Friday, February 20, 2015

An Interview on HK recolonization

With Chris Healy, Zeta Kappa 701 (Fresno State)
By Bruce Pendleton, HK 178

I’m sure many Eta Kappa brothers are probably feeling a little anxiety over how we alumni — many of us now out of college for decades — are to go about recolonizing our chapter when the time comes. Firm plans are indeed in place to recolonize Sigma Nu at SDSU, with our alumni leaders, the university, and Sigma Nu headquarters already working together to make it happen. You may be wondering: “Where do I fit into these plans?”

We’re fortunate to have a Sigma Nu alumni right here in San Diego who is quite experienced in these matters.  Chris Healy served as Director of Expansion at Sigma Nu headquarters for seven years, directing the establishment or recolonization of thirty chapters nationwide. Six of these today are Rock Chapters. While on staff with National, Healy also oversaw the development of the Sigma Nu Recruitment Bluebook, a ‘how-to’ manual, and he conducted dozens of recruitment seminars & workshops attended by thousands of Sigma Nu’s from around the country. While still in college at Fresno State, Chris helped guide his own chapter through the aftermath of a “risk management violation that led to loss of campus recognition.” 

I spoke with Chris recently about the process of re-colonizing Eta Kappa chapter at SDSU:

BP: So what can HK alumni do to make the recolonization process successful? What expectations are there for us going in?

CH: First off, know that Sigma Nu National will carry the responsibility of recolonizing SDSU from top to bottom. They’re the leader in fraternity development, but there are a lot of places where alumni can pitch in and help get this done. Early-on, it will be important for Eta Kappa alumni to show up at ‘interest meetings’ on campus and be willing to speak about their own experiences and careers. 

BP: So that’s a ready-made recruitment forum, but how else do our alumni go about effectively identifying college men to pledge a recolonizing Sigma Nu?

CH: Everyone in your situation has that question. What it takes is motivation, confidence, and the belief that each and every one of you can make a valuable difference. That said ongoing alumni involvement and leadership through the complex world that fraternities function in today will be essential. Without it, Eta Kappa will never really have a chance.

The TYPE of fraternity we are rebuilding is what’s most important. We are not rebuilding the old Eta Kappa chapter. We’re setting out to create a new Rock Chapter. That starts with the quality of young men we recruit – young men who are leaders on campus, ambitious, serious about academics, with a desire to serve and a desire to start their own fraternity because what exists on campus is not good enough. Above all we want young men who carry themselves with honor and respect.  

BP: OK but, realistically, how does one start such a process? After all, many of us have been out of college for a quarter-century or more; how do we even begin going about making connections with potential pledge recruits, beyond these ‘interest meetings’?

CH: Take ten minutes to write down a list of all the possible young men you might know at SDSU. Start with family, obviously, if you have a son or nephew. If you have daughters or nieces, ask them about the best guys they know on campus. Then move to your professional network, co-workers, friends, neighbors, your doctor, dentist, golf buddies. Referrals are of the utmost importance.

Sigma Nu National is going to lead the charge, and they’ll get the job done, but lasting success will be in the hands of the alumni. So answer the call, dedicate short blocks of time for Sigma Nu. Show up for recruitment events when the call comes. After all, young men can hear from National reps all day long but when they see successful men in their careers; that brings credibility. Take a small bit of leadership: show up and just be your self – but skip the stories of the old days.

Remember, National will be behind your efforts all the way. And when the time comes, they’ll send a consultant out who will live on campus throughout ‘Year One’, and another one or two will further help out during the first few weeks. They’ll do things like talk to the sororities and other campus organizations in one-on-one direct meetings. 

The fledgling chapter will need ongoing alumni advisers and mentors who can serve as examples and provide direction in areas like social responsibility and leadership. Such face-to-face interaction is crucial, and that’s where Eta Kappa alumni can be invaluable.

BP: Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to speak with us while busy with your new digital marketing and web design company, Round Two Creative Group. Your insights will really help Eta Kappa alums understand what’s ahead and how they can help make recolonization a success at SDSU.

