Mary Claire Kilmer-Lipinski

For families looking for an easier way to stay up-to-date with students’ work, Miami University created the myMiami Families portal.

Launched Oct. 6, the site now makes it easier for parents to access students’ information.

Kris Stewart, assistant vice president for parent programs, said the Parents Office and Information Technology (IT) Services have spent the last three years working on the project. It began when they found relations between parents and Miami were becoming disconnected.

Stewart said parents were calling for information about upcoming events, such as Homecoming and Family Weekend, because they did not know where to look.

According to IT services newsletter, Miami Tech Talk, these students now have the ability to grant access to select parts of their student records to family members.

Now, she said the portal is a way the office can get information out about campus and students can share personal information with their parents.

Kent Covert, manager of network applications for IT services, said the Parents Office hopes the new portal will reduce the phone calls to individual offices.

Currently, the program is only offered to first- and second-year students, according to Stewart.

Miami Tech Talk says the system creates accounts based on the student’s selections so family members have their own myMiami account with the information chosen.

Stewart said the page includes the weather and daily university announcements, as well as links to the Parents Office, as well as offices of student affairs, the bursar, the registrar, student financial aid, university advancement and university police, as well as the e-Report Web site.

“If the students decides yes (they want the portal), then the parents will receive an e-mail and set up a link with a password to now have a family tab,” Stewart said.

However, according to a federal law or the Buckley Amendment, the family portal can not be connected to the students e-mail and myMiami due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

FERPA states that university offices must have written permission from a student before they can share any confidential academic data with another party.

After the portal was created, Stewart said offices got the word out through a couple of different ways.

“There will be a parent newsletter that can be found online describing the new portal,” Stewart said. “It will show screen shots of how students give access and what the portal looks like. There was also an e-mail sent out to all students.”

Some students still do not know about the myMiami Family portal.

“I haven’t heard of it,” sophomore Cassie Young said. “If my parents knew about it, then I am sure they would use it, because they are always asking me my password to log in my portal.”

Other students are skeptical about the real benefit of the new portal.

“I don’t think the family portal thing is necessary,” first-year Mary Ellen Hickey said. “My family obviously knows my address, they already see my billing info and if I had financial aid, I’m sure they would be aware of it.”

Stewart said the Parents Office hopes to expand the portal to all students by the end of the semester. According to Covert, currently there are about 160 parents who have signed up, but the numbers are increasing every day.