The University Partner of the Year Award recognizes faculty and staff who have gone above and beyond to create a meaningful partnership with SigEp on their campus. Award recipients connect SigEp undergraduates with faculty to enhance academic development. They act as mentors and advisors. And they work to support the implementation of critical, life-changing experiences through the Balanced Man Program and Residential Learning Communities.
Byron Hughes, Ph.D.
Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Virginia Tech
For the past five years, Byron Hughes has brought commitment and caring to his role as director of fraternity and sorority life at Virginia Tech. Since SigEp’s return to campus, he’s reached out to chapter leaders, offering advice and encouragement. He continually challenges brothers to think about their reasons for joining the Fraternity and to build a chapter that reflects those ideals.
His interest in students’ development goes beyond his role as a Greek life advisor. More than once, Hughes has encouraged a brother to pursue a particular career after noticing a talent the brother hadn’t even seen in himself.
Hughes has also facilitated at the North-American Interfraternity Conference’s Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute and conducted leadership training with SigEps at Carlson and the regional directors’ Kenneth S. Maddox Summer Development Program.
Student Outreach and Engagement Coordinator, University of Louisville
Several years ago, LaMont Johnson developed a series of seminars to help members of the SigEp chapter at the University of Louisville prepare for challenging situations they might face during college. This concern for helping our brothers — and all students — make smart decisions is in keeping with his work helping the university prevent and respond to incidents involving sexual assault, harassment and bias.
Johnson, now a Renaissance brother, was actively involved in helping the chapter earn accreditation as a Residential Learning Community. In his role as faculty fellow, he mentors the RLC director and holds office hours at the chapter home each week so brothers can come by to talk about personal or academic challenges. Johnson is also talking with university officials about conducting a for-credit class through the RLC.
Doug Garrard, Ed.D.
Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Senior Associate Dean of Students, University of Texas at Austin
Within his portfolio, Doug Garrard supports fraternity and sorority life for over 70 organizations on a campus of more than 51,000 students. Additionally, he serves as a lecturer instructing future higher education professionals.
Despite his busy schedule, he makes time to meet with SigEp undergraduates and volunteers to answer their questions, offer support and provide guidance. His advice has helped chapter leaders develop best practices and make well-informed decisions. It has also enabled the chapter to develop as a well-rounded organization and set high, but achievable, goals.
Garrard has been equally gracious to Headquarters staff. When several members of SigEp’s staff went to Austin for a visit, he set aside time to meet with them and discuss his role in the chapter’s development.
Lori McDonald, Ph.D.
Dean of Students, University of Utah
Lori McDonald sets the bar high for students at Utah, but also helps them recover if they fall short. When cultural misalignment within SigEp’s Utah Beta Chapter led to a membership review, she was disappointed, but continued to provide support and encouragement. She met frequently with chapter leaders to discuss their goals and the steps they should take to make SigEp a leader in the Greek community and campus-wide.
The chapter has since rebounded, maintaining a GPA above 3.0 and earning an Excelsior Award at Carlson last year. The chapter’s efforts also didn’t go unnoticed by McDonald, who selected Utah Beta to receive the Dean’s Award for Chapter Excellence. The chapter was one of only two organizations to receive the distinction this year.
Simon Ruchti, Ph.D.
Department Chair and Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, West Chester University
In his classes, Simon Ruchti explores the many ways gender is viewed and shaped by our society.
While serving as faculty fellow, he developed a seminar series for SigEp’s West Chester Chapter that challenged brothers to understand and discuss their values, how they define manhood, and how they interact with each other and with women.
His impact was so deeply felt that fellow volunteers elected him AVC president. In this role, he led efforts to shore up the AVC’s finances and oversaw renovations to the chapter home. With the AVC now financially stable and the chapter living in a renovated, substance-free home, Ruchti is again serving as faculty fellow, and will no doubt, continue to challenge our brothers to be better men.