Next: Specifics on the Lead Program - values-based recruitment …fostering internal accountability within the chapter; the Rock Chapter program from National; and the Recruitment Bluebook.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Mission of Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.


Sigma Nu's Vision Statement is:


Simple, now lets get started. We need a common focus on a common goal to avoid scattering in every direction. To start with the end in mind. One of the seven habits, right. Where better to start.

Several years ago, I'm not sure of the exact year but for argument sake we'll say around 2008. Sigma Nu Fraternity set in motion a Strategic Plan to take us through 2016 and beyond. It started with this Vision and Mission. I'll save the Strategic Plan for another day.

Direction was needed. Many Fraternities were struggling after many years of popular expansion in the 1980's and 1990's. We needed to get focused and back to basics. But that was not enough. A Core target needed to be established, with specific steps to get us there. A detailed plan was laid out and and implemented.

As an Alumni Chapter, we must first look in the mirror and see that we are living the Mission of Sigma Nu in order for us to be able to teach, guide and advise. To do this we must live our lives everyday as a Sigma Nu and remind ourselves of this mission.


Starting from the bottom up let's talk about this mission. We all have lifelong friendships from our days as an active. Everyday I am in contact and think about my brothers of Eta Kappa Chapter. Have you all made a commitment to the Fraternity? This question is huge and seems to be at the heart of most of our struggles as an Alumni Chapter. With our Alumni Chapter being dormant for 40 years, after graduation all of us had no solid connection with Sigma Nu to grab onto beyond our close friends and brothers. This has fostered a great void and lack of commitment to Sigma Nu.

This is what makes it so difficult to get things done as an Alumni Chapter. Without a deep rooted passion and committment to Sigma Nu and having a suspended chapter, most of us just don't see a need right now to connect to Sigma Nu. This has been communicated many times, I'm sorry to say. Brothers will make the statement, "I'll join the Alumni Chapter when we have an Active Chapter in place". Well, the Alumni Chapter is the entity charged with bringing the Sigma Nu Chapter back to San Diego State University. So, if you wait for an active chapter to join the Alumni Chapter, you’re basing your decision on a wrong premis. You don’t join your Alumni Chapter for the same reason you joined the Active Chapter.  You join your Alumni Chapter to continue your Brotherhood in a lifelong commitment as a Sigma Nu.  You join your Alumni Chapter, as so many others have across the United States and around the world, to support the goals and Mission of the Chapter.  Right now the highest goal of our Chapter is to re-colonize a strong Eta Kappa Chapter at San Diego State University in 2016.  Once that goal is achieved, the Chapter will continue to advise and oversee the Active Chapter helping it to become one of the best Sigma Nu chapters in the United States.  We need a strong membership to help make that happen.  That’s where each of you make a difference.  The greater our membership, the more perceived support our Chapter demonstrates to National and the University.  Every time one of you says yes, our Chapter becomes stronger.

Sigma Nu is more than Sigma Nu Fraternity. It's a living breathing way to live your life and enrich your future. You can not see Sigma Nu from the narrow work of Eta Kappa Chapter, the now suspended Chapter you became a part of in college and now have moved on to a career, gotten married, had kids, bought a home and on and on. Sigma Nu the way of life makes all this greater and more important. Having moved on from college, started and established my career, married my college sweetheart, raised three children, I find myself looking more at the way I lived and the way I am living my life. How are my children going to see me when I'm in chapter eternal? How do my friends see me now as a person? Do my friends and family count on me to be there for them? When my children have tough life questions, do they ask me for help?

Love, Honor and Truth: It keeps coming back to that. Am I living my life under these ideals and how do I define them? I say I'm a Sigma Nu, so what does this mean to me? Sigma Nu and all the things we talk about and read about defines for me the way I live my life, that all my brothers understand but more, my friends see it in the way I act, the walk I talk and the way I respect everything around me.

This is Sigma Nu to me and why I have made a commitment to the Fraternity. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Straight from the Heart

Since we’re at the end of October and we all know what Holiday starts the Holiday season off. I thought we could talk about some Eta Kappa History that is dear to my heart in many ways and keeps our Sigma Nu principles out Front.

