Alumnus Chris Graham (Lamar/Stephen F. Austin), right, began his volunteer service in the early 1990s as Zeta Psi Chapter Advisor. He has since served as Zeta Psi House Corporation President and South Central Division Commander. Graham has been recognized by Sigma Nu as Chapter Advisor of the Year (2007) and twice as Division Commander of the Year (2010, 2014).
What do you think is challenging about working with today’s students rather than students from a previous generation?
Today you have so many communication mediums at your disposal, to me it’s harder now with the options available then it was back then. When I first started as an advisor there was no public internet. If you wanted to talk to someone you either had to find time to when you both could sit down and talk or you had to use the telephone.
Advisors have to come up with a communication medium that both he and the officer agree to. What is the communication standard between you and the officer you are advising? And you both have to agree to it.
What advice would you give to someone who just pledged Sigma Nu?
Don Humphreys had some words of wisdom at Grand Chapter that every candidate should listen to. He said very simply, “When faced with something new, you should go for it.”
Don’t become a candidate just because you want to say you’re a Sigma Nu, become a candidate because you want to be a Sigma Nu and want to make Sigma Nu better. Have a purpose and go for it, don’t just sit back and be the member in the back of the room or the member in the back of your candidate class who’s not doing something. You’re only going to get out of it what you put into it – that’s an age old saying – But I don’t think it’s ever truer than for a candidate.
What do you think are some of Sigma Nu’s best traditions?
I love going to any candidate and initiation ceremony, any chapter meeting; it’s very important to me that I have those opportunities to attend because they remind me of why I’m a Sigma Nu. It’s what we agreed to in our vows: to honor the five objects laid down by our founders. You are reminded of why you do what you do, why you behave the way you behave, what you want to be known for, what you want to stand for. It’s a constant reminder.
What do you think makes a great Alumni Advisory Board?
Wherever possible, bringing in diversity really seems to foster growth and strengthen the collegiate chapter.
Zeta Chi’s (Houston) AAB is almost an all-star team. It’s because of several things that are there: there’s a huge diversity of age, the positions they held in the chapters, and what chapters they came from. To see the information coming from other chapters on how they did things, to help strengthen their chapters has been really great.
Additionally, with Zeta Chi Chapter wanting to become a Rock Chapter, actually finding some advisors that were part of Rock Chapters, so they really understand that commitment that it takes. The advisors ability to express that and to see that dialogue taking place between the officers and the advisors has been really encouraging and has given me ideas on how to strengthen some of the other AABs that I have.
What are some of the best things you have seen AABs put in place?
Recently I watched an AAB take an approach during officer transition that I think has a lot of potential. The transition was designed by taking the Pursuit of Excellence Program and breaking it down by what each officer or committee chairman was responsible for. It’s not just looking at the officer manual, but taking the Pursuit of Excellence Program and what it takes to be excellent in each criteria and determining who really has the responsibility to make sure that happens.
It’s amazing when you spread that out, it’s pretty much every officer, every chairman in the chapter that has a responsibility for bringing in the information and putting it into the submission.