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Spring 2009 A publication for members of the assOciation of fraternity advisors.

Nurturing Learning, Assessment, and Change in this issue:

Strategic Planning | Identifying Needs Through Assessment | Creating Relevant Fraternal Communities

Carolyn E. Whittier, Ph.D., 2009 President

Greetings AFA members,


elcome to the Spring 2009 issue of Perspectives, with a focus on the role of assessment and accreditation in today’s fraternity/sorority experience. Assessment and accreditation programs on campuses have a long history, from the original Maryland Plan to the many relationship statements and expectation documents in place on college and university campuses across North America. In addition, our partners in the NIC, NPC, NPHC, NALFO, and NAPA have adopted standards and expectations for their member organizations, and it would be my expectation that these inter/national standards are reflected in the expectations, documents that campus-based professionals are establishing with their students. The Association also has a strong commitment to assessment through our many partnerships and relationships with such organizations as the Fraternity & Sorority Coalition Assessment Project, the AFA/EBI Fraternity/Sorority Assessment, the Center for the Study of the College Fraternity (CSCF), the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS), and our many Associate members who offer assessment and evaluation services to our campuses. I would expect that all fraternity/ sorority professionals are looking at these as tools to achieve excellence and are utilizing them or planning to do so in the near future. As you read this issue of Perspectives, I encourage you to think critically about your role and responsibility when it comes to assessment within the overall fraternal movement. Regardless of your professional or volunteer role, we all have the responsibility to assess our programs to ensure that the desired learning outcomes are being met. That then begs the question – are we intentionally setting learning outcomes for our programs, initiatives, or relationship statements in advance of implementation? How can we know what students are learning unless we have a specific set of pre-established learning objectives? Are we utilizing the feedback from previous programs to alter or change activities to better fit the desired outcomes? The Association is using assessment tools to improve both internal and external operations. We are working diligently to complete the action items in the 2005-2010 AFA Strategic Plan, while also evaluating and giving consideration to what the future holds for the Association. We will be hosting a series of focus group calls with sub-sections of the Association’s membership throughout the year to help inform our next steps. We are also in the planning phase of conducting a membership survey later in the year. This membership survey will be used to ensure that the Association has substantive knowledge of the value of membership in AFA, what programs and resources our members use and/or need the most, and how our members wish to be engaged by the Association to ensure that we are not


Perspectives / Spring 2009

spending resources, both time and financial, on things that are not of value to our members. The Executive Board and Central Office staff are spending time with our members in venues other than the AFA Annual Meeting to listen and gather additional data. We are taking all of these steps to ensure that we can set the best direction for the work of the Association in the future. Some examples of changes that are currently being made within the Association based on our assessment and evaluation of the membership experience include: • The name of the Association has changed to reflect more inclusive language, and we are now the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. • The programming structure of the 2009 Annual Meeting will be adjusted to meet the needs of our members based on the feedback received in the 2008 Annual Meeting Evaluation. • The First 90 Days Program curriculum will be adjusted to reflect new learning objectives to better meet the needs of the 2009 participants. • The Association exhibited at the 2009 NASPA Annual Conference to advocate on behalf of the profession and to ensure that campus-based supervisors had critical information about the profession and the value of membership in AFA. • The Association will be piloting a professional development program in spring 2010 to provide professional development to our members at times other than the Annual Meeting. Assessment and evaluation have informed all of these decisions and can inform many of the decisions you make within your inter/ national organization or on your campus. Assessment will highlight areas of growth while also validating the good work that we are all doing on a daily basis to preserve and uplift the campus-based fraternity and sorority experience. Thank you all for your dedication to improving the fraternity/sorority experience, and please let your Association’s leadership or professional staff know how we can best support you in your professional or volunteer role.



Allison St. Germain

Spring 2009 Perspectives


any times in our day-to-day routines we may not feel like what we are doing is significant. It is easy to overlook the impact our everyday actions have on changing the world. If you forget to brush your teeth one morning, oh well, you’ll get to it that night. Forget again the next morning and you might be scaring people away at your 8 am meeting! It is just brushing your teeth, a little part of your daily routine, but it makes a big difference. Changing the world can seem like a big thing to bite off. The world is such a big place, and thinking about taking on the global community to make change might be daunting. As Steve Farber says in his book, The Radical Leap, it is no less noble to start in your immediate world. If you believe in the change you are trying to make, and ask others to join you, you will start to create a change coalition that might just change the WORLD. In this, my first issue as editor of Perspectives, we showcase how our fraternity and sorority communities are approaching change. Whether it comes from a strategic planning initiative, assessment and accreditation, or from a coalition of like-minded individuals, change is occurring in our communities. Day to day, week to week, fraternity and sorority life is changing. It might just sneak up on you, like forgetting to brush your teeth, so we want AFA members to be ready to change the world. On a personal note, I look forward to bringing new ideas and perspectives (no pun intended) to our members. Whether you work on campus, volunteer with your organization, are a member of a local organization, or just have an interest in fraternity and sorority life, I hope you find the information we provide useful to your role.

in this

9 The Exploration of a Model for Excellence: Creating Relevant Fraternal Communities 12 From Where I Sit 13 Strategic Planning: Guiding the Campus-based Change the Fraternal Movement Needs 16 Filling the Gap: Identifying Fraternity and Sorority Member Needs through Assessment

Allison St. Germain 2009 Editor Director of Educational Technologies Delta Zeta Sorority 14 Elgin Avenue Bethel, CT 06801 Phone: 513/523-7597 Direct: 203/798-8777 Fax: 513/523-1921 Perspectives is published four times per year. Submission deadlines: Summer 2009 May 1, 2009 Fall 2009 August 1, 2009 Winter 2010 November 1, 2009 Spring 2010 February 1, 2010 Send address corrections to AFA: Association of Fraternity Advisors 9640 N. Augusta Drive, Suite 433 Carmel, IN 46032 317.876.1632 Fax 317.876.3981


7 2009 AFA Award Nominations

Perspectives is the official publication of the Association of Fraternity Advisors, Inc. (AFA). Views expressed are those of the individual authors/contributors/ advertisers, and are not necessarily those of the Association. AFA encourages the submission of articles, essays, ideas, and advertisements. All Perspectives correspondence and submissions should be submitted to:

Board 2009 Editorial

regular columns From the Top..................... 2 Editor’s Notes.................... 3 Putting It In Perspective.................... 4 Core Competencies......... 19

Amanda Bureau, Heartland Truly Moving Pictures Megan Johnson, University of Iowa Georgianna Martin, University of Iowa Heather Matthews, Zeta Tau Alpha Monica Miranda Smalls, University of Rochester Katie Peoples, Drexel University Jessica Pettitt, CAMPUSPEAK, Inc. Todd Sullivan, University of Connecticut Nathan Thomas, Bradley University Rob Turning, Johns Hopkins University

Spring 2009 / Perspectives


By Colleen Coffey, Matt Mattson, and Shane L. Windmeyer

at any given time. So why did people think things like this? Why do I sometimes even today find myself whispering about a friend who is “a hot mess” or “off her rocker?” Why do we have all the energy in the world to gossip but no energy to truly understand and help? The answer: stigma.



raternity and sorority members battle stigmas every day. While some students are met with stigma because they are different than what is considered mainstream, many organizations also battle the negative stigma that surrounds fraternity/sorority life as a whole. Professionals are often left feeling powerless when advising students to fight against these seemingly insurmountable stigmas. This article provides a practical response to combating the negative stigmas that surround individuals and fraternity/sorority life – personal stories. In the following paragraphs, three AFA Associate members will share their personal stories along with strategies for using these stories to combat stigma. Your challenge is to help students develop and disseminate their personal stories to change the minds of their public.

The Stigma Associated with Mental Health Issues | Colleen Coffey, The National Mental Health Awareness Campaign & CAMPUSPEAK, Inc. I’m in the middle of Greek Week 2000 at Belmont University. Alpha Sigma Tau has just won the coveted title of “Greek Sing Champions,” and it looks like we may take the whole week. I’m hanging out with one of my sisters when my phone rings. I pick it up to hear my mother in distress at the other end. My parents, who had been married for 23 years, were getting a divorce and nothing was ever going to be the same again. I have experienced depression, anxiety, and body image issues for as long as I can remember. My parents’ divorce propelled my mother into the hospital, drove my father half-way across the country, and triggered a panic and sadness inside of me that was so strong my heart skips a beat even as I describe it now almost nine years later. I was terrified, a little paranoid, and felt like I was going to die. I had an intense amount of trouble managing


Perspectives / Spring 2009

my emotions, going to class, or sustaining any semblance of healthy connection in my romantic relationship. I had a panic attack that lasted more than a week. It eventually subsided on its own, but that experience changed me significantly. I did not seek out the help I needed and as a result was in and out of wellness my last two years of college. I was, however, able to excel at sorority life. That was always the one thing that I enjoyed most and where I felt most at home. My sorority was supportive and nurturing, but there were always a few women who were very threatened by both my enthusiasm and my emotions. There were a handful of members and professionals that felt like I should not be in any sort of leadership role because of my emotional struggles. They believed that I was likely to be admitted into a mental hospital at any time; that I was crazy and unbalanced. My mental health issues did not preclude me from being a very effective student leader. They did not cause me to carry an ax in my car, or mean that I was liable to blow up

