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Thetas have positive feelings toward our Fraternity! An overwhelming number (17,526) of alumnae and collegians recently completed the online member engagement and satisfaction survey. The feedback we received is invaluable to better understand the interests and priorities of our members.
Some highlights from the survey include:
- More than nine out of ten members (92 percent) have very positive or somewhat positive feelings toward Kappa Alpha Theta.
- Most Thetas consider themselves at least somewhat engaged with the Fraternity. Over a quarter (27 percent) of members considers themselves moderately engaged, and one in four considers herself either highly or very highly engaged (22 percent and 4 percent, respectively).
- Most college seniors (90 percent) indicate that they plan to stay involved with Theta in some way after graduating.
- Of all events surveyed, Founders Day celebrations had the highest rate of participation with 70 percent of members having participated, followed by Day of Service (42 percent).
- Thetas place high value on service- and assistance-oriented offerings that help fellow members and contribute to the greater good.
- Survey respondents represented all age groups. Thirty-three percent were under age 23; 18 percent were ages 23 to 34, 17 percent were between 35 and 50; 17 percent were ages 51 to 65; 15 percent were over age 65.
Although we are very pleased with the results, we have a lofty vision for the future of Kappa Alpha Theta. Results from the survey will be used in the pursuit and realization of Kappa Alpha Theta's Plan of Aspirations, developed to guide our organization through 2019. You can read more about this plan and our vision for the future in the Spring issue of the Theta magazine.
If you are an alumna, then you probably have fond memories of your favorite professor. This professor probably didn't give an "easy A," but that wasn't why you took the class. He/she probably challenged you to accomplish more than you thought was possible while demonstrating a passion for knowledge and a commitment to students. Faculty members on campuses across the United States and Canada continue to instill knowledge while inspiring, engaging, and mentoring today's Theta collegians.
Commitment to higher education and scholarship as demonstrated by these faculty members is also a cornerstone of Kappa Alpha Theta, and is a priority through the Plan of Aspirations. This shared commitment was the impetus to establish the Kappa Alpha Theta Outstanding Faculty Award.
In 2015, the fourth year of this hallmark program, I have the privilege of serving on the award selection committee. Last year, we received more than 100 nominations submitted by each Theta college chapter, and were tasked with selecting ten recipients. The five men and five women who comprise the 2014 Outstanding Faculty list each make significant and unique contributions to their students' lives by inspiring them inside the classroom as well as helping them reach their goals outside of the classroom.
Each college chapter is strongly encouraged to submit its nominated faculty member via the Officer Portal; the deadline for applications is Friday, April 10. Special thanks to Jill Andersen, Zeta Theta/Cal Polytechnic State, and Erin Howle, Delta Kappa/Louisiana State, for serving on the Outstanding Faculty Award selection committee.
Who is making a difference in your life? Which faculty member do you remember the most from your college days? Which faculty member(s) inspired you to reach your aspirations?
Awareness of sexual misconduct on college campuses is gaining rapidly due to the 2013 passing of the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, or Campus SaVE Act, an amendment
to the federal Clery Act and a complement to Title IX that prohibits discrimination in education on the basis of sex, including sexual violence and harassment. According to clerycenter.org, "SaVE requires colleges and universities, both public and private, participating in federal student aid programs (covering virtually every campus in the United States) to increase transparency about the scope of sexual violence on campus, guarantee victims enhanced rights, provide for standards in institutional conduct proceedings, and provide campus communitywide prevention educational programming."
Recent media coverage has brought a great deal of attention to the issue of campus sexual misconduct. It has also highlighted the complexity of the issues that surround this important topic. Demands placed upon campus administrators under the Clery Act sometimes create a tension with individual rights and freedoms. Protecting victims while providing due process to the accused can also be a delicate balancing act. And, as we have seen on a number of college campuses, the Greek system can sometimes be an easy target for decisive action on a high-profile issue.
So where does Kappa Alpha Theta fit into all of this? First, the safety of our members is paramount. In fact, our risk management policies include practices designed to protect all aspects of personal safety, including sexual assault issues. We have found that these policies are more comprehensive than the safety measures in place on many college campuses. We will continue to set the bar high when it comes to the safety of our members and others, and we are committed to supporting our collegians as they promote our policies and drive positive cultural change in their respective communities.
