In the Greek world, it is generally true that those chapters with little or no alumni involvement are failing and those with strong alumni involvement have a much greater chance of excelling. Cornerstone is a cultural change in how our fraternity supports our chapters and how the larger fraternity works with our undergraduates and local alumni volunteers.
The Cornerstone program is designed to provide alumni leaders with the tools they need to efficiently support our undergraduate chapters. Cornerstone represents a monumental change in Sigma Chi, bringing professionally-trained mentors to every Sigma Chi chapter.
Mentors assist undergraduates by increasing leadership training and improving academic performance and general operations. Cornerstone mentors have an unequivocal commitment to the ideals of Sigma Chi, willingness to be a role model and accessibility and availability to the chapter and its members.
The Cornerstone curriculum focuses on the principles of Sigma Chi – our history and values – and builds upon those common elements as a foundation for facilitating positive and proactive change in our undergraduate chapters. The curriculum provides the tools necessary for you to better understand your own leadership style and that of others and how to apply that understanding in building relationships and trust, as well as giving feedback through facilitation and intervention skills
The ultimate goal of Cornerstone is to ensure that every chapter has professionally trained chapter advisors all speaking the same language. Mentoring a chapter (an engaged process versus the passive old 'advising' model) is a long-term project that will over a period of time begins to lead to incremental improvement. We're currently at the beginning stages for Texas. The goal is to get everyone up to the same level. Future Cornerstone Levels then focus on how to be that change agent for the chapters.
Cornerstone Curriculum Overview
Cornerstone is a curriculum designed to build skills necessary to be effective as a Chapter Advisor and mentor to our undergraduate chapters, and its individual members, and to help them become effective in their personal lives and community.
The foundation of mentoring is about building relationships with those who may seek or need guidance. Relationships are developed over time, and trust is the outgrowth of the relationship which must be established in order to create the opportunity to make positive changes. Cornerstone’s Level One: Mentor Foundations training focuses on seven key areas including:
- Reconnecting to Sigma Chi: Passion / History / Current Focus
- Understanding the Role of a Mentor / Regional Team
- Understanding Yourself / Understanding Others (Style)
- Building Personal Relationships and Developing Trust
- Assessing the Current Chapter and Individual Focus / Needs
- Personal Feedback and Intervention Skills
- Facilitation Basics
The role of the Chapter Mentor is to assess a chapter’s alignment and practice of the mission, principles, and the ideals of Sigma Chi and when necessary identify and diagnose the discrepancies between those values so to serve as a catalyst for change.
What is the difference between an Advisor and a Mentor as it applies to the Cornerstone Mentor Program?
Advisor – counsels, recommends
Mentor – mentors, facilitates, and acts as an agent for change
They are both counselors. An Advisor recommends a process, a procedure, or a concept and may or may not provide the necessary tools to carry out the recommendation; whereas a Mentor teaches a process, procedure, or a concept utilizing tools to enhance the teaching process.
The requirements for a mentor are:
- Unequivocal commitment to the ideals of Sigma Chi, and willingness to be a role model.
- To fully participate in the mentor training.
- Agree to mentor for a minimum of 3 years.
- Provide reports, feedback, and evaluations.
- Able to assess the needs of the chapter or individual members.
- To uphold the ideals of the Fraternity.
- The desire and ability to effectively engage and counsel undergraduates, with a special responsibility to reach out to chapter leaders (elected and non-elected) and to any individual brothers in need of mentoring.
- The desire and ability to acquire a deep understanding of the chapter’s strengths, needs and overall “culture” in order to develop and implement mentoring strategies.
- Close accessibility and availability to the chapter and its members. (Effective mentoring involves regular interaction with the mentee and/or chapter. Ideally, this would be weekly and in a variety of settings.)
- Willingness and ability to build rapport with Undergraduate Brothers.
- Willingness to become a thoughtfully enthusiastic presence in the life of the chapter.
- Willingness to cultivate knowledge and understanding of Sigma Chi standards, traditions, and the Ritual among all members of the chapter.
Cornerstone Mentors, after attending a mentor training program, are expected to be able to:
- Inspire, be flexible, support what is created, and hold accountable the individual brother or the chapter.
- Lead by example, including accepting and giving feedback, while empowering the chapter
- Create a trusting environment conducive to openness and change.
- Coach others on a one-to-one and group basis.
- Communicate effectively and understand that listening is the most important communicative tool.
- Accept and give feedback and be non-defensive in difficult situations.
- Be a team player without dominating the group.
- Convey Sigma Chi traditions (principles, ceremony, and history), standards; and the Ritual.
- Keep the chapter or individual brother focused while encouraging creativity and freethinking.
- Deliver and facilitate retreats and other experiential curriculum, according to Chapter needs.
Agent of Change:
- Challenge the process appropriately and read non-verbal communication.
- Have practical knowledge about common advising issues (e.g., alcohol abuse, hazing, poor scholarship, ineffective recruitment of strong members, etc.) and how to address them effectively.
- Inspire, empower, be flexible, support what is created, and hold accountable the individual brother or the chapter.
- Confront behavior which is inconsistent with the values of Sigma Chi.
- Willingness to be assertive in helping chapter members live up to their obligations to the order and to the community in which they live
- Willingness to collaborate with others (e.g., Grand Praetors, other Mentors, local Alumni, and Headquarters Staff)
- Provide periodic reports, as requested.
If you are interested in learning more about the Cornerstone program, or would like to become a Cornerstone Mentor, contact East Texas Province Grand Praetor Anthony Sullivan, Texas State-San Marcos 1994, at firstname.lastname@example.org.