Written by Doug Montgomery, Consul
Before serving on the Octagon, I served as the Chapter Advisor for Gamma Kappa alongside Aaron Herstein (Texas A&M, ‘08). We appointed an alumni advisory board that held monthly phone calls and advised undergraduate members individually. As a result of the hard work of the Chapter and its advisory board, Gamma Kappa Chapter received the Founder’s Cup in 2016. The transformational Chapter advisors of Sigma Alpha Mu are often seen alongside Founder’s Cup recipients. The advisors attribute to the Chapter’s performance at Founder’s Level.
Chapters without risk management violations most often have a strong Chapter advisor. Unfortunately, strong Chapter advisors are not present at every Chapter. A problem identified by the Octagon was that newer Chapters have trouble locating dedicated alumni to serve as Chapter advisor. When they do find someone, the advisor rarely has an idea of what are the best practices.
We identified the duties of a Chapter advisor and compiled a checklist of Chapter advisor best practices. With that information, we developed a grading rubric for advisors to self-report their involvement with the Chapter. This will lead to accountability among advisors and reward those that perform at a high level. It will also be a yearly reminder of what the advisor expectations are during the school year. We prepared a training program for more of the nuts and bolts of Chapter advising. The training program is a series of modules to engage with the university/administration, new members, parents, and the council.
Additionally, new advisors will know how to set up an alumni club and advisory board, comprehend policies/laws, and show appropriate conduct at meetings and facilitating discussions. The first iteration of the modules will be improved and added to overtime. The committee received funding approval from the Octagon to update our website, sam.org.
The upgrades, approved for educational purposes, will support an online training platform. Online training will become a fixture for alumni volunteers and undergraduates looking to relate to their newly elected positions on council. The Chapter advisor certification program will be introduced shortly after our website updates are completed.
It is important to note Chapter advisors will not be punished for failing to complete a self-evaluation. They will be encouraged to self-evaluate and be rewarded appropriately. If the committee is able to inform the Chapter advisors about best practices and encourage more meaningful interaction with the Chapter, alumni, and university administration, we will have met our goal.
We believe this program can facilitate and promote safer Chapters, engage alumni volunteers, and lower insurance costs through a safer track record. Many of the larger Greek organizations utilize online training. Now is our time to begin.