Second, Kappa Alpha Theta will defend the rights of our members to freedom of association, and our rights as an organization. At the same time, we are keenly interested in working together with campus administrators to address the topic of sexual misconduct. We want to take actions that are bold and meaningful, that denounce victim blaming, and that encourage bystander intervention and reporting. We are mindful that many campuses are providing exceptional training and programming on this topic, and we do not want to duplicate or even potentially contradict their efforts. We are committed, however, to joining with our peers in the Greek community to lead the charge on our host campuses in addressing this critical problem.
Kappa Alpha Theta is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), a 26-member organization that serves as the national voice on contemporary issues of sorority life. Late last autumn, NPC commissioned a Student Safety and Sexual Assault Awareness Task Force that is charged with researching resources and brain storming avenues for training and prevention. In a statement published in the Washington Post in December, NPC said: "It is absolutely a priority of the sorority community to ensure our campuses are safe for women.... This is an all-student safety issue, not just a Greek-community issue, which will continue to be addressed on local and national levels.... NPC encourages our sorority women to support and care for one another. We will not turn our heads on this important issue, but rather speak up so our voices will be heard and our actions will be noticed." The NPC task force, composed of subject matter experts, is working diligently to compile a comprehensive action plan and submit it for endorsement by NPC within the next few months.
In turn, NPC is a member of the IX for All Coalition, a recently formed group of men's and women's fraternities whose purpose is to ensure the preservation of our single-sex organization exemption under Title IX and the protection of our members and organizations in Title IX- related matters, including those involving campus sexual misconduct issues. The group will pursue a legislative agenda aimed at these topics and will seek strategic partnerships with similarly aligned organizations. The NPC task force plans to partner with the coalition to explore other avenues for influencing the discussion surrounding sexual misconduct.
One of the four aspirations in our strategic plan is to align resources to best execute the mission of Kappa Alpha Theta. We pay dues to NPC, and we provide several volunteers to help execute the work of the Conference. In addressing issues of widespread importance that transcend the boundaries of NPC-member organizations, we believe that leveraging the collective voice of NPC is both the most efficient and the most effective approach. Through NPC, we are committed to being Leading Women in addressing the problem of campus sexual misconduct.
Developing and implementing a strategic plan like our Plan of Aspirations focuses an organization, its chapters, and its members to think about "Where are we? Where do we want to go? And how do we get there?" In looking at the Plan of Aspirations, you will see that it is focused on the fundamental values of our organization: high scholastic aims, the widest influence for good, creating a relevant experience for all members, along with the addition of efficient operations so that we can do all the other things. In developing this plan, Grand Council assessed where we were in each of these areas and set targets for where we want to go. Some of these targets are very specific: that we will increase by 15 percent the number of members graduating with honors, or that we will double our alumnae member engagement. Others are less specific, and the Fraternity workforce—both staff and volunteer officers—have been working during the last three years to develop action plans to define "how we get there."
We are well along the path to meet our goals and targets that are set out in the plan. A significant part of the early efforts were focused on the Fraternity workforce and ensuring that we have the right structures and systems in place to focus our efforts on achieving the rest of the plan. With those systems now in place, efforts have shifted to developing programming to achieve some of the goals that Grand Council defined. In our efforts to extend the widest influence for good, there have been significant increases in member engagement with CASA, the development of the Kappa Alpha Theta Service Trip to engage college members in service learning tied to our core values, and a 21 percent increase in donations made to CASA. In terms of scholarship, 26 percent of our chapters were first in scholarship on their campuses, with 79 percent of chapters at or above the all-sorority average (ASA), just one percentage point away from our 80 percent target. And new programming has been developed to provide relevant materials for all members, both college and alumnae, including the addition of mental health screening resources as part of our Sisters Supporting Sisters program.
