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Strong Chapter Officer Teams Lead to Success
Friday, March 7, 2014
Things were going well for the Alpha Rho Mu Chapter at Lone Star College-Tomball in Texas. A new slate of chapter officers had been installed, and there were high hopes for what the fall 2013 semester would bring.
Until the contact advisor, Dr. John Rollins, was assigned to serve as Academic Dean of the college’s new campus in Indonesia. He would be there for the duration of the fall semester.
“This officer team saved this chapter when I was forced to abandon it,” Rollins said. “While I appreciated the trust that the college administration placed in me by sending me (literally) halfway around the world, I deeply regretted having to leave them.
“They contributed to the success of the chapter by drawing on their leadership skills and by coming together even more closely as a team. They were left, for all practical purposes, alone. And they responded beautifully.”
A strong chapter officer team is vital to the overall success of a chapter. The officers should work to build an atmosphere of teamwork, promote engagement in Phi Theta Kappa programs among members, and demonstrate strong leadership abilities.
“If members see chapter officers having fun while being servant leaders and gaining scholarships, they are more likely to participate in activities,” said Tammy Fuentez, advisor to the Tau Theta Chapter at Labette Community College in Kansas. “Our team didn’t want to ask members to do anything they weren’t willing to do.”
Labette Community College is a small, commuter-only campus, and the average age of its students is 33. Chapter officers only commit to one semester of leadership to help accommodate their busy schedules; however, Fuentez said she has never had an officer stop mid-year.
The Tau Theta chapter officers set a goal to increase not only membership but also member participation. All chapter officers committed to becoming Five Star Competitive Edge Members, setting the bar for the rest of the chapter’s members. The team used a weekly email to keep in close contact with its members, and collection drives for things like pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, loose change for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and Million Meals Kansas, and old cell phones and ink cartridges for Holden’s Hope gave members an easy way to participate in chapter activities.
The result was a 32 percent increase in chapter membership.
“I have been very blessed to have officer teams who understand how to enjoy the fellowship part of working hard on scholarship, leadership and service,” Fuentez said.
A successful chapter officer team doesn’t just plan activities for the chapter; they participate as well. They make themselves available for their members, and they keep an open line of communication among their advisors, their members and themselves.
Officers from the Alpha Zeta Eta Chapter at North Lake College in Texas accomplished this by coordinating their class schedules so that at least two officers were available at some point every day.
“Scheduling their classes the way they did made things so much easier for everyone,” said chapter advisor Dr. Yolanda Romero. “We had one officer, our Vice President of Membership, who took all online classes so he could be available for the other officers and membership. They are doing the same thing this semester.”
When building an effective chapter officer team, Romero looks for students who have “compassion, integrity, communication skills and tenacity.” At the same time, the officer team must have the support of the chapter advisors — advisors who spend time with the officer team, communicate with them openly and participate in activities greatly contribute to the success of the officer team, which in turn leads to a more successful chapter.
“You cannot have a successful chapter without a strong officer team,” she said. “The membership needs effective leadership that cares about the members and wants to draw them in to participate in chapter activities.
“It is not just about the officers, and this need to be transparent to the membership. This is why good communication is important.”
The Chi Nu Chapter from Eastern Florida State College – Melbourne Campus had tangible results from its Honors in Action Project with which it measured its success: the chapter raised more than $27,000 during its project fundraiser, far-exceeding its goal.
The chapter held a gala fundraiser to benefit Air Mobile Ministries, which brings water filtration systems to disaster areas and areas where filtered drinking water is in short supply. This was a charity that the officers believed in greatly, which only deepened their commitment to the project. Each officer had a role in the Honors in Action project, and they kept in close contact with each other to ensure that the project stayed on track.
As a result, the chapter blew its $5,000 fundraising goal away.
“A strong chapter officer team produces events that are hugely successful,” said advisor Dr. Mary Roslonowski. “I believe the officer team that (co-advisor) Maureen Groome assembled had a shared vision and worked together to achieve that vision.
“If all on the team don’t believe in the goal, the project would not be successful.”
The students who serve as chapter officers do so as volunteers. They juggle heavy course loads as honor students and often have to contend with outside obligations such as work, families and community service as well. The students of the Alpha Rho Mu Chapter were no exception, and yet the team of officers took on even more responsibility as their advisor worked in Indonesia.
And, as Rollins knew they could and would, they got the job done.
“Chiefly, I look for people who will follow through and do what they have promised they will do,” Rollins said. “Everyone in Phi Theta Kappa is smart, but not everyone follows through. Without this quality, no program can be successful.”