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Family of the Year award goes to the Shawds

When asked what traits he would consider in selecting the Drake Family of the Year, first-year student Nick Havlicek responded after a few moments of thought.

“I’d say a Drake Family of the Year really strives to become part of the culture at Drake. Multiple family members get involved and try to make Drake an even better place than it is now.”

The Family of the Year award was engineered in the mid-1990s to recognize the parents and families that contribute and assist students in the Drake experience. The award disappeared in the early 2000s but was reinstated by the National Parent Association Board of Directors in 2010. A committee of Board members reviews the nominations, one by one, and selects a family to honor.

Blake Campbell, director of the office of alumni relations, said the criteria for selection is based on “engagement and support of their students and experience, active involvement on campus through attending events or volunteering, any financial support to Drake and/or any personal or family hardships that the family has overcome to make their student(s) education possible.”

The Shawd family, of Eden Prairie, Minn., fits that description to the letter. Jeff is the oldest of three Shawd children, all of whom graduated from Drake. Jeff holds bachelors and masters degrees, graduating in 1981 and 1983. Jeff and Lynnette Shawd’s oldest son Andrew is a junior, double majoring in finance and accounting. Their niece Marina is a senior studying magazine journalism.

Jeff and Lynnette both serve on the National Parent Board. They also assist in the recruitment of prospective students in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Jeff also is an active alumnus of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

But Jeff, an executive with General Electric Corp., made perhaps his most significant impact to Drake in an area that combined two of his passions: marketing and music.

After performing at the opening of the Turner Jazz Center in the spring of 2011, Jeff suggested to the University that they “provide students with practical business experience by allowing them to develop a comprehensive marketing plan to introduce the TJC to consumers and the music community while earning college credit in the process.”

Not only did Drake accept his proposal, the University also asked if he would teach the class. Five undergrads took the class and earned three credit hours. At the conclusion of the course, the students presented the marketing plan to members of the Drake Marketing and Jazz departments.

When asked why the award is meaningful to his family, Jeff gave two perspectives. He first cited the opportunity to attend Drake and building what would become lasting professional relationships.

“One reason why Drake is such an outstanding institution is that it recognizes the value of linkages between academics and the business world – and its students are the major beneficiaries,” says Jeff.

Secondly, he praises Drake and its staff for being open to creative ideas, parents especially, to contribute to the university. “Being able to experience Drake as a parent and give back in a way that supports our son’s continued success, while creating unique and meaningful ways to contribute our talents and resources to help the University fulfill its mission of providing an exceptional learning environment for its students has been very gratifying.”

Know a family you’d like to nominate? Students, faculty, staff and parents can nominate a family via blueView in the spring. The Shawds will be honored on Drake’s Parent/Family weekend, which runs from Sept. 21 through 23.

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