“You are the face of our Fraternity, like it or not,” said Grand Alpha and National Campaign Co-Chairman Jim Soderquist, Alpha 1967.
Addressing the august and diverse group of student leaders from across the country, he explained that as the Chapter Alpha goes, so goes the Chapter and so goes the National Fraternity.
Soderquist made his remarks during the opening session of the 2012 Alphas Academy – a first for Chi Phi.
On the drawing board for more than a decade, the Fraternity never had the funding to bring Chi Phi’s top executive officers together until now. Thanks to the $10 million Changing Lives Campaign, the resources were on hand to educate, train and inspire each Chapter Alpha from Chi Phi’s Chapters and Colonies.
Most of these Chapter presidents were elected in November and December. They came with some interesting backgrounds and experiences, but they all share a passion for the Brothers in their Chapter.
Among the group, there was the president of the campus water polo team, a member of the National Guard, a student who owns two small businesses, a Chapter president who never planned to join a Fraternity until he learned about Chi Phi and one young man who had just returned from the Rose Bowl. Three of the assembled Alphas had recently received academic scholarships from the Educational Trust. Three others were graduates of the nationally-acclaimed Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI).
The student leaders spent the weekend exploring their personal leadership style, discussing the challenges they’ll face in the upcoming year and developing action plans to address the most pressing issues facing their Chapters. Along the way, they went through 24 pizzas during dinner on Friday, and they enjoyed a semi-formal banquet at the prestigious Sugarloaf Country Club.
During the closing banquet Saturday night, Col. J. Dale Alford, Alpha Zeta 1986, commanding officer of The Basic School at the Marine Corp. Base in Quantico, Virginia addressed the crowd. His words resonated with the young men assembled in the audience.
“You need to be a man of exemplary character,” suggested Alford. “Do what’s right. Lead with integrity, and lead with honor. It’s not easy all the time. Possess a moral compass. Focus down on the Brotherhood, and find out what makes them tick. A good leader figures that out. Your actions reflect your words – professionally, personally and spiritually. Your organization will reflect your attitude as the Alpha. Be teachable. Have a willingness to learn from the younger Brothers under you. Be loyal. Be visible. Be present in all endeavors.”
“I really listened to what Col. Alford had to say,” explained Cole Webster, Alpha Zeta 2013. (Alumni can view his speech on YouTube by clicking here.)
Another highlight of the weekend was the session entitled, “From the Chapter Room to the Board Room.” Five Alumni business owners and executives shared their thoughts about leading their respective companies and offered advice to the young men about to lead their chapters.
“Without a doubt, this was my favorite part of the weekend,” said Nick McAndrew, Psi Delta 2012. “Hearing from these guys who run their own businesses really put it into perspective for me.”
Brian Betkowski, Omega 2000, Shawn Brown, Alpha Zeta 1997, Jeff Grant, Alpha-Tau 1989, Jim Soderquist, Alpha 1967, and Vance Witt, Alpha Zeta 1988, all provided real-world scenarios to illustrate the challenges the Chapter presidents will face.
“You really are running your own small business,” commented Brown. “In some cases, it’s not that small because you have budgets in the tens and hundreds of thousands. You need marketing, finance, human resources, management and strategic planning – everything you need to run your own company.”
The weekend concluded with student leaders developing an action plan to focus on one to three key issues that impact their particular Chapter. The National Fraternity will continue to work with the Chapter presidents when the Field Executives visit each respective Chapter this Spring, during the different Regional Leadership Alliances and at the 147th Chi Phi Congress in Atlanta, Georgia this June.