As spring semester comes to a close the Associated Students of the University of Portland (ASUP) have important decisions to make − elections, budgets and final votes on bills put extra pressure on the members of ASUP.
And, with a lack of staff in the student activities department, ASUP President Emma Fuller and Student Activities Director Jeromy Koffler have both been stretched thin with an overwhelming workload. Thanks to the new hire of Elizabeth Parkman they are both happy to have someone to share those responsibilities with.
An unfortunate loss of three student activities employees within a three week span occurred at the beginning of this year. Parkman will fill one of those spots and serve as the associate director for student engagement.
Parkman's role is specific to ASUP where she will serve as their advisor as well as working with the VoteUP initiative which provides voter information to students in an effort to create a campus full of engaged citizens.
“She rose to the top because she had really good interpersonal skills and communication skills,” Koffler said. “She understands ASUP and its mission really well because she's connected to the community.”
Parkman lives in Portland with husband Ian Parkman and their two young children. Ian Parkman is a business professor here at UP which is making this new job that much more exciting for their family.
“I popped out of class on Wednesday, walked over to her office and we went to get a chai together and chat for a minute,” Ian Parkman said. “Then she went back to work and I went back to work so it's pretty amazing.”
The Parkmans met while attending the University of Oregon in Eugene where Elizabeth was studying art history and French. The two of them moved to the east coast where Elizabeth attended Georgetown university to get her masters in art and museum studies.
According to Elizabeth Parkman and her husband the east coast will always hold a special place in their family's heart — it's where they spent their first years married and got pregnant with their first
child. After spending time living in Baltimore, New York and Washington DC, Ian and Elizabeth Parkman realized their home was on the west coast, so they packed up and moved back to Portland.
“It was great to be a young couple starting out on the east coast,” Elizabeth Parkman said. “We had a great time, but it taught us that we were definitely west coasters.”
Ian Parkman got a job at UP as an Associate Professor of Marketing and Elizabeth Parkman took some time off as she was pregnant with her first child. Over the last few years the Parkmans have had to balance work life and raising children, and Elizabeth Parkman found that volunteer work best benefited her and her family.
Elizabeth Parkman began volunteering with Friends of Peninsular Park Rose Garden where she has served on their board since 2014. She has also been involved with the Portland Art Museum working as a docent and giving guided tours.
“It's been very rewarding, getting to have a professional outlet but also the flexibility of being a volunteer” Elizabeth Parkman said.
While this work has been an important part of Elizabeth Parkman's life she has always had an interest in higher education. She worked with other college students as a tutor during her time in university and it's an experience that has stuck with her. As soon as she saw this job opening she knew she had to apply.
“Education has always played a role in my life, whether it was through working at the gallery and talking to visitors or educating people about the artist's work,” Elizabeth Parkman said. “To come back to it and have more substantial experience working with students is something that really excited me.”
Because of her husband Elizabeth Parkman has really been involved in the UP community even before being employed here. Ian Parkman taught during the London summer program and Elizabeth Parkman, along with their children, accompanied him.
“I've gotten to know students over a period of time and seeing their commitment to this idea of responsibility to the common good through learning just motivated me even more to be part of the UP community,” Elizabeth Parkman said.
She stood out to both Koffler and Fuller because of her interpersonal skills and her willingness to learn and adapt.
“During the interview she asked a lot of questions about the community and about the school and I really felt like she was listening to how she could best serve us rather than trying to tell us what her qualifications are,” Fuller said.
After being hired Elizabeth Parkman was immediately thrown into a busy ASUP time with elections and the end of Fuller's term as president. She is eager to learn and has appreciated the guidance she has received from students and faculty. Working with the students in ASUP has been especially beneficial as they have helped her set a solid foundation for the upcoming semesters.
“It's been such a privilege working with this current group of ASUP students,” Elizabeth Parkman said. “They've really blown me away with their commitment to UP and their commitment to the student body.”
Elizabeth Parkman is not only ready to learn, but also excited to share ideas and create an environment at UP that allows all students to thrive. By working with ASUP Parkman really sees the potential that students have at UP and wants to continue to grow and work towards a stronger and more connected community.
“I think it's really important that we are working to reach out to every student on campus so that they can have a really fulfilling, rewarding and connected college experience,” Elizabeth Parkman said. “That is what I'm really looking forward to.”
Netty Jurriaans is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.