Letter from the President
This will be my fourth and final year of service as your President. It will also mark my 13th year as a member of the International Fraternity Board of Directors. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in this way, and I want to make sure I can be as helpful as possible as we transition to a new, talented, board leadership team.
It occurred to me that one constructive way of aiding this transition would be to share some personal insights on where we have been and what lies ahead. I was around in 2007 when our current vision was created and our Executive Director, Justin Kirk, was brought on board. I also had the opportunity to serve on the President’s Task Force in 2009 and help establish our current strategic plan. That plan has three key elements: consistency of undergraduate brand, alignment with higher education, and alumni and volunteer engagement. My time as President was largely focused on making sure that progress was made in each of those areas. Given that context, I felt it might be helpful to make each of these topics the focus of my last three DU Quarterly articles. This article will address the goal of brand consistency.
The benefits of building a strong brand have been widely acknowledged for years. Without a cohesive brand that aligns with its beliefs, it is hard for a fraternity to be perceived as a relevant, value-added enterprise capable of attracting the very best members and advocates. Yet, until recently, our individual DU chapters were very loosely organized and aligned. There was little, if any, consistency across chapters in even the most basic programming areas. While the goal was not to disrespect local chapter and campus customs, it was clear that best practices needed to be driven into our day-to-day chapter operations.
Many of the accomplishments of the past decade have been the result of efforts to educate/develop our undergraduates and to improve the chapter experience. In doing so, our brand is strengthened. Of note are the recent roll-outs of a new, standardized Associate Member Education Program and the Men of Merit Chapter Standards Program. These initiatives provide comprehensive background and direction to our members and build on our impressive portfolio of educational programming (Leadership Institute, Global Service Initiative, Regional Leadership Academy, Presidents Academy, DU Emerging Leaders Experience; Building Better Men Retreats, etc.). Most importantly, attendance at these programs has consistently increased year by year, which greatly impacts effectiveness. Beyond education, we are attempting to drive these concepts into the day-to-day operations of the chapter. Our key tool has been the Chapter Excellence Plan (CEP). This comprehensive guide helps chapter officers and advisors anticipate and plan for the many day-to-day chapter needs that can otherwise consume and distract the chapter leadership team.
The essence of our brand strategy was to develop and perfect a “franchise model” to ensure consistency among individual chapters and purposeful alignment with the Principles and values of the Fraternity. I believe that our work done in the area of educational programming has been outstanding. It is work that has been externally validated in many cases through industry recognition and awards. We have built an experienced professional staff that possesses expertise in educational programming, and it shows. We have also made great improvements to our operations. Additional work to improve the day-to-day chapter experience is needed (House Director oversight, for example), but a solid foundation has been set.
I look forward to sharing some thoughts on our progress in the areas of higher education and alumni/volunteer engagement in coming editions.
E. Bruce McKinney, Missouri ’74
President, Delta Upsilon International Fraternity