Each Tuesday and Thursday, the brothers of Lafayette’s Rho chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) are hard at work in study halls with faculty adviser Richard Shupp, visiting instructor of foreign languages and literatures. A few weeks ago, they donated food to Easton’s Safe Harbor shelter to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Those are just some of the initiatives that grew out of DKE’s fall leadership conference.
The fraternity holds leadership conferences before the fall and spring semesters, each with a different focus. This fall, DKE turned its attention to improving its members’ academic performance and increasing its community involvement. The entire chapter, its alumni leadership board, Shupp, and Stuart Umberger, director of fraternity and sorority life, participated in the conference.
“We place a very high importance on planning for our chapter’s future,” says chapter president Andrew O’Brien ’13 (Manchester, N.H.), a geology major. “We determined that our main focus should be improving our academics, engaging the community, promoting more commitment to our fraternity’s values, and recruiting quality members who will uphold and work toward these standards.”
O’Brien reports that the twice-weekly study halls have been well-attended and met with a high level of enthusiasm. Shupp volunteers his time to help with schoolwork wherever he’s needed, often with developing writing skills and editing papers. Brothers also are helping others who are struggling with course work to develop individual study plans. All members are encouraged to visit faculty during office hours and seek guidance from faculty and alumni on their studies and how to succeed. With these initiatives in place, the chapter hopes to exceed the all-male GPA average each semester.
In addition to the recent Safe Harbor donation, DKE members set aside a few Saturday mornings several times each year to volunteer in a variety of activities through the College’s Landis Community Outreach Center. Chapter members have planted trees along a local trail in Easton and helped refurbish a community garden by building new compost boxes, weeding, and planting new trees and flowers.
While academics and community outreach are certainly important, the most valuable aspect of the conference may have been the process itself.
“Strategic planning is a very important skill to possess in the working world and life in general,” says O’Brien. “Many brothers are leaders within the Lafayette community, and this new insight and skill development will surely help them going forward. The conference may have focused specifically on DKE, but the overarching themes are applicable to almost any workplace or goal-setting situation.”
Most of the alumni guidance came in coaching current members through strategic planning. For several months leading up to the conference, DKE alumni taught student leaders about breaking down elements such as thematic goals from strategic planning into annual goals and specific actions. Their input was invaluable, says O’Brien, allowing members to hear perspectives other than their own and learn which programs and initiatives worked well in the past and which did not.
Alumni in attendance included house association president Michael De Lisi ’03, treasurer Peter Carlson ’02, chapter adviser Brent Souders ’11, Mark Fedorov ’91, Jared Piette ’12, and John Terembula ’94. House association academic adviser Scott Harris ’95 joined via teleconference to discuss academic improvement.