Greeks gain lasting value from new RU course


From left: Richard Harshberger, director emeritus of the University Leadership Development Program; Steve Lerch, interim coordinator of Student Retention; and Matt Dunleavy, interim director of Academic Affairs were among the panelists who provided feedback to students after their presentations.

Students in the Greek Life Leadership and Fraternal Values course presented their final projects on Dec. 1 to a panel of Radford University administrators and an audience inside the COBE multipurpose room.

The purpose of the assignment was to develop a positively themed campaign centered on the concept of courageous leadership. The 21-member class of Greek Life leaders has been working throughout the semester on the projects while also engaging in the unique course curriculum.

The class, taught by Professors Steve Owen and Tod Burke, began as a non-credit project last year and evolved into a for-credit course for this first time this fall. It was created out of a generous scholarship provided by Phi Kappa Sigma alumni and active members.

Burke said some of the highlights of the semester included the great classroom discussions about leadership in the Greek Life community, and beyond.

"The students really seemed to enjoy the alumni guest speakers, the case studies as they relate to their own organizations, the dinner with President Kyle, as well as the etiquette lunch with Kathleen Harshberger," Burke said.


Members of the ROBERT (Really Outstanding But Extremely Resourceful Team) conduct their final presentation in front of an audience in the COBE multipurpose room.

Also, Owens added, the class provided an opportunity for students from different organizations to work together.

"I feel like this class really gave me a strong sense of Greek unity, said senior Raechel Kiefer of Stuart.  "Before taking this class, I did not know many people in different organizations. But now I know, and have become friends with 20-plus people in organizations other than my own." 

That unity influenced many of the students' final presentations.

For their final assignments, the Greek leaders broke into four groups to present their campaigns. Themes touched upon included the positives of not hazing, a focus on changing the outlook of RU's Greek Life from "ordinary to extraordinary,"  implementing a Greek Week Unity event and a campaign called "Own It!" which centered around collectively working together as a campus to continue to shine positive light on the university.

After the presentations, a group of five panelists provided helpful and insightful feedback.

Panelists included Assistant Director of Student Activities- Greek Life Robert Marias; Interim Coordinator of Student Retention Steve Lerch; SGA Student Body President Colby Bender; Director Emeritus of the University Leadership Richard Harshberger and Interim Director for Academic Affairs Matt Dunleavy.


Greek Life Leadership and Values students stand with course instructors Tod Burke (far right) and Steve Owen (far left) at their final presentations.

Student Zach McCraw of Spokane, Washington, said what he gained from the course and in the final presentation has "lasting value."

"I have gained valuable leadership lessons that will help me both with my fraternity and my job search," said the junior communication major.

"I learned that it is amazing what a team can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit."

The students weren't the only ones who gained from the course.

"The experience was extremely rewarding for us," Burke said. "We told the students that we learned so much from them."

Owens said the class was both enriching inside the classroom and will further enrich the students' lives beyond their time on RU's campus.

"While highly focused, we see the class as spanning a variety of disciplines and helping students understand the practical application of the material – and in doing so, students can exercise their leadership in meaningful and positive ways," Owens said.

Dec 10, 2014