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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Family Weekend: Faculty families keep close on campus

Briana Sanchez
Briana Sanchez / Arizona Daily Wildcat Zachary and Anthony Vito sit with their mother Melissa, the vice president of student affairs, at the Admin Building on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.

For some students, Family Weekend is every day.

Although the UA’s annual tradition allows parents to visit their children on campus after having spent a few months away, parents who are employed by the university won’t have far to go.

For Emma Willerton, a Near Eastern studies senior, having family on campus has been commonplace as long as she can remember. Willerton’s father, Pat, is an associate professor of political science in the School of Government and Public Policy, while her mother, Nancy Stiller, works as the coordinator for the UA’s Ombuds Program. Emma Willerton said that the choice to attend the campus she grew up on was an easy one.

“I always knew I was going to come to the U of A,” she said. “The programs I was interested in are very good here, so it just seemed like a natural choice.”

Her father added that having family nearby adds to the support structure between the three of them, and having his daughter on campus isn’t much of a novelty.

“It makes your workplace feel more like home,” he said. “She first arrived here … weeks after she was born. She’s had a presence on campus since she was about two, three weeks old.”

Additionally, Emma has a minor in government and public policy, and is currently enrolled in one of her father’s courses. She said she often asks classmates who are studying in the school if they’ve had a professor named Willerton, and if so, what they thought of the class. The feedback is more positive than not, she said.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s positive,” she said, “which is good, because otherwise I don’t know what would happen if he wasn’t popular with students. It would be really awkward.”

But the Willertons aren’t the only ones keeping family close on campus. Vice President of Student Affairs Melissa Vito and her two twin sons, Zach and Anthony, also attend the UA as journalism seniors. But unlike Emma Willerton, the UA wasn’t always an obvious choice.

“I kind of tried to do everything I could not to go to the U of A,” Anthony Vito said. “My mom’s worked here my whole life, people were singing ‘Bear Down’ in the delivery room … I thought I would want a change, but I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.”

Anthony Vito added that, while he had the support of his family to attend a university out of state, he decided to stay for the financial benefits, which was a consideration for both brothers.

Dependents of any university employee, according to the UA’s human resources department, are eligible for the qualified tuition reduction program, which allows them to take courses at 25 percent of the cost of regular, in-state tuition.

“Absolutely [the tuition reduction] was a consideration,” Stiller said when talking about the decision for her daughter to attend the UA. “She graduates with no debt, so she can go on to graduate school or whatever she wants to do.”

While the lunch dates and savings continue to be obvious benefits for both families, there were some worries about a lack of breathing room.

“I was really worried,” Anthony Vito said. “Wanting to go out of state and then having to go in state, there was that initial panic.”

He added that while his mother knows a number of people on campus, the only difference for him is that he knows more faculty than other students might.

Melissa Vito said that although she plans to attend Family Weekend in a professional capacity, the chances that she will see her sons are pretty good.

“I’ll probably [do] more on the work end of stuff,” she said, “but we’ll connect up.”

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