Monday, October 31, 2022

From the NPC Chair: Member Organizations Gather for Fall NPC Annual Conference

Dear friends,

NPC Chair Cheri De Jong welcomes Annual Conference attendees.
NPC Chair Cheri De Jong
welcomes attendees.
Fall is definitely in the air with our enjoyment of autumn leaves and all their colors and the cooler temperatures. While our collegiate members have been engaged with more normal college activities this fall, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) also returned to our regular fall schedule when the leadership of our member organizations and NPC gathered together in Indianapolis for our Annual Conference just a few weeks ago. 

I want to give you all a quick recap of the Annual Conference so you can know more about the work of NPC, driven by our strategic framework, and the discussions NPC and member organization leaders are having together about overcoming challenges and improving our experience. 

Our kick-off speaker, Chris Smith, is helping the NPC Board of Directors address our strategic priority of gathering and analyzing data—an area we are investing in to aid in decision-making. Chris is a proud member of Alpha Tau Omega and a long-time staff leader of that organization. In 2019, Chris started his own data consulting company, Smith Insights, and he has built a history of leveraging membership data into metrics for organizational success. NPC has now partnered with Chris on a year-long project to review and analyze data that we currently have in order to provide recommendations regarding growth strategies and policies, what data we still need and how to get it, and how to develop a storage and reporting system that will prove helpful for years into the future. 

Chris reviewed some fascinating recruitment-related data and he presented the results of his analysis that point to the campuses having the most success and the greatest challenges. This information will be very helpful in making future decisions for NPC and our member organizations.

Our keynote speaker on Friday was Jeff Selingo who is frequently called on to present on trends and the future of higher education. Jeff has written about higher education for more than two decades and is a New York Times bestselling author of three books. His newsletter on all things higher education, titled Next, is also widely read, including within our community. (For more about Jeff Selingo, including access to his higher ed resources, newsletter and podcast, please visit his website.)

​​​​As both an observer of higher ed and an insider with an academic appointment at one of the largest universities in the country, Jeff occupies a unique position to explain the intersection of work, life and learning. He shared with us his observations on the future of higher education and work, enrollment trends, and what today’s and tomorrow’s students expect from their college experience. He also shared a great deal of information about our college communities and provided us with much food for thought as our organizations strive to deliver a meaningful and relevant experience to all our members. 

Our Higher Education Trends Panel, sponsored by the NPC Foundation’s Alpha Gamma Delta Higher Education Trends Panel Fund, consisted of the following panelists: 

  • Dr. Kathy Adams Reister, associate vice president for student affairs & executive associate dean of students at Indiana University-Bloomington;
  • Dr. Laura Blake Jones, dean of students at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor;
  • JC Lopez, dean of student success at DePauw University; and
  • Dr. Alexander Miller, vice president for student life at Denison University.​​​​​​

​​​​Panelists discussed everything from the challenges they see Panhellenic women encountering, recruitment issues and the relevancy of the sorority experience to how to best partner with campus personnel and faculty to how their institutions are approaching student health and wellness. Their insight helps us know more about what our campus communities are seeing and how our member organizations can work together with administrators to deliver the best possible sorority and college experience to our members.​​​​

We also heard from Heather Matthews who is well-known to our Panhellenic community. For more than 15 years, Heather has been working with both sororities and fraternities to build and implement impactful communication strategies. She has served her member organization, Zeta Tau Alpha. Heather has also served as chief communications officer for both the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and Sigma Phi Epsilon, and she recently began her own consultancy. Heather joined us to review the digital marketing campaign she helped direct for NPC during fall 2022. That campaign is also a strategic initiative for NPC and a large financial investment in growing our Panhellenic communities and championing the sorority experience. 

Heather oversaw the campaign to provide direct marketing support, in the form of one-on-one marketing coaching and marketing grants, to more than 230 College Panhellenics this fall. During her presentation, she shared the strategy and tactics within the campaign, outcomes, lessons learned and recommendations to date, and she will present a final report to NPC in mid-November when the fall campaign is officially complete.

Annual Conference attendees listen to a keynote speaker.

Our final session was our Conference Conversation. Our board and staff have been listening closely during the past several months as many member organization leaders have shared with us the challenges our organizations are facing. The Conference Conversation offered a chance for these leaders to also talk directly to each other in a large setting group to share information with and gather insight about what might be next steps for our organizations. Together, they discussed the difficulties they are facing with sorority housing, barriers to membership growth, and how organizations partner together during situations of college/university overreach.

Overall, the Annual Conference provided a terrific setting to get to know many new faces within the leadership of our organizations as well as to have strategic discussions regarding the most pressing issues that face us as a Panhellenic community and how we can continue to advance the sorority experience together. 


Cheri M. De Jong
2021-23 NPC Chair