FaceBook IconTwitter LogoYouTube LogoLinkedin IconInstagram IconFlickr Icon

 

Features

Over the course of the 2019 College of Chapters, we asked several attendees to journal about their experiences. They were...

Commander Thomas Birchfield (Auburn)             Commander Sam Lawson (Alabama)

            

Commander Jacob Scott (Kansas)                        Commander Jayden Logan (Northwestern)

            

Colony Commander Jack Behm (Michigan)         Commander Nick Kozilek (Virginia)

           

Commander Dominic Collins (UCLA)

 

DAY 1: ARRIVAL  

What was your journey like to Roanoke for College of Chapters?

COLLINS: It was trying, taxing, stressful, and rewarding. Hopefully an apt metaphor for my role to come as Eminent Commander. I took a red-eye from California, got delayed an hour, and sprinted to the final boarding call at my connecting flight. But, I’m incredibly excited and can feel the energy in the air.  

LOGAN: My journey to College of Chapters started at 5:00 a.m. so that I could get to the airport to catch my flight to Charlotte, N.C. After a three-hour flight, I had an hour delay before riding in the smallest airplane I had ever seen, that would take me and fellow Sigma Nu Commanders to Roanoke, Va.  

BEHM: My day started off with a 3:30am wake up to make my 5am flight out of Detroit. I had just come back from skiing in Jackson Hole with my fellow candidate Alex Londal, which was incredible. I spent most of the flights to Roanoke listening to my audiobook, The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I spent some time talking to the representatives from the Sigma Nu chapter at Kettering University which is not far from where I worked over the summer in Flint, Mich. I also met the Iowa Chapter Commander who happened to be deaf, so we chatted over text for a while. I then got to the hotel with Paul and we went to get some lunch at Dominos before the weekend really kicked off.  

SCOTT: The night before the flight I could barely sleep out of excitement. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to make my 7:15 a.m. flight to Charlotte. Upon boarding our flight from Charlotte to Roanoke, everyone on the plane started to realize we were almost all there for the same reason. The plane was just full of Commanders! The excitement continued to grow when we reached the awe-inspiring Hotel Roanoke.  

LAWSON: My journey to College of Chapters was pretty rough. I flew from Stockholm, Sweden to Roanoke, Va. on January 3, 2019. Let’s just say I was exhausted on Thursday night. With that being said, I was unable to attend any of the sessions on Thursday due to the time my flight landed in the states.   Coming into College of Chapters, what are some of the challenges that your chapter faces? What do you want to improve on this semester?

KOZILEK: In the years before I joined Sigma Nu, the chapter did not make much of an effort to communicate or interact with alumni. I was on the phone with an alumnus this fall who said that he hadn’t heard from the chapter in many years, perhaps since 2010. Our chapter faces the challenge of rebuilding relationships with many of these alumni so they can continue to engage with Sigma Nu. In addition, it will help the chapter to utilize the vast experience and support that our alumni can offer. We want to improve our communication with alumni this Spring and have better events so that they can re-engage with the chapter.

COLLINS: We are a strong chapter in my view, but not without faults. I think we could serve to become a more well-rounded chapter altogether. We can improve the roles of our officers in seemingly less important roles, and perhaps have more internal structure carry over year-to-year in our operational procedures.

LOGAN: One of the main challenges my chapter is currently facing is an identity crisis when it comes to the direction the fraternity wants to head in and the candidates it would like to recruit. I would like to improve this during my term by providing a single vision and purpose for my chapter which will allow us to find an identity and move forward with a common goal/interest in mind.

BEHM: One of the biggest challenges we face is brotherhood. Our colony really came into fruition a few weeks before Thanksgiving so our fellow candidates were extremely busy with exams, so not everyone knows each other as well as we would like. Things we are most looking to improve this semester is our sense of brotherhood amongst our colony and looking for more efficient and proper ways to run our meetings and how our colony communicates.

BIRCHFIELD: I think our chapter faces two big challenges, recruiting the right men that fit the values of Sigma Nu and philanthropy. I want to improve the way we go about recruitment and find philanthropy events that our chapter can get behind.

LAWSON: The Theta Chapter received our first Rock Chapter at the Grand Chapter in Washington D.C this past summer, so my biggest fear for the chapter is complacency. I do not want members to think we have made it and there is no room for more improvement. Our chapter is also facing one of the most competitive recruitment seasons of any college campus. With that being said we are constantly trying to find new ways to expand our chapter with quality potential new members that have the core values of Love, Honor, and Truth.

