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Introducing the Phikeia Education Pilot Program


As seen in the Winter 2020 edition of The Scroll

By Hunter Carlheim

In spring 2019, thirty-nine chapters and colonies became trailblazers for Phi Delta Theta. These groups said “yes” to piloting a shortened new member program that would enhance how they recruited potential members, on-boarded Phikeias, acclimated new members, and educated their brothers.

At the Phikeia Educators College in August 2019, seventy-eight Phikeia educators and recruitment chairmen took part in specific educational sessions that helped them become better leaders, manage change within their chapters, and navigate a new program. Sixty-two percent of the educators in the pilot program saw an increase in their abilities to identify and set an actionable plan to solve a problem. At the end of the conference, recruitment chairmen and educators worked together to develop a plan of action to help make positive and lasting changes and improvements to their chapter operations.


The first implementation of the pilot Phikeia education program took place in fall 2019 and demonstrated that undergraduate members were curious and appreciated the added structure and values in their Phikeia education programs. While maintaining a chapter’s personality, each chapter or colony was able to implement the provided framework of safe, effective, and efficient milestones within their recruitment process, education programming, and acclimation periods.

It became clear that in the process of change this one piece of chapters’ operations ultimately had impacts on many other aspects of the chapter. Throughout the semester, chapters utilized their university staff, volunteers, chapter officers, and their assigned GHQ staff member to stay resilient and committed to the goal.

After a focused pilot Phikeia education track at 2020’s Presidents Leadership Conference, more than fifty participating groups will be further testing the new Phikeia programming. Developed from the quantitative and narrative feedback from undergraduates, volunteers, and staff, an additional week’s worth of on-boarding accompanies the original three-week programming and acclimation process. As more feedback is received by the groups, along with overlapping data from Phi Delta Theta’s Brotherhood Assessment, undergraduates will continue to enhance a truly piloted new member experience.

Case Studies

Oklahoma Alpha (Oklahoma), Recruitment

“Being the first group to begin the pilot program after training at Kleberg, our 140-man chapter was able to take the dynamic recruitment techniques to select new members that not only fit the values of Phi Delta Theta but also the brotherhood of the chapter. With a focus on positive relationship building within the chapter and new members during the Phikeia education program, our Phikeia retention rate from induction to initiation has increased by almost 30 percent.”

California Phi (Chapman), On-boarding Retreat

“The most successful thing was the overall transformation. Starting on the first weekend of the program, we had the entire class attend a retreat filled with bonding activities that brought them close as a group. Activities like hiking, bonfires, cooking, skits, and board games were intertwined with Phi Delta Theta history and values to learn more about the organization and each other. One of the most impactful moments was a fireside chat where we asked everyone ‘who are the people in our lives we look up to and value’ and ‘what are our personal mottos?’”

Pennsylvania Pi (Robert Morris), Weekly Activities

“My team left Kleberg knowing that we were going to have to restructure the chapter’s program in how we plan and prepare for new members. As the pilot program outlines in the framework, there are three weeks of education and the rest of the semester is dedicated to acclimation and continued education. I looked at what was done in a former eight-week program and decided what needed to be included, what could be taken out, and what could be done after initiation. Because new members would learn from simply being a part of Greek life on campus, we were able to pare out a few other previous activities. During the process, we incorporate values-based events like the annual flag making competition where Phikeias are teamed up against each other to re-create a flag with limited materials. This event allows us to observe and discuss the importance of delegation, teamwork, leadership styles, and bonding within a group.”

Indiana Alpha (Indiana), Weekly Meetings

“After creating the plan for our shortened new member process with our GHQ coach, we strategically selected guest speakers, chapter officers, and themes to discuss for each Phikeia meetings. Specifically, during our Sound Learning week, we had a professional speaker from Greek Cru share with the Phikeias about manhood and character. While we covered college, classes, studying, and goal setting, we used philanthropy, community service, and bystander intervention to shape a conversation around always bettering yourself. Thanks to the guest speaker, we modeled how to make wise decisions that are aligned within our values even if they are unpopular in the community.”

Alabama Alpha (Alabama), Initiation

“Changing such a traditional process within the chapter took a lot of planning, but with the encouragement and support from volunteers and our GHQ coach we accomplished a successful new member program. Working with the chapter’s past events, we planned a retreat to accompany our initiation to celebrate and to continue to set a good foundation for the next step of our new brothers’ brotherhood. Going through the EPF (Event Planning Form) process along with the outcomes needed from the pilot program helped us structure a fun and meaningful lakeside retreat.”

Ohio Theta (Cincinnati), Acclimation

“Now that we have initiated our first class, we took note of what history, talking points, and information should be included into the meetings to give the Phikeias a solid structure to really help them become good brothers. As a chapter, we decided to do a second round of recruitment and education to continue to grow the chapter and shape our program. As the semester continues, the newly initiated brothers will continue to learn about the chapter and Fraternity and work with their big brothers on living the ritual.”

Kentucky Epsilon (Kentucky), Second Recruitment

“One of the most beneficial aspects of a more focused recruitment and shorter on-boarding for new members is that we can utilize the rest of the semester to truly recruit year-round without having potential new members waiting for a new semester to join the chapter. Our province president encouraged us to plan out our semester and foster a positive and healthy operation and culture change that will allow for sustained membership growth and positive brotherhood building activities.”