University of Portland: a family affair

By The Beacon | February 6, 2014 2:23am
(Left to right) Maureen Briare, associate director for music and campus ministry with her father Jim Kuffner, assistant vice president for community relations, and Maureen's daughter Raina Briare, a sophomore at UP. Photo by Kristen Garcia

Clare Duffy |

Often students think of their friends on campus as a second family, but there are actual families on campus that have made UP their second home. Several members of such families shared what it’s like to learn, work and live with one’s family at the University of Portland.

Mother and Daughter, Jamie Powell and Grace Powell

Many mothers and daughters bond over their shared love for pedicures or “The Breakfast Club,” and while these things may also be true, junior Grace Powell and mother Jamie Powell, program manager at the Garaventa Center, are able to bond over their shared experiences at UP’s Salzburg study abroad program.

Jamie went on the Salzburg trip when she was a student at UP, and brought her daughter Grace with her to Salzburg reunions from a young age. Years later, Grace went on the Salzburg program as a sophomore, and now she and her mother will attend this summer’s reunion together as Salzburg alumni.

While Salzburg connects both Grace and Jamie, Grace said that it also provided her with “the independence from having my parents.”

In addition to knowing about Salzburg from an early age, Grace also grew up attending University of Portland basketball games with her older brother, also a UP alum. While Grace considered attending other universities, she and Jamie both agreed that choosing UP, given their family connection, has been a positive experience.

“I think I see my mother more than any other college student. It’s nice to get to stop in and just have a conversation,” Grace said.

Although they are family, Grace and Jamie get to see two different sides of events or issues that occur on campus.

“It’s two different perspectives, she’ll hear one thing that’s happening with the employees and I’ll hear it from the students,” Grace said.

Overall, the Powell women have good things to say about being on campus together.

“She really embraces so much of college life,” Jamie said, “so it’s really fun.”

Grandfather, Mother and Daughter, Jim Kuffner, Maureen Briare and Raina Briare

Attending University of Portland was a natural option for sophomore Raina Briare because of her family history of studying and working at UP, which spans three generations.

“We’ve just always been in the neighborhood and it’s all I’ve ever known, and my mom works here so of course there are benefits to that,”  Raina said.

In addition to having her mother, alumna and Associate Director for Music and Campus Ministry Maureen Briare, on campus, Maureen's father, Jim Kuffner also works at UP. Kuffner works as the assistant vice president for Community Relations for the university, and this year marks his 30th as an employee. Kuffner earned his master’s degree at UP, and four of his five children followed in his footsteps by becoming Pilots, including his son, Joe Kuffner, assistant director for media relations at UP.

Kuffner, Maureen and Raina have all experienced perks of having family on campus like chance run-ins and the feeling of a shared experience. They don’t feel there are downsides because, “you can be as close or as far apart as you want,” Raina said.

Beaming, Kuffner explained the pride that comes from having his family so intertwined with UP.

“The expression, ‘You bleed purple,’ is true. For me, there’s a deep sense of pride in the sense that I know how rigorous the academic requirements are here,” Kuffner said.