourage those folks to allow their students to resolve their own problems.
My answers often start with the phrase “Your student can…” It’s a difficult
transition for many parents.
Q: What is the Parents Council?
A: All parents are “members” of the Parents Council, simply by virtue of
being the parent of a Wesleyan student. It is simply a framework for
involvement in the Wesleyan community. No dues are required, unless you take
into account the cost of tuition! And membership is all-inclusive. Volunteer
recruitment and engagement are conducted within this framework.
Q: What led you to work in Parent Programs? What do you like most about your
A: As the beneficiary of a small liberal arts university education, I was
drawn to the notion of working with lots of creative, intelligent folks in a
not-for-profit setting. Where better to do so than a highly selective
liberal arts university? Working with parents has been a uniquely rewarding,
and certainly educational, experience. I have been most pleasantly surprised
by the long-term friendships I’ve established with many of the parents with
whom I’ve worked. Ah, there’s that relationship thing again!
Q: How do you keep in touch with parents?
A: Our communication plan involves printed publications - the Handbook for
Parents, the PARENTLINE newsletter, the welcome mailing for new families,
correspondence from University officials - the parents Web site at
www.wesleyan.edu/parents; regular e-mails throughout the year; phone calls
and e-mails to and from individual parents; volunteer recruitment and
programming; parent-to-parent communications via our volunteer programs; and
the ParentsTalk list, to name a few. We view communication as the key to
involving this world-wide constituency in the community.
Q: What is your educational background and what were you doing before you
joined the Parent Programs staff?
A: I earned a bachelor’s of art in sociology from Trinity University in San
Antonio, Texas. I’ve enjoyed a rather eclectic professional life, working
mostly in the non-profit world, such as Planned Parenthood and the Mental
Health Association. Prior to my relocation from Florida to Connecticut in
1999, I was the Computer Services Specialist for the American Lung
Association of Southeast Florida.
Q: Are you a parent yourself?
A: Spouse Greg and I are the proud parents of two extremely spoiled felines,
neither of whom exhibit any interest or ability in pursuing a college
Q: What are your hobbies and interests?
A: I love -- in no particular order -- Sunday afternoon football, playing
golf on a warm summer day, living the quiet life in the woods of Connecticut
with Greg and the kitties. A good book is high on the list too. I’d love to
learn to paint in water colors someday.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection