The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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UNA introduces new Family Portal for parents

Bre Goodwin

In April, Family Engagement began rolling out a new platform for parents to engage with university life. Called the Family Portal, its main goal is to help parents and family members become a part of the community that their loved ones are joining.

The program is a financial partnership between Enrollment Management, Advancement, and Student Affairs. While the program launched in April, it was not fully utilized until SOAR sessions. Parents of students who attended SOAR in 2020, 2021 and 2022 were emailed as well. Families were also recruited to join during move in.

“[The portal] provides a connection to campus,” Minette Ellis, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, said. “It’s so vital for family members to know what’s going on here and to provide support for their students.”

Ellis hopes that the portal can also help students become more informed about happenings on campus. By giving information to parents, she hopes that parents can then relay information to their children. 

The Family Portal has an interface similar to social media sites, with posts and articles available for family members to scroll through. The articles often are informative and can help parents with “empty nest syndrome.” There is also a calendar available for parents to download onto their devices with important dates for registration and exams. 

Tiffani Hill-Patterson, Assistant to the Vice President, understands how it feels to be a freshman mom. Her daughter is now a senior at UNA, but she wishes she had something like the Family Portal to help ease her own transition. She has authored some of the more popular articles on the portal, as she has a journalistic background.

“My daughter started here in 2020 at the height of the pandemic,” Hill-Patterson said. “I had to click a lot on the website to find things. [The portal] is all in one place. You can find information on housing and on campus life.”

There are roughly 2,000 families enrolled in the portal. Families are automatically signed up for UNA news, family news, student success and financial aid. There are also optional communities available, many of which are well-used by users. Campus life, first generation student life and health & wellbeing are amongst the most popular ones. 

UNA is also bringing to life a family weekend. They hope that the family portal can help relay necessary information to make the weekend as good as possible. It is currently scheduled for Nov. 4, which is also the weekend of the last home game. 

During the weekend, families will be able to attend lunch with their students and meet their colleges. Additionally, they will be able to attend the football game with a complimentary ticket. 

The Family Portal has also increased engagement with the university. The website used allows for administrators to view data analytics and demographics. Families of first-year students are the most prominent group.

“I sent [the link for the Family Portal] to 588 people and 85% of people opened that email,” Hill-Patterson said. “We had a pretty big number of clicks for who opened the link itself. It’s a pretty good return on investment.”

Parents also receive newsletters and email through registration in the portal. The Family Portal is also working with on-campus partners, too, to increase engagement in other departments. 

Families can join the Family Portal through the Family Engagement webpage.

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About the Contributors
Emma Tanner
Emma Tanner, Editor-in-Chief
Emma is Editor-in-Chief of the Flor-Ala. She is a senior from Killen, Ala. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism and digital media. She was previously Managing Editor for the spring 2023 semester. She also served as News Editor from Jan. 2022 to Dec. 2022. She was previously a volunteer writer. Her favorite topics to cover are profiles and local news. Tanner has written since her childhood and grew a passion for journalism during high school. Aside from working on the Flor-Ala, she was also a research assistant for a psychological study at UNA and served as CASE ambassador president for the Fall 2022 semester.
Bre Goodwin
Bre Goodwin, Former Lead Graphic Designer

Bre Goodwin is a junior majoring in Cinematic Arts & Theatre with a concentration in Acting. As a graphic designer for the Flor-Ala, she is passionate about art and the ways it can heal individuals and unite communities. She is from Leighton, Ala.

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