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 26.2 percent of adults 18 and older will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year (NIMH, n.d.). Still, nearly 66 percent of people with diagnosable mental disorders do not seek treatment (Regier et al, 1993; Kessler et al, 1996; Kessler et al, 2005), even though 80 to 90 percent of individuals who do seek treatment see a vast improvement in their symptoms, even among those with the most severe mental disorders (Sathcer, 1999). I sought help, I still seek help, and luckily I am one of those whose symptoms have improved. We know these issues are real, but a majority of young people do not seek help in large part because of the stigma attached to it (Sussman, Robins, & Earls, 1987; CooperPatrick et al, 1997). Further, these individuals are faced with people in their lives who see them as being crazy, dangerous, and lessthan-human. This stigma is a powerful force. Dr. Pat Corrigan, co-author of the 2001 book Don’t Call Me Nuts, and his colleagues studied three different approaches to reducing stigma: protest, education, and contact. Protest is the “shame on you” method, an educator telling people not to think poorly of people with mental illness, because they have a chemical imbalance in their brains and it is not their fault. Education is about communicating data-driven facts regarding the issue in hopes of educating people about the realities. Contact is about personal story telling, such as having a person with a mental disorder who knows the freedom of wellness discuss his/her struggles and successes and the normalcy of his/her life after seeking help. Dr. Corrigan (2004) found that contact was the most effective method for stigma reduction. As an educator, while it is not professional to share your entire personal life and all of your struggles, it may be beneficial to disclose a certain struggle or time of triumph to a student who may be going through the same thing. Perhaps more importantly, telling our personal stories can also change the minds of those who hold stigmas against us.

The way to reduce stigma on any issue is personal connection and contact. Fraternities and sororities focus on personal interaction, which can be one of the best environments to put stigma reduction into practice.

Colleges and universities have the responsibility to confront stigmas, not only as a way to educate on diversity but also as a necessity to create safe learning environments. Fraternities and sororities also have a unique role to play and can rise to the challenge of being catalysts to confront stigmas on college campuses.

The Stigma Associated with Being Gay | Shane L. Windmeyer, The Lambda 10 Project, an educational initiative of Campus Pride

Stigma reduction is best done through contact, personal connection, and personal stories. I know that is true, especially with the self-stigma that I lived with. Without my fraternity brothers, I would never have survived my college years.

“Queer, queer, get ’em… Smear the queer! Take him down!” I remember these words clearly. Hordes of kids would run around screaming, trying to chase down and tackle the queer – the kid with the ball. None of my fifth grade buddies knew at the time that I was gay – a queer. Nor did I, really. It was just one of those favorite childhood pastimes on the playground. From an early age, the stigma associated with being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) – queer – was evident. I desperately did not want to be gay. To be queer was to be different in some way. These feelings of difference often led to pain, isolation, and fear. You had to be tough and hold it all in. I kept telling myself that, burrowing deeper into the closet. I simply had to forget about it and get over it. My personal struggles being closeted and growing up gay were intense. Why would someone want to be queer? And, that is what stigma does to you. Stigma locks you in a closet. You are afraid to come out. People of all ages suffer from stigmas. In my opinion, stigmas associated with sexuality and gender identity are the most pervasive in our society, especially on college campuses. A 2003 study of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) found a hostile climate on college and university campuses, even at campuses with strong support systems and campus centers. Thirty-six percent of LGBT undergraduate students and 29 percent of respondents experienced harassment over the past year. One in five respondents feared for their personal safety on campus because of their sexual and/or gender identities, and half concealed their sexual and/or gender identities to avoid intimidation. Additionally, 41 percent believed that their institutions were not adequately addressing issues related to sexual and gender identity, and 43 percent felt their college or university curricula did not represent the contributions of LGBT people (Rankin, 2001).

My fraternity believed in me and helped me confront the self-stigma that I first encountered on the playground in fifth grade. Fraternities and sororities can confront stigma in many ways – if they choose to be agents of change and actualize their values of brotherhood/sisterhood by providing a forum for one’s personal story to be shared.

The Stigma Associated with Fraternity/Sorority Membership | Matt Mattson, Phired Up Productions

My days on the playground only became worse and less tolerant in high school. College was much the same way. I witnessed harassment, jokes, name-calling, and even violence directed toward gays. Stigmas make it difficult to find acceptance when you are afraid of the impact of telling others.

Dr. Corrigan’s (2001, 2004) studies teach an important lesson about the power of personal connection and personal stories. But can we extrapolate Dr. Corrigan’s findings further? Can we explore the potential application of his findings to stigma in other areas of society beyond mental health and LGBT issues?

My fraternity membership as a closeted gay man allowed me the opportunity to confront my sexual identity. It was difficult, complex, and at times painful confronting the self-stigma – and my internalized homophobia. Once I found the support of my fraternity brothers, I was slowly able to be myself and stand up to derogatory jokes, harassment, and even words like “queer.” Brotherhood gave me the courage and self-respect to be proud of who I was for the first time in my life – an out, gay fraternity man.

What about the stigma that surrounds fraternities and sororities?

My story shows that fraternities and sororities have the power to make a difference in the life of another member. My professional role as an advocate and public storyteller shows how the power of personal stories can be an educational and mind-changing tool. Stigma reduction and elimination should be a core tenet of a fraternity/sorority community. We have the ability to forge ever-lasting friendships and raise consciousness among one another. A campus community or chapter that is not holistic and openly accepting of diversity is stigmatized. It is our responsibility to make our fraternity/sorority and the campus a better place for all students.

It isn’t hard to find an undergraduate sorority/fraternity member who believes the biggest obstacle to organizational success is the fact that “everyone on campus hates fraternities and sororities.” In fact, as I’ve delivered recruitment education to students all over the country, the top excuse given for poor recruitment results is stigma. Certainly, there is a negative perception of fraternities and sororities among much of the American public, including non-member college students. From negative media portrayals, to lasting memories of negative news stories, to immediate piles of beer cans lining fraternity row on many campuses, the perception of fraternity/sorority life has not been ideal. How do we change public perception of fraternities and sororities in the face of stigma? If we were to explore Dr. Corrigan’s (2001, 2004) methods to combat stigma, we might try a few different tactics – protest, education, and contact. continued on page 6

Why do we have all the energy in the world to gossip but no energy to truly understand and help? Spring 2009 / Perspectives


continued from page 5 Protest might look like a letter to the editor of the campus paper that reads: “Don’t be so mean to fraternity guys. We do community service, we teach leadership skills, and we do philanthropy work. We’re men of principle, we’re balanced men, and our purpose is to better the man. We cleaned up a highway this year, we raised $200 for seeing-eye dogs, and we had a dance for the elderly. Plus we only had three health code violations in our house and only one unsanctioned kegger this year. Don’t be so mean to us.” Okay, that didn’t work very well, so let’s try education. This might look like a speech given to campus that asks, “Did you know that, according to the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), 48 percent of all U.S. presidents have been fraternity members, 42 percent of U.S. Senators are members, 30 percent of Fortune 500 Executives are members, 30 percent of Fortune 500 Executives were in a fraternity or sorority (NIC, n.d.); yet fraternity and sorority members make up only 3 percent of the U.S. population!” Perhaps that was slightly more effective. But is there a more effective way still? Let’s try a personal story. Any reader of this article probably has their own personal story of how fraternity or sorority changed his/her life. Mine is very real: My name is Matt Mattson, and I live with depression. There was a time in my life when I looked over the side of a bridge and thought that was the best decision for me. There was a time in my life when the loneliness, pain, and sadness were so strong that every time I drove down the street, I wanted to swerve into oncoming traffic so nobody would know that I had killed myself. There was a time in my life when I came home from my great job as a fraternity consultant and drank myself to sleep in order to avoid the pain that came with the nighttime. There was a time in my life when, coincidentally, the only thing that got me through was the love of my

fraternity brothers. Though they didn’t know exactly the right words to say, or the right gestures to share, they were there for me, and our shared commitment to each other through ritual was a steady shoulder for me to lean on in my time of greatest need. Now I live a happy, healthy life. I’m married to a beautiful wife, have an amazing newborn daughter, live in the foothills of Colorado where I’ve always dreamed of living, and run a successful company that lets me have a career that I’m passionate about. I’m better. My fraternity changed me, and maybe even saved my life. I’m so grateful to have my fraternity. When we apply this concept to fraternity and sorority life, it is clear that in order to change public perception – in order to increase the interest of the best and brightest students on our campus in our organizations – there seems to be only one clear solution: tell as many people as possible your personal fraternity/sorority story. As fraternity/sorority professionals, can we move beyond programs, marketing efforts, and PR, and teach our members how to build more personal relationships and tell their stories differently? Can we teach our members how to communicate the worth and values of their organizations – not through T-shirts, banners, advertisements, or slogans – but through being truly social organizations, intentionally networking throughout campus, and getting to know as many non-member students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members as possible? Ironically, being truly social is the only way to combat the stigma that surrounds us. Conclusion Personal stories are the ultimate kryptonite against the sometimes paralyzing power of stigma. As a professional, when faced with a student needing advice to combat a stigma that is holding them back, challenge them to refine and disseminate their personal story.