What was your first chapter meeting like at College of Chapters? What chapters were represented in your chapter group? Who were your chapter facilitators?

BEHM: The first meeting was setting expectations. It was based on showing each other that we were committed to absorbing as much information as possible to better our chapters and the Fraternity as a whole. The chapters that were represented in our group were some other small chapters in the Midwest area that are covered by our consultant Adam Girtz. Our chapter facilitators were Jamison and Adam from our Lambda Chi Chapter at Cal State San Bernardino and Eta Theta Chapter at North Dakota State.

COLLINS: I felt really comfortable and able to articulate my thoughts in a substantive way. I absolutely loved the message my Division Commander Jordan Wu (Cal Poly Pomona) delivered and my initial impression of him. He seemed like he could really connect with our unique situations.

KOZILEK: My first chapter meeting was largely a meet and greet between the Commanders from many of the chapters in the Mid-Atlantic region. It seems like a great group of guys and I look forward to getting to know all of them throughout the conference. It was really interesting to hear what other chapters are up to so close to my own chapter. We formed a bit of connection through talking about our respective college football teams, although it hurt to have Virginia Tech’s commander remind me of University of Virginia’s loss this fall.

LOGAN: Our first chapter meeting was interesting, because not only did we get an introduction to College of Chapters, but we also got to introduce ourselves and talk about some of the things we would like to learn and gain during our time in Roanoke. The chapters in my group were all from the Midwest and primarily consisted of Big Ten schools. Our chapter facilitators were Division Commander James Ehrmann (Iowa) and Sigma Nu staff member Joe Thomas (Huntingdon).

LAWSON: My first meeting I attended was on Friday morning. I was pleased to find out I was placed with other SEC chapters that had the same visions and challenges the Theta Chapter faces. The Howard group consisted of Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, LSU, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia. Our facilitators were Scott Smith and Joel Stern.

 

DAY 2: CURRICULUM

What were your chapter meetings like today? What was the focus of the chapter meetings? What did you work on? What were your “Ah Ha’s?”

KOZILEK: Today my core sessions were focused on delegation, chapter finances and utilizing committees to better operate the chapter. I found that the session on delegation was particularly applicable to my leadership style, as I often prefer to do as much as I can on my own. However, I do recognize that the chapter has too much to do for one person, and effectively delegating throughout my time as Commander will benefit the chapter as well as my own workload. I attended breakout sessions on motivating the chapter, emotional intelligence and a coaching session where I was able to speak one-on-one with an alumnus from Mu Chapter (Georgia). The section on motivating the chapter focused on generating internal motivation and drive rather than focusing on external rewards. The emotional intelligence section taught me the important of both understanding my own emotions, as well as those of others so that I can better manage the chapter.

LOGAN: The focus of the chapter meetings today centered around helping us finalize our vision statements and allowing us to compare these statements, goals, and strategies that we’re going to try to implement with the other Commanders in our groups. The “Ah Ha” moments I had were when I finally found a simple way to articulate my vision, which also facilitated coming up with goals and strategies to achieve it.

BEHM: Our first order of business was an evaluation of how well we thought we were doing as Commanders and in our own personal values. Questions that can be summarized about what have you done in the past six months and do they align with who you are as a person. We then focused on sharing our strategies for the upcoming term so that we could build off of each other’s ideas. The meetings were extremely optimistic, and you could see how motivated people were to improve their chapter. My biggest take away is the amount of support we have from Headquarters is incredible and we should take full advantage.

BIRCHFIELD: Chapter meetings today went very well and contained a lot of great dialogue between chapters. The first meeting focused on finding our most important values and how we carry those out. The second meeting of the day focused on developing another strategy that satisfies our vision. My “Ah Ha” moment was when we discussed Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena quote. I realized that sometimes you have to be the one that makes the tough decisions that may receive pushback from the whole chapter, but you know it is the right decision to uphold the values of Love, Honor, and Truth.

What ideas have you picked up from other Commanders at College of Chapters? Scott: The biggest idea we gained today was how everyone else implemented their committee system. Combining the practices from just a handful of guys, I put together a strategy to implement and utilize a committee system that was optimized for our specific chapter.

LAWSON: The biggest idea I have picked up from other commanders is how to delegate work effectively instead of micro-managing everything in our chapter.

BIRCHFIELD: I specifically reached out for ideas on recruitment and received one great piece of advice from the Commander at Case Western Reserve University. They have an app that allows you to create a profile for each potential new member and allows brothers to comment and discuss what the PNMs values are and if they are a good fit.

