A group of alumni recently told me they spend their time volunteering for SigEp because it’s their best chance to change the world. These words have echoed with me since.
SigEp is positioned to make an impact others cannot. Our brothers represent the top leadership and academic talent of 231 of the best colleges and universities. There’s no question they will lead our nation and our world. The only question is, “How big will their impact be?”
SigEp helps brothers develop the skills they need to excel in college and beyond, the skills they need to make a difference in our world. Our programs and events make this possible, and our members are asking us to do more to expand these opportunities.
At our 53rd Conclave, delegates asked our Fraternity’s loyal volunteer base and Headquarters staff to take a leadership role in growing the funding and support for our programs. We said yes – and we’re moving forward with conviction to create more opportunities for our young leaders.
While our Educational Foundation will continue to steward tax-deductible gifts in support of SigEp’s mission, each of us is now equally responsible for SigEp’s future.
The following report addresses the current state of SigEp: the progress, the setbacks and the opportunities. I believe the numbers tell an impressive story about what we’ve been able to accomplish. They also highlight our tremendous opportunities to change the world, one balanced man at a time.
Recruit, retain and graduate balanced men
Growth for SigEp is about recruiting and retaining members the right way, so that when they graduate they are prepared for the world awaiting them.
Year-round recruitment and the Balanced Man Scholarship continue to make SigEp the best recruiter in the fraternity world. But in recent years, SigEp has seen the consequences of recruitment efforts that weren’t backed by an equally strong experience. We struggled to retain brothers through graduation, and nearly one-third who joined three years ago are no longer members today.
SigEp will find sustainable growth as we recruit more men who aspire to our Cardinal Principles and deliver on promises made during recruitment. We’re working hard to help chapters identify young men who share our values, teaching them how to recruit through meaningful conversations and fun experiences that show our commitment to standards and continued personal development.
• During the 2012-2013 academic year, our 231 active chapters recruited an average of 27 men per chapter, introducing 6,127 new brothers to SigEp.
• At the end of the year, the average chapter had 66 men. That’s 15,287 undergraduate brothers nationwide – the largest membership of any college fraternity and the largest we’ve had in over a decade.
• Growth has occurred despite having 13 fewer chapters than in 2010. Closures followed multiple attempts to rehabilitate chapters whose members were unwilling to live up to SigEp’s values and charter expectations.
• Of the 5,840 brothers who joined SigEp three years ago, 27 percent are no longer members today. The remaining 73 percent were still undergraduate members or alumni in good standing as we entered this fall semester.
• SigEp launched improved recruitment resources this year, and Carlson Leadership Academies (CLAs) continue to offer our best recruitment curriculum to all rising leaders, not just officers.
Prepare members for a lifetime of success
At our best, SigEp provides an experience that prepares members for a lifetime of success. This requires us to move beyond development programs of the past that focused solely on classroom performance and acclimation to college.
The Balanced Man Program (BMP) recognizes brothers spend most of their undergraduate years outside of a classroom and only a small fraction of that time as a new member. The BMP is the centerpiece of a chapter experience and offers brothers a chance for continuous development. It helps them live the Ritual and thrive in an environment that stresses equal rights and responsibilities. The National Directors and I are committed to better supporting the implementation and growth of each chapter’s program.
The BMP is complemented by SigEp’s leadership events. These programs empower brothers to lead in their chapters and in life. Many of this year’s events will also equip them with skills that can advance their professional success.
• SigEp launched new BMP resources to help chapters consistently implement their programs and offered a BMP curriculum to all brothers attending CLA this past year.
• We improved this year’s regional director training to elevate the quality of tailored BMP service to chapters.
• Last year, we achieved record attendance at EDGE with 3,300 attendees and at CLA with 2,638.
• EDGE now includes a session on personal branding and how to use LinkedIn to interact with alumni who can provide professional mentoring. CLA includes a session on how chapter officers can develop habits and experience that translate to the workplace.
• SigEp’s newest leadership event, Life After College, is being offered in six cities this year. Requests for additional programs are coming in from every part of the country and will be fulfilled in the 2014-2015 academic year based on funding.