Have you told your story today? It might be the most powerful weapon in your educational arsenal.


Perspectives / Spring 2009

References Cooper-Patrick, L., Powe, N. R., Jenckes, M. W., Gonzales, J. J., Levine, D. M., & Ford, D. E. (1997). Identification of patient attitudes and preferences regarding treatment of depression. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 12, 431–438. Corrigan P. W. (2004). How stigma interferes with mental health care. American Psychologist, 59, 614-625. Corrigan, P. W., & Lundin, R. K. (2001). Don’t call me nuts: Coping with the stigma of mental illness. Tinley Park, IL: Recovery Press. Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, 0., Jin, R., Merikangas, K., & Walters, E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 593-602. Kessler, R. C., Nelson, C. B., McKinagle, K. A., Edlund, M. J., Frank, R. G., & Leaf, P. J. (1996). The epidemiology of co-occurring addictive and mental disorders: Implications for prevention and service utilization. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 66, 17–31. National Institute for Mental Health. (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved March 19, 2009, from index.shtml North-American Interfraternity Conference. (n.d.). The most accurate statistics of Greek membership ever compiled. Retrieved November 8, 2008, from public_relations/ Rankin, S. (2001). Campus climate for underrepresented groups. Unpublished manuscript, Pennsylvania State University. Rankin, Susan R. (2003). Campus Climate for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People: A National Perspective. New York: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. Regier, D. A., Narrow, W. E., Rae, D. S., Manderscheid, R. W., Locke, B. Z., & Goodwin, F. K. (1993). The de facto US mental and addictive disorders service system. Epidemiologic Catchment Area prospective 1-year prevalence rates of disorders and services. Archives of General Psychiatry, 50, 85–94. Sathcer, D. (1999). Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved September 20, 2008, from library/mentalhealth/toc.html Sussman, L. K., Robins, L. N., & Earls, F. (1987). Treatment-seeking for depression by black and white Americans. Social Science and Medicine, 24, 187–196.

2009 AFA

Award Nominations

N o m i nate A C o lleag u e , M ent o r , o r O u tstand i ng P r o gram T o da y !


any of us have mentors who inspired us to enter the profession of advising sororities and fraternities. Many stay in the profession because of our relationships and networks with colleagues. We experience or hear of great programming that brings excitement to our profession. You can help thank those around you and recognize outstanding programs by nominating colleagues and programs for 2009 AFA Awards. Nominating is easy and only takes a few minutes! The recipients of the 2009 awards will be announced during the AFA Annual Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida. Detailed nomination instructions, nomination forms, lists of previous recipients, and related information is available on the AFA website ( All nominations must be e-mailed to by Wednesday, July 1, 2009.

The Robert H. Shaffer Award The award is presented annually to an individual in the field of higher education who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to fraternities and sororities on his/her campus. The individual should have demonstrated a commitment to fostering change in the fraternity/sorority community, building partnerships in higher education and the interfraternal community, and mentoring both new and seasoned professionals. This award was established in 1980 by AFA in honor of Robert H. Shaffer, professor of education at Indiana University and mentor to many professionals in the fraternity movement. In addition to your nomination form and letters of nomination (a minimum of three letters is required), a one page biographical synopsis including education, professional positions, and interfraternal service is required. The Jack L. Anson Award This award is presented to a well-respected individual not in the field of higher education, who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the fraternity/sorority community beyond just his/her respective organization. The individual should have assisted in developing partnerships with higher education and the interfraternal community, fostered change to advance the fraternal movement, and served as a role model for students. This award was established in 1982 in honor of Jack L. Anson, the retiring executive director of the National Interfraternity Conference.

In addition to your nomination form and letters of nomination (a minimum of three letters is required), a one page biographical synopsis including education, professional positions, and interfraternal service is required. Sue Kraft Fussell Distinguished Service Awards The purpose of the award is to recognize individuals who have exhibited high professional standards and achievements in fraternity/sorority advising and outstanding achievements in one or more of the following areas: service to AFA; programming and/ or service which reaches beyond the recipient’s campus; development and research activities; and/or service to the college and fraternity/sorority communities. Sue Kraft Fussell Distinguished Service Awards will be presented to no more than five members of the Association each year. This award was created in 1985 and re-named for AFA’s second Executive Director, Sue Kraft Fussell, upon her departure from AFA in 2007. Nominees must be Affiliate, Associate, Graduate, or Professional members of AFA and may not be members of the Executive Board or Awards Committee. Previous recipients are ineligible. Self-nominations are accepted. Gayle Webb New Professional Award This award seeks to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of campus advising by an AFA member during his/her first two years of professional employment. This award

was established in 1990 and re-named for AFA’s first Executive Director, Gayle Webb, upon her retirement in 1999. Nominees must be campus-based Professional members of AFA and may not be members of the Executive Board or Awards Committee. Self-nominations are accepted. Two letters of recommendation are required and may be submitted from any of the following three (3) choices: supervisor, student, or colleague. Nominations will be evaluated on the contributions of the nominee in the following areas: campus/professional experience, AFA experience, and outstanding projects/programs/initiatives. Letters of recommendation should address at least one, but preferably all three, of the judging criteria. Essentials Award Established in 2008, the Essentials award seeks to recognize an author or authors who have written an article that is thought provoking, enlightening, and provides relevant and practical ideas to AFA members. To be eligible, articles must be original work and not previously published, must be based on sound professional practice and/or research, and must have been published in Essentials between August 2008 and July 2009. Perspectives Awards These awards were established in 1988 to recognize those fraternity/sorority professionals who have written thought-provoking articles that are educational and enlightening to the AFA membership. Articles must have been continued on page 8 Spring 2009 / Perspectives


continued from page 7 published in Perspectives between Fall 2008 and Summer 2009. Articles may have been previously published. Awards are presented to the authors of as many as two (2) articles.

change as well as the actual initiative and how it sought to develop a partnership between the host institution, alumni, students, and inter/national organizations.

Oracle Award This award was established in 2006 to recognize the outstanding written contributions to Oracle: The Research Journal of the Association of Fraternity Advisors during the past academic year (August – July).

Diversity Initiative Award Established in 1994, this award is presented to an individual, institution, or organization that has contributed significantly to the development of multicultural relations or diversity education in the university fraternity/sorority community.

Outstanding Change Initiative Award Established in 1996, this award is presented to institutions of higher education or Associate member organizations that have made tremendous progress and improvement in the fraternity/sorority community within the past year. The award recognizes major initiatives or long-term plans that have led to positive changes within the fraternity/sorority community and measured improvements, results, and positive outcomes in some or all of the following areas: scholarship, educational programs, leadership development, risk management, retention, and membership recruitment. Applications and/or nominations from anyone impacted by the change initiative are strongly encouraged. Please provide information regarding the environment that led to the

Criteria for this award include Affiliate, Associate, Graduate, or Professional membership in AFA or institutions/organizations with at least one eligible AFA member and significant involvement in diversity issues. Detailed information should be included in the letter of nomination regarding the diversity initiatives implemented. Excellence in Educational Programming Awards Three awards are presented for educational programming efforts: one to a fraternal organization for efforts directed to undergraduate or alumni members; one to an Associate member for educational efforts; and one for a campus-based program for new and innovative educational efforts.

Give your students something to brag about‌.

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Gamma Sigma Alpha National Greek Academic Honor Society – - 317-876-4695


Perspectives / Spring 2009

Organizations/Campuses may not receive the award more than once for the same program in a three-year cycle. This award has a separate application process; please access the application form and instructions from AFA/IATF Award for Outstanding Alcohol/Other Drug Prevention Program This new award will annually recognize an outstanding campus and/or inter/national fraternity or sorority for their efforts in broad-based alcohol/other drug prevention efforts. Two awards will be available for distribution each year: one to a campus and one to an inter/national fraternity/sorority. Selection criteria and application form can be found on the AFA Awards website. Outstanding Volunteer Awards These awards are presented annually to up to eight volunteers in recognition of outstanding contributions. Nominations will be solicited from all volunteers separately from the other awards nominations process. Any volunteer, excluding Executive Board members, are eligible to receive this award.

