Exploration of Graduate Chapters
Webmaster's Note: This content is from an article entitled "Exploration of Graduate Chapters: Creation Outlined, Purpose Elucidated, Misconceptions Addressed" and dated December 1, 2004, which appeared in the Winter 2005 Issue of The Mask and was written by Dr. Andrew Frasco, Graduate Member-at-Large 2003-05.
One of the real pleasures in my life over the last several years has been to travel around the country and meet Brothers at chapter and province meetings. For the last year and a half, I have had the honor of serving as your Graduate Member-at-Large. In this capacity, I represent the needs and desires of graduate Brothers nationwide. When I travel to a meeting, Brothers often ask the same questions. Some of the most common questions I hear are: What is the primary purpose of a graduate chapter? How do we form a new graduate chapter? How do we bring together and strengthen a struggling graduate chapter? The purpose of this article is to generate discussion on all levels about the role of graduate chapters, and to address some of these questions as well as elucidate some of the commonly held misconceptions.
Participation in Kappa Psi as a graduate member begins with the process of selecting and training good pledges. Even in the earliest stages of Kappa Psi formation, we teach our new pledges that Brothers become members of Kappa Psi for life, not just the duration of their college years. To underscore this fact, pledges are also taught that graduate chapters are established and formed as a result of friendships and fraternal ties made in college. These graduate chapters are formed in any locality where there are a sufficient number of Kappa Psi alumni to make the establishment of a graduate chapter feasible. Some of our graduate chapters have been around since the early 1900’s, like Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, which was chartered in 1907.
What is the purpose of the Graduate Chapter?
It is easy to define the role of the collegiate chapter, but defining the role of the graduate chapter is more difficult. First, we must explore the purpose of graduate chapters. There are many misconceptions about the purpose of graduate chapters. The primary misconception about graduate chapters is that their main function is to encourage and support the closest collegiate chapter. Although this may fit into the mission and objectives of some graduate chapters, this is not their primary purpose. The purpose of a graduate chapter is to meet the personal, social and professional needs of the graduate brothers in the locality. The graduate chapter should function to welcome new brothers to a particular region, and to help them maintain the social network and professional development that our profession demands.
Another misconception is about appropriate lines of communication between graduate and collegiate chapters. Ideally, both sides of the equation should attempt to reach out to the other. I would encourage collegiate chapters to tap into nearby graduate chapters by extending invitations for graduates to collegiate events to keep the ties strong. I also want to remind collegiate chapters that the purpose of graduate chapters is more than just to provide networking, financial support, and social events for the collegiate Brothers. The same holds true for graduate chapters. If the graduate chapter is holding an event, an effort should be made to include nearby collegiate brothers.
What is the best way to communicate with the Central Office?
This national website has several forms available for your correspondence to The Central Office. Graduates can update their address and contact information on one form, and can submit their thoughts on the current graduate voluntary dues on another form. Over the last eighteen months, the graduate contact information form has been utilized to update more than forty graduates’ contact information, and the graduate dues survey has produced results about what graduates think of the current state of the voluntary dues. You can also order jewelry and chapter supplies from the website. Dues can be paid online with a major credit card, but I would personally advise printing out the dues form, and remitting dues by check using regular postal mail. Remember that all forms of communication are imperfect, and that the onus of follow-up falls on you to make sure that The Central Office received the message.
What is the appropriate course for Graduate Chapter formation?
Graduate chapters are chartered in the same manner as collegiate chapters and can be formed when a group of brothers in a region meets and decides there is sufficient interest. I would recommend that the interested group first contact The Central Office or the Graduate Member-at-Large to find out if a graduate chapter has already been chartered for the area in question. It is possible that a chapter already exists, but is dormant and just needs to be revived. If there is not a previously established chapter, and there is enough interest to move forward with graduate chapter creation, it is at this point that I would highly recommend the interested Brothers commit to paper the reasons that they want to form a new graduate chapter. This way, future members of the chapter can look back on those initial objectives and remember why the Brothers took the steps to create the chapter. Since the chapter is not official yet, provisional officers may be selected from this initial group, but will not be installed until the charter installation. It is at this point that the Brothers must meet and draft a set of local chapter ordinances to be added as By-Law XVII to the Uniform Graduate Chapter By-Laws. Once the new local ordinances have been drafted, the interested group may prepare and submit to the Central Office an application for a chapter charter. This application must be signed by five (5) of the Graduate Members residing in the district, and accompanied by a copy of the new local ordinances. The application and these new local ordinances will then be submitted to the Grand Counselor for review and approval. Once the Grand Counselor has approved the ordinances, the interested Brothers must pay a $200 chartering fee, at which time the application will be submitted to the Executive Committee for the final approval. Upon the approval of the Executive Committee, the Grand Regent shall grant the charter, and a member of the Executive Committee will travel to your area to properly install the chapter and its new officers.
