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Quality-Based Collegiate Parent Service Offices: A Multiple Case Study Open Access

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Abstract of the DissertationAn Examination of Quality-BasedCollegiate Parent Service OfficesThis study investigated the ways in which parent service office professionals at two universities offered quality-based services to their stakeholders. The study's population included parent service office professionals and administrators from two universities.In the last 10 years, parental engagement has steadily increased on college campuses. Due to this phenomenon, parent service offices have opened to satisfy both administrator and parental needs (Life Course Associates, 2007; NASPA Parent and Family Knowledge Community, 2010; Savage & Petree, 2009). Although helping to provide resources to parents, the hasty opening of these offices has brought challenges. One such challenge is the growing consumerism mindset of engaged parents. Similar to corporate trends, higher education administrators have been observing a correlation between constituents' perceptions of higher education costs and perceived lower quality education and/or services (Sims & Sims, 1995). Howe and Strauss (2007) stated that to satisfy the parents of the Millennial generation, "a college has to provide quality services outside the classroom at a cost those parents will perceive as competitive" (p. 183).This study used an exploratory, multiple case study methodology to gain an understanding of two universities' quality-based parent service offices. The higher education institutions were selected for this study based on their use of the Council for the Advancement in Standards in Higher Education (CAS) Standards for Parent and Family Programs as well as from high recommendations from leading parent service practitioners and researchers. During site visits at two large, nonprofit public research institutions, the researcher conducted interviews with 23 campus administrators selected based on their frequency of contact with parents. In addition to the interviews, the researcher collected documents pertaining to parents and made observations to triangulate data. Five principal findings emerged: (a) articulating goals/values leads to quality student development and student learning outcomes; (b) offering a diverse range of programming options helps parents to support development; (c) achieving buy-in from constituents yields parent-inspired innovations and promotes a sense of institutional reliability among parents; (d) creating and maintaining relationships promotes university advocacy among parents; (e) developing inter-departmental relations ensures parent service office visibility.

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