While we are proud of our many accomplishments over the last three years, you might be wondering, "How can I help advance the goals of the Fraternity on a more local level?" Individuals and chapters can think about the questions "Where are we now? Where do we want to go? And how do we get there?" This time of the year is a perfect time to do this, too, as the year winds down and you think about your own personal and chapter goals for 2014. I encourage you to think about how you spend your time. Are you focused on achieving your highest scholarship? Are you helping extend the widest influence for good? What are you doing to help make your Theta experience relevant? For leaders at both college and alumnae chapters, think about how you are spending your time as a chapter. Do your activities align with the goals of the Fraternity? If not, how can you change or tweak those activities to help the Fraternity meet its goals?
Here's one key point to remember, too: As you think about these questions and set your own individual and chapter goals, be sure to track your progress. And communicate your successes along the way! The Fraternity wants to hear your stories of how you are living and engaging with the strategic plan. Submit a story to the I Am a Theta campaign, or let us know by emailing PlanStories@kappaalphatheta.org. How are you using your membership experience to continue to live the values of Kappa Alpha Theta?
I look forward to hearing and telling your stories over the next few months. And watch this blog for more updates on the great work of Thetas everywhere.
Throughout our lives, more specifically our academic careers, we have all more than likely met those who relay information with the expectation that it be held in the "bank" that is our brain and left to sit. However, sometimes we are fortunate to encounter those who encourage intellectual curiosity, leadership development, a commitment to service, and personal excellence in order to fully comprehend and utilize the information presented to us. These people have a profound influence on the development of the whole student. These catalysts for our members' growth are outstanding faculty members.
For the second year, Theta honors ten outstanding faculty members for contributions during the 2012-2013 academic year. The faculty members were chosen from more than 110 nominations by Theta chapters that believed their professor exuded Theta's aspirations inside and outside of the classroom.
This year's honorees' areas of study range from the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to history and education. In addition, the type of institution in which they teach range from public to private, research based to liberal arts based.
Read the list of this year's recipients.
Read the list of list of nominated professors.
For biographies and photos of honorees, please visit the Kappa Alpha Theta website in December 2013 and/or view in the upcoming Winter edition of the Theta Magazine.
Read the list of 2011-2012 recipients.
If you think your professor should be nominated as an outstanding faculty member for the 2013-2014 academic year, you will be able to do so in Spring 2014. Please look for correspondence from Assistant Director of Education & Leadership Victoria Stankus.
If you have questions regarding the Outstanding Faculty Member program, please email me.
In the Summer 2011 issue of the Magazine, I had the pleasure of introducing you to the Fraternity's Plan of Aspirations. Adopted this spring, the Plan supports our mission—yesterday, today, and tomorrow, Kappa Alpha Theta exists to nurture each member throughout her college and alumnae experience and to offer a lifelong opportunity for social, intellectual, and moral growth as she meets the higher and broader demands of mature life—as well as our true promise—loyalty to cultured womanhood. It is designed as a blueprint for the next five years ... and beyond.
As the first Greek-letter fraternity for women, Theta has historically been a leader and an innovator. We could not have flourished for nearly 150 years without anticipating trends and responding to the needs of a changing society. As we strive to best serve our members, we must acknowledge when our resources are being stretched to their limits and be ready to evolve and to transform our operations.
At its August meeting, Grand Council developed a framework designed to address and meet the current needs of the Fraternity. On September 13, Council adopted this plan, to be substantially completed by January 1, 2012. It is with high hopes for our future that I share the key components with you now.
• Kappa Alpha Theta will continue to be organized by districts.
• Programming titles for Fraternity vice-presidents will be eliminated. The elected Council will be composed of a president and six vice-presidents.
• All Fraternity officers will be appointed by Grand Council.
• Each appointed officer is the chairman of a committee. Other committees (such as NPC and government relations) will comprise specialist volunteers.
• Adequate staff will be hired to support success. Fraternity officers will report to staff and to Grand Council through the executive director.
We recognize that these are bold changes! Yet current research about efficient organization of women's groups reveals that success is based more on horizontal/flat structures than on a top-heavy hierarchy. In addition to keeping the welfare of our Fraternity as our primary objective, it was also important that we offer meaningful opportunities for wide and wise human service within our volunteer structure. By adopting this plan, we believe we can best serve our members and fulfill Kappa Alpha Theta's promise to foster social, intellectual, and moral growth.
Amy Hayner Kates, Alpha Phi/Tulane, is president of Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.