I always remember David West teaching my pledge class local history. Chapter Eternal was on the agenda with Eugene L. Rathmann HK60 and Steven L. Blakeley HK142 as the two members in Chapter Eternal for Eta Kappa Chapter of Sigma Nu. Eugene had served and made the ultimate sacrifice in the Viet Nam War. Things have changed a lot since 1975. Our Chapter Eternal now has 33 members. Seven were actives when I was a pledge.

I believe we are all blessed in some way.  Our gifts can be very unique or very ordinary, yet we all have something special we give, for which we should be remembered.

I knew Dave West HK13, not as well as many of you Alumni that came before me. What I remember though is David’s passion for Sigma Nu. He was such a history buff and this was how he showed his love for Sigma Nu. His history lessons were dreaded and possibly scary to some young freshmen college pledges. He had a very dry personality but could be very personable if you showed you cared and listened to what he was teaching you. After his session on local history you truly had a grasp of how our chapter began and for most it probably gave you a true feeling of belonging to something very special. This was a pivotal point for me. I knew this was something of which I really wanted to be a part.

Steve Harwood HK224 was in my wedding party. He was a true friend and good Sigma Nu. He loved everything about being a college student. My recollection of Steve was just to have fun, enjoy every moment. After graduating Steve went to Los Angeles and began working in the Television Industry. Many of you can add to my comments.

 I hope to make this blog interesting, enjoyable, educational and interactive. So, please add your comments and help me memorialize our journey as Sigma Nu’s for life.

Steve lived a life of Love, Truth and Honor as did all our chapter eternal members. Share with me and all of us what these brothers meant to you and we’ll keep them alive in our thoughts and memories.

Curt Kruger HK25, was one of the Holy Eight, if I remember my history lesson correctly. Jeff Giarde has some great stories of Curt Kruger in his Early History of Eta Kappa Chapter. He loved to hang out with the boys. He was always up for a good card game, cigars and all. Steak and Beer was a time I remember always seeing Curt. He’d show up in the early afternoon and usually was the last one to leave. Many times not until the next morning, after sleeping off the results of the card game the night before.

Walter Stallings HK196, was another one of our 1970’s brothers. His Carmen Ghia could always be seen in the parking lot or blocking the driveway in front of the parking lot. Walter was my best party prop ever. Saint Patrick’s Day Spring 1977, (my semester as Social Chairman) how can you not have a Party for Saint Patty’s Day? I think it was Walt’s idea to have a Wake.

So we planned a wake, coffin and corpse included. Walter climbed into that Coffin and performed the best ever, dead Irishman. As long as I kept his glass full he just laid there. Throughout the evening we partied and celebrated life to its fullest.

It took me two weeks searching. I remember going to what seemed like every distributor in the county, no Google back then, looking for a Keg of Guinness. As it turned out Guinness of course was imported from Ireland and it only came in a Cask. This was all part of my college education. I found my Cask of Guinness and added a Keg of Michelob Dark, for a fantastic Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration that still get’s talked about, with Walter Stalling as my Guest of Honor. Walter went on to be a La Mesa Police Officer for many years. We have more to remember Walt, on our web site.

David Missy HK167, David Sandifer HK154, Greg Nielsen HK169, Steve Kaser HK171, Kevin Monroe HK189 and Tim McCarthy HK258 these are members of Chapter Eternal that I knew personally. I spent time with all of them. They were all part of my Sigma Nu Fraternity years in college. I know something very special and some very special stories about each one of them. One was my business partner for two months one summer. One taught me how to put fun into going to the laundry mat to do my laundry. Others taught me about diversity and tolerance. We all learned from each other and I am a better man for it. No classroom could ever replace the education experience and skills I leaned by becoming a member for life in Sigma Nu Fraternity.

I am still growing and learning as a Sigma Nu. My daily interactions with my Eta Kappa Brothers strengthen my resolve to live a life of Love, walk in the way of Honor and serve in the light of Truth.