The process for getting a new Graduate Chapter chartered takes a minimum of 1 (one) year. The 1 (one) year will start when the interested Brother or Brothers first contact The Central Office. Most new chapters will require several meetings over a period of several months to draft the new local chapter ordinances. To speed up the process of drafting new ordinances, the group of Brothers may request a copy of another graduate chapter’s ordinances from the Grand Counselor or directly from the established graduate chapter.
What about the Graduate Voluntary Dues and why have I not received a dues notice?
The graduate voluntary dues were increased to $50.00 per year at the 54th Grand Council Convention. Paying dues not only supports the running of our organization, it also makes you eligible to be a delegate to the Grand Council Convention. The Central Office does send out dues notices, but only to graduate brothers who have paid their voluntary dues within the last five (5) years and have not already paid their voluntary dues for this fiscal year. For fiscal year 2003-2004, the Central Office sent out 5,400 graduate dues notices. Remember, the fiscal year for Kappa Psi runs October 1 through September 30, so in order for your dues to be paid up for the year, they need to be remitted to the Central Office by September 30. Dues may be paid at any time, but it is best if you choose the same time every year, so that it is easier to remember. Personally, I pay my dues at the end of each October, because it is easier for me to remember. This way I do not have to worry about my dues for the rest of the Kappa Psi fiscal year. Some graduate chapters, like Minnesota Grad, have chosen to promote the paying of Graduate Voluntary Dues by collecting these dues with the chapter dues and submitting them in a lump sum to The Central Office.
How can we make our graduate chapter stronger?
The first thing to consider is that different activities motivate people and chapters differently. Look at what personal and professional needs are not being met in your area, or could be met more successfully. Some graduate chapters function to socialize, and others function for the sole purpose of supporting a nearby collegiate chapter. Try to get the pulse of what motivates your membership. If community service projects motivate your membership, find an organization to help, or participate in the Province’s selected philanthropy project. If the chapter is motivated to help a nearby collegiate chapter, plan a picnic or a social gathering to include the collegiate Brothers. It is okay if your chapter only seems to functions as a means of socializing. An important next step might be to try to put a continuing education program together. Kappa Psi has several model graduate chapters around the country. If your chapter is struggling, please contact The Central Office or the Graduate Member-at-Large, and we can try to connect you with a thriving chapter for a free-exchange of ideas.
There are several other recommendations to strengthen your graduate chapter. If you do not have elected officers, I would recommend electing officers from the current active membership. Electing officers is an important step to developing responsibility for the activities of the chapter. A newsletter is a great way to communicate chapter news. If the chapter has never published a newsletter, even a single-page mailing can be a very effective way to update everyone on what is happening with the chapter. Providence Grad, for instance, does a great job of producing a regular newsletter. Another way to keep in contact with your members and other chapters is to write an update for The Mask. To increase meeting attendance, try taking out a small ad in your state or local pharmacist association monthly journal. This may bolster your ranks by reconnecting with members you did not even know still lived in your region.
The heart of every Brother knows that Kappa Psi is for Life. All too often, graduates disappear into the waves of the profession like a ship on a vast ocean. Having a graduate chapter helps Brothers stay connected to the “Kappa Psi 4 Life” mantra. The history and tradition of our fraternity attracts and develops leaders, and graduate chapters are another area where strong leaders are always needed. Participation in graduate chapters is an important way for you to remain active in Kappa Psi throughout your professional life, and beyond.
The preceding information is drawn from the 2003 Constitution of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity Inc. [By-law IV, Sec. 1-5], the Handbook and Pledge Manual, as well as from my own personal opinions and recommendations.