University Advisor Information
Penn State is committed to strengthening scholarship among fraternities and sororities. A good overall scholarship program for a fraternity and sorority community includes the extensive use of University Advisors. To support this aspect of an overall scholarship program, Penn State has identified the essential elements of a University Advisor program and how the fraternity and sorority community can provide support.
Below is an outline for the role of a University Advisor and how fraternity men and sorority women can support this position. Together they provide tangible support for this vital role.
Nearly all colleges and universities require all student organizations (including fraternities and sororities) to have a faculty or staff advisor. For most campuses, this is interpreted as someone to sign the annual recognition form, usually a staff member.
As fraternity and sorority community seek ways to maximize student learning, they are re-assessing the role of the University Advisor and are attempting to involve faculty more in this process. For example, some schools have required that all University Advisors have faculty rank in order to serve in this position; however, Penn State does not make this an expectation. Penn State chapters can help with this process by working with the fraternity and sorority staff in a dialogue on the role of a University Advisor and how they can be supported by the fraternity and sorority community.
University Advisor Role
Below is a general outline of the role of a University Advisor. This vital position works closely with chapters on their overall scholarship program including the following:
- Assist the chapter in developing an overall academic achievement program;
- Meet with the new members each semester to review their academic progress and plans at the University;
- Assist with developing an academic recognition program for the chapter;
- Assist the chapter in developing an Academic Incentives program;
- Attend any scholarship receptions the chapter hosts;
- Be available to meet with individual members who are in need of academic assistance;
- Attend two (2) chapter meetings/dinners each semester to get to know the members and the members to get to know the University Advisor;
University Advisors are fully covered under the University's liability policy while acting in the scope of a University Advisor. In addition, most inter/national fraternities and sororities also provide liability coverage for University acting in the scope as University Advisors (it is always a good practice to check with the inter/national organization for the specifics of this coverage).
Term of Office
University Advisors serve one-year terms with possible extensions based on a mutual agreement between the fraternity or sorority and the University Advisor. This ensures that both parties (the University Advisor and the chapter) are constantly assessing the working relationship. University Advisors are not expected to serve as the Chapter Advisor nor to serve on the Alumni Board (if they wish to serve in these positions that would be great but it is not expected). University Advisors are not on call nor are they responsible for the social aspects of the chapter.
This outline for a University Advisor is meant to be a starting point for what is expected. Ideally, the University Advisor and the chapter will negotiate and create a list of specific duties that both can mutually agree upon.
Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Support for University Advisors
In order to have a viable University advisor program, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life provide tangible support for their University advisors. The following is a list of resources that will be made available:
- Requiring that each group have a University advisor;
- Establishing a University Advisors listserve for advisors to communicate and share resources and ideas;
- Provide regular updates to University Advisors from the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life on academic issues;
- Provide University Advisors with a list of the chapter members' GPAs each semester (assuming members have signed an academic release form).
- Provide an Academic Awards program for individuals and chapters;
- Track each chapter's Academic Incentives they offer to their members and compare to the rest of the fraternity and sorority community;
- Provides an Outstanding University Advisor Award each year;
- Provides an Academic Honor Society for Greeks called the Order of Omega (junior or senior status with a GPA above all Greek average).
This list is not exhaustive but meant to show some tangible support for Faculty advisors.
For more information about University Advisors, please contact Dr. Roy W. Baker, Director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.