Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lehigh Develops Greek Leadership Program

Greek leadership program formed
By Martha Miller

The Greek community at Lehigh is known for its philanthropy, recruitment process and social gatherings, but few consider it a great spot to foster leadership skills.

The leadership development office, under the direction of Jessica Manno, leadership coordinator for fraternity and sorority affairs, decided to create the Greek Emerging Leaders Program.

This new group on campus hopes to recruit future leaders from the new members of the Greek community. It hopes to do so through presentations at new member education talks and by holding a social at Lamberton on Mar. 19 to put freshman hoping to get involved in Greek leadership in contact with leadership mentors.

GEM began with a planning group called the Blueprint plan in the leadership development office, which hoped to develop a leadership program for Greek life, Manno said.

It was Manno’s idea to start the GEM program, a group for new members after formal recruitment, that would give them exposure to available leadership positions and how they work.

“The idea was for it to be a sort of role modeling or mentor approach to learning about leadership,” Manno said.

The program gives new members looking to have position in their house a partner within the GEM program who will educate them about leadership and help them make connections outside of their house.

According to Manno, the group gives freshmen knowledge about leadership from an outside perspective. It is also a great chance to make connections for philanthropy and social events to a house participants may not know.

One positive aspect of the program, Manno said, was the idea to bring the Greek community together toward a common goal of leadership. Many houses currently do philanthropy projects and social events on their own. According to Manno, the GEM program is a way for the Greek community to do something positive as a group. Manno said the program offers many benefits to its members. Entering GEM gives students a chance to network, build leadership skills, get a certificate in a PEER leadership course, take a ropes challenge experience, prepare for internships in leadership and make friends with other Greek students not in their chapter, Manno said.

“Those freshman who elect to do the program will get to participate in these activities, and a few will be selected to go on an overnight leadership weekend,” Manno said. “These newly trained freshman will then become mentors in the spring.”Manno said there are currently 11 upperclassmen mentors involved from different Greek organizations.

“I entered the program because I felt very lost when I was considering taking on a leadership position in my house,” Collin Breitman, ’09, said. “I wanted to help those applying in the future. Now, I love being a member because I get to see 11 people so excited to get others informed on how great it is to take initiative in the Greek community.”

The new members are currently holding a Leadership 101 session after the new member education presentations. These sessions have involved creative skits and prizes and have resulted in a good turnout in freshmen applications, Manno said.
While they are a small group, these 11 mentors, according to Manno, have truly spearheaded the program and have done all the publicity, marketing and recruiting.
This past Tuesday and Wednesday, the group performed skits and handed out footballs and ring-pops to encourage freshmen to apply.

“The presentation made the program sound really exciting,” Liam Kelly, ’10, said. “As a new member hoping to a hold a position in my house next year, I feel this group will be really informative and I’d love to be a mentor.”

GEM also plans to speak after the social host training speech all new members will receive in the coming weeks, Manno said. They are hoping this presentation will reach out to those not involved in leadership. The group also hopes to publicize to the entire campus so it does not appear to only support leadership in the Greek community, but outside of it too.

The group will hold a social on March 19 in Lamberton Hall with free food and prizes. Freshmen can meet one-on-one with mentors to learn more about the program and how to get involved with leadership.