W&L Hosts Inaugural Greek Leadership Institute The two-day training provided leadership development opportunities designed specifically for W&L’s Greek community leaders.
Washington and Lee University hosted its first Greek Leadership Institute (GLI) on Jan. 5-6, providing development opportunities designed specifically for student leaders in the university’s Greek community. The inaugural retreat was facilitated by Student Affairs and attended by 26 leaders from 17 of W&L’s fraternities and sororities. W&L has 12 national fraternities. Nine are part of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), one is a local organization and two are historically black Greek organizations. The university has eight sororities. Five of the sororities are part of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), two of the sororities are historically black Greek organizations governed by the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and one is a local organization. The two-day retreat included interactive activities, workshop exercises and discussion of shared experiences.
“The Greek Leadership Institute provided student leaders the opportunity to experience something that takes them out of their comfort zone in a safe and supportive environment,” said Leah Beard, director of leadership development and student engagement at W&L. “We wanted these student leaders to come together in a way they have not before in order to gain confidence in themselves, as well as have the chance to create a supportive community that they can lean on and engage with throughout their time in their roles.”
During the retreat, which took place at House Mountain Inn, students worked to identify their strengths and how those strengths influence their leadership style. The students also developed strategic goals for their organizations for the upcoming year.
Ty Powell ’23, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) president, says his favorite part of the weekend was the relationship building.
“College life can get very hectic at times, so the opportunity to get to know leaders from across campus felt both very productive and enjoyable,” Powell said. “GLI provided the opportunity to review detailed personality assessments of every member of the IFC executive board. This assessment allowed us to better understand our respective strengths in the context of the team, and implementing this perspective will only aid us in fulfilling our responsibilities.”
Staff leaders of the event included Beard; Kyle McCoil, assistant dean of sophomores; Margaret McClintock, associate director of intramurals and adventure programs; Ryan Brink, Campus Kitchen coordinator; and Tammy Futrell, dean for diversity, inclusion and student engagement.
“The institute was designed to bring Greek leaders together in a new and meaningful way that would best prepare them for their roles,” said McCoil. “It was great to see these students lean into this experience and engage in meaningful conversations. We hope that lessons learned during GLI will continue to serve these students as they navigate their time in these leadership positions. ”
In her role as vice president of recruitment on the Panhellenic Executive Council, Hannah Grace Galbreath ’23 works to ensure that recruitment is as inclusive, safe and stress-free as possible.
“This opportunity taught me many valuable tools I will be implementing in my role,” she said. “One aspect that sticks out to me the most is how to run a meeting more effectively. This is especially helpful since I will have tons of meetings with the recruitment chairs of each sorority. I also think the interactions we shared at the retreat will improve communication between groups and help organizations become more accessible to one another.”
The GLI also consisted of team-building activities led by McClintock and Brink.
“My favorite aspect of the training was the interactive nature of many of the activities,” said Trey Rachal ’23, president of Phi Kappa Psi. “Rather than listening to lectures all day, we were given a chance to apply our knowledge in case-type scenarios and games. My favorite activity was when we were given a ‘lifeboat scenario’ in which we had to choose which passengers of a damaged ship would be saved and which would be left behind. Each member of my group had a different approach to formulating their list, and the resulting conversations were quite engaging.”
All attendees of the event were required to take the CliftonStrengths assessment before attending the conference. This assessment provides users with their top five strengths (out of a list of 34) to more accurately comprehend their personality and leadership style.
“In our small group, we discussed our assessment results and how our strengths affect how we perceive and solve problems,” said Rachal. “It is beneficial to have several perspectives to most efficiently tackle a problem, as each person brings different strengths to the table. While the organization’s president has the final say in decision-making, it will be important to lean on the insight of others when faced with a challenging problem or decision.”
While this event was the first of its kind for Greek Life at W&L, there are plans to make the GLI an annual occurrence, and Rachal encourages future Greek leaders to take full advantage of the opportunity.
“As we were reminded at the beginning of the retreat, you only get as much out of the training as you put in,” he said. “This conference serves as a wonderful resource to incoming presidents and other IFC/Panhellenic Council leaders. Most of my takeaways from GLI came from small group conversations in which members were willing to be vulnerable and truthfully discuss their fears, aspirations and perspectives on the year ahead. I felt almost all the participants fully bought into the program and provided their honest opinions, resulting in a great experience for all.”