By now, you’ve hopefully gained a fundamental understanding of your role by reading the VPMD: Welcome to Your Role blog or if you are an educator, the Role of an Educator blog. Now, I’d like to explain the purpose of holistic member development and the Fraternity’s philosophy that drives it.

Introduction to Member Development Philosophy

Imagine life as one long continuous timeline. Each point along that timeline represents a moment in time, a specific event that helped shape those that followed. With each experience comes an opportunity to learn more about one's self and the lives of those around us.

Of all the different development stages along this timeline, surely one stands out as the most influential. For some, this period was "the college years", a time when new and unique challenges presented themselves. The decisions made here shaped a lifestyle. Friends were made, maybe even a spouse, a career was selected, personal values were determined and independence was gained. The very nature of the college setting primes the stage to have a far-reaching effect.

Perhaps no institution can play as wide a role during this stage than the college fraternity. To do so, it brings together individuals with different backgrounds, different abilities and different interests, and attempts to center them on common principles and values. In many cases, these members must deal with the day-to-day challenges of living with one another in a large group setting. Throw in the basic differences of members and you have developed a very complex group. However, with the right programs in place, a fraternity experience can provide a basis from which one can grow intellectually, socially, personally and ethically – like nothing else offered to a college student.

The programs that are central to achieving a full and complete fraternity experience are those that educate and develop the membership along the way. The continuing education program must provide to our members the materials that are not learned in the classroom to prepare them for life outside the wicket door.

Purpose of Member Development

Members may wonder what the purpose of having a member development program in the Fraternity is, and the objectives are simple: to provide opportunities for continuous development of our members in order to develop them on content material that is not learned in the classroom, provide more substance that will aid in better understanding of chapter operations and Fraternity functionality and to improve the overall fraternity experience in Pi Kappa Alpha so that members can graduate from college with the know-how and practical experience that will give them the edge post-graduation.

The success of any business, government, athletic team or other organization depends not only on the caliber of the personnel brought into the organization, but more importantly on how they are trained and developed. The corporations known for success and professionalism set high standards and develop effective training programs. These training programs range from new employee orientation to middle management and executive training seminars.

Although all fraternities have some sort of new member education program, Pi Kappa Alpha is setting the standard of continuing the education process beyond initiation. All of the benefits of an effective continuing education program reflect on the chapter. Those men excelling in other campus activities, enhancing the reputation of the chapter, becoming close friends and contributing to the success of the chapter's programs and goals are the essence of the purpose of the North American college fraternity. Results such as these will have a lasting effect.

Members of Pi Kappa Alpha who can enjoy this level of fraternity experience will very likely be among the most supportive alumni. These successes will set a high standard of expectations for the chapter and its future members.

Additionally, by educating our members, we are giving them confidence. This is the single most important item that the chapter can provide for its members. Giving them the confidence of the skills that they have learned, the values they have inculcated into their daily lives, and the knowledge to have intellectual conversations adds to the value of the PIKE experience. This confidence will make our members more successful. Members will be more successful in the classroom, on the athletic field, in the fraternity and in their personal and professional lives.

The Pi Kappa Alpha True PIKE Experience program is based on the need for complete educational programming that attends to the needs of the members. While methods and styles may change, the broader focus should remain constant.

Conclusion

The role of a chapter in helping its members meet and overcome the challenges they face can be magnificent. A continuing education program attempts to reach and develop all members of the chapter. This program should begin with the new member process and continue throughout the member’s collegiate career, ultimately setting them up to become a successful alumnus member and continue their education and involvement in the Fraternity throughout their alumnus years.

As a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, every member should want their fraternity experience to embody personal and professional growth. Pi Kappa Alpha chapters should establish and foster a culture where member development is a major tenant of the chapter’s culture and operations. In sports, many coaches have adopted the philosophy that culture beats strategy every time. By setting this mindset early with each member’s learning and development, the sky is the limit for each member and the chapter.

In the TPE Educator Toolbox resource found in the myPIKE Resource Center, you can find learning concepts, philosophies and strategic tactics to provide some substance and an overview for the chapter’s member development cabinet on how learning occurs.

By understanding information about learning and development strategy and learning styles, you and the member development team will be better prepared for your roles and responsibilities in the chapter’s member development program and ensure the chapter’s members are making the most of their experience.

Devon T. Teixeira

Director of Membership Development