W&L’s Greek Leadership Institute Returns for Its Second Year Washington and Lee’s second annual Greek Leadership Institute provides students with foundational leadership skills and a chance to connect before formal recruitment begins.
“GLI is intentionally placed at the start of their roles and before formal recruitment to help them develop trust and rapport with their fellow Greek leaders and their council advisor, and to equip them with important information and leadership skills that will empower them as they take on their new responsibilities.”
~ Leah Beard, director of leadership development and student engagement
Washington and Lee University’s second annual Greek Leadership Institute (GLI) was held Jan. 4-5 at the House Mountain Inn near Lexington. Students on executive boards of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), Panhellenic Council and the National Pan-hellenic Council (NPHC) were invited to attend the full two-day session, with chapter presidents from each of W&L’s Greek organizations invited to attend the first full day of programming.
The institute’s program schedule was crafted in coordination with student leaders by Leah Beard, director of leadership development and student engagement, Kyle McCoil, assistant dean of students, and Heidi Bustos, assistant director of inclusion and engagement. McCoil advises IFC, Beard advises the Panhellenic Council and Bustos advises NPHC, which governs historically black Greek letter organizations. The three individuals meet regularly to facilitate collaboration and communication across the Greek councils.
“This time is so valuable prior to the beginning of Winter Term to really jumpstart students’ preparation and confidence in themselves as they begin their new leadership roles in Greek organizations,” Beard said. “GLI is intentionally placed at the start of their roles and before formal recruitment to help them develop trust and rapport with their fellow Greek leaders and their council advisor, and to equip them with important information and leadership skills that will empower them as they take on their new responsibilities.”
The institute provides an opportunity for student leaders to participate in workshops designed to inform and strengthen their leadership abilities. Sessions focus on self-reflection, inviting students to consider their personal values and leadership strengths, and cover topics such as effective methods of communication, setting expectations within their teams and peer accountability. This year’s program also featured a panel of past fraternity and sorority presidents and executive board members who shared what they learned from their time in their respective positions and from last year’s inaugural institute.
“We wanted to focus on the foundation – the skills and tools that are going to best set them up for success,” McCoil said. “We thought about how we can go about giving them a toolkit they can pull from if and when they experience challenges leading their fraternities and sororities.”
McCoil said the program schedule is designed to build relationships between students that fosters collaboration throughout the rest of the year. Last year’s institute yielded several new programmatic partnerships, such as a wiffleball fundraiser coordinated by IFC to benefit the Rockbridge Public Schools Foundation and a kickball fundraiser organized by Panhellenic. Both partnerships were the result of brainstorming in and between institute sessions.
Christian Pinto ’24, IFC president, said that he valued the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with peers.
“It was really nice being able to hear a variety of opinions from the members on the committee articulated well and respectfully,” Pinto said. “It seems like there’s going to be a lot of different perspectives that can work well together.”
Panhellenic Council president Kate Nelson ’24 said that one of the highlights of the program for her was a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis that allowed for a respectful and productive discussion with other Greek leaders.
“It was really inspiring to see how many people identified issues and want to work together to change,” Nelson said. “I think sometimes we look at this system and it seems very stagnant but having all the Greek leaders together talking about what they want to improve was exciting to see.”
Learn more about Greek life at Washington and Lee here.