I am so blessed to be able to interact with the founders of our Chapter but also the many young Eta Kappa Brothers that came in after me: Chris Schon, Seth Au, Kevin Darchuk, Christian Theissen and many others. You have all enriched my life.

I feel many of us wandered in the desert for 40 years; maybe we had to go through that. We now move to a new chapter for Eta Kappa and Sigma Nu at San Diego State University.

Remember all our Brothers that have gone on to Chapter Eternal. Celebrate their life and the contribution they all made to who we are today. Grab the moment and reach out to those that make a difference in your life. If we all do this we will enrich the life of many young men and our life will be enriched for it as well.

If you’re in San Diego next week Saturday November 8, 2014 get your ticket to the Aztec game for Homecoming. Meet us at G-4 for a Tailgate. Bring your own food and beverage. We will have a couple Barbecues’ hot and ready. Join us for the Brotherhood and enjoy the KGB Sky Show after the game.

I look forward to all your stories and comments. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why Build a Rock Chapter?

"Fraternity expansion is the process whereby a fraternity colony, or provisional chapter, is established at a college/university campus. "Colonization" occurs when a chapter had never before existed on campus, whereas "recolonization" occurs when a dormant or closed chapter is re-established on campus.

Sigma Nu's expansion motto is "Building Rock Chapters." A Rock Chapter in Sigma Nu Fraternity is, by definition, one of the finest fraternities at its host institution and one of the finest fraternity chapters across the North American continent. The intent of our expansion program on every campus is to lay the strong foundation upon which a Rock Chapter can be built.

Expansion can be a long and challenging process and is not necessarily for every campus. However, it can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students on those campuses where Sigma Nu expands."

The above three paragraphs are taken directly off the Sigma Nu Fraternity website and summarizes Sigma Nu’s expansion policy. I have talked to and debated this issue with many alumni. For 50 years we operated as a Sigma Nu chapter. We were never a rock chapter. We have many incredibly successful alumni. Our brotherhood was second to none. Why is it important to have a Rock Chapter?

The effort needed to re-colonize a chapter is huge. The Universities now expect their Greek Organizations to be laced with super powers. Like everything on a University campus, every year the bar gets set higher and higher. What we strove for and saw as incredibly successful in the past doesn’t even meet “Gold” standards today. Attending periodic meetings on campus with Alumni and Greek Advisers, listening to what is expected and reviewing the accreditation evaluations, I’ve become very aware of the standards today’s fraternities are expected to meet and encouraged to exceed.

This is why our National Organization has invested so heavily in developing the resources needed for a successful “Rock” chapter. They have remodeled the modern fraternity organization that looks nothing like what many of us grew up with:

            1. The Chapter Advisor model, where a chapter has one Alumni Advisor they look to for all their guidance and advice, does not work.

            2. The finances are more complicated than many small businesses.

            3. You not only need to get to know all your pledge brothers, actives and some alumni, you’re expected to interact with the whole Greek community. Now, I’m not talking about having “Joints” with Sororities either, we’re talking about getting together with other Fraternities and Sororities to do major events together, i.e., philanthropies, community service, leadership seminars, risk management seminars.

            4. You must be active on campus. Involvement with campus organizations is required.

These are all part of the Greek organization of today’s college campus.

To take a group of college students with common ideals is just not enough. Throwing a group of students together and saying organize your chapter and here is what is expected of you doesn’t work. There has to be an organized plan put together that is well thought out and organized to make sense for students to be able to see some value and worth in what they are being asked to do.

The demands of a college student today are so overwhelming there has to be true value and worth when looking at adding a whole new dimension to the puzzle.

Sigma Nu Fraternity has invested millions of dollars and thousands of man hours in putting programs together to give our chapters the best fighting chance to become the most respected and successful chapters on University campuses across our nation.

Part of this whole process, maybe the most critical part, is a strong and active Alumni Organization. This is the Rock to building Rock Chapters. The only way this plan works is with involved Alumni who are willing to contribute a few hours, once a month to guide and advise our chapter.