The Exploration of a Model for Excellence:

Creating Relevant Fraternal Communities By Monica Miranda Smalls

To fully internalize a regulation, and thus to become autonomous with respect to it, people must inwardly grasp its meaning and worth. It is these meanings that become internalized and integrated in environments that provide supports for the needs for competence, relatedness, and


(Ryan & Deci, 2000)


he University of Rochester’s award-winning fraternity/sorority community was not always functioning as such. In 2003, the University’s College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering convened a committee to conduct an in-depth examination of fraternities and sororities similar to the types of reviews that were occurring in other areas of the University. The Committee to Review Fraternities and Sororities spent a year listening to presentations from a variety of offices and student groups (both fraternal and non-fraternal) and created a list of recommendations, which included the need to create a set of shared standards that would strengthen the community and clarify the expectations of fraternities and sororities. This recommendation prompted a review of the literature on student development and motivational theory, and a thorough assessment of the educational philosophy, culture, and principles of the College as well as its recognized fraternities and sororities. Two years later a model of excellence was created by a separate committee, the Fraternity and Sorority Standards Sub-Committee, prompting the initial goal of creating a strong, viable, College-centered community. This article describes the distinct parts of the University of Rochester (UR) model that provide a framework any campus can use for the creation of a success-driven model when examining and modifying its cultures and subcultures to strengthen a fraternity and sorority community. Institutional Culture and Values In 1995, the College developed a distinctive, curricular vision based on the simple idea that “students learn best when they have the freedom to study what they love” (UR website). The curriculum imposes minimal requirements and provides an opportunity for students to pursue their passions and interests. Soon after, the Communal Principles of the College were created to include Community, Freedom, Responsibility, Respect, Honesty, and Fairness. Areas including Residential Life and Housing, Athletics, and Student Government were undergoing reviews, all building on the curricular vision. With the College’s values and culture affirmed, it was committed to clarifying and understanding the nature of the fraternity and sorority student culture (Kuh, 1990). The goal was to develop a framework based upon the College culture that encouraged the cultural values, expectations, and practices of fraternities and sororities to be consistent with the values and academic mission of the College. Review of Best Practices Throughout the process, comparisons and examples of best practices related to the fraternity and sorority review processes, standards, recruitment strategies, community service, and other aspects of fraternity and sorority life were reviewed. Some institutions and organizations studied were Drexel University, Cornell University, Grand Valley State University, California State University-Chico, Randolph Macon College, Colgate University, Harvard University, Alfred State University, Union College, Alpha Phi Fraternity, and Delta Gamma Fraternity. The Call for Values Congruence (Franklin Square Group, 2005) was prominent in the committee’s research, as it addressed the need for congruence with values and actions, which resonated with the College. Comparisons were useful in defining what fit the institution’s value and culture as well as what did not. continued on page 10

Spring 2009 / Perspectives


continued from page 9

Review of Relevant Research As a research institution, no system-wide evaluation could occur in the College without reviewing the literature. Studies pertaining to student development and leadership by George Kuh, Ernest Pascarella, and Susan Komives, among others; motivational theory by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci; and organizational leadership by Lee Bolman and Terrance Deal were key in the review process. Kathleen Manning’s work in campus cultures, especially her expertise in innovative practices in student affairs, was utilized extensively in the development of this community. A variety of articles and manuscripts related to fraternities and sororities were also utilized, including the work of Gary Pike, Jerry Askew, Andrew Wall, Daniel Bureau, and the Franklin Square Group. The synthesis and integration of theory and research from several disciplines resulted in the creation of what is referred to as a “success-driven model” developed by the College.

Method and Hallmark Initiative A total of 58 trustees, alumni, deans, faculty, staff, students, and one parent worked to examine every aspect of fraternity and sorority life beginning in 2003, which culminated in the creation of the Expectations for Excellence Program in 2006. The Expectations for Excellence Program is the hallmark of the success-driven model for the community. It represents the effort to create a framework based upon the College culture that encourages cultural values, expectations, and practices of fraternities and sororities consistent with the values and academic mission of the College.

Management. At the end of the year, each chapter makes an annual presentation and provides an annual report to the Fraternity and Sorority Standards Sub-Committee, indicating how successful their efforts were, and submits its plan for the next year. The committee that previously reviewed the plans then makes decisions regarding whether or not to accredit the organization. The group provides extensive, written feedback to the chapters on their plans. Groups can receive commendation through this process, may be mandated to change or to improve plans for the future, or may ultimately lose recognition by the College.

This program emphasizes goal-setting, planning, and self-assessing in an accreditation model of accountability. The five categories of the Expectations for Excellence Program are Scholarship, Community Building and Leadership, Programming, Non-Academic Student Conduct, and Organizational

Engaging a large group of stakeholders throughout this review and the creative process encouraged clear and transparent discussions and processes and led to a program supporting the College principles of freedom, responsibility, and community. The Expectations for Excellence Program further encourages student participation and leadership roles throughout the College community, fosters student choice and informed decisionmaking, and provides student leaders with information and training that allows them to grow (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

Congruence of a Success-Driven System Institutional Culture and Values

Best Practices




Rooted in the College

Success-Driven Expectation of Achievement

Belief in Capability

Success-Driven Model When developing the revised fraternity and sorority success model, the focus was on three informational vectors: (1) a very thorough institutional review, (2) available research and theory about such topics as learning, culture, and motivation, and (3) a comprehensive analysis of best practices used at other institutions. Once completed, these three vectors were combined with the fraternity/sorority community-wide efforts to find congruence among the institutional mission and the fraternal cultures (the charters and stated beliefs of fraternities/sororities), as well as a belief that the fraternity/sorority community should be self-evaluative and rooted in the College. Because the College’s mission/philosophy was grounded in Ryan and Deci’s (2000) self determination theory, administrators insisted upon developing a framework that assumed that fraternity and sorority members could be and wanted to be successful. The College’s role was to expect, believe in, and provide support for their success.


Perspectives / Spring 2009

Promising Developments Kuh (1993) says, “Appraising an institution’s character is complicated and time consuming. Do not underestimate the amount of time required to discover, understand, and appreciate the institution’s character” (p. 666). While this is a process that seems replicable on any campus, the key to success will be clearly defining that particular institution’s academic mission and values prior to integrating and aligning its fraternities’ and sororities’ cultures and subcultures. Creating systems and processes that are aligned may prompt successes such as increased collaborative programming, increased communication between the campus and its fraternal organizations, as well as a positive impact on student learning, recruitment, and retention. Other promising developments within the UR fraternity/sorority community have included: • The sorority community realized a 3 percent growth during the 2007-2008 academic year.

• All six National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) chapters are at or above the campus total (50) and all reached quota at 22 in the spring of 2009 for the first time in at least 10 years. • One-third of the 30 active chapters received national, regional, or local awards in the 2007-2008 academic year. Two sororities and one fraternity received top inter/national chapter awards. Two UR NPC sorority chapter presidents were recognized with inter/national outstanding chapter president of the year awards. • Fraternity and sorority members have been increasingly involved in Student Association government. – In the last four years each Student Association President has been a fraternity member and the last two of three Vice Presidents have been sorority women. – Sixty-five percent of the Student Senate for 2007-2008 were members of fraternities/sororities. – The Chief Justice of the All-Campus Judicial Council since 2005 has been a member of a fraternity. The last two Associate Chief Justices have been fraternity or sorority members. – Seventy-five percent of the 2009 Class Council leadership are fraternity/sorority members. • The UR Fraternity/Sorority System received the National Association of Student Personnel Association (NASPA) Bronze Excellence Award in the category of Student Union, Student Activities, Greek Life, Leadership and related programs in March 2007 (Smalls, Rinefierd, & Stillman). • Alumni involvement & engagement has increased. – The number of Meliora Weekend (annual reunion and family weekend) alumni-related events hosted by fraternities/sororities increased. – The Office of Alumni Relations and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs

hosted regional fraternity/sorority alumni dinners. The first were hosted in Boston, MA in March 2008 and Denver, CO in December 2008. – Since 2005, two students, upon graduation, have been hired by their inter/ national organizations to serve as collegiate leadership consultants. One UR alumni currently serves as a national headquarters staff member serving as the Associate Director of Chapter Services. • For the 2007-2008 academic year, 30 percent of the non-athletic programs included during the six College community weekends were directly supported by fraternities or sororities either via volunteering their time to assist with setting up or coordinating the day or directly co-sponsoring the planning and promotion of the event. The College’s intersection of its belief in its students’ capability and the expectation of achievement based in a College-centered and self-evaluative system has prompted an expanding and thriving fraternity and sorority community at the University of Rochester. Organizations have significantly increased their expectations of members by delineating their responsibilities more clearly and working in conjunction with the office of the Dean of Students, holding members accountable collaboratively with the College. The UR fraternity and sorority community has welcomed 300 new members this spring recruitment season, a 27 percent increase from spring 2008 and a 56 percent increase since prior to the implementation of the success-driven model and the Expectations for Excellence Program process in the Spring of 2005. The College has intentionally invested in supporting a relevant fraternity and sorority community by aligning the cultures of the fraternities and sororities and the College through a paradigm of shared values.

References Franklin Square Group. (2005). A Call for Values Congruence. Retrieved September 15, 2006, from PublicDocuments/CallforValuesCongruence.pdf Kuh, G. D. (1990). Assessing student culture. New Directions for Institutional Research, 68, 47-60. Kuh, G. D. (1993). Appraising the character of a college. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71(6), 661-668. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contempory Educational Psychology, 25, 54-67. Smalls, M., Rinefierd, G., & Stillman, A. (2007, March 11). Charting an award-winning course for fraternity & sorority community success. Presentation to the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), Boston, MA. University of Rochester Website (1996-2009). The Rochester Curriculum. Retrieved January 30, 2009, from curricula.html


A comprehensive list of resources used during review of UR system can be found on the AFA website by clicking on Publications – Perspectives – Previous Issues.

