The Ins and Outs of an Expansion

Like with any organization, the prospect of expanding to new locations is vital to the success of Lambda Chi Alpha. Through expansion efforts, men from different universities across North America are able to experience the bond of brotherhood in new and exciting ways.

Chris Buck

We sat down with Associate Director of Expansion, Chris Buck, to explore all of the factors that go into an expansion, from start to finish:

Starting the Expansion Process

Before an expansion can even begin, the Lambda Chi Alpha expansion team first looks at the potential host university. Many factors are at play when considering a new university, such as the current climate of fraternity and sorority life, academic climate, and if our fraternity could flourish there.

Once all expectations are met on the fraternity’s side, it is then turned over to the university.

“We have a policy of not going to any campus unless we are recognized,” said Buck. “Some fraternities don’t have that, but we are very much of the mind that we need to be co-curricular, so we will not go to a campus unless we have the approval or the invitation from the host institution.”

The university’s approval is the biggest barrier to expansions, but once that hurdle is overcome, an expansion can then move into the next phase.

Planning an Expansion

Once an expansion is proposed and accepted by both the fraternity and the host institution, much planning must happen.

Ideally, Lambda Chi aims to plan an expansion at least a year in advance. This allows the expansion team to not only become acclimated with the host institution, but also start Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) training, something that has proven crucial to successful expansions.

“Being able to have them [AAB] prepared has been night and day change in the whole conversation,” stated Buck. “Ideally, we would like to have at least 8-12 alumni who are on an advisory board and that translates to almost one advisor to each officer.”

Another huge advantage to planning an expansion early is the opportunity to start meeting potential members earlier. The expansion team is able to generate excitement well ahead of the school year and start building a solid membership.

“This has been a big part of our evolution and has made our expansions more successful, specifically this last spring was so successful,” said Buck.

Recruitment

At this point in the process, the university has approved the Lambda Chi expansion and the team has done their part in planning and generating interest.

Now comes the time to recruit and start to flush out the colony.

Recently, Lambda Chi introduced a new position, titled “recruitment specialist”. This specialist is the bread and butter of any expansion. They will spend seven weeks focusing on identifying potential members, having meetings with them, getting referrals, tabling, and developing relationships.

From there, the specialists begin the education process and pick the first officers, so that when the educational leadership consultant comes for three weeks, a foundation has already been laid.

“From day one to the day we end, we are always focusing on fostering brotherhood, that is so important,” said Buck. “Planning one or two brotherhood events, whether they are formal or informal, we teach them how to do their first philanthropic and service events, they get to learn how to do that; so it’s very much learning by doing and that is what we have really promoted and then integrating the advisory board into the process so they can continue to support them.”

After the initial work is put in by the expansion team, it is on the colony to spread their wings and fly. It usually takes about 15 months for colonies to charter, with continued support from staff, even after their departure.

Alumni Support

The final, and probably most critical, piece of the puzzle comes in the form of alumni support.

Buck stresses that the real work begins after chartering, and that is where alumni support comes in.

“I think the ability to sustain operations at a high level for three years, that’s a lot of work,” said Buck. “You have to build up the excitement and show the newer guys who maybe weren’t part of the initial founding, if you will, that there is a strong foundation to build upon, and there is an opportunity for them to really achieve the heights.”

For alumni looking to become involved in the Lambda Chi experience, Buck stresses the importance of events such as the Neville Advisor’s College, a place to learn how to effectively lead as an alumnus.

With the help of the staff at Lambda Chi Alpha, and the support of alumni, an expansion can be an exciting and wonderful time for new members, allowing them to experience all Lambda Chi Alpha has to offer.

If you would like more information on how to become involved or have any questions, please email expansion@lambdachi.org.

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