State of the Fraternity

Aug 10, 2022 – Grand President Cory Stopka gave the State of the Fraternity address at the 2022 Grand Chapter Congress.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

Less than one year ago, we were gathered together at Grand Chapter Congress, virtually. Today, I sure am glad we’re looking at each other together, in the same room, at a special meeting of the Grand Chapter Congress!

A lot has happened in the past year, and our organization is poised for even more great things in the years ahead. Today I want to share our wins, plans, and how we will continue to move forward and overcome our challenges.

Over this last year we have continued to focus on our four Strategic Priorities: member education, membership engagement, membership growth and organizational excellence. A strategic vision like this which has four lodestars is important as we look to create benefits of brotherhood for years and decades to come.

Just like any great organization’s path forward, we need to have an environment and culture that is nimble and adaptable on how we achieve our Strategic Priorities. What we have done and how we accomplish those goals is add and adjust our key metrics for each item based on our success and learnings from the past. And we have created a base of factors to be included within all of our Priorities including our Purpose, our governance, the Leadership Foundation and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The reason why we have this base of items included in each Priority is because we feel that in order to accomplish something both sustainable and great, we must have those items entrenched in our culture. The only way to entrench those critical items in what we do is to be able to have those front of mind in each of our discussions so we can make the best decision for all while wearing the proper lens.

So what are we doing to incorporate that mindset into our culture? Let me share some highlights of actions and results.

Your Fraternity Board earlier this week took part in development training. We invested time focusing on how we can utilize trust while focusing on strategic decisions for the organization. We will continue to invest in leadership development like this in the future. The value of us being focused on future states of the Fraternity will provide immediate and long term value.

Our development together this past weekend was even more valuable as this is the first time the full Board has been together for a meeting since September of last year, because even in the past year our dynamic has changed following a Board member’s resignation. A new Board member has since been elected to fill that vacancy, and we will be welcoming Christian Loeb as our next COY as we say "thank you" and "goodbye" to Cody Vazquez.

This past weekend, your Fraternity’s Board of Directors reviewed the progress of our Strategic Priorities and discussed the DEI Task Force’s white paper on what our current challenges are, some possible future actions, and what our risks associated with not taking action and not having a DEI lens on our Priorities. That was an impactful discussion that will spur action between now and our next meetings as we continue to enhance our culture with a DEI focus.

A critical piece of knowing where we are going is also knowing where we are at now. One way we can do this is through our newly launched Strategic Priorities Dashboard. This is now live to view on These are up to the second stats. We will continue to add more information beyond the national level so each of you know how you have a direct impact on all of our national initiatives. Thank you to the National Organizational Development Committee and staff for undertaking this effort. If you have feedback on how this can continue to help you, please reach out to us.

Another way that we have tried to enhance your experience in influencing our future is to have a clearer picture of the intent and purpose behind the proposals before you this week, including the impact of your decisions. This can be evidenced with the new template that you have read with the proposals before you as a Grand Chapter. As we evolve, we continue to look at processes we’ve had in place for the past with a different lens. What may seem a small change today will have a big impact for tomorrow. Eliminating confusion, clarifying intent. Someone has an idea--let's make it as easy as possible to help articulate what they are trying to achieve. While processes have not necessarily changed in this area, we are taking steps to better articulate and communicate the process for how a recommendation gets reviewed and considered with our Recommendation Roadmap.

Last year’s virtual Grand Chapter Congress pushed us to reexamine some of our processes as we transitioned into a virtual environment. As we are now back in-person, it's important that we take the lessons we learned and explore new opportunities. One of those has been the introduction of electronic voting to our Congress for the first time. The technology will continue to ensure accurate vote counts on our motions, and help that the voice of every delegate is heard equally and fairly. As we learn from the use of this tool, we will continue to plan for future legislative sessions to also capitalize on technology that will continue to streamline our voting and election processes.

Legislation processes are not the only way we have reviewed and will continue to adapt. We have identified new challenges and scenarios. We have found both ways that our governance structure and governing documents work together, as well as areas that could use improvement. Looking forward, we need to ensure that our governance structure is the best possible for the for many decades to come.  This week we have the opportunity to consider a variety of approaches that are aimed at the goal of improving or adapting the way we do things while opening new opportunities.

