Derrick Tilllman-Kelly

Derrick Tillman-Kelly

Student Addresses Greek Life Problems at Leadership Conferences

July 31, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Derrick Tillman-Kelly, vice president and secretary-treasurer for the Illinois Wesleyan University chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, attended two fraternity and sorority leadership conferences in June. Both conferences addressed current problems in Greek life and challenged members to come up with workable solutions.

Tillman-Kelly, a class of ’09 biology major, traveled to Atlanta for the weeklong Undergraduate Leadership Institute (ULI) conference in early June. Since 1996, ULI has been dedicated to teaching its members to apply their leadership skills in service to their home universities, communities and to the Kappa Alpha Psi service fraternity, recently named St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s 2009 Volunteer Organization of the Year. Of 150 applicants, only 50 Kappa Alpha Psi members were invited to attend the 2008 ULI conference.

The ULI offered large group lectures but focused mainly on small group discussions, according to Tillman-Kelly. Members were split into five “chapters” where they could talk about their roles within the fraternity and what changes they would like to see made. “The facilitators were just that. They understand that current undergraduate leaders have to be able to network and problem solve among ourselves,” said Tillman-Kelly. “We have the advantage of similar experiences and perspectives, which make us more likely to agree on long-term goals.”

Two weeks after the ULI, Tillman-Kelly traveled to the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Ind. to attend a fraternity and sorority leadership conference held by the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI), part of the North-American Interfraternity Council. UIFI, a five-day program, asks that participants make a personal commitment to leadership by example. A large number of fraternities and sororities were represented at UIFI, which will host 10 groups of 70 undergraduates throughout the summer.

Primed to think critically about current problems, Tillman-Kelly was able to bring the strategies he encountered at the ULI into conversations at the UIFI. “It was nice to see that everyone was on the same page. We all believe that problems like hazing and underage drinking should always be the unfortunate exception and never the norm.”

Emphasizing the positive aspects and vision of Greek life, the UIFI issued a challenge urging fraternity and sorority members to “live the ritual.” In doing so, the UIFI hopes that fraternity and sorority chapters come together to reaffirm their core values of excellence in and service to the community.

Sponsored by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Tillman-Kelly represented Kappa Alpha Psi and Illinois Wesleyan at the conferences. “There were huge waiting lists for these events,” he said. “That I was accepted to both programs really reflects how my Illinois Wesleyan background has prepared me for leadership on a national level.”

In the fall, Tillman-Kelly hopes to relay a message of positive change to fellow campus Greeks.

For additional information, contact IWU Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Blake Bradley at (390) 556-3555.

Contact: Teresa A. Sherman ’09, (309) 556-3181