For 25 years, SigEp’s Carlson Leadership Academy has brought brothers and volunteers together to exchange ideas and learn how to become more effective leaders and mentors. Alumni and friends with years of SigEp involvement and senior leadership experience facilitate these training sessions for volunteers, chapter officers and rising chapter leaders.
Each spring at academies held in locations around the country, undergraduate brothers learn about leadership techniques and strategies for problem-solving as a team, goal-setting and execution. Specialized tracks provide current chapter officers the training they need to be successful in their roles, while aspiring officers gain valuable knowledge that will prepare them to step into leadership. Experienced and aspiring leaders return to campus ready to create a positive environment for their brothers to grow.
The academy also serves as an opportunity for new volunteers to receive training on mentoring undergraduates and provides education to veteran volunteers so they can continue guiding their chapters and fellow volunteers.
Here, we highlight more about the wide breadth of programming available at Carlson, along with comments from some of this year’s participants.
Phillip A. Cox Volunteer Institute
Mission: The Cox Institute provides training to recently engaged chapter counselors, balanced man stewards and recruitment mentors to help them develop the practical skills they need to be successful in their roles. Inspired by Past Grand President Phil Cox, Indiana ’84, the institute began as a one-day training hosted in several locations around the country that local volunteers of all experience levels could drive in to attend. Now a two-day program for new volunteers, Cox Institute helps participants develop the practical skills they need to mentor today’s undergraduate brothers. 2019 marked the first year that the Cox Institute was held in conjunction with Carlson, maximizing opportunities for volunteers and student leaders to network with each other and receive training.
Starting year: 2015
Personal impact: “As a new volunteer who has been removed from my local chapter for over a decade, this was the perfect way to submerge myself in updates and information about SigEp and how I can best serve as a volunteer. I was also able to network with other volunteers and plan on continuing those conversations and relationships, so chapters can collaborate to achieve and continue success.”
~ Brandon Townsend, Delaware ’06, Delaware Alpha chapter counselor
Shawn McKenna Presidents Academy
Mission: This educational track for chapter presidents brings to life strategies for leading and engaging chapter members. Based on the teachings of former SigEp National Director Shawn McKenna, Maine ’77, a business professor at the University of Maine and advocate of leadership education, the Presidents Academy equips chapter presidents to tackle the challenges faced by today’s fraternity men. In addition to the customized curriculum, successful alumni give presentations on leadership exclusively for Presidents Academy participants.
Starting year: 2018
Personal impact: “The Carlson Leadership Academy is a resource and experience that cannot be matched. I learned unique and valuable skills that I will apply long after my time as an undergraduate in my chapter, and it’s all because of Shawn [Dalgleish, Illinois ’81] and Ryan [Hamrick, Illinois ’16], our facilitators in the Shawn McKenna president’s track. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was due to the dedication of the national Headquarters and the individuals who made it possible for us.”
~ Dylan Thompson, Nebraska-Omaha ’20
Mission: Designed for talented young brothers with the desire to step into chapter officer positions, SigEp’s Rising Leaders program at the Carlson Leadership Academy prepares members to take ownership of the future, for themselves and for their Fraternity. Under the guidance of expert facilitators, brothers begin developing the courage and awareness necessary to lead others. The planning, project management, delegation and collaboration techniques provided by this program help young brothers build the skills to improve their chapter, campus and community.
Starting year: 2017
Personal impact: “The Carlson Leadership Academy, specifically the Rising Leaders track, had a monumental impact on my chapter as a whole and on me as a relatively new member. Before the Rising Leaders session, I had never truly thought about my purpose in leadership. Because of the Rising Leaders track and its facilitators, I have begun to set goals in my everyday life and see the deeper meaning behind everything that I am doing.”
~ Austin Ash, Drake ’22
Kent B. Hickman Scholars
Mission: Funded through the generosity of Kent B. Hickman, Colorado ’61, this program provides brothers who are interested in assuming leadership positions in their chapters with complimentary registration and lodging for the Rising Leaders track, as well as a travel stipend. Brothers apply for this scholarship in October, and recipients are notified in November.
Starting year: 2019
Personal impact: “I want to sincerely thank Mr. Hickman for the opportunity to attend the 2019 Carlson Leadership Academy. I’ve had the chance to work a lot with my executive board and understand the inner workings of our Fraternity’s leadership. Fostering leadership development is so key to improving our national presence, and I hope that one day, as an alumnus and successful leader, I can be as valuable to my Fraternity as he has been.”
~ Brandon Hansen, Washington State ’22