• We received a record number of applications for the Ruck Leadership Institute and the Tragos Quest to Greece. Both programs are currently limited in size due to funding restrictions.
Support local, regional, and national volunteers
Since Uncle Billy first recruited campus faculty to mentor chapters, SigEp has understood the importance of volunteers. While we always need additional volunteers, our stronger need is helping interested volunteers succeed in their roles.
This summer Archie Messersmith, Samford ’99, joined SigEp’s Headquarters staff as our new volunteer services director. Archie is a long-time SigEp volunteer himself and a former campus-based professional who earned his master’s in higher education administration. His focus is empowering volunteer mentors to be highly effective. We’ve seen such positive energy and results from his efforts that we’ll be hiring an additional volunteer services manager to work with Archie on supporting our volunteer mentors.
• We introduced new resources at conclave to help AVCs maximize volunteer effort.
• This year, SigEp will launch orientation programs for chapter counselors and balanced man stewards.
• Volunteers can also look forward to monthly webinars focused on vital issues facing them and their chapters.
• We will continue to offer volunteer training at CLA and introduce an advanced track for seasoned volunteers this year.
Provide quality Residential Learning Communities
A great chapter home demands excellence from every brother. It encourages sound and healthy decision-making and helps brothers live the Ritual.
SigEp calls these homes Residential Learning Communities (RLCs). RLCs expand upon residential college models from Oxford and Cambridge to promote academic success, campus involvement and personal development. We’re working to create residential learning opportunities in every chapter home and promote RLC-style programming for non-housed chapters.
We know that real estate management can be time consuming and often distracts volunteers from the programs and facility improvements that support residential learning. SigEp National Housing (SENH) sees this every day and has responded by offering property management services to AVCs beginning this year.
• SigEp chapters at 173 campuses provide housing for members.
• On 51 campuses, chapters and AVCs have partnered with universities to make campus-owned housing available for SigEp.
• RLC accreditation was granted to two new chapters this year (Nebraska-Kearney and Northern Kentucky), raising our number of RLCs to 49.
Strengthen partnership with higher education
Today our partnerships in higher education are stronger as a result of our academic success, our commitment to the BMP and our willingness to acknowledge and respond quickly to behavioral issues.
At this year’s annual meeting of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, I’ll be meeting with SigEps in higher education to discuss how we can better engage them and their peers. We’ll discuss ways SigEp can look to university partners to help evaluate and improve programs, support chapters and volunteers, and explore research and grant opportunities. We’ll also explore ways SigEp can do more for them and their universities.
• Chapters reported a 3.15 GPA for the past two spring semesters, an all-time high for SigEp.
• For six straight years, our chapter GPA has been on the rise, increasing by roughly .02 each semester.
• At 65 percent of our chapters, SigEp is outperforming the all-campus average.
• Eight SigEp chapters were recognized this spring by the North-American Interfraternity Conference for ranking first among fraternities and boasting a GPA of more than half of a point above their campus’ all-male average.
Advance the SigEp experience
SigEp’s progress in all of our priority areas depends upon the support of alumni, volunteers, parents and friends. Our supporters invest countless hours in the SigEp experience, an experience that is further advanced by gifts to our Educational Foundation. Gifts directed towards SigEp’s Annual Fund grow the quality and reach of our leadership events, local programs and scholarship opportunities. Put simply, they help us impact more lives. You can view the full list of 2012-2013 Board of Governors donors here.
As the Fraternity and Foundation partner in new ways, the advancement of the SigEp experience will be a leading priority. It will be our aim that:
• Alumni, parents, volunteers and friends understand the impact and importance of SigEp’s programs.
• Donors are able to support the chapters, programs and experiences that mean the most to them.
• Fundraising success exceeds benchmarks set by academic institutions of SigEp’s same size (more than 235,000 living alumni and 15,000 undergraduates).
• Fraternity programs and services are supported by grant providers (beyond our Educational Foundation) who see value in SigEp’s mission.
• Fraternity programs and services are regularly assessed, evaluated and improved.
Despite challenges we have faced in recent years, the stories of success far outnumber the struggles. We have accomplished so much, and we still have so much left to do. I look forward to working with you as we enter the next chapter in our shared history.