BEHM: One great idea to work further on our alumni relations that I learned from the Ole Miss Commander was creating a LinkedIn group page so that alumni and members can more easily share professional communications.

KOZILEK: The other Commanders at college of chapters all carry unique perspectives on how to best run a chapter and I’ve heard some great ideas for improving my chapter. One idea focuses on making chapter meetings a more attractive use of time by having a brotherhood meal prior. Another idea was to make chapter meetings more efficient by utilizing a PowerPoint with the chapter meeting agenda. This will increase organization and set a professional tone.

What do you want to see your chapter become? How did the session on Vision help you create a compelling vision for the chapter?

KOZILEK: My primary goal for the chapter is that our brothers look back as alumni and view Sigma Nu as the best part of their collegiate experience, inspiring them to live the ideals of the fraternity as brothers for life. I have a notion that many of our brothers already view the chapter as influential to their collegiate experience, but I hope that the chapter grows to continually impact them after their college days are over. I started the vision session thinking about what I wanted the chapter to accomplish, improve our philanthropic efforts, improve our recruitment efforts and develop our brotherhood. However, the session helped me to realize that this isn’t the focus of a vision. A vision is what the chapter can become, and I was focusing only on how to get there. Zooming out and recognizing that the vision is to create an organization that all the brothers are proud of for life will be particularly powerful in guiding my decisions this upcoming year.

SCOTT: My chapter needs to look at the hostile campus environment across the country and realize that, as a fraternity community, we have to discipline ourselves in our actions and be a leader on our campus. In doing this we must focus our recruitment and candidate programs more heavily on love, honor, and truth. That is where our visions have the largest implications on our brotherhood. I had always known this for our chapter, but the core sessions helped in focusing vision to form concrete ideas I can communicate more effectively to my chapter.

LAWSON: I would like to see an overall attitude change in our chapter, that focuses on more student involvement and academics. The session on vision helped me create the main goals in where I would like to see our fraternity and create an elevator pitch for other members in our chapter to buy into.

BIRCHFIELD: I want to see my chapter become a perennial Rock Chapter that develops responsible, respectful, and ethical leaders in modern society. The session on Vision helped me create this vision because it really put a focus on Love, Honor, and Truth and how it is relevant to the world today.

DAY 3: PILGRIMAGE TO LEXINGTON, VA.

What was it like to visit Sigma Nu Headquarters? What stood out to you from the visit and tours of HQ and VMI? What did you learn about Sigma Nu?

BEHM: When you walked into the Sigma Nu Headquarters you could feel the history, from the official trees of several states that that we have chapters to the Alpha Room containing flags from every chapter of Sigma Nu ever chartered. What stood out was the collection of every Sigma Nu author in the headquarters library. It was cool to see how much influence our institution has. One of the coolest things I learned was that there is still a chunk of the original limestone cropping where Sigma Nu was founded at VMI.

SCOTT: Visiting headquarters was incredible. Seeing the history of where we were founded was one of the coolest experiences I have had. What really stood out was the real focus on our values that our founders had, and how the people at VMI know that. They view Sigma Nu as an organization they’re proud to say started at their Institute. Coming from an old chapter, it was also very cool to see all the places we were represented at HQ.

BIRCHFIELD: The Headquarters campus was incredible. I had never been before and I loved the property and the house itself, it was beautiful. The two things that stood out to me most were the heroes of Sigma Nu who had served in the military, honored with a brick and the parade grounds of VMI where we were founded.

LAWSON: This was my third visit to the Sigma Nu Headquarters, and I always enjoy my time there. Respecting tradition stood out to me the most. Sigma Nu has a long line of history and so does the Theta Chapter. I learned that core values of Sigma Nu go much deeper than just Love, Honor, and Truth.

What is one thing that you didn’t know coming into College of Chapters that you feel will make an impact on the success of the chapter in the upcoming semester?

LOGAN: One thing I didn’t know coming into College of Chapters was the kind of support system I would have that can help me during my entire term as Commander. It is so relieving to know that you don’t have to carry this great responsibility by yourself and that there are other people who want you to succeed and are willing to do whatever they can to help you.

COLLINS: I didn’t understand the explicit nature of driving values behind what we do as Commanders. It gave a fundamental framework of morality that I can now use.

What did you think of the closing keynote from Bill Courtney? What messages stood out to you from his remarks?

