Parents Join Together for Greater Impact

Parents are finding that participating in University life can be as rewarding for them as it is for their children. In the short time since the Parents Leadership Council (PLC) was founded in 2017, families have successfully advanced initiatives in 10 areas across campus and introduced DU leadership to parents across the country.

Founding co-chairs Mike and Kris Ann Gitlin helped launch the council and partnered with the University to reach out to families who were interested in being engaged philanthropically as well as intellectually.

“The Parents Leadership Council has been a great way for us to stay connected and be involved without getting too deep in the weeds or interfering with our son’s experience,” said Mike Gitlin, whose son, Wyatt, will graduate in 2020. “We get to know the University so much more than if we were just coming to visit.”

During the inaugural year, 23 families from nine states joined the council. Together, their impact amounted to more than $1 million in support, including endowed funds for the Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, Lacrosse Scholarships and the Learning Effectiveness Program. Many families also joined together to support the Chancellor’s Innovation fund.

“Our success has a lot to do with the fact that everyone believes in what the Chancellor is doing,” said Kris Anne Gitlin. “It has been interesting to hear her vision, and each PLC member also provides such a unique perspective because we come from many different backgrounds.”

In one meeting with the Chancellor, families shared stories of how their children were coping with stress. This, in turn, informed the Chancellor’s thoughts about wellness initiatives on campus. At the Council’s next meeting, Michael LaFarr, DU’s executive director of Health and Counseling, talked further with families and educated them on national trends in this area.

“It’s a missed opportunity not to be involved, especially at a place like DU where it feels like the University is headed in a great direction,” said Kris Anne Gitlin. “We’re excited about what’s going on here.”