The social Fraternity that strives to have the best parties on campus and attract the best Sororities does not have any chance of surviving. Students want and expect more today. In a recent survey asking the question to incoming freshmen that have gone through rush and not joined a Fraternity, why did you not join a Fraternity? The answer was overwhelmingly, they just party too much.

If you really dig deep down into your memory bank, do you remember the most important reason you joined Sigma Nu? Yes, I’m sure it started as a great place to find a party. You had some incredible (or maybe you can’t remember) party memories. I was social chairman one spring semester. I remember the pressure. Everyone is looking to you for the time of their life. Each month had to top the last. But what I really joined Sigma Nu for were the ideals we all strive to live by. We had a great time, but without those ideals it would have just been a bunch of hollow events.

Getting back to my question, building a rock chapter is OUR legacy to Eta Kappa Chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity. I remember all too well the awful emptiness in the pit of my stomach as the Executive Director informed us that the High Council had decided to Suspend Eta Kappa Chapter. The sad, heart-wrenching feeling as Eta Kappa - San Diego State University scrolled across the screen at Grand Chapter, listing the suspended chapters during the prior biennium.

You need to be passionate about Sigma Nu and want to leave this legacy for all those coming after us and before us.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Synergy is the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects

In order to accomplish great things we need participation and action for every Eta Kappa. We need to bring all our thoughts and ideas together, interact and discuss the many options we have in front of us and chose a path that will enrich all our lives beyond what we would have without an Alumni Chapter. This is Synergy in action.

I asked you all in back in July 2013 to seek three Eta Kappa Alumni that are not members of the Alumni Chapter and get them to join. I have found that this very simple technique, works best. As I look over the list of Eta Kappa initiates and compare this to our membership, I have 900 names to pick from; many of those are my pledge brothers and classmates in college. So, I sit down and draft a short email to them and send it off. I reconnect with people I care about and also, share with them how important the Alumni Chapter is to the future of Eta Kappa Chapter of Sigma Nu.

This works, it’s the simplest and most straight forward method to increase our membership. It also always gets an immediate response. So, if all of you Alumni Chapter members do this and get three new members we will increase our membership to FOUR hundred Fifty. Then the 450 can work on the other 450.

Can you even imagine the synergy we would generate with that kind of membership? This would give us the resources to not only re-colonize the Chapter; we would be able to do so much more as well.

It seems so simple on the surface, yet I’m pretty confident most of you will say yes but not act. This gets thrown at me more than you can even imagine, buy our elders. Of course as we grow that difference in age gets smaller and small, so when I say elders it is very easy for me to distinguish. To me my Sigma Nu Elders are our founders. Eta Kappa 1-50. I pick these numbers to give you something to grab on. If you’re HK 500 you may have a different definition of Elder Sigma Nu. That is the beauty of our organization.

As Sigma Nu’s of SDSU we have always been about action. Action speaks louder than words. We were never the loudest fraternity on Campus but we were always able make a big impact when we put our minds to it and even sometimes when we didn’t.

As our initial kick off to this Sigma Nu – Eta Kappa Blog, my theme here is ACT now to help re-colonize your Eta Kappa. Let’s all put our individual stamp on Sigma Nu and make our Alumni Chapter the largest Sigma Nu Alumni Chapter in the Nation.

This one simple act, join if you haven’t and get two more brothers to join or peer pressure your three favorite Eta Kappa brothers that haven’t joined to step up and join. This one thing will push our chapter to the next level for Re-colonization.

Seriously gentlemen, we are on the brink. I have personally pushed us to the edge. We are there; you know the feeling to stand on the edge of the Cliff at La Jolla Cove that rush of adrenaline as you do something you never thought you could do. That rush as you cross the finish line or goal line. I have put all eyes on us. The school and National have both been asked to take a chance on Eta Kappa. Sigma Nu is on board and is now asking SDSU to let us show them what Sigma Nu is really all about.

As I move forward and re-colonize our chapter we will develop many valuable and beneficial resources. This Blog is one of them. Let’s all collaborate and contribute material to benefit us all. Let me know what you would like to see and who you would like to hear from in the future. Remember Sigma Nu is for Life.

Act now; join the Alumni Chapter NOW,