After years of research and development we have launched our Program for Excellence Online Manual at www.chipsi.org/programforexcellence.
Our 2006 national assessment project made clear our need to develop a programmatic agenda that facilitates one’s progression through life as members of Chi Psi. In 2007, the members of the Council and Trust joint education committee set out upon the creation and adoption of programs that facilitate each step in the progression of Chi Psi membership.
The Program for Excellence was created to guide our Alphas through day-to-day activity, building character and showing our young men how to live as gentlemen. We have divided daily activity in the Alpha into seven categories, pulling the most successful events and activities in each category from our Alphas and compiling them with planning and implementation resources that support the overall strategy. Our goal is to empower Chi Psi’s undergraduates to compete at the highest level, differentiate themselves, and add value in a way that furthers our purpose: Building life-long friendships.
For the Program for Excellence to work, Alpha leadership must decompartmentalize. Often Alphas allocate responsibility for activities based on the primary constituent addressed. Recruitment chairmen plan events for recruits, social chairmen plan events for guests, etc. The Program for Excellence promotes events that serve multiple purposes at once. For instance, in our traditional model, the Alpha plans a day at the soup kitchen for Brothers and members of the pledge class as a philanthropy event. If applied under the Program for Excellence model, the Alpha expands this event by inviting a sorority to join them as well as the top ten men on the Alpha’s recruitment names list, thereby making the event a social and recruitment event as well.
Events should fill a niche market opportunity on the Alpha’s host campus. If Alphas are going to organize an activity, they should do so at the highest level in an area of competition where the highest level expected isn’t offered or isn’t offered enough.
Every event is a recruitment event. Recruitment applies to new undergraduate Brothers, as well as prospective alumni volunteers and contributors. Thus, while initiation and other facilitations of the Fraternity’s ritual are not suitable undergraduate recruitment events, they are highly suited to the recruitment of alumni. All other events should be used in the recruitment of undergraduates.
If all events are recruitment events, then the only way to recruit is via year-round, values-based, dynamic recruitment. Alphas should replicate their most popular recruitment events throughout the year, not just during a formal rush period.
Every event, with the exception of initiation and formal meetings, is a pledge education opportunity. Alphas should integrate members of their pledge classes into the daily routine.
Events, with the exception of wine tastings and the like, should not be based on alcohol. While they do not always need to be dry, events should focus on something else. This reduces risk, improves perception, and creates a more positive experience for undergraduates.
Philanthropy and community service are tools through which the Alpha hones the character of its members and adds value to their experience. However, they are not part of the purpose of the organization; Alphas do not exist to serve the community or benefit charities. They do so because such activity is inherent to the nature of a Chi Psi gentleman, and Alphas benefit from the conditioning and developmental opportunities that lie within these activities. This advocacy supports philanthropic activity that involves the entire Alpha. To teach the benefits of service and self-sacrifice, we don’t need to raise thousands of dollars. By helping others, Chi Psis foster relationships and develop character.
For the Program for Excellence to succeed, Alumni must support this strategy with well-populated, involved, and engaged advisory boards that create advising, mentoring, and coaching relationships with undergraduate leaders, disseminate expectations clearly, and provide perspective.
Support for the Program for Excellence
As our advisors support our new strategy on our campuses and in our Lodges, the Central Office and our many dedicated volunteers continue to craft a series of support services and educational programs to empower them.
Alpha consultation will focus on implementation of the Program for Excellence. This includes education and training for Brothers in the program strategy as well as the dynamic recruitment techniques needed to support it. Consultants continue to assist Alphas with risk management, financial management, and the proper facilitation of the Fraternity’s Program for Pledge Education and ritual since these four areas are the necessary and sole foundation upon which an Alpha can implement the Program for Excellence successfully.
In response to the ever-changing needs of our Alphas, The Chi Psi Educational Trust’s traditional educational programs are continually reviewed and enhanced to assist Alphas in the implementation of the Program for Excellence. Because the Program is so closely tied to the Fraternity’s existing values and objectives, AMR and PSD content never change substantially.
The Alpha Management Retreat has become Chi Psi Alphas’ development and implementation planning session for the Program for Excellence. Facilitators work through the traditional AMR agenda to help undergraduates organize their activities according to our new strategy. The Program for Self Development, which has always focused on individual values, learning styles, and interpersonal habits, will complement the Program for Excellence. The ERA Program, Rowe Regional Leadership Conferences, the Spencer Institute, and our proposed mid-year officers’ retreat all remain important and consistent components of the Alpha’s value proposition and core components of its facilitation of the Program for Excellence.
Thus, we have created new relevancy for Trust educational programming and incorporated it into this new strategy. These experiences are cornerstones in an Alpha’s successful implementation of the Program for Excellence and should be facilitated in each annually.
A recent focus at Rowe Regional Conference has been on the importance of establishing standards for membership: benchmarks for performance in each operational category against which a Brother can compare himself and determine how effectively he is driving his Alpha toward success. Alphas have also learned about ways in which they can tie incentives to individual performance against these standards. The Fraternity continues to explore with Brothers at Rowe Regional Leadership Conferences the feasibility of establishing similar performance benchmarks and incentives at a national level in an attempt to further facilitate those Alphas in implementing the Program for Excellence effectively.
This is a grassroots campaign for Chi Psi. It leverages success factors already in place at our Alphas to drive our entire organization toward values-congruent growth in the quality of our experience and the frequency with which we offer it to collegiate men. We welcome your comments, questions and suggestions. Thank you all for your continued support of Chi Psi.
Yours in the Bonds,
Sam Bessey, #23