A multitude of opportunities have presented themselves to our Fraternity in the past year. Specifically with the pending retirement of Executive Director Emeritus and Executive Vice President of the Leadership Foundation, Bill Schilling, along with the hiring of our new Executive Director Jeremy Levine.

Bill has provided steadfast leadership, unrivaled counsel to the Boards, fiscal responsibility and oversight to allow us to be in a position of financial strength right now and for years to come, all while sharing his quirky charisma with us. We will celebrate more of Bill throughout this week. Bill, thank you.

As we pass the torch from Bill to Jeremy, we will be finding innovative ways to allow staff to support the Fraternity’s mission and objectives. If the brotherhood is our soul, and the members are our heart, the staff is our backbone. There is no way we would be a successful organization without each of your efforts. Thank you! Everyone, I cannot emphasize this enough, please thank the staff for all they do because every small and important detail for everything we do as an organization is possible because of their efforts.

Jeremy has been tasked as our new Executive Director to evaluate our current staff structure, culture, and to find ways for us to enhance and improve the resources from the staff to all of our members. That effort is currently underway. We have utilized a third party firm to provide an external perspective and suggestions on possible paths forward. We also have already incorporated an update to our staffing model through a focus on our Chapter Services Team. We have also provided direction to staff to pursue a new expansion model to grow our organization in a deliberately impactful way.

All of these efforts will take time and resources. And we are in a position to move forward thanks in part to the Fraternity having just completed another strong year financially. While the financials are not yet finalized, we do anticipate an operating surplus.  This surplus is thanks to a variety of factors, including controlled expenses and the strong initiation and dues counts. Most impactful though is the benefit of realized investment gains, especially in the first half of the year, thanks to a strong investment strategy and years of invested assets. These assets, built off past and recent success, are what provides us the organizational stability to work through the financial unknowns of the future, while still investing in new initiatives to make our organization stronger.

As we look at our future, it is important to keep in mind the great value our corporate partners provide, not just financially, but with valuable services directly for our members. Many partners are here in Cleveland this week and I encourage you to learn more about them and their offerings. As we look ahead, there is opportunity to expand these offerings. I ask each of you in this room to think about connections to companies that you would want the Fraternity to partner with and how you can help make an introduction. So often that is all it takes, an introduction between our Central Office staff and the right person at the right company. Your introduction can have a multitude of impacts for brothers today and tomorrow. 

And, yesterday and the past is what we learn from, today is what we understand as our reality, and tomorrow and the future are what we plan for to take action to move forward.

Earlier, I shared that the brotherhood is our soul, members are our heart and the staff our backbone. That means that recruitment is the lifeblood of the Fraternity.

This past spring, we initiated our 300,000th member, Julia Panek from Kappa Rho at Adelphi.  This milestone is a sign of organizational strength and perseverance.

We should celebrate that incredible milestone along with the fact that our pledge retention rates are now nearly 94% where just a few short years ago they were at less than 87%. That is a testament to your execution of the new pledge education program and focus on recruiting high quality members.

Critical importance will need to be paid to recruitment as we do face a threat with the university enrollment landscape where we operate. Some of that threat is impacting us right now and some of that impact is still uncertain.

We continue to see enrollment numbers at traditional four-year universities have disparaging numbers. The larger universities continue to get larger, the smaller universities continue to get smaller, and the middle universities have shown signs of erosion. That impacts us as a Fraternity and all of you have seen the real impacts more than can be described. The Fraternity is seeing a skewed number of chapters outside of average chapter size. Instead of a concentrated number of chapters having membership numbers around an average chapter size, we are seeing increasing numbers of chapters on the extreme ends. With a larger number of chapters on a low membership size and others on the high end. We have recently had some of these chapters close because of the smaller university size being a major or sole factor. We continue to address ways to provide resources to these chapters while learning from those as we define what success will look like with our start up groups being identified to become future chapters.

The threat with enrollