A Supportive CAB is the Difference Between a Good and a Strong Chapter

By Sean MacGregor, Alberta Alpha Chapter President

As the chapter president of the Alberta Alpha Chapter at the University of Alberta, I understand the significance of alumni in sustaining the functionality of the Fraternity. A supportive Chapter Advisory Board is the difference between a good chapter and a strong chapter. Chris Uglanica is a true Phi Delt. Chris has helped our chapter through struggling times. Today, we at Alberta Alpha are proud of our progress, and we would like to thank Chris for his hard work and dedication to our chapter. By going beyond what is expected from our alumni, Chris regularly attends meetings and shares news from our CAB. In addition, he ensures we are in the right track to a better chapter. Helping with rush, taking composite photographs, and giving advice are only a small handful of tasks Chris has graciously offered us.

Chris is a fantastic brother. He will never shy away from giving advice or offering a helping hand. In addition, Chris will always be ready to lighten your day with an amusing story or a quirky joke. I can honestly say that Chris has greatly enriched my experience as a Phi Delt, and he is a primary reason of why Alberta Alpha has improved significantly over recent years.

Sean MacGregor was initiated into Alberta Alpha in January 2010. He is majoring in elementary education and hopes of getting a job as a teacher. He has held chapter offices, such as: fundraiser, recruitment chairman, vice president, risk management, and currently is serving as president of Alberta Alpha.

Exemplifying the Concept of Brotherhood

By Jack Sieke, Ohio Iota Chapter President

I am Jack Sieke, the President of Phi Delta Theta’s Ohio Iota Chapter at Denison University.  I am a junior from Alexandria, Virginia and am writing today to talk about our Chapter Adviser, Chuck Gorman, Denison ’73.

Chuck started working as our alumni adviser around a year ago, and in that year, we have seen incredible improvement in our chapter, largely due to his influence.  Chuck was in Phi Delta Theta at Denison and his experience in the chapter during his undergraduate days led him back to us to step in and advise.  Chuck has taken his job with us very seriously. He has become very involved and always challenges us to push ourselves to the next level and remove complacency.  He has been extremely helpful to me as president to keep me accountable for everything and to make sure that I have all the help that I need in order to lead our chapter.

Many of our brothers play on the different sports teams on campus and Chuck does his best to follow our brothers and to congratulate them on big wins and personal victories as well.  Chuck and I sat next to each other this past Wednesday and watched our lacrosse team, led by two senior brothers, win their first round game of the NCAA national championship.  Coming to this game on a Wednesday afternoon to me shows Chuck’s dedication to our chapter.  He is always willing to drop anything to help out and advise our chapter.  Chuck really exemplifies the concept of brotherhood as he takes time out of his life to help us to become a better chapter and helps us to become the best that we can be.

Chuck and I talk a few times a week to just check in and while our conversations generally focus around the Fraternity, Chuck also works to make sure I am getting my schoolwork done and takes a genuine interest in what is going on in my life outside of the Fraternity.  Having him as a safety net and someone who is able to guide me in decisions that I make has been very helpful in my transition to being president.  He is always in my corner and helps me work through tough decisions that I have had to make, but he also helps me to see the other side of the decisions so that I truly can make the best decision for our chapter.

Thanks to Chuck, we have become closer as a chapter and have become a better version of ourselves.  I look forward to seeing where we can move as a chapter in the years to come with his advising.

To Love Your Home Chapter While Serving An International Brotherhood

By Rich Fabritius, General Council

My Phi Delt experience has been filled by the presence of so many tremendous volunteers.  Many of them have never gotten a mention in The Scroll or during a convention; but they work hard for our undergraduate men and alumni brothers day after day.  I’ve been asked to write about a Fraternity volunteer who’s enriched my experience – and my life in general.  My variety of great experiences with many a Phi Delt volunteer makes it difficult to comment on one brother.

My first contact with the General Fraternity was through my province president when I was an undergraduate, Brother George Porosky. With his Mercedes Benz parked in the street across from the chapter house – parking lights on – he was a consistent, positive presence in our chapter.  Patient and ever in control, George steered us when we needed it and let us go when we needed to learn a lesson.  He hated our chapter meetings.  He thought they were too long. He’s an engineer so I think some of our ridiculousness was in firm contrast to George’s constitution. Those meetings were long, very long.  He was right of course.  But they were fun and I remember thinking there was no other place on the planet I’d rather be than down in the chapter room on Sunday nights.  George is a main figure in my mind’s memory of those days.

But, the volunteer who taught me perhaps my most treasured lesson about Phi Delta Theta is Brother Jim Warner.  Jim succeeded George as province president of Sigma South and prowls the sidelines of Northeast Ohio for us to this day.  Jim was an adviser at Akron with Ohio Epsilon – his alma mater just like George – when I first met him.  I was an undergraduate and remember meeting him at a Kent State homecoming.  Now, there is a rivalry between Akron and Kent; both institutionally and between our chapters.  So I was a tad perplexed by the presence of an ‘Akron Phi’ at a Kent homecoming.  But, when I met Jim I realized quickly that he didn’t care about what chapter you were from, he cared about you and he cared about Phi Delta Theta.  I learned from Jim a lesson that has led me to this position today on the General Council.  I learned that Phi Delt isn’t just about your home chapter and school.  It’s a whole lot more than that.  I learned that Phi Delt is an International brotherhood – not a chapter.  I learned that you can love your home chapter while serving an international brotherhood.  I learned that Phi Delt is a whole lot bigger than Kent State University.  And, make no mistake about it; I love Kent State and Ohio Lambda.

I’ll never be able to repay Jim for the gift he gave me.  He planted in me a curiosity about the larger organization.  I developed a thirst to know our brotherhood beyond the buildings of Kent, Ohio.  This curiosity lead me to intern at the General Headquarters, which lead to employment on the GHQ staff.  While working for GHQ I met my wife.  To this day, Jim’s gift returns to me ten-fold daily.  I can’t imagine my life without Phi Delta Theta.   I can’t imagine my Fraternity experience without the deep, gratifying experiences I’ve had serving the General Fraternity.  And, I can’t imagine being a Phi without Jim as my brother, mentor and friend.

Thanks Jim!

Brother Fabritius is the General Council Reporter. His other volunteer service to Phi Delt has included Education Commissioner and Province President. Rich lives in Atlanta with his wife, Heather, and their daughters, Austin and Reese. A past consultant and Director of Chapter Services for the General Headquarters Staff, he is a graduate of Kent State University and a member of the Ohio Lambda Chapter. Rich is Vice President, Managing Director of Brunner, an advertising and marketing agency. His hobbies include travel, golf, and boating.

No Mere Campus Interlude

By Jesse Moyer, Province President

Phi Delta Theta is no mere campus interlude.  We’ve all heard it.  We’ve probably all said it at one point or another.  The real question is, have we all lived it?  My guess is probably not.  Another question: If we’ve all heard and probably said it, why don’t we live it?  My best guess?  Because we didn’t have alumni role models who showed us, as undergraduates, how to live the three Cardinal Principles after graduation.

I was one of the lucky ones.  I have two amazing role models that paved the way.  The first is my first chapter adviser, Dean Clark.  Dean is a 1963 graduate of the University of South Dakota and former Samuel V. Stone winner.  Through his presence at the chapter house, I knew he cared about us.  It wasn’t until his son James was initiated that I realized how much Phi Delt meant to him.  I had the honor of being James’ big brother and was never happier to let someone else pin the badge on my little brother’s chest as the night James signed The Bond, especially when I saw the look of pride in Dean’s eyes.  That was the first time, but certainly not the last, that I thought about my sons being initiated into the Fraternity.  It was also the first time I really understood transmitting the Fraternity to those who follow after, not only not less, but greater than it was transmitted to me.

My second role model is Doug Peterson, also my chapter adviser.  Doug was the chapter adviser while I was serving as chapter president.  During my first term as president, the University instituted a policy around alcohol consumption and left it to the chapter presidents to enforce.  The first weekend of the new policy coincided with one of the biggest “party weekends” of the year at USD.  After hearing about this, the first place I went was Doug’s office because I knew that if I enforced this policy I would be extremely unpopular with my chapter brothers, especially the seniors who were a year ahead of me.  Instead of brushing me off or letting me off easy, Doug held me accountable as a leader.  This event sticks out as it was the first time I learned one of the most valuable lessons on leadership: Often times, a leader can be liked or be effective and, sometimes, these two things are mutually exclusive.

These two events may seem like no big deal to some.  To me, they are two of the biggest reasons I went to work for the Fraternity and continue to volunteer for our organization.  I know I’ve made several guesses throughout this post, so here’s one more: If we had more volunteers to mentor the young men in our chapters, we would produce more volunteers to mentor young men in our chapters.  As a volunteer driven organization, this is about as important as it gets.  So, I ask one thing. If you’re able to volunteer, please do.  You never know what kind of impact you can have a young man’s life.

Jesse Moyer currently works at KnowledgeWorks, an education-focused social enterprise, as Manager, National Advocacy and Partnerships.  Prior to joining KnowledgeWorks, Brother Moyer served General Headquarters as a Leadership Consultant and as the Director of Chapter Services.  He is a 2003 graduate of the University of South Dakota where he earned a B.A. in contemporary media and journalism.  He went on to earn a Master of Education at Xavier University.  Jesse has held several volunteer positions within the Fraternity including serving as the current Zeta Province President.  Jesse, his wife Courtnee, and two sons Cooper (3) and Bentley (1) live in Hamilton, Ohio.

5 Tips for Alumni Events

By Sean Wagner – Associate Executive Vice President

Founders Day season is here. This year, on Robert Morrison’s 188th birthday, Phi Delta Theta celebrated its rich history throughout the United States and Canada.  While events often occur on March 15, typically Founders Day events are scheduled from March-June depending on a chapter or alumni club’s traditions or schedule.

The great thing about Founders Day is that outside of practicing our Ritual, it is probably the most uniting and common thing that we do as Brothers of Phi Delta Theta.  While chapters have many local traditions throughout the year, come spring time, brothers in California, Canada, and Connecticut are all  participating in a very similar event involving a Founders, Gold, and Silver Legion Ceremony, that was preceded by a banquet or golf outing.  The words of those ceremonies remind us of our commitment to the Fraternity and honor those who have come before us.

The Golden and Silver Legion ceremonies in particular commemorate those who have remained committed to Phi Delta Theta well beyond graduation.  While GHQ does send Golden Legion certificates to all that qualify, many alums don’t make it to an event to actually participate in the ceremony, see other alums, and to connect with the active chapter.  It isn’t because they don’t want to connect, it’s just because they feel like they don’t have a relationship.  GHQ can send as many emails, solicitations, or emails but the bottom line is that alumni, for the most part, want to connect with the individuals who signed the same Bond that they did and/or who lived in the same house as they did.  But things change, and the longer you are out of school, the more distant you feel from your alma mater and chapter because you don’t know anyone and don’t have a clue of what’s going on at the chapter.  That is unless the chapter is going out of their way to maintain that relationship.

And why should the chapter try to maintain a relationship with their alumni?  Outside of the fact that as Fraternity brothers it is our obligation, there are terrific benefits to the active chapter as a whole and its members in communicating with our graduate brothers.  Phi Delta Theta alumni are leaders in industry, government, and communities and would love to support a chapter by serving as a volunteer, mentor, or by offering networking and possible opportunities for jobs or internships.  And you never know, alums might throw a couple of bucks your way as well.

So how does a chapter build that relationship with alumni?  The Fraternity provides a number of terrific resources in this area, and I will highlight a few of them in the rest of this post.  However, there are three terrific presentations on PDT U that discuss this topic at great length.  The first is an Alumni Relations Webinar hosted by Pennington and Company’s Patrick Alderdice that was recorded last fall.   We also have two brand-new on-demand presentations prepared by Leadership Consultants, Justin Dandoy and Tucker Lee about Communicating with Your Alumni and Planning Alumni Events.

But in the meantime, here are a five basic concepts that I discuss with chapters whenever alumni relations comes up:

#1 – An alumni newsletter isn’t the only way to communicate with alumni

For years the only way we as a fraternity, felt we could communicate with our chapters was to send out a newsletter a few times a year.  While newsletters are still a great way to communicate and should be regularly sent out, there are a number of new ways with technology that chapters can maintain that relationship with regular updates.

Considering we all spend a good chunk of our day on the world wide web, chapters need to be out there and to have a great website that they regularly update.  The Fraternity has a partnership with the GIN System for website templates.  If your chapter doesn’t already have a website, I would strongly encourage you to give them a lookIllinois Gamma is an example of a great one.  The Brothers at Nebraska Alpha have a great blog that provides regular updates on chapter activities and members.  They haven’t updated it in a while, but check it out.  Chapters tweet as well; our Mississippi Beta Phis do a great job with all things technology, and had posted just 3 hours before I was writing this thing.  I have been extremely proud of my own chapter recently and their creation of a Facebook Fan Page. It allows them to keep in touch with all of their fans or constituents.  While I have the luxury of keeping up with my chapter for both personal and professional reasons, I’ve never had more of my chapter brothers bringing up what’s going on back at Widener, since this page was established.   So bottom line- leverage technology and get info out there to be consumed by your alums, they’ll love hearing about all of the great stuff going on and can check on you as frequently as they like, not just 3 times a year when that newsletter hits their mail box.

#2 – The old 80/20 Rule and we’re not talking Pareto’s Principle

We  just talked about broadcasting chapter oriented information through technology and sharing that is mostly chapter-oriented, but when you’re actually putting together that alumni newsletter that will supplement your positive web touches, you want to keep it all about the alumni.  Usually 80% of the content should be alumni centered and 20% should be chapter oriented.  So how do you write about alums when you aren’t one?  First off, utilize your own chapter advisory board and house corporation for updates, then ask them to help you reach out to alums in their era for updates and to help profile alums who have gone on to do great things and should be profiled.  Typically you can find one alum in each decade who is connected or aware of the rest of his contemporaries, establish decade captains and have them help you gather these updates. If you’d like examples of great alumni newsletters, email barb@phideltatheta.org.

#3 – Don’t Lead With your Hand Out

While I mentioned earlier that a positive alumni relations program might lead to donations, that doesn’t mean that should be the focus of your efforts.  It means that if you are effectively communicating with alumni, it will be a byproduct of what you’re doing.  Never have donations be the centerpiece of your communication.  Instead talk about contributions as one of the many ways that an alumnus can contribute.  Also, understand that alumni want to contribute to things like scholarships, a library, or ritual equipment, not a big screen TV or for the general fund.

#4 – Just Because You Build It Doesn’t Mean They’re Going to Come

This goes back to communication, but essentially, chapters can plan the greatest Founders Day in the history of Phi Delta Theta, but unless they inform alumni about it, well in advance, no one is going to show up.  Alumni have lives, families, and jobs and unless they know about an event well in advance, you aren’t going to make their calendar.    The Alumni Secretary’s Manual does a great job of providing event time lines as well as lots of other great resources.  But generally you should start planning a major event at least eight months prior to your scheduled date and should have a “Save the Date” out to alumni 4 months prior to the date. I mentioned decade captains previously; these same guys can be utilized to reach out to folks in their era to attend.

#5 – Start Early

Does your chapter conduct the alumni induction ceremony?  If you don’t, you should consider it for the last chapter meeting of a semester prior to graduation for all of your seniors.  By doing it  you are reminding them of a similar ceremony they took following their time as a Phikeia and sending them off as an alumnus with a positive feeling about Phi Delta Theta regardless if they were chapter president or your laziest member.

While I could go on forever, I hope that I’ve provided you a few basic rules and plenty of resources and ideas to help revitalize the alumni relations program at your chapter.  Part of my responsibilities here at GHQ is to oversee our alumni and volunteer programming, if you would like help with your efforts, please feel free to contact me or your leadership consultant.  We’ll also be featuring a breakout session this summer at ELI all about Alumni Relations.

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Entering the “Aluminum” Legion

Sean-WagnerOur staff is still getting used to this whole blogging thing…or at  least I am.  Generationally, I fall into a strange category between the Generation Xers and technology-driven, Millennials.  I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that people want to broadcast absolutely everything about themselves through Facebook or tweet what they had for lunch (although I have an account on both).  In my day, AOL instant messenger and Napster were cool……

So my deadline to submit a blog came and went because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to write about.  But then it occurred to me, 2009 marked 10 years for me as a member of our fine, Fraternity.  Since there is no distinction for this occasion, I visited with our great historian, Mr. Robert J. Miller, and after a short conversation he decided that this was my “Aluminum Legion” (I was pushing for Bronze).

So what has my first 10 years of Phi Delt been like?  While I fully understand that my PDT experience has been somewhat atypical (having spent nearly 6 years of it working here in Oxford, Ohio) it has still been similar to most, filled with plenty of Phi Delt Weddings, a couple of homecomings, and lots of memories and great friendships in-between.  My unique experience is that as a staff member I do get the honor of coming to work every day to make an impact on an organization that I love, but with my specific role as Associate Executive Vice President, I also have the distinct privilege to work with hundreds of talented volunteers who don’t get to “play fraternity” at work as I do, but instead take hours, days, and weeks away from their jobs and families to make Phi Delta Theta what it is today.

During my “Aluminum 10”, I’ve seen the impact of this dedication as I spent some of my own time as a volunteer for Penn Zeta (Penn) and most recently Ohio Theta (Cincinnati) as a member of their advisory boards.  While our job as staff is mainly to communicate and educate, volunteers have the ability to mentor, advise, and empower, while ultimately getting the payoff of seeing the “light bulb” come on when a young leader figures out how to put his ideas in action.   And isn’t that what it’s all about?  We initially joined this organization for what we could get out of it, but ultimately found out that anything that was going to be worthwhile in our Phi Delt experience was going to be for someone else.

So whether you’re an Aluminum (like me), Silver, or Golden Legionnaire (or somewhere in-between), if you care enough about Phi Delta Theta to take a few minutes to read this blog, you care enough to spend a few hours a month working with an undergraduate trying to figure out how to recruit more men this semester, balance the budget, or find an alternative to hazing.  I guarantee you that we can find a chapter where you will have a rewarding, impactful experience.  If this sounds like something you might be interested in (An Entourage reference for my Aluminum Brothers) contact me at swagner@phideltatheta.org.

Sean has been a member of the Fraternity’s GHQ staff for six years serving as a Leadership Consultant, Director of Expansion, Director of Alumni Services, and is currently the Associate Executive Vice President.  He is a member of the Pennsylvania Mu Chapter and a graduate of Widener University and is pursuing his Masters in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from Northern Kentucky University and currently resides in Cincinnati.

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