President Kyle hosts Greek Life leadership dinner


President Penelope Kyle speaks to Greek Life leaders

Representatives of Radford University's Greek Life enrolled in the Greek Life Leadership and Fraternal Values class taught by Professors Tod Burke and Steve Owen joined President Penelope W. Kyle on Sept. 19 for a special dinner in honor of the students’ leadership initiatives.

The class is being offered for the first time this semester as a three-hour academic course.

During the dinner, held in the Martin Hall Board Room, President Kyle spoke with the students about the importance of leadership opportunities and development, as well the structure of RU's Board of Visitors, which convened in the same room during the Sept. 18-19 BOV meeting.

"You are all doing the right thing, and that is participating in a program like this while you are undergraduates," President Kyle said.

"You are going to learn a lot about the school, but you are going to learn even more about leadership. There is no better time than right now to learn about what it means to be a leader, to develop your leadership skills, to learn about life balance."

The event was part of the course curriculum, taught by professors Tod Burke and Steve Owen, of RU's Criminal Justice Department.

"We wanted our students to meet with President Kyle so that they may witness first-hand how membership in Greek Life may enhance their leadership opportunities within their organizations, and beyond," Burke said.

The course, as described in the syllabus, "is designed to explore the history, role and values of Greek Life" and is "highly interactive and experiential."

Students will also meet this semester with the course's previous instructors, Vice President of Student Affairs Mark Shanley and Provost Sam Minner.

Alpha Sigma Tau junior Kayla Ackelson said she is proud to represent her chapter, which earned the Founders Award at the sorority's National Convention this summer.

"They see you taking initiatives and doing big things," Ackelson said.

Ackelson said she plans on sharing with her sorority sisters what she has learned in the class.

Many students, including junior Zach McCraw of Alpha Chi Rho, talked about how the class is "changing the culture" of Greek Life on campus.

"I think it takes away some of the stereotype," McCraw said.


From left: Associate Vice President for Student Activities Kenneth Bonk, Professor of Criminal Justice Stephen Owen, President Kyle, Professor of Criminal Justice Tod Burke and Vice President of Student Affairs Mark Shanley with Greek Life leaders.

The Greek community is sometimes perceived in a negative light, Ackelson said. She said that sororities and fraternities are often stereotyped for a party culture, when service and community involvement are attributes of Greeks, too.

Through the leadership course, Ackelson and her classmates are setting a positive example of what the organization truly represents.

"We're learning that what we do affects our community, our university," said junior Jesse Gibson of Zeta Tau Alpha. "Our actions count."

The course will culminate on Dec. 1 with the final class project, where students will be asked to develop a positively-themed campaign centered on the concept of courageous leadership. A panel representing RU faculty and community organizations will provide feedback.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. in the Hurlburt Student Center auditorium and is open to the public.

Sep 26, 2014