Throughout 2017, Kappa Alpha Theta is celebrating the Year of Scholarship.
We're recognizing the commitment to academic excellence that began with our founders and continues today, as well as honoring Thetas who are dedicated to learning, growing, and being a part of something larger than themselves.
The Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC) strives to enhance opportunities for intellectual growth by providing our college members with study environments that foster creativity and critical thinking. We understand the importance of comfortable—yet stylish—study spaces!
- Comfortable study space that includes plush chairs and plenty of lighting.
- Connected with up-to-date technology. Our lighting includes fixtures that turn on just by tapping the exterior portion of the light along with two plugs to provide convenient electricity.
- Furniture that invites collaboration. Tables are easily adjustable to set at different heights and chairs move throughout the room easily.
Students in today's world are constantly connected and collaborating because both individual and group study is crucial to scholastic success. From convenient ways to charge laptops, phones, and tablets to plenty of lighting for studying late into the night, the FHC is prepared to meet our college students' needs.
There is a lot of discussion these days about the ways in which college experiences prepare an individual for a successful career or even for jobs that don't yet exist. Like many Thetas, I've been fortunate enough to have an exciting career that has afforded me many opportunities and rewards. However, the best job I ever had was one that did not offer benefits or even a paycheck. The best job my college experience prepared me for was serving on Grand Council.
What prepares you to be a member of Grand Council? What skills and experiences do you need? Candidates should possess vision, leadership, commitment, and a desire to serve Kappa Alpha Theta. The skills needed for council service are developed through myriad life experiences including college and alumnae Theta activities, professional careers, personal development, volunteer roles, and community engagement.
Members of Grand Council provide vision and leadership, direct the implementation of programs, and set policies for Fraternity activities and members. Grand Council members must uphold the core values of Kappa Alpha Theta that were articulated in the 19th century while ensuring the Theta experience remains meaningful in the 21st century—and beyond.
Board service requires a commitment of time, talent, and treasure. Council duties include travel to council meetings, Fraternity meetings such as Grand Convention, and college and alumnae chapter events as needed. Members of Grand Council participate in regular conference calls, and may also participate on Theta Foundation board of trustees or the Fraternity Housing Corporation board. Sometimes these obligations require time away from friends, family, community, and work, but the time away from other endeavors is certainly time well spent for the benefit of more than 200,000 college and alumnae members of Kappa Alpha Theta.
A unique blend of talents and a variety of perspectives are needed to make Grand Council the effective governing board that it is. Each woman is different and brings her unique experiences to the table. Council members have been members of large alumnae chapters as well as small. Some lived in a chapter facility during their college years, and others did not. Some members of Grand Council were initiated into our oldest chapters, while others' college chapters have been disestablished. Council members use skills and knowledge from a variety of experiences to execute their duties. Women from all backgrounds and professions including health, law, education, business, etc. apply their professional expertise, knowledge gained from involvement with Kappa Alpha Theta, and skills developed through participating in countless other community organizations to their Council duties.
This year, the nominating committee will not only prepare the Grand Council slate, but it will also prepare a slate for the board of directors for the Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC). The FHC determines the college chapter housing strategy and establishes funding standards to support FHC facilities and programs.
I encourage you to participate in the nominating processes of Grand Council and/or the FHC board of directors. I encourage you to read the job descriptions for both boards and to engage in the nomination process by completing a nomination form yourself or nominating a well-qualified Theta before April 8. The Nominations page has details on the entire process. Although these positions don't offer remuneration, Kappa Alpha Theta board service is one of the best jobs you can ever have!
The forum covered a wide range of topics relevant to the Greek housing world, including:
- The state of national housing corporations across NPC groups
- Tips for reducing legal issues and risk
- Trends in campus housing and Greek villages
- Employment and tax laws
- Property maintenance recommendations
- Outsourcing household services
- Recruiting and training facility directors
Theta actually reignited the previously dormant NPC housing meet-up back in 2003, opening its doors to housing specialists from other women's groups for a robust discussion on trends and issues facing the industry, as well as best practices for sorority housing. The next year, Tri Delta hosted the event at its headquarters in Texas. Then in 2004, Cindy Stellhorn, vice president of MJ's sorority division, offered to lend MJ's time and resources to sponsor the event moving forward. In her welcoming speech, Stellhorn called facility corporation volunteers the "unsung heroes" of the Greek world.
As a first-time attendee, I had no idea what to expect from an insurance provider-led conference, and I found the content surprisingly fascinating. A few noteworthy insights I jotted down during sessions and panel discussions:
- On national house corporations: More than half of all NPC groups have national housing corporations owning and managing properties, and many of the groups currently without corporations are laying the groundwork to launch them soon.
- On housing agreements: A strong housing agreement can help facility corporations avoid conflicts from the outset, and it should include language such as "I have received, read and agreed to follow these rules."
- On employment screening: When reviewing resumes for facility directors or staff, MJ's Cindy Stellhorn warned attendees to beware of "resume blocking," in which an individual lists chunks of job experience related to each field without chronological employment dates. This is often a red flag indicating unexplained employment gaps. Also, always be sure to run background checks on candidates before interviewing them.
- On managing staff: Facility corporations and chapters should create detailed job descriptions for facility directors, cooks, servers, and housekeepers. The descriptions should include specific duties, physical requirements, expectations, and reporting relationships. If discipline becomes necessary, be sure to document it thoroughly.
- On medical marijuana: With medical marijuana now legal in several states, Scott Himsel of Indianapolis-based law firm Faegre Baker Daniels reminded attendees that facility corporations and chapters have the right to prohibit its usage on Fraternity property exactly as they do alcohol for of-age members.
I had seen "before" photos of this house, and the difference is spectacular. Not only is the campus amazing, but our FHC interior designers, Karen Ledbetter and Arlene Wright Vanderlinde, did a wonderful job bringing out the spirit of the house. The house was built in 1910, and it has such beautiful quirks. My favorites, showcased in the photo of the living room, are the built-in bookshelves. I envy the members who will get to sit in that room and read a book while the sun shines in through the fabulous new windows! The extra-large windows are another thing that I just love. They let the light in beautifully.
Karen and Arlene did a fantastic job of bringing out what is special about this older house while still modernizing it and making it a nice environment for the new members to eat, live, study, and enjoy their time as Theta sisters.
You can find great features in the Facility Resources area. We get quite a few phone calls at headquarters from people asking about openings for the facility director position at different chapters. Now those women can upload their resume directly to this website, and facility corporation board (FCB) members can log in and view potential candidates! FCBs can also let headquarters know when they've hired someone so we can have accurate records for each chapter.
Another great area is the Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC) section. The FHC is busy renovating and redecorating chapters that they manage, and here you can find before and after pictures of completed projects, view current projects, and get a preview of what is happening in the future!
We understand that is takes a lot of time and effort to manage, maintain, and keep Kappa Alpha Theta facilities safe. Many volunteers are dedicating less time to their positions, and we recognize that there is a need for someone to help these boards with the day-to-day operations of being a corporation. Facility Corporation Services acts as an outside accountant to help with these daily tasks, as well as the more important aspects of making sure each FCB status as a corporation is in good standing with the IRS and their local state. You can learn more about FCS on the new website.
We know you will enjoy the new housing website and hope you will come back often!
Teresa Silva, Phi/Univ. of the Pacific, is the Facility Corporation Services accounting manager at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.