At the 141st Anniversary Convention -- New Orleans, 2005 – National President Mike Pitcher announced The Leadership Initiative, an active campaign for Theta Xi to become a premier leadership fraternity. The decision to start this Initiative flowed largely from the ever-changing demands of the post-college world, and from a shift among most Greek organizations to become more values based in their programming. While high standards and values have always been an integral part of fraternity life, by the early 2000s, the inter-fraternal community had begun challenging its members to be more intentional about living by the professed values of each organization.
To that end, Theta Xi examined Fraternity programming with an eye on how to best serve, and prepare, undergraduate members. The Fraternity decided to shape its programming to better facilitate the development of each individual brother’s leadership skills. From this decision, the Leadership Initiative was created. The Leadership Initiative is broad in scope and includes several components. Among these, notably, are the three national and district leadership academies for undergraduates.
The first Presidents Academy was held in 1999, supported – both then and now – by the generous financial backing of the Theta Xi Foundation. The Academy is a four-day program in January that enables each chapter and colony president to improve his personal leadership skills and his effectiveness in leading his chapter by joining with his peers from across the country. This leadership and educational weekend includes interactive, small-group learning, plus a number of challenges for team building and problem-solving skill development.
The Rising Stars Academy was initiated in 2006, the first new leadership academy after the adoption of the 2005 Leadership Initiative. This academy is designed for first year initiates and is held in conjunction with the Presidents Academy in January. The Rising Stars Academy concentrates on providing attendees an opportunity to assess and develop their leadership styles and skills in an interactive and experiential setting.
Rising Stars Academy is facilitated by a team of volunteer facilitators, both alumni and friends of Theta Xi. Notably, we have evidence that more than 70% of RSA attendees go on to assume key leadership roles in their chapters within 18 months, including many as Chapter President.
A third major strategy of the Leadership Initiative was the restructuring of the former Regional Conferences. Theta Xi has had some form of regional programming since about 1940. In 2006, the former Regional Conferences became District Leadership Academies, shifting the focus more toward an exploration of leadership skills, communication, and the core values of the Fraternity. In 2011, the Foundation Board of Trustees marked a generous bequest of William Newell, Omicron 389, by renaming the DLA in honor of Brother Newell.
A major purpose of each NDLA is to create a greater national consciousness by bringing together members of the chapters to meet, work and interact with one another and with officials of the Fraternity. NDLAs provide educational and leadership programs to aid in the personal development of undergraduate members, thus helping to build leaders who improve and strengthen their chapters overall operations.
The Theta Xi Leadership Initiative is ever-developing and aimed at providing the very best opportunities for growth of our members. In 2017 the Grand Lodge created a strategic plan which identifies areas specific to our leadership programs. The plan included a redesign of the NDLA curriculum and format to focus on chapter and colony officer training. The redesigned academy was extended from a one day event to a weekend experience conducted at host hotels in cities throughout the US. The academy offers large group sessions focused on The Leadership Challenge model which is the leadership development model adopted by Theta Xi in 2018. Additionally, breakout tracks offer undergraduate participants the opportunity to develop and learn practical skills related to their specific positions.
The three leadership academies just outlined serve as the cornerstone of the 2005 Leadership Initiative programming, but there is more. Other leadership programming is offered through a Convention Leadership Workshop at each Anniversary Convention. The programming for this event is carefully designed so it does not duplicate programming from other national and district academies. In addition, a number of leadership development resources, and the hands-on engagement of HQ staff are consistently available to every chapter and colony seeking to strengthen leadership skills.
The Chapter Annual Accreditation Program was introduced in 2006 to hold chapters accountable to Theta Xi’s historic Core Values. To be accredited, a chapter must demonstrate that it meets at least 7 of the 9 standards.
Updated throughout the years to reflect chapter needs and fraternal best practices, the Annual Report for Accreditation provides chapters with an opportunity to show their commitment to The Purpose of Theta Xi through the achievement of standards in nine areas (Ritual, recruitment, membership education, scholarship, finances, chapter operations, campus and community, risk prevention, and alumni relations). Requirements in each standard are meant to align with the intentions and ideals outlined with the public Purpose and private Ritual of Theta Xi Fraternity.
The All True Men Chapter designation provides a challenge for undergraduate members and their alumni leaders to take their chapter to a higher level of operations. Updated in 2018, the purpose of the All True Men program is to create opportunities for high performing chapters to seek new levels of accomplishment within the fraternity. Chapters earn All True Men status by meeting the accreditation standards and All True Men standards in at least seven of the nine areas.