Families Get a Glimpse of Life as a ‘Cane

Families Get a Glimpse of Life as a ‘Cane

Keith and Mhairi Webster talk with Provost Duerk at the Provost's Dinner for Families hosted at the Watsco Center. The event allowed families and students to speak directly with the University's chief academic officer and hear about how UM supports student success.
By Mike Piacentino

Keith and Mhairi Webster talk with Provost Duerk at the Provost's Dinner for Families hosted at the Watsco Center. The event allowed families and students to speak directly with the University's chief academic officer and hear about how UM supports student success.

Families Get a Glimpse of Life as a ‘Cane

By Mike Piacentino
Family Weekend invites families of UM students to campus for a weekend of academic and social activities

Family Weekend is an annual tradition at the University of Miami but has been canceled the last two years due to tropical storms and hurricanes that impacted South Florida. But this year, more than 2500 family members flocked to campus to reconnect with their students and experience the many academic and social aspects of student life at the University of Miami.

From model classes led by University faculty and a keynote speaker who spoke about America’s educational system to an evening dinner hosted by Provost Jeffrey Duerk and the UM vs. FSU football game, Family Weekend allowed students to show their families what it is like to be a Hurricane student.

“The weekend was a great chance for us to see how our daughter, Mhairi, is settling in at UM,” said Keith Webster, who flew from Pittsburgh with his wife for the weekend festivities. “We got to learn more about the great ‘Cane family, hear about the exciting research taking place at the RSMAS campus, and took a tour of the F. G. Walton Smith research vessel.”

However, even with a schedule packed full of events, families and their students still had plenty of time to explore campus and the local community on their own.

“We had a great time,” added Webster. “We found the balance was just right: enough to keep us busy, but not so much that we were overwhelmed. And we were struck by how friendly and welcoming everyone was.”

The weekend, hosted by the Department of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement, is strategically timed midway between the start of the Fall semester and the week-long Thanksgiving Break. This timing allows family members to not only re-connect with their students but also provided families with the opportunity to interact with university administrators as they enjoy a wide variety of social events that took place on campus.

“Programs like Family Weekend are important because family members are a part of the strong partnership that contributes to students’ overall success,” said Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs. “The weekend allows families to see firsthand the many supportive people, programs and services that the University provides to their students on a daily basis.”

To ensure that the weekend is beneficial for all, the Family Weekend schedule is designed in a way that all families can have an enjoyable and valuable time.

“We encourage all families to take advantage of what Family Weekend has to offer,” Webster said. “Although my wife and I both work for other universities, we found that there was much to learn. We certainly feel more connected to the University, took plenty of UM family photographs, and of course, came home with a few more UM t-shirts!”

Michael Baumhardt, director of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement, wants families to know that Family Weekend is just one of the many ways that they can stay engaged with University life.

“I hope that families feel as though this campus is open to them and that they visit campus each year for Family Weekend or for other important milestones in their student’s life.  The partnership between families and our department doesn’t stop here, nor fall within just one weekend,” said Baumhardt. 

Throughout the year, families should consult the Family Resource Guide to learn how to connect with university departments and for conversation starters to have with their students. Families can also stay in contact with the Department of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement by subscribing to the monthly Hurricane Family Connection e-newsletter or following the department on social media.