U expands greek alumni involvement

The school hopes a stronger connection to its greek alumni will aid chapters.

Sarah Connor

The University of Minnesota is pushing greek alumni to keep close ties with their sororities and fraternities.

After the school’s 2012 Greek Community Strategic Task Force Report pointed out a lack of alumni involvement with chapters on campus, the University is focusing on increasing their presence to combat what the report called a “laissez-faire” attitude among greek alumni.

The University created the Minnesota Greek Alumni Council after the report came out. That group organized Friday’s “Forever Greek”  homecoming event at the McNamara Alumni Center, which was the first greek alumni event backed by the University.

Council Chairman Doug Basile said he hopes the event will be the first of many of its kind.

“It’s really our very first event to get greek alumni from all ages and all houses to have an opportunity to come together, have a social time together and get reconnected on campus,” he said.

Interfraternity Council President Cameron Schilling said his council, which works closely with the Minnesota Greek Alumni Council, also has a goal to improve alumni relations on campus.

“Alumni involvement is super important for the wisdom they have. They’ve kind of been through what the undergraduates are going through right now,” he said. “And being able to share their experiences and learning from those experiences is really valuable for an undergrad.”

Schilling said that although alumni involvement with chapters could improve, he has seen a steady increase in participation since first joining his fraternity, which he partially credits to the Greek Strategic Task Force.

He said alumni are especially valuable in assisting current chapter leaders in the greek community with things like fundraising for improvements to their houses.

Many chapters’ houses need renovations, Schilling said, and alumni are helpful in raising money for necessary updates because they have larger networks of potential donors than students do.

“Fundraising done by students doesn’t always work out, so alumni help is very valuable,” he said.

More alumni involvement also aids former students.

Lauren Pietrek, a 2013 University graduate and Gamma Phi Beta alumna, said though she now lives in Michigan, she still feels welcome at the University because of her sorority.

Pietrek recently helped recolonize a Gamma Phi Beta chapter at the University of Michigan and is currently an adviser for the sorority.

“Without my connection to the greek community, it would have been much more challenging to find a support system and social circle outside my job,” she said.

“I still feel a huge connection to Minnesota and my sisters there.”

Basile said he hopes more alumni build connections with their chapters to benefit both the alumni and the students.

“I would like to believe that there’s a synergy between the University and the greek alumni that as they work together, better things will happen tomorrow than have happened today,” he said.