Due to the Lambda Sigma National Presidents’ Leadership Conference going virtual this year, we had to condense some of our information at the conference for time. We missed the opportunity to cover several important areas, like The Diamond, ByLaws, Scholarships, and other topics. Check out the video below for some crucial information to make your year a success!
The National Presidents’ Leadership Conference traditionally concludes with a Saturday evening dinner banquet where the attendees participate in The Gift of Fellowship. The Gift of Fellowship is the final piece of the Lambda Sigma ritual when new members are initiated into the society. Presidents use the banquet at the conference as a time to celebrate the great things that are happening in their chapters and as a model of the ceremony they will implement to induct new members into their chapters in the spring. In planning the remote NPLC, the national board wanted to ensure that the Gift of Fellowship ceremony could still be presented for the attendees.
To allow a break from the screen time, the virtual ceremony was scheduled for Sunday evening following the NPLC. Because of the pandemic, several chapters had not been able to hold their local initiation ceremonies at the end of the spring semester as they normally would. This year instead of only including chapter presidents, the flexibility of the virtual format allowed entire chapters to join and use the national ceremony to initiate their new members. According to one of the ceremony organizers Becki Leonard, “We had 260 students initiated, with 18 chapters represented.” She went on to say, “I think this went really well for our first time attempting a virtual event! We normally gather just the Presidents to participate in this ritual, so it was really special to be able to share the experience with so many students from all over.”
While the presentation of the scripted material seemed easy enough to move online, two elements of the ceremony presented a bigger challenge. As part of the ceremony, the participants sign the bond book as a pledge to the purposes and goals of Lambda Sigma, and they pass a candlelight from one person to the next to represent the passing of responsibilities and friendship. The planning committee came up with creative solutions for these two elements of the virtual ceremony using an online bond and a slide show of the candlelight passing.
Ryan Upshaw also served on the planning committee and said, “The virtual Gift of Fellowship likely helped in the transition for many of our chapters.” It was nice to be able to provide this type of support to the chapters when there are so many new challenges presented by the pandemic. In the event that traditional, in-person initiation ceremonies are still not feasible in spring 2021, this virtual ceremony and the materials the committee developed can be used for chapters’ Gift of Fellowship ceremonies at the local level.
Here is the video of our Gift of Fellowship below. You can also view our Virtual Bond by CLICKING HERE:
The 2020 National Presidents’ Leadership Conference was scheduled to be held at the University of Pittsburgh on September 18-20, 2020. In late spring, the national board made the difficult decision to move the conference to a virtual format in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of boarding planes and gassing up cars to travel to Pittsburgh for a full weekend conference, the attendees logged into Zoom for a one-day remote conference on Saturday, September 19. Although the conference may have had a different look and feel, many of the same objectives were achieved.
Traditionally, due to the cost involved in hosting the in-person conference, each chapter sends one representative to the conference. While the virtual format did require modifying many of the elements of the conference, one advantage it provided was the flexibility for chapters to send more than one representative to participate. As National Board member Ryan Upshaw put it, “Given the difficulty of the pandemic, the advent of technology allowed us to still meet with our presidents and deliver our Gift of Fellowship to our new members. Being able to engage virtually took the pressure of travel off of our students.”
The morning started with a welcome by the National President, John Hauser, followed by an overview of the four pillars of the society, a presentation of the mission and diversity statement, and a vote on national board elections and national by-laws changes. After taking care of the general conference business, the attendees participated in interactive sessions on four topics: Leading a Chapter in a Pandemic, Fundraising, Service Projects, and Recruitment and Rituals. They also had the chance to meet in smaller groups with their national board liaisons who serve as their primary point of contact when they have questions or need support at the local chapter level.
In addition to learning more about these essential elements of running a successful Lambda Sigma chapter, the chapter representatives had the opportunity to connect with each other and get to know their peers via virtual ice breakers. These ice breakers also served to model how they might engage their chapters’ members during virtual meetings. Given the remote format, there was some concern that participants might not get to know each other and form connections the way they normally would at the in-person conference. Board member Becki Leonard said, “I was worried that students would be nervous to engage, but I felt that they had really great conversations and shared valuable insight.” Several chapter presidents mentioned that they learned a lot during the day and enjoyed being able to meet chapter representatives from across the country.
As expected, many of the discussions and ideas that were shared at the conference focused on how to foster fellowship, leadership, scholarship, and service during a pandemic, but one sentiment that was expressed throughout the day was that despite challenges there will be new opportunities for service. The chapter leaders seemed as eager to serve their communities now as ever. When asked what stood out to him, Vinnie Birkenmeyer shared this takeaway, “It was so great to hear from the various chapters about the amazing ideas they have for their campuses this year! Although this is a different year, it is clear that one thing is still the same- Lambda Sigma has great leaders amongst their ranks at all of our chapters across the nation!”
