July 19, 2011
John R. C. Ramsay '05, Assistant Dean of Students
In 1850, the chartering of Zeta chapter of the Beta Theta Pi social fraternity ushered in a new and exciting era at Hampden-Sydney College. One hundred and sixty-one years later, the College is home to nine active national social fraternity chapters* and will welcome the recolonization of two of its historic chapters - Chi Phi and Pi Kappa Alpha - within the next 48 months. However, the past fifty years have seen a gradual decline in the percentage of fraternity membership; in the spring of 2011, 32% of the student body was affiliated with a fraternity. In response to that decline, concerns voiced by students, alumni, faculty and staff alike, and in recognition of the College's long fraternity heritage, Dr. Christopher Howard has commissioned a task force to examine our current fraternity system.
Key stakeholders in Hampden-Sydney College's social fraternity, or 'Greek', community have been asked to participate in this task force, 'Project Hercules' - a nod to the sophist Prodicus and his allegorical parable, "The Choice of Hercules." These stakeholders, representing current students, alumni, faculty and staff members, are charged with studying existing systems, practices and processes related to Greek Life at not only H-SC, but also deliberately selected peer and aspirant colleges and universities.
The task force is further charged with converting the information obtained during their study into a printed report and well-vetted recommendations for policy revisions to be considered for approval by the College's Interfraternity Council (IFC), the Faculty, and Board of Trustees.
Successful recommendations will be designed to effectively, yet efficiently,
•· engage and support Hampden-Sydney College's social fraternity chapters and their respective members
•· develop working relationships, and enhance communication, between all stakeholders
•· strengthen the discernment of community among stakeholders and determine the operational structure of that community
•· incorporate a means for benchmarking the success of a policy enhancement (when possible)
•· adapt to continued cultural, societal and institutional evolution
The on-campus launch of Project Hercules on March 29th began with a dinner for all fraternity men sponsored by President Howard, and concluded with a keynote address by Dr. Benjamin Dunlap, President of Wofford College. Both President Howard's warm introduction of the task force, and President Dunlap's profound remarks about the inherent connection between happiness and a life of service were received enthusiastically by the Greek community.
Those interested in contributing to, or with suggestions about, Project Hercules are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office by postal mail - Attn: Project Hercules, Box 5, Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943; or email - ProjectHercules@hsc.edu.
*Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Phi Gamma Delta, Sigma Chi, Kappa Sigma, Kappa Alpha, Theta Chi, Sigma Nu, Beta Theta Pi, and Lambda Chi Alpha