– Monica Miranda Smalls serves as the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs for the University of Rochester’s Office of the Dean of Students. She is a 2008 recipient of the AFA Sue Kraft Fussell Distinguished Service Award. She also serves as chair of the board of trustees for Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Spring 2009 / Perspectives


By Mike Hayes


e love drama. Admit it, we thrive on it. In our daily work, either as a volunteer or a full time staff member at an inter/national organization or on campus, we love to huddle in a corner and “talk” about the controversial topic of the day. We have had a lot that we thought merited our gossip and discussion, many times at the Annual Meeting. I can think of the hazing survey results, countless coming out experiences (I can say that since I am among them), Compass, the Coalition Assessment Project, etc., etc.

When we established a committee to do a review of the Vision document at Maryland a couple of years ago, it was really exciting to see the changes that had occurred on our campus over the past 14 years. I really believe that by placing the line in the sand, the University elevated the overall health of our community. One instant indicator was that the All-Fraternity and Sorority Grade Point Averages have exceeded the All Men’s and Women’s Averages for 14 straight years. In the spring of 1994, this wasn’t the case. I use this as an illustration to demonstrate that if we are willing to draw the line in the sand, the chapters and students respond. Another interesting discovery about the document was that it mirrors the inter/national organizations’ current expectations of their chapters; that was not the case in 1994.

I remember back in the mid-nineties, as President of the Association, heading to the Annual Meeting and being confronted with the controversial topic of the moment...drumroll, then gasp...The Maryland Plan. How dare they? How in the world could a campus place programming demands on chapters and their fraternity/sorority comUltimately, we tweaked our document a little bit and re-branded munity? Bedlam will ensue...or so the prophets of the day thought. it. What was more important, though, was the opportunity to eleI am here to say things are ok in College Park. Moreover, what is vate the conversations again to an “of course, chapters are doing this ironic about our drama du jour and that’s why we let them stay is that, in nearly every case, around and now how can we those “controversial topics” reward and prod excellence in a In 1994, have led the fraternal movement different way” discussion. This is it was called a to a better place. I know they a very exciting discussion. In have led my campus there. 1994, it was called a “vision” for for what we hope our chapters and community what we hope our chapters and Thinking back to 1994, when community would be doing. Now Now it is the the discussion of campus it is the starting line. It is an standards began, the folks at expectation that if you are going Maryland (I wasn’t there) were to be on campus you are doing really forward thinking. I have these things and more. I cannot read the historical documents think of a person who can argue about The Maryland Plan and marvel at the discussion of values with that. Sure, we may disagree on strategies and tactics, but not congruence, which they had in a very deliberate manner, long before the outcome. I know I can say that at the University of Maryland, the interfraternal community embraced it as the keystone for the we are still not where we would like to be, but we are in a promovement’s survival. I also look at the leadership exhibited in the foundly different place than we were. campus standards movement. Countless schools have implemented standards or accreditation programs. I am happy to say that the movement, in my opinion, is strong. Partnerships with the inter/ – Mike Hayes is the Director of Fraternity/Sorority Life at the national organizations were, and still are, critical to the successful University of Maryland, College Park. He is a past president of implementation of such programs. Another irony is that the national the Association of Fraternity Advisors. For more information umbrella organizations got on the standards wagon for their chapters on The Maryland Plan, please visit and thereby, the fraternal communities on our campuses. We, again, vision.htm. are in a better place.


would be doing.

starting line.

The Fraternity & Sorority Coalition Assessment Project has placed our communities on a different kind of alert, but a great one, nonetheless. We have said that communities do key things to bring this values-based experience to life. Campuses and inter/national organizations are really in sync with quantitative and qualitative measures that indicate a healthy and vital community. This wasn’t possible 14 years ago. Again, we are in a better place.


Join the discussion on campus accreditation programs by visiting the Association’s website and clicking on the “Online Community” link.

From Where I Sit is a new section in Perspectives featuring a personal perspective on the interfraternal community. Do you have an opinion to share on fraternity/sorority life? Tell us how things look from where you sit by emailing your thoughts to the editor at, and you could see your ideas in a future issue of Perspectives.


Perspectives / Spring 2009

By Brandon J. Cutler and Zachary D. Nicolazzo

Strategic Planning: Guiding the Campus-based Change the Fraternal Movement Needs


magine going to work and being able to focus solely on the most important issues facing the community. Imagine what you could accomplish if you were able to intentionally plot a course for community growth and fraternal relevance. Now stop imagining and start planning – strategically. Although strategic planning can be intimidating given the daily challenges of an already demanding and overworked profession, it creates an opportunity to redefine this work by establishing community outcomes and developing a written plan to guide the community and chart a relevant future. There is no singular approach to campus-based strategic planning, as each campus needs to utilize a method that meets its particular needs. This article will demonstrate how strategic planning has impacted the fraternal movement at two institutions: Kansas State University and the University of Arizona. The initial steps in the strategic planning process are often the most difficult to take, and include building a coalition, putting together a planning committee, identifying cultural influences within the community, identifying available financial and staff resources, and committing to a timeline. Kansas State University (K-State) made the decision in August 2006 to challenge the already high-performing fraternity/sorority community to further align their organizational actions and behaviors with their respective missions. There were several clear expectations for the strategic planning process, which included: • Complete the plan by May 2007; • Address the need for transparency, engagement, and commitment of community stakeholders in the process; • Utilize the availability of generous institutional support and financial resources; and • Cultivate the commitment of time and energy from students, staff, and alumni to develop and implement the plan.

The University of Arizona’s (U of A) process began during the 20032004 academic year with the creation of a task force to address critical issues within the fraternity/sorority community. The purpose differed from K-State, because the task force set out to create a cultural shift regarding issues that threatened the existence of fraternity/sorority organizations as a whole. The task force was charged with the goal of rectifying issues of risk management, health and wellness, and academic success. More specifically, the task force was charged with the following: • Develop and execute assessment initiatives accurately capturing the current state of the fraternity/sorority community; • Collect data from other fraternity/sorority communities about programs, standards for University recognition, and best-practices to address hazing, risk management, retention rates, etc.; • Generate mission and vision statements for the fraternity/sorority community; • Review the current University of Arizona Relationship Statement with Greek Life; and • Develop recommendations for changes regarding current policies, practices, and programs, as well as a timeline for initiatives. The Importance of Understanding Cultural Artifacts Having an understanding of the political climate, the needs and demands of stakeholders, and the cultural dynamics which define the campus fraternity/sorority community is critical in shaping a successful strategic planning process. This framework will help shape the structure of a planning committee to craft an effective and efficient planning schedule while addressing assessment needs. It will also highlight who is best qualified to facilitate the planning process. The K-State fraternity/sorority community prides itself on self-governance and putting students first. It also has an invested group of influential alumni, and the Office of Greek Affairs has a staff with three full-time professionals. A strategic planning committee of four students, two alumni, and two staff members was appointed to represent K-State’s community governance model. At the U of A, the planning committee had six student representatives and six campus representatives. Included were four volunteers: two local business owners who were fraternity/sorority advisors, a past international sorority president, and a current sorority housing corporation member. Campus representatives, intentionally selected from Campus Health, the Alumni Office, and the Office of the General Counsel, brought their respective expertise to help address the issues of alcohol and drug abuse, retention and alumni involvement, and risk management. Due to the political climate at K-State, the need for transparency, and the importance of staff participating fully without negative political consequence, it became clear that an outside facilitator was needed to guide the planning process. A call for facilitators was disseminated, requiring potential facilitators to submit a planning outline and proposal. Dan Bureau was selected based on his proposal’s emphasis on mission and action congruence, credibility, and his ability to work within the proposed timeline. The U of A task force did not seek an outside facilitator to guide their strategic planning mainly due to the high level of involvement and collaboration between offices, outside stakeholders, and constituency groups serving on the task force itself. Without an appointed facilitator, and given the varied perspectives on the U of A task force, it was communicated that different individuals would take turns leading in areas mirroring their expertise. continued on page 14 Spring 2009 / Perspectives


continued from page 13 Assessment K-State regularly assesses the community quantitatively in the following areas: recruitment, retention and graduation rates, academic performance, social responsibility compliance, program effectiveness, and the perception of fraternities/sororities by members, faculty, staff, alumni, non-affiliated students, and parents. Therefore, the decision was made to assess the community qualitatively through a series of focus groups, concentrating on chapters’ congruence to their mission. Graduate students from K-State and the University of Nebraska at Kearney were trained as facilitators for 37 focus groups. In January 2007, more than 500 people were engaged in these focus groups, including each chapter’s past and current executive boards, faculty, administrators, alumni, and community leaders. The assessment done at the U of A was ethnographic in its approach. Given the fact that certain issues existed on a community-wide level, the task force was able to target areas for improvement based on the behavior of the

committee can make the process efficient. Spend face-to-face time developing themes, and allow the facilitator/task force leader to wordsmith between committee sessions. Utilizing electronic mediums, such as email, webinars, conference calls, or online meeting services, is increasingly important for gathering feedback and for communities isolated by distance from a considerable portion of the alumni and advisor base. Visionary Leadership through the Planning Process The strategic planning process should include activities such as: SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, brainstorming, team building, and developing creative solutions to the common problems that effect the fraternal movement. Such activities guide the development of community mission, vision, shared values, outcomes, and strategic issues. During the K-State strategic planning process, the facilitator had to reframe and restructure activities, create effec-

The resulting K-State plan was divided into five categories: mission and action congruence, community, collaboration, sustainability and growth, and technology and related infrastructure. It defined a community mission, vision, values, and outcomes. Each strategic item was assigned a completion date and prioritized as critical, essential, or important. At the U of A, guidelines were established for a new chapter accreditation process and Standards of Excellence as a result of the strategic planning process. In addition, office staff members were asked to continually work to obtain donor support for the Legacy Program, a five-pronged program designed to address specific needs of the U of A fraternity/ sorority community: academic success, health and wellness, advisor training and support, leadership development, and social justice education. Initially, fraternity/sorority organizations were given the option to partake in a voluntary trial period, where they could be a part of the newly implemented accreditation system as a way to acclimate into what would soon become a permanent campus feature.

