by Carole Jurenko Jones, Alpha Delta (U of Alabama), 2019-2021 NPC Chairman
This month’s Chairman’s Message is an edited excerpt of the “State of the Conference” address delivered by NPC Chairman Carole Jones during the 2019 NPC Annual Educational Conference.
This moment in the history of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) is one to be viewed with gratitude and pride. NPC is in a position of remarkable strength due to the collective efforts of our volunteers and staff to exceed the expectations outlined in our 2019-22 Strategic Plan. The plan’s key priorities broadly define the approaches NPC volunteers and staff will use during the next few years to accomplish our mission and drive toward our vision of Advancing the Sorority Experience.
Most importantly, the plan and the work of our NPC volunteers and staff have positioned NPC and the entire sorority community for a future that ensures our organizations, and the critical experiences and empowerment of young women, not only continue, but thrive.
Stronger Than Ever
Put simply, the National Panhellenic Conference today is the most strategic and purposeful version of itself that has ever existed. As a conference we are positioned to act on our strategic plan in the months ahead, and we are equipped to be deliberate and intentional about how we chart a future for all sorority women.
Investments in NPC staff have equipped us to act on the strategic plan, and each day NPC volunteers work with campus professionals to strengthen relationships and cultivate new ones.
A re-imagined Board of Directors has the freedom to prioritize the strategic direction for NPC to ensure long-term viability and success. This new focus is a shift from our approach in years past, but it is the type of work that will move us forward – together.
Future of Sorority
NPC’s focus on the future of sorority is arguably our most important role and the most valuable contribution we can make to the sorority community. By asking the right questions about our organizations, the environment we operate within and the nature of higher education today, the board can ensure we preserve valuable sorority experiences, while adapting and evolving to meet new needs.
- How do we best protect the sorority experience in environments that can be skeptical of our mission and sometimes hostile to our existence?
- How do we protect student rights and the right of free association?
- How do we develop new partnerships with student affairs professionals and campus leaders?
- How do we evolve and embrace questions of diversity, inclusion and gender identity that reflect our values and respond to the expectations from new members and prospective members?
- How do we anticipate and prepare for legal and legislative battles that may impact our right to operate and thrive?
- How do we continue confronting challenges like hazing, sexual assault and high-risk drinking?
- How do we define feminism and women’s empowerment for our organization and our women at a time when equality and gender equity is front and center in our national and international debate?
These are far from the only questions we must ask ourselves, but these are exactly the type of questions that must be front and center on the agenda for the Board of Directors. While our work is just beginning, our efforts to answer these questions and more are reflected in so much of the work already being done across the conference at the staff, volunteer and board level.
But, perhaps our most important future-looking work lies in Project 2029 – a focused effort to imagine the sorority experience in the year 2029. This project embraces each of the three priorities of our strategic plan and honors the work of our PR & Marketing and Recruitment & Expanded Membership Model Think Tanks. If we are to not only continue to exist, but to enhance our relevance into the future, we must understand and, indeed, anticipate what that future looks like.
This work does not replace our three-year strategic plan. Rather, it is a futuristic thought process designed to ensure we are employing long-term thinking while implementing our short-term plan. Areas of focus include, but are not limited to, changing student demographics, enrollment fluctuation, increased financial need for students and new models of learning.
With student populations and expectations for membership changing more rapidly and dramatically than ever, the board recognizes we need a clear understanding of who our potential members will be in order to create conditions for their success and engagement. Project 2029 is one of the major steps we will take to achieve that goal.
Thoughtful Oversight & Open Lines of Communication
As a board, we are committed to providing thoughtful oversight of existing NPC activities and the execution of the strategic plan. And we’re equally committed to engaging the conference at large, seeking your counsel and your input.
How we work may change, but our commitment to our mission remains as steadfast as ever. And our vision for consensus and collaboration across the conference will continue to be central to our identity and how we advance the sorority experience together.