To our Friends in Lambda Sigma:
Lambda Sigma Society has had many challenges over its 98-year history. Just as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced most of our institutions of higher education to change the way they deliver their educational programs, so must we adapt to the rapidly changing environment in which we find ourselves.
What has not changed is our mission: to prepare our members for leadership roles first, on their campuses and, then, in their careers, their communities and their personal lives.
As we continue to monitor what is happening in our society and anticipate that this is a temporary situation, we encourage all of our members to remember that the work of Lambda Sigma does not stop but rather is carried out in a different way from which we have operated in the past. Presidents should remember that they are still students at their institutions and, just as they will be attending a virtual classroom, so can the chapter exist in a virtual way over the next several weeks.
This is an opportunity for each chapter to exhibit its leadership in the face of this challenge and develop new ways to communicate, serve their communities and experience the fellowship that has been fostered during this academic year. There is much to be done in recruitment and the planning of other end-of-year activities that cannot wait until your return to your campus. You should also reach out to your advisor/s to discuss ways in which you may achieve your goals.
If you haven’t done so, explore such free or low-cost videoconferencing websites as zoom.us and gotomeeting.com. There may be other sites with which you are familiar that offer the same services. Work with your chapter to make use of these opportunities in your recruitment and planning so that, when you return to campus, you are ready to complete a successful year of Lambda Sigma.
Information about deadlines for the scholarship applications, the required reports, and the payments due the national organization are being discussed and will be sent to you by April 15.
The National Presidents Leadership Conference is scheduled for September 18-20 in Pittsburgh. You should elect a president before the end of the semester who is able to attend this conference.
Your Board Liaison will be in touch with you within the next 24-hours to offer suggestions and assistance for the period when you will not be on your campus, and in preparation for your return.
Our continued best wishes as we, together, work towards the completion of this year.
John R Hauser
Co-advisor, Rho chapter at Thiel College
Check out this recruitment video from Mississippi State University! Do you all have something similar? Send it to email@example.com and I’ll share it, too. This is a great idea your chapter can do as well!
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Current MSU freshman: Check out why we love Lambda Sigma, why you should join, and how to apply!! Applications are available on Cowbell Connect and close February 10th at 11:45 p.m. Also make sure to attend our interest meeting, tomorrow (February 6th) at 6 p.m. in Taylor Auditorium. See you there!
For those who attended the Presidents’ Leadership Conference in September, you should be very familiar with the organization A Soldier’s Child. For those who did not attend conference, we helped back bags, wrap presents, and held a birthday party for the organization. Well, NBC Nightly News recently did a story on this organization, and they did so from the camp that we packed bags for at conference! So the very beef jerky you brought with you was consumed at this camp! Here’s the video for those who would like to learn more about the organization we helped. If you’d like to know more or would like to help their organization, check their website out at https://asoldierschild.org/.
Well, another National Presidents’ Leadership Conference has come and gone, and we are so thankful for all those who came to Murfreesboro, TN and the campus of Middle Tennessee State University this year! The conference was a great success, and hopefully it has set the stage for great things to happen at all of our chapters across the country.
On Friday night of the conference we were fortunate to participate in a service activity for A Soldier’s Child, an organization whose “mission is to serve the children of fallen military personnel who have given their lives on active duty while defending the United States of America.” We wrapped presents, packed camp bags, and held a birthday party for two of the organization’s participants, Ashton and Desiree. A great time was had by all, and our birthday boy Ashton taught everyone how to “dab.”
Saturday we went over to the campus of MTSU to learn more about the organization, bylaws, and rituals of Lambda Sigma. It was a long day filled with lots of information, but hopefully everyone left with a greater understanding of what Lambda Sigma is all about and how to successfully run their chapters.
We ended Saturday with our traditional banquet and observance of the Gift of Fellowship. We were delighted to hear from our Jane Price Harmon Gift of Honor recipient for 2017, Dr. Ron Wolfe, as he retires from Lambda Sigma’s National Executive Board after nearly three decades of service. We also recognized the Honor Chapters for 2016-2017 and our annual winners for Outstanding Chapter (Alpha – University of Pittsburgh), Most Improved Chapter (Alpha Phi – Ferrum College), and Outstanding Advisor (Kevin Cuccia, Chi – Louisiana Tech University).
Sunday we bid farewell to Tennessee, and everyone went back home a little tired but a little more knowledgeable about Lambda Sigma National Honor Society. As we move into the heart of the 2017-2018 year, we encourage our chapters to set lofty goals for service and enjoy fellowship with one another. The year of active membership is short, but it can be an extremely rewarding and wonderful time!
Best of luck to all chapters this year, and we will see you all next year, September 21-23, in Pittsburgh!