[...the strategic plan is a living and organic document.] fraternities and sororities. Additionally, with the wide variety of constituents represented on the task force, various perspectives on what needed to be improved within the fraternity and sorority community were voiced. Based on this assessment, areas of reform and improvement were pinpointed and the strategic planning process began with information grounded on specific areas. Capitalizing on Strengths and Communicating Effectively Strategic planning requires significant time and commitment from any fraternity/sorority community. The planning process requires long days of committee work, assessment, coordinating logistics, communicating progress, and creating opportunities for stakeholders to provide continued feedback. It is imperative to discuss the planning committee’s expectations and outcomes. Without a clear understanding of the issue(s) at hand and the desired outcomes, a strategic planning committee will be lost. Making sure everyone is on the same page and that enhancing student learning is a main component to the overall fraternity/ sorority experience will set the committee up for success. Effectively utilizing technology to communicate with stakeholders and to continue dialogue between the facilitator and the planning


Perspectives / Spring 2009

tive and efficient workgroups, challenge the committee to trust where the process was going, and push the committee to stay on task. His constant guidance, structure, and management of the planning process allowed the committee to focus entirely on the development of a plan that met the expectations of the community rather than the administrative and functional parts of the process. Similarly, a sense of urgency and a desire to see a quick move toward an increasingly relevant fraternity/sorority community provided motivation for the U of A task force to stay on task. In addition, the structure and content of a plan needs to work for the community in regards to the degree of specificity and flexibility of the strategic outcomes. Being specific while remaining flexible will have the benefit of allowing the fraternity/sorority community to adapt better to the implementation of the strategic plan as well as allow for continued improvement to the plan. Understanding the strategic plan is a living and organic document allows the community to grow and change. Furthermore, the utilization of deadlines will increase community accountability for accomplishing strategic planning tasks, making the implementation of the plan less intimidating and more manageable.

The staff at the U of A consistently reviewed the outcomes of the strategic planning process, with feedback from stakeholders, to assess what may need to be updated or amended given the current needs of the community, and made changes accordingly. How to Market Your Strategic Plan Fraternity/sorority professionals must gauge their communities and choose the appropriate method for unveiling a strategic planning process. Prior to unveiling the K-State plan, several forums were held for undergraduate and alumni leaders to review the proposed plan, allowing them to understand the strategic items and rationale and offer feedback to be considered in the final committee session. The consideration of stakeholder input and the adjustments made to the plan created a sense of shared ownership, making implementation more effective. The strategic plan was then unveiled to stakeholders through a series of meetings and retreats according to the role of the specific group within the community. In all, the K-State strategic planning process took nine months to complete, encompassing approximately 50 hours of focus group activities, 40 hours of committee work, and hundreds of additional hours spent working from a distance.

At the U of A, the strategic plan was unveiled in stages and with various constituency groups. As the Standards of Excellence were created, inter/national organization staffs of the fraternities and sororities on campus were informed regarding this document to ensure that standards were similar across the board. After the plan was approved by the task force, the group implemented their accreditation program as a pilot program for one year, which allowed voluntary involvement on behalf of the chapters with the understanding that the plan may be modified slightly and fully implemented the following year. Working with all of the constituency groups to ensure that what the task force came up with was in line with the common fraternal values as well as the mission and visions for both the University and the Fraternity and Sorority Programs office took a significant amount of time and energy. Implementing a strategic plan has challenges, but it can also be an uplifting and transformational experience. Creating sustainable cultural change through the plan should become the practitioner’s priority. Strategic action items provide professionals with a solid foundation to address community issues with a greater sense of purpose and urgency. Job responsibilities that do not seem relevant to the mission and vision of the community are replaced with developing an outcomesbased curriculum that outlines both the direction the community should move as well as how it should go about remaining relevant to fraternal values. Strategic Planning: Making Sure the Plan is Working An assessment of the 0-18 month time period, which concluded in December 2008, showed the K-State fraternity/sorority community was approximately 90 percent successful in addressing strategic issues. Several highlights of the implementation are curriculum-based membership development programs, the development and implementation of the Fraternal Relevance Accreditation and Minimum Expectations Program, and the revision and implementation of a comprehensive risk management policy and educational programs. At the U of A, after the first full year of implementation of the accreditation program, 38 of the 49 fraternities and sororities were at or above the “Chapter of Promise” level of accreditation, the minimum standard to be recognized by the campus. Those chapters falling below the “Chapter of Promise” level have an opportunity to resubmit their Chapter Assessment Tool at the end of the 2009 spring semester in an attempt to raise their overall score. It is anticipated that when this occurs, a majority of the chapters will rise above the “Chapter of Promise” level.

At both institutions, change is also evident anecdotally, as student leaders commonly discuss the relevance to their mission in decisionmaking processes, developing learning outcomes for council programming, and during annual membership and chapter events. In addition, chapters at the U of A are using the Standards of Excellence and the Chapter Assessment Tool as ways to guide bylaw revisions and regular operating practices, including updating scholarship programs, focusing on values-based recruitment, and improving overall risk management.

References Bureau, D., (2007, Winter). Barriers to greatness: Using the concept of fraternal relevancy to create urgency for change. Perspectives, 8-11. Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E., (2003). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Conclusion Although strategic planning has challenges, the opportunity for success is clear. Strategic plans and change initiatives are easy to place on a shelf and forget about, making change and improvement impossible or at least unlikely. Bolman & Deal (2003) point out that most change agents fail when they rely on reason and structure and neglect human, political, and symbolic elements within the change process. Fraternity/sorority involvement is centered on the concept of mission and action congruence and demonstrating relevance to the mission of the organizations and host institutions. Bureau (2007) states “our contribution to any relevancy movement is examining how practitioners do our work and what can be done differently to make the experience better than it is today” (p. 8). Strategic planning equips communities with the opportunities and means to create sustainable cultural change through innovative programs, practices, and policies. Strategic planning can be the vehicle for ensuring congruent and relevant change happens. Kansas State University and the University of Arizona fraternity/sorority communities embraced the opportunity to increase their relevance. Both communities have shown continued progress and growth in membership recruitment, retention, accountability, chapter performance, and the overall health of the communities. Strategic planning focusing on fraternal relevance will help any community become the change the fraternal movement needs.

– Brandon J. Cutler is the Assistant Director for Greek Affairs at the Kansas State University and Zachary D. Nicolazzo is the Coordinator for Fraternity & Sorority Programs at the University of Arizona.

Spring 2009 / Perspectives


Filling the Gap: Identifying Fraternity and Sorority Member Needs through Assessment By Larry D. Long and Cara W. Luyster


verprogramming has become a problem for fraternity and sorority members on many college campuses. Undergraduate members may be expected to attend a membership education roundtable on one day and a study skills workshop on the next. Sometimes these programs are also duplicated by other campus organizations or reintroduced by inter/national organization staff and volunteers. In addition to educational sessions, the calendar of a typical fraternity or sorority member is filled with meetings, service and philanthropic events, socials, and other student organization commitments. The plethora of educational sessions students are expected to attend by campus professionals, inter/national organization staff, and advisors may lead to burn-out. Are all of the lectures, workshops, and discussion groups really necessary? Do they meet the developmental needs of students? Conducting a needs assessment will enable campus professionals and inter/national organization staff and volunteers to engage in purposeful programming, allocate resources effectively, and justify the need for educational programs. The purpose of this article is to describe how to conduct a needs assessment to identify the skill areas in which students tend to be competent and the areas in which they require additional training.

