SSAO leadership is critical in rethinking the current role of
campus fraternity/sorority professionals and formalizing the
role of volunteer student coaches as integral parts of fraternity/sorority operations. Consider the following five steps to
advance these concepts.
Meet;with;student;leaders. SSAOs often look for specific
initiatives to engage student leaders in improving the quality
of the fraternity/sorority experience. By convening a meeting
of student leaders, SSAOs can check their reactions to these
ideas. What do they think of a team of alumni advisors, some
or many of whom might not be affiliated with their national
organization? From their perspective, what would it take to
make such a coaching initiative work?
these concepts with student affairs staff and test their viability.
Would the current campus environment support the development of a staff/alumni chapter coaching program? Is your staff
ready to make changes like these? Would alumni coaching
volunteers profitably serve other areas within student affairs?
A fraternity/sorority advisor might not have the clout necessary to engage potential alumni coaches in a paradigm shift.
As SSAO, contact your counterpart in institutional advancement to suggest a collaborative effort to expand the engagement of alumni in the undergraduate life of the college
or university. Your direct involvement will affect how the
idea is received.
Test;the;idea.;Given sufficient interest, consider supporting the development of a pilot effort with a limited set
of participating organizations. Charge a senior staff member
to collaborate with alumni affairs to test the concept with
several chapters. Appeal to alumni who are already involved in
supporting student affairs or to the leadership of area alumni
chapters. Support the pilot and assess the outcomes measured
by chapter and individual member performance.
Support;related;professional;development. If the
volunteer coaching model gains traction on your campus,
encourage its expansion by supporting the professional development of your staff. Your staff member and the fraternity/
sorority advisor would benefit from greater knowledge of
volunteer development skills. Review existing resources
within higher education and in the world of non-profit organization management, philanthropy, and campus/community
The current reality for most front-line fraternity/sorority pro-
fessionals is a combination of work with council and chapter
leaders who support their individual growth and development
as officers balanced with the inevitable task of reacting to the
risk management “issue of the week.” Expected to manage
this tightrope with precision and poise, most campus advisors
work in environments where the cards appear to be stacked
against them. Many campus officials view the fraternity/soror-
ity advisor role as an entry-level position and accept a high
rate of turnover. Fraternity/sorority professionals are often the
youngest directors within student affairs, or they are buried
deep within the layers of larger departments.
Terry Hogan is vice president for student affairs at the University of
Northern Iowa and former national chair of the Fraternity and Sorority
Affairs Knowledge Community.
Mark Koepsell is executive director of the Association of Fraternal
Leadership & Values.
Chuck Eberly is recently retired as professor of counseling and student development at Eastern Illinois University.