SCOTT: This was the most motivational speech I have ever heard throughout my life. His overall message was incredible. Get a mirror and a compass. Your compass will let you know what is right and wrong and help you make decisions. But as a leader, wake up every day and look in the mirror. Why are you doing what you are doing? If the answer is for anything other than for those in your organization, either resign or do whatever you need to do to change that by tomorrow. He was incredible and I wish that my whole chapter could have listened to his whole message.

BEHM: Bill Courtney is one of the most motivating people I have ever encountered in my life. Listen to a few words from that man and you will feel like you could lift a car with your bare hands. The message that he gave out that has been ringing in my head ever since I heard it was simply, why are you here? I am sure it made everyone aware that we were not there to just make connections or better ourselves, but our chapters and colonies as a whole to preserve the great institution that is Sigma Nu.

KOZILEK: Bill gave one of the most inspiring speeches on leadership that I have ever heard. I believe that I will take the most away from his section on the motivations for one’s leadership. When Bill was coaching one of his football teams, one of his players questioned if he was coaching because he cared about the players or because he wanted to make himself feel better. I now know that as a leader of my chapter it will be easy to appreciate the recognition that comes with the position, but if my motivation isn’t to serve those who elected me into the position then I will not be successful. Motives matter in leadership.

DAY 4: DEPARTURE

What have you realized about your role as Commander from your time at College of Chapters? What have you learned about yourself?

KOZILEK: I’ve realized that my role as Commander of my chapter will likely be one of the most demanding but also rewarding experiences of my life. I was elected to serve the brothers in my chapter and it’s my responsibility to help guide them to success. I believe that after my term I’ll look back and appreciate the sacrifices that I’ll make over the upcoming year to serve my chapter. I learned a ton about myself throughout the program, but I think the most valuable for my term is that I can’t run the chapter on the own. I often have a tendency to do things on my own rather than delegate, following the “If you want it done right, do it yourself” mindset. When leading a large organization with a number of complex goals, that mindset doesn’t work. I will have to engage and inspire my chapter in order to effectively manage the organization.

COLLINS: I think I’ve realized I’m far more capable, competent, and confident than I thought I was. I now have a more refined approach to funnel that feeling into leading my chapter.

LOGAN: I have realized that my role as Commander is not only a privilege, but also something that is going to be fun and beneficial to my growth as a person and something that I shouldn’t be nervous or scared to do.

BEHM: I learned how much responsibility I have in the department of motivating my colony to continue striving for success even after we charter and beyond, to keep our members from ever becoming complacent in our position on campus and in general. I learned about myself how ready I am to really get to work and make this one of the best chapters not just at Michigan, but in Sigma Nu as a whole.

BIRCHFIELD: As Commander I am tasked with leading a group of men to realize their potential as leaders in whatever capacity they are in while guiding them by the values of Love, Honor, and Truth. I learned that I am responsible for the development of my chapter while also realizing I am fit for the job and educated on how to do it properly.

LAWSON: I have realized that not only am I the face of our chapter, but I am a leader. I have an opportunity to make a lasting impact on 144 members for the rest of their lives. I have learned my strengths and weakness as a leader, and how to surround myself with an executive board that is strong in areas where I am weak.

What did you expect College of Chapters would be like coming into Roanoke on Thursday? How were your expectations correct? Incorrect?

LOGAN: Honestly, I expected College of Chapters to suck because I viewed it as a chore that would just be a bunch of busy work that would end up wasting my time. I was correct in the fact that it was an extremely busy weekend, but I was wrong because College of Chapters was far from a chore and a waste of time. It was very beneficial, and I am happy that I had the privilege to attend.

KOZILEK: I expected College of Chapters to be a 3 day long intensive study on all of the rules and regulations of Sigma Nu and some PowerPoints with vague leadership tips. I was very wrong. We did talk about some of the rules, but those sessions were more engaging than I anticipated. What I was very impressed by was the leadership training. I got to hear from some of the top leaders in the nation and speak with other commanders who faced some of the same challenges as my chapter.

What are three words that you would use to describe your College of Chapters experience?

KOZILEK: Engaging, inspiring, and demanding.

COLLINS: Empowering, reflective, and diverse.

LOGAN: Necessary, rewarding, and challenging.

BEHM: Exhilarating, informative, and a “happy exhaustion.”

SCOTT: Motivational, fun, and educational.

BIRCHFIELD: Impactful, progressive, and fun.   

© 2015-2019 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: 540.463.1869 | Fax: 540.463.1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

FaceBook IconTwitter LogoYouTube LogoLinkedin IconInstagram IconFlickr Icon