Steps in the Needs Assessment Process 1. Conduct a preliminary analysis 2. Develop an assessment plan a. Create a questionnaire b. Pilot the questionnaire 3. Conduct the assessment a. Collect data b. Analyze data 4. Summarize and report the results


Perspectives / Spring 2009

Why Assess Student Needs? Fraternity and sorority advisors may become stuck in the trap of organizing educational programs simply because they organize them every year or because they believe students could benefit from the programs. There are two problems with this philosophy. First, this is not an effective way of allocating resources. The current state of the economy has resulted in budget cuts at many campuses. It is more important than ever to use resources for programs that are essential to the development or the positive experiences of students. Second, arbitrarily organizing programs does not serve students’ needs. A needs assessment will enable the fraternity/sorority advisor to fill the gap between students’ current abilities and their optimal skill level by purposefully organizing programs that address their needs (Schuh & Upcraft, 2001). Conduct a Preliminary Analysis The first step in the needs assessment process is conducting a preliminary analysis of the programs and services offered by the organization or institution. The analysis will provide a better understanding of the programs presently offered, and the results may be used when interpreting the findings from the needs assessment. The following questions should be considered when conducting the preliminary analysis: What programs does the organization or office provide to students? Who attends those programs? What skills are students receiving as a result of those programs? Do other offices or organizations offer similar programs? What areas are not being covered through programming? What areas are being over-programmed? Over a span of an average year or semester of programming, are all of the department-wide benchmarks, learning outcomes, and objectives covered? Aside from answering these questions, the results of assessment instruments such as the AFA/EBI Fraternity/Sorority Assessment or the Center for the Study of the College Fraternity’s (CSCF) Fraternity and Sorority Experience Survey may serve as an additional source of information regarding the training students receive. Both instruments include questions pertaining to the programming that is available to students.

Create the Questionnaire There are many ways to conduct a needs assessment, one of which is the gap analysis approach described by Altschuld and Witkin (2000). This approach requires the creation of a double-scaled questionnaire that assesses a current state and a desired state. For instance, students might be asked about their ability to confront their peers (current state) in addition to the confrontational skills one should expect of fraternity and sorority members (desired state). Relative need may then be identified by comparing the means of the two responses. In comparison, singlescaled questions may only assess students’ wants rather than their needs. Altschuld and Witkin (2000) suggested the double-scaled questionnaire is superior for conducting needs assessments, because it has higher face validity and it fits the definition of a need. When creating the questionnaire, questions pertaining to students’ ability to perform specific tasks, such as speaking in front of large groups, confronting other students to address an issue, and creating and maintaining a budget should be included. Asking specific questions enables students to reflect on their ability to perform the tasks. Broader prompts, such as public speaking, confrontation, and budgeting are too vague and do not allow for distinguishing between students’ knowledge of a task and their ability to perform the task. A benefit of the gap analysis approach to needs assessment is the ability to differentiate between student wants and student needs. Simply asking students which educational sessions they would be interested in attending may only assess their wants. Another benefit is the ability to identify the relative importance of receiving additional training in an area. It may be determined that learning how to create and maintain a budget is a need for students; however this need may not be as important as the need to learn how to confront peers. Knowing the relative importance will assist campus professionals and inter/ national organization staff and volunteers in diverting resources toward programs that are most likely to meet the developmental needs of students. To address low priority needs, fraternity/sorority advisors can educate students on the availability of training opportunities through other sources. There are several options for designing and disseminating the questionnaire. A recommended approach is the creation of an online survey, possibly through a service such as Many websites allow users to track who has completed the survey and follow-up with non-respondents. An alternative approach would be to create a paper questionnaire that could be disseminated at chapter meetings. Campus professionals may also consider contacting their campus institutional research office to inquire about other means to conduct the assessment. The office may also be a good resource for assistance with designing the questionnaire and analyzing the collected data. Faculty in a sociology or educational psychology department may also provide assistance. Summarize and Report the Results An important aspect of any form of assessment is reporting the results (Schuh & Upcraft, 1998). Randy Swing informed the general assembly at the Summer Institute on First-Year Assessment that, “We are all too busy to be doing assessment if its only purpose is filling shelves” (Swing, 2004). The conducting of assessment for assessment’s sake can be avoided by writing reports and executive summaries that include specific recommendations and are easy to understand. In regard to the needs assessment, the report should highlight the areas in which students require additional training and the areas in which they are competent. The report may also highlight the differences and similarities in students’ needs by year-in-school, involvement level, gender, or other demographics. The recommendation section should include suggestions for meeting students’ needs by using the data from the preliminary analysis as a reference. In some cases, educating students about the availability of resources may be the best approach, whereas in others, consideration might be given to adding or discontinuing programs or marketing current programs in a different way to reach the students with the most need. It is important to consider many factors before launching new initiatives. Such factors include time and personnel requirements, cost, the expertise of those involved, and how the new program will align with existing leadership programs. Prior to discontinuing a program, further research (e.g., focus groups, review of past evaluations) should be conducted to determine if a program should be completely eliminated or just updated to reflect the needs of current students. The results of the assessment should be shared with stakeholders at the chapter, advisor, inter/ national organization staff and volunteers, office, division, and university levels. Working with these constituents to identify continued on page 18 Spring 2009 / Perspectives


continued from page 17 opportunities for collaboration, mutual priorities, and ways to make the information relevant is critical. Regardless of the findings, intentional procedures should be established to replicate the assessment on a systematic basis, and to provide consistent updates to stakeholders through newsletters, websites, and progress reports. The findings of the assessment and the subsequent implementation process will be as important to constituents as they are to the fraternity/sorority advisor. Limitations Any assessment instrument has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, the gap analysis approach described in this article is limited by the possibility of measurement error. The way survey questions are written may influence the way students respond. Simply asking students to rate their skill level on a five-point scale may produce results with low validity, since every student might interpret the five-point scale differently. For instance, some students may rate themselves high because they have a high regard for their abilities, whereas other students may rate themselves low because they are overly critical of themselves. To minimize measurement error, it is important to state what the points on the scale represent. This will enable students to reflect on their skill level based on the stated descriptions. Despite this limitation, the gap analysis approach can result in useful information for fraternity and sorority advisors.

Sample 5-point Scale


Exceptional performance of the task; You could teach the task to others

Moderately able to perform the task; You may require some direction





Summary Conducting a needs assessment is vital to avoiding irrelevant programs that do not develop students’ skills. By identifying the gap between students’ current and optimal abilities, fraternity and sorority advisors can make decisions about revising current programs and developing new initiatives. This type of assessment must take place as inter/national organization staff and campus professionals continue to deal with budget cuts during these challenging economic times. To have the greatest impact, the results of needs assessments should be shared with all relevant stakeholders.

– Cara Luyster is the Assistant Director of Student Life at Ball State University and advises the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils. – Larry Long is a graduate student in student affairs administration and institutional research at Ball State University and is a member of the AFA EBI Committee.


Perspectives / Spring 2009

Altschuld, J. W., & Witkin, B. R. (2000). From needs assessment to action: Transforming needs into solution strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Gupta, K., Sleezer, C., & Russ-Eft, D. F. (2007). A practical guide to needs assessment. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2007). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


When determining the skill-level for a given task, please use the following scale: Unsure how to perform the task; You require step-by-step direction.

The following literature provides additional information related to conducting a needs assessment and developing educational programs based on the results:

Altschuld, J. W., & Witkin, B. R. (2000). From needs assessment to action: Transforming needs into solution strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Schuh, J. H., & Upcraft, M. L. (2001). Assessment practice in student affairs: An applications manual. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Schuh, J. H., & Upcraft, M. L. (1998). Facts and myths about assessment in student affairs. About Campus, 3(5), 2-8. Swing, R. (2004). Opening remarks. Presented at Summer Institute on First-Year Assessment. July 18, 2004. Asheville, NC.

Usi ng L e arn i ng Ou tcom es to By Dan Wrona


he days when it was acceptable to throw programs at problems are over. The growing emphasis on assessment and accountability in higher education demands that fraternity/sorority professionals discover how to measure what was previously considered immeasurable (ACPA & NASPA, 2004). The current economic crisis requires that we intentionally produce what was previously thought to be accidental and that we do so with fewer resources. The fraternity/sorority profession is entering an era when every initiative must be undertaken carefully and intentionally. Fortunately, a few lessons from professional development trainers demonstrate how to use learning outcomes to achieve measurable gains in student learning and development. The American Society for Training and Development recognizes the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) model as the professional standard for developing learning experiences. The guidelines below are adapted from this model and can aid in developing educational efforts that are much more intentional, effective, and measurable (Molenda, 2003).

