SIGEP WILL TURN 113 YEARS OLD THIS NOVEMBER. Even at this advanced age, we’re looking for and finding new opportunities to be a different kind of fraternity— one that recognizes the importance of the out-of-classroom experience and is committed to investing in programs and services that make that experience the most empowering and transformative part of a college male’s life.
In the last year, SigEp’s commitment to our members and their out-of-classroom experience has found renewed focus as volunteers and staff work to achieve the objectives of our newly adopted strategic plan. This plan is guiding both daily decisions and future planning. It is shaping revisions to program curricula, refinements to services provided to chapters and AVCs, and our approach to strengthening relationships with colleges and universities.
SigEp’s volunteers and staff believe passionately in the SigEp mission and approach everything we do with a desire to improve the lives of our members. I hope that you’re as excited as we are about the progress SigEp is making and that this report helps you find new ways to engage and connect with our Fraternity.
Recruit, retain, and graduate Balanced Men
Since the fall SigEp has focused on improving services and resources that support the Balanced Man Scholarship (BMS) and values-based recruitment. Still, we remain mindful that it is harder to retain men than it is to recruit them, and continue to work to help chapters deliver on the promises made during recruitment.
• New resources and education for the BMS have improved regional director service, with many chapters participating in multi-chapter workshops that leverage these new tools.
• Carlson Leadership Academy recruitment tracks were expanded this February to include the new BMS resources and education.
• This year, we introduced 6,081 new brothers to SigEp.
• Despite the sad loss of four chapters this year, the success of our 231 active chapters has maintained our dominant size with 15,274 undergraduate brothers nationwide.
To connect your chapter with SigEp’s new BMS resources, contact your regional director at www.sigep.org/regional-director.
Prepare members for a lifetime of success
Following Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s March announcement that they would replace their development model with one resembling our Balanced Man Program (BMP), SigEp chapters received considerable, positive media attention for the example they’ve set in the Greek community.
Our BMP continues to help members succeed inside and outside the classroom, and our opportunities to prepare members for a lifetime of success will be elevated exponentially when every chapter is able to execute the program. We are working to improve the services and resources chapters need to offer brothers a consistently productive BMP experience that provides education not offered in the classroom.
• This year, chapters have received tailored BMP service supported by improved resources from regional directors. See www.sigep.org/bmp-resources
• The BMP is being supported at each leadership event, with brothers receiving post-program support to help implement lessons learned and improve their chapter experience.
• Both EDGE and Carlson added sessions on professional development to help brothers get a head start in planning for the next stage of their lives.
• In four cities this year, SigEp’s newest leadership event, Life After College, helped brothers prepare for personal and professional success as they transition from college to the ‘real world.’
• With 19,390 members, SigEp’s official LinkedIn group continues to offer undergraduate and alumni brothers opportunities for networking and professional mentoring. See www.sigep.org/socialmedia
• A focus on supporting the personal growth and achievement of our brothers has led to a steady increase in the number who outpace their peers in academics, with 68 percent of chapters reporting GPAs above their all-campus average.
A chapter’s ability to execute a key component of the Balanced Man Program, service learning, was strengthened with the Conclave selection of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) as SigEp’s official philanthropic and service learning partner.
• SigEp and BBBS have developed a partnership toolkit that helps chapters connect with their local BBBS agency. See www.sigep.org/bbbs
• Local agencies attended our 2014 Carlson Leadership Academies to meet with chapter leaders and educate them on how to get involved.
Provide quality Residential Learning Communities
Operating as a Residential Learning Community (RLC) represents the pinnacle of chapter performance. Attaining that goal is dependent upon a chapter’s ability to support brothers through four core areas: a consistently productive BMP experience, university partnerships supported by faculty fellows, a strong network of volunteer support, and an environment that is conducive to academic success.
Having seen RLC accreditation level off, the Fraternity, Foundation, and SigEp National Housing (SENH) teams are now coordinating support in each area to help chapters seeking accreditation. The unprecedented quality of this coordination will soon lead to resurgence in RLC activity. See www.sigep.org/becoming-an-rlc
This spring, SENH began turning more of its attention to helping AVCs address needs in property management. Of 173 SigEp houses, 122 are owned and operated by a SigEp entity. Sadly, many face occupancy and deferred maintenance challenges that divert volunteer attention from mentoring chapter officers. This ultimately undermines chapter operations and the quality of the undergraduate experience.
• SENH launched a new property management service to address the aforementioned threats, improve life safety and, as U.G. Dubach once said, “create an environment where it is easy to do right, and hard to do wrong.” 2013 Silver Buchanan Cup winner Washington Beta became the first chapter to enroll this spring.
• A two-year effort to improve support to AVCs with an SENH loan has resulted in fewer delinquent loans and more operating income to reinvest in RLC projects.
• SENH’s Equity Management Fund (EMF) continues to serve as a very competitive savings account for chapters and AVCs. The return is calculated quarterly and is currently 2.27 percent.
Chapters interested in property management services or the EMF can contact SENH Managing Director Patrick Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support local, regional, and national volunteers
Continuing to look for ways in which volunteers and staff can efficiently work towards shared goals, SigEp has developed a four-part framework to explain and support AVC operations: corporate compliance, alumni relations, asset management, and mentoring.
We have focused much of our staff services on supporting mentors, believing that an investment in this area of AVC operations addresses the most immediate need of our chapters.
Working with experienced volunteers, we have developed an improved mentor committee structure and volunteer resources that support the chapter counselor role. See www.sigep.org/mentor-resources
• A new volunteer-training webisode series, Training in Ten, was launched this fall. On average, 275 volunteers watch each webisode.
• Offering educations for both new and veteran volunteers, Carlson volunteer tracks saw higher attendance and reviews than any previous year.
• New chapter counselor and AVC president Facebook communities are facilitating daily, peer support for volunteers across the country.
• We will soon be launching an orientation program with peer mentoring and online modules for chapter counselors and balanced man stewards.
To start mentoring an undergraduate brother, contact your district governor: www.sigep.org/districtgovernors.
Strengthen partnership with higher education
To help guide and facilitate our partner- ship with higher education, SigEp has launched an initiative to engage our alumni who serve as university faculty and staff. These brothers have been organized into five teams focused on areas of operations important to SigEp’s short-term and long-term success:
Programs and events
Advisory (hot topics in higher education)
SigEp is also working to expand our base of support within higher education at our newest chapters. An improved new chapter development process requires each AVC to have a 20-person mentor committee before undergraduate recruitment occurs. This year, 50 percent of each committee included campus professionals and higher education graduate students.
To learn more about SigEp’s higher education partnerships, contact Volunteer Services Director Archie Messersmith at email@example.com.
Advance the SigEp experience
SigEp has the ability to drastically improve the lives of our members and their opportunities to make a difference in the world when we give more of them the chance to experience our Balanced Man Program, live in a Residential Learning Community, and attend a regional or national leadership event.
The Conclave decision to integrate Fraternity and Foundation operations has facilitated unprecedented synergy throughout our organization and opened the door for transformative progress. See www.sigep.org/historic-legislation
• In the last year, our supporters have hosted more alumni and donor events than ever before. (Upcoming events, pg. 6)
• We’re reconnecting alumni with the SigEp experience in major metropolitan areas. “1901 Clubs” are providing alumni with opportunities for professional networking and social interaction through programming in New York, Boston, and Detroit. Next, we’ll add Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles to the list.
For information on 1901 Clubs, contact Advancement Officer & Alumni Relations Director Lee Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• We’ve communicated more frequently with our alumni and friends about the ways they can support SigEp, and we have been overwhelmed by the response. This fall, we will produce a year-end report for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, highlighting SigEp’s fundraising success and the impact it’s had on our members.
As we continue to expand our efforts to connect with alumni and advance the SigEp experience, we’re focused on the growth of a planned-giving society and opportunities for named scholarships and programs. With all of the progress we’ve seen since Conclave, we expect this coming year to be the best in SigEp’s history.
To learn about giving opportunities, including planned gifts, and ways to establish funds through the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, contact Donor Relations Manager Emily Lowry at email@example.com.
Potential challenges ahead
Today, we have 30 fewer chapters than we did 10 years ago; and we continue to see chapters close as members fall victim to outside influences that paint stereotypical, negative Greek behavior as something worth emulating.
The Animal House culture is still celebrated by many college students today; and for some Greeks, this defines their experience. We can reverse this trend, but it requires us all—undergraduates, alumni, volunteers, parents, university faculty and staff, and Fraternity staff—to stand aggressively against a culture that undermines the integrity of our values. We can’t stand by when others—even those among our ranks—enable behavior that runs counter to our cardinal principles.
Despite these challenges, I firmly believe that the opportunities ahead position SigEp for transformational growth, and there is a palatable energy among our base that I have not witnessed before.
At the Chicago Carlson Leadership Academy, brothers and volunteers erupted in applause when board members shared the Fraternity’s values-forward response to the incident at Ole Miss. And on the heels of SAE’s announcement that it will replace pledging with a program mirroring our BMP, chapters are doubling down on their efforts to offer our brothers the premier out-of-classroom experience.
Our challenges are not unique—they are the challenges faced by universities and organizations across this country that serve today’s college student. However, SigEp is uniquely positioned to make an impact that others cannot.
Ninety percent of the college experience takes place outside the walls of a classroom. And when SigEp is done right, we have the ability to radically improve the landscape of higher education and forever change the lives of those who spend that 90 percent with us.
Brian C. Warren Jr.