High interest in Parents' Weekend a pleasant surprise, planners say

More than 3,000 family members are expected to visit Stanford for the popular annual event, which will feature lectures, open houses, campus tours and a new resource fair.

Some 1,500 families and more than 3,300 individuals are expected to attend the annual Parents' Weekend on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26-27. The popular annual event is sponsored by the Office of the President and Provost and coordinated by Stanford Events.

The high number of advance registrants is a pleasant surprise, according to Elaine Enos, executive director of Stanford Events. She attributes the increase in early responses to better – and greener – outreach.

"This year, we implemented more sustainable communication methods," she said. "We did away with the brochure and mailing, and instead completely redesigned the Parents' Weekend website, obtained parents' email addresses provided to the university and provided a full-service, early online registration system through an email blast. In less than 48 hours, we received nearly 1,000 registrants. We saved paper, postage and – now that more and more parents are easily reached online – we have been able to update them as needed throughout this process."

Home base for parents is the Arrillaga Alumni Center. Registration hours are 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday and 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The event, which features open houses, faculty lectures and campus tours, is offered to parents and other family members without charge.

Begins with Provost welcome

Parents' Weekend begins Friday at 9:30 a.m. with a welcome from Provost John Etchemendy. The provost's welcome is followed by a series of Conversations with Parents that focus on student issues by class. In the afternoon, President John Hennessy will give his annual address and question-and-answer session at 1:30 p.m.

Faculty lectures, called Back to School Classes, remain among the most popular offerings of Parents' Weekend. The classes, taught Friday and Saturday, are designed to offer parents a glimpse into the intellectual lives of their children.

Among the lecturers this year are Norman Naimark, executive director of the Bing Overseas Studies Program and the Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor of Eastern European Studies, who will talk about "Why Study Abroad?"; Clifford Nass, the Thomas More Storke Professor, who will talk about "The Man Who Sweet-Talked His Laptop: The New Science of Human Relationship"; and Tina Seelig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, who will talk about "Entrepreneurship as an Extreme Sport."

New this year will be a resource fair for parents on Saturday morning in the Arrillaga Alumni Center. According to Enos, the fair will help parents connect with staff members who represent the wide variety of resources available to students on campus.

First resource fair

"The fair is designed to help connect parents more fully to the breadth of resources available on campus. Representatives from the university's administration and participating campus departments will be on hand to answer general questions, as well as provide contact information and collateral materials for those seeking additional assistance," she said.

The weekend will conclude Saturday afternoon with the annual "Entertainment Extravaganza," sponsored by the Parents' Club and featuring student performance groups.

"Even with the economy such as it is, Parents' Weekend remains an event that families continue to make time for – to come back and connect with their student, to experience life on the Stanford campus while attending classes, tours and just being here on the Farm," said Enos. "It's a great experience for us here, as well, planning these events for them, and we look forward to making it a memorable and enjoyable weekend."