Precisely Define Performance Consider that GPS device on the dashboard of your car. Type in the coordinates of your favorite vacation spot, and it will respond with precise directions to the doorstep of an oceanfront hotel. But what if your coordinates are incorrect, vague, or imaginary? You might end up in the right state but the wrong city, the right city on the wrong street, or the right street on the wrong block. Your dream vacation would fall short of its promise. Defining learning outcomes requires the same precision. It is easy to make a few rough guesses for the conference program proposal or for an important pitch to your supervisor. Even these vague ideas will lead to increased learning, but measurable changes in performance are not likely to follow. If you are ready to become more intentional in your use of learning outcomes, start by clearly identifying the exact change in knowledge, skill, or attitude that you want to affect. Consider the following example. A typical program summary might state, “students will develop their capacity for leadership.” At first glance this makes sense, but after careful analysis, many interpretations arise. What exactly does this mean? What performance are we trying to generate? The intent of the program could be that students will be able to do any of the following: • Describe major leadership theories • Report on academic research in leadership • Delegate responsibility to other members • Use confrontation skills to foster accountability • Accept more positions and responsibilities • Agree that leadership is a good idea

Any of these is a reasonable option, but each one achieves a different result. For the sake of example, assume the real goal in this situation is for students to “use confrontation skills to foster accountability.” This, again, sounds like a valid learning outcome, but the statement leaves the door open to many possibilities. Use some of the following questions to identify the precise results you want to achieve: • What problem are you really trying to solve? • What lesson should students carry away with them? • When and where should students put this lesson to use? • Describe the typical scenario. How will the information, skill, or attitude be applied? • What factors would support successful performance? These questions help further refine “use confrontation skills to foster accountability” into “students will: • Identify three issues that must be confronted immediately • Construct a scenario for each confrontation • Rehearse the key steps of confrontation • Identify and respond to anticipated roadblocks • Describe how to prepare for additional confrontations” Reaching this level of precision with your learning outcomes increases the likelihood that you will achieve them. It also provides clear direction about which educational techniques are the most appropriate. continued on page 20

Spring 2009 / Perspectives


continued from page 19

Select the Most Effective Technique Traditional stand-up presentations are rarely the best way to create learning. According to Stolovitch & Keeps (2002), the greatest impact on performance is achieved by programs that stimulate multiple senses and that closely mimic real-world scenarios. This suggests that we should look beyond PowerPoint, lecture, and thick binders to select from a broader array of training tools such as case studies, video, role play, simulation, reflection, quiz games, Facebook, rehearsal, or coaching. Use activities that offer a mix of auditory, verbal, tactile, and visual experiences, and carefully select the techniques which most closely replicate situations that students will face when applying your lessons in the field. The final learning outcome in the confrontation example outlined above describes an intensive working and training session. This workshop would likely involve a brainstorming session, a prioritization activity, a brief lecture on confrontation, recitation of the key steps, small group reflection, case scenarios, and multiple rounds of role play with peer critique. A quick-answer guide addressing potential roadblocks, a wallet-sized confrontation cue sheet, and a policy change may also positively impact learning and performance. Measure the Result Measurement proves to be a constant struggle. Large scale annual assessment tools can be helpful, but they are unable to measure the impact of individual initiatives. Post-program evaluations are common, but they often measure satisfaction, not learning. In short, they ask, “Did we entertain you?” rather than, “What did you learn?” and (later), “Did you use it and did it make a difference?” Precisely stated learning outcomes can help overcome this challenge. If they clearly define the performance goal, the metrics should become obvious. Professionals simply need to ask whether the program delivered on its promise in real time, in the short term, and in the long run. Measure the hypothetical confrontation program in real time by monitoring students’ ability to identify the issues, describe the scenario, recite and demonstrate the steps, address roadblocks, and apply the lessons to new situations during the session. Short- and long-term assessments would ask: • Did the confrontation occur? • Was the issue resolved?

Conclusion The need for data-driven change has never been more apparent in higher education. In addition to our existing resources, those from the training and development industry can help meet this demand for assessment, intentionality, and accountability. Utilizing the lessons above, you should be prepared to assess the impact of each educational program; weigh its proportion of time, energy, and money invested; and determine whether it should be retained, improved, or eliminated. When it is time to replace or improve a program, use learning outcomes responsibly to ensure that you truly achieve measurable changes in performance.

– Dan Wrona is the CEO & Project Leader for RISE Partnerships, a company that provides leadership skills training to college fraternities and sororities. He is an active member of the Charlotte chapter of the American Society for Training and Development and an MBA candidate at the University of South Carolina. He is also an Associate member of AFA.

• Did the number of related incidents change? • Was confrontation repeated? • Did the number of incidents change in other issue areas? • Are the real-time metrics retained over time? These metrics may not deliver definitive proof that learning has occurred, but they provide excellent feedback about whether the intervention or program is contributing to performance. If change is not apparent, repeat the process by refining objectives, selecting alternate techniques, and measuring any changes in the result.


Perspectives / Spring 2009

References American College Personnel Association & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (2004). Learning reconsidered: A campus-wide focus on the student experience [Online]. Retrieved March 3, 2009, from Molenda, M. (2003). In search of the elusive ADDIE model. Performance Improvement, 42(5), 34. Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2002). Telling ain’t training. Baltimore: ASTD Press.

Assessment Project on iti al Co y rit ro So d ...the Fraternity an ey change agents, k fy ti en id to , e g an positive ch for your office. may be used to drive es rc u so re al n io it d and to secure ad

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ation le, as is more inform ab ail av is ed ss se as at have been t director A list of campuses th Project. Contact projec t en m ss se As n tio ali Sorority Co . on the Fraternity and rg or (317) 876-4691 y.o nd ci ni t@ en m ss Eric Freeman at asse


Perspectives / Spring 2009

Spring 2009 / Perspectives


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Why We Believe in You

A Q&A with AFA Foundation Board Chairman Tom Jelke

Donna M. Bourassa Level Management Institute. Finally, we fund research in higher education that benefits the fraternity and sorority advising profession. AFAF grants helped start Oracle: The Research Journal of the Association of Fraternity Advisors, and assisted Dr. Gregory Parks, Ph.D. write a book about African American fraternities and sororities.

Tom Jelke, AFA Foundation Chairman, has served on the AFA Foundation Board since 2002 including the last two years as Chairman. He is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, a graduate of Florida International University, Bowling Green State University, Indiana University, and President of t.jelke solutions.

Q. Many AFA members ask what exactly is the Association of Fraternity Advisors Foundation. A. The AFA Foundation (AFAF) is a non-profit, 501(C)(3) educational foundation established to support the educational and professional development services provided by the Association of Fraternity Advisors. We do that by raising, investing, and distributing funds to help the fraternity and sorority advising profession. Q. What does the Foundation do to support the Association of Fraternity Advisors and its members? A. We focus on education and professional development, scholarships, and research. For example, we provide programming grants to AFA to support the Annual Meeting, most notably the Opening Session and the Graduate Training Track. Many grants are made possible through gifts from organizations like Rho Lambda and Beta Theta Pi. We fund programs outside of AFA such as the National Hazing Symposium as well as offer conference scholarships for the AFA Annual Meeting, the Interfraternity Institute, and the ACPA

Q. What are the Foundation’s long-range plans? A. We have several long-term plans for the Foundation. First, we will continue to provide financial support for AFA and the fraternity/sorority advising profession. A specific goal here is to provide an Annual Meeting scholarship for every graduate student who applies. Second, we want to endow a staff position within AFA that will focus solely on program development for the profession. Finally, we want to expand our funding of research on the fraternity and sorority experience. Q. Tell me something new and exciting going on in the Foundation?

our leadership team. They include Lisa Swiontek from the Indiana University Foundation, Jen Pendleton from the Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation, Matt Frazier from the Pursuant Group, and two AFA Past Presidents, Amy Vojta and Dan Bureau. Q. Many members ask why they should support the Foundation, particularly if their ability to give is limited. What would you say to those members? A. I believe in this cause and that is why I give to the AFA Foundation. I owe a great deal of my personal and professional development to my fraternity experience. That experience was greatly enhanced by campus professionals, as well as fraternity and sorority staff members. There are many ways to give to the AFA Foundation. You can donate at the Annual Meeting, give a set amount via credit card or checking debit, or purchase an item(s) at the Silent Auction. Every dollar we raise is used to support the Association of Fraternity Advisors and its members. We appreciate every gift that is given, whether it is $10 or $10,000. It sounds cliché, but every dollar counts.

A. This is an exciting time for the Foundation. We have secured our first five endowed scholarships and are working to add more this year. We also have 17 members of the Amicus Sequentes Circle, which is our planned giving society. These individuals have named the AFA Foundation as a beneficiary in their wills or estate plans. Finally, I think some of the new directors of the Foundation Board bring tremendous talent and experience to

The Foundation’s Mission To secure, invest, and distribute the necessary resources to support the educational objectives of the Association of Fraternity Advisors. As a registered 501(c)(3) organization, the Foundation raises money through individual, organizational and corporate donations to provide the highest quality professional development opportunities for AFA members. Gifts are taxdeductible to the extent the law permits.

How Can I Help? There are several ways you can make a gift to the AFA Foundation: 1. Annual cash gift (check or credit card). To make an annual gift online, please visit: 2. Set-up automatic monthly or quarterly credit card installments. 3. List the AFA Foundation as a beneficiary in your will, individual retirement plan, or life insurance policy. 4. Endow a gift to the AFA Foundation. For recurring credit card charges or information on estate or life insurance gifts, please call the AFA Foundation at 678-654-6207. Please consider making a gift of $25, $50, $100, or more and mail to: AFA Foundation, 9640 Augusta Drive, Suite 433, Carmel, IN 46032

Tom Jelke, AFA Foundation Chairman, presents Elizabeth Bell Searcy of Delta Gamma with a John Mohr Society recognition brick for their support of the AFA Foundation.

“It was so refreshing to listen to someone who has faith in the goodness of the Greek system and the qualities that we should all be dedicated to uphold. Thank you for adding fuel to my inspiration to fight for all the ideals that our founders fought for in their time. I truly hope that by learning from and continuing their, and your, example, I can wear my letters with a well-earned pride.”

–Nikki Held, Student Kappa Alpha Theta, Tulane University


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Perspectives Spring 2009  

AFA Perspectives Spring 2009

Perspectives Spring 2009  

AFA Perspectives Spring 2009