Related students, faculty both call campus home

Courtesy+%0AJeffrey+C.+Silvertooth%2C+Ph.D.%2C+Professor+and+Head%0ADepartment+of+Soil%2C+Water+and+Environmental+Science%2C+stands+with+his+children+Jessica+and+Ben.+%0A

Courtesy Jeffrey C. Silvertooth, Ph.D., Professor and Head Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, stands with his children Jessica and Ben.

Alexandra Bortnik

After a couple of months of separation, Family Weekend annually reunites thousands of UA students with their parents and families.

For others, however, every week may include a parent-child lunch date or coincidental sighting on campus.

For Kevin Fitzsimmons, international programs director for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and his son, Patrick Fitzsimmons, a political science senior, events like Family Weekend and Homecoming serve a different purpose.

“We see our sons on a regular basis, so parents weekend and Homecoming aren’t as big of deal for us within the family as is seeing former students and friends,” Kevin Fitzsimmons said.

Fitzsimmons’ son said staying in close proximity to where he grew up has been a positive experience for him.

“It wasn’t really an option of which school I was going to. It was more of which dorm I was going to,” Patrick Fitzsimmons said. “I like going here just because it’s close, it’s home. I consider between here and where I grew up as the part of Tucson I always called home.”

Jessica Silvertooth, a physiology senior whose father, Jeffrey Silvertooth, is the department head of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, said that coming to the UA felt like the next step. Jessica’s two older brothers graduated from the UA and her younger brother, Ben Silvertooth, is an aerospace engineering sophomore.

“I grew up on this campus,” Jessica Silvertooth said. “On the weekends I would come to campus with my dad and me and my brothers would wander campus. Growing up we had season tickets, we went to all the football games.”

Aside from reasons like familiarity and remaining close to home, the UA’s Qualified Tuition Reduction program provides a significant financial benefit for UA faculty who have children at the UA. According the UA’s website, all administrative, faculty, professional and classified staff employees who work for six months or more, with a commitment of at least 50 percent time and who have spouses and dependant children qualify to participate in the QTR program. Jeffrey Silvertooth, who considered other universities, found the UA to be the most financially practical.

“It’s something I feel like I’ve invested in. I came to the UA last year and I’ve capitalized on that,” Jeffrey Silvertooth said.

Despite some students’ natural hesitations about attending college alongside their parents, Jessica Silvertooth said she likes having her father on campus.

“I have a lot going on, he has a lot going on, and when we meet once a week we do lunch and it’s just kind of nice on a stressful day to run into him,” Jessica Silvertooth said.

Jeffrey Silvertooth agreed and said his children are growing up and having their adult lives, but being on the same campus gives them a chance to interact. However, despite the run-ins, weekly lunch dates and general knowledge that his children attend the UA, Jeffrey Silvertooth still finds himself surprised when spotting them on campus.

“I hear some voice saying ‘dad’ coming out of the distance, and somehow I recognize their voice and of course probably there could be a hundred dads in the crowd but I turn and they catch my attention,” Jeffrey Silvertooth said. “It’s always a shock — it shouldn’t be, but I almost want to say what are you doing here?”

Lunch dates and run-ins may serve as a form of stress relief, but encountering each other in the classroom appears to produce the opposite effect, and Jeffrey Silvertooth said that, given the option, his children might avoid his lectures.

“They’re always afraid I’ll call them out … they think I’d have fun with the opportunity,” he said.

In support of his children’s hesitations, Jeffrey Silvertooth shared a story of when he used a photo of him and his two children at the end of a Power Point during a NATS 101 lecture — a lecture which his daughter, Jessica, happened to be in.

“I think he did it because he knew I was going, but I hope he doesn’t do that on a regular basis because that’s embarrassing,” Jessica Silvertooth said.

Like Jeffrey Silvertooth, Kevin Fitzsimmons also seized the opportunity to call attention to his son during a guest lecture.

“I had to make a couple comments just to embarrass him in class a little bit,” Kevin Fitzsimmons said, who had prior experience being a teacher to his son in middle and high school.

Kevin Fitzsimmons, who was a student at the UA when his father was on the faculty, said his connection to the UA has been beneficial for both him and his family.

“It’s comfortable (and) you get a very good education, you can find almost any field you want to get into, any major, any subject area…(and) it’s a multi-generational thing,” Kevin Fitzsimmons said. “As you get older the attachment grows on you.”