More than 1,000 parents and family members of current Howard University students made their way to campus to participate in the inaugural Parent and Family Weekend September 15-17. Held in partnership with the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (OVPSA) and the Howard University Parent Advisory Council (HUPAC), the event was designed to strengthen ties and communication between parents and the University.
Since being established by OVPSA in 2016, HUPAC has been led by a group of parent volunteers to serve as a bridge between the University administration and parents to foster collaboration as part of its Parent and Family Program.
“It was wonderful to see the excitement among our Bison parents. Many of them traveled great distances to join us for this momentous occasion that further connects them to their students’ living and learning experiences at Howard,” said vice president for student affairs Cynthia Evers, EdD.
The weekend kicked off with the 156th Opening Convocation, where Howard’s 18th President Ben Vinson III, PhD gave his first official address to the University, followed by information sessions, campus tours, and a special “Meet & Greet” reception in the Armour J. Blackburn University Center Ballroom.
On Saturday, parents and families showed their Bison pride during the annual Truth & Service Classic football game between Howard University and Hampton University before closing out the weekend with the Call to Chapel service.
HUPAC chair Erika Dennis Gentry, M.D., MBA ('92) was especially pleased with the turnout and shared that parental participation is a great indicator of their interest in learning more about ways they can strengthen their engagement with the University.
"This was a major goal for us to bring parents and families together, and it absolutely exceeded our expectations," said Gentry, whose oldest child graduated from Howard University in 2021 and youngest child is currently a junior.
An afternoon series of informative workshops focused on topics such as safety and wellness, financial aid, and student life and involvement took place, where parents directly connected with University subject-matter experts to ask questions and gain more insight.
“My vision for HUPAC has always been to provide opportunities like this for parents to come together in their shared interests for the benefit of their sons and daughters, as they matriculate through Howard University,” Evers said. “I see this as a new era for us to make a real difference in furthering their connections to one another and to the University.”
Charlice Noble (‘99) is a second-generation Bison whose son is now a junior. Both she and her mother Alma (‘57) were pleased to hear about the Parent and Family Weekend.
“Attending Howard University has been a family affair for us for nearly eight decades,” Noble said. “To see the University work with parents to plan something like this really shows a commitment to creating and strengthening lines of communication that will help us all feel better about the roles we play in seeing that our children receive the support they need to have a successful and enriching experience here.”
Joining Gentry on the HUPAC executive committee are vice chair Faith Palmer, secretary Tuana Ward-Hines (‘88), director of programming and outreach W. Victor Gentry (‘93), class of 2025 parent representative Krystene Woodard, PharmD, and class of 2026 representative V. Van Johnson III, J.D.
With the first Howard University Parent and Family Weekend behind it, HUPAC will continue to serve as a liaison between parents and the University. It will host virtual fireside chats throughout the academic year and sharing updates with parents and family members through Howard University’s Parent Portal (CampusESP), a tool designed to provide parents and family members with accurate and useful information to navigate the process of being a parent of a college student.
“The feedback we received from attendees about the weekend is overwhelmingly positive,” Gentry said. “This is really the foundation for building a more engaged and, most importantly, informed parent and family group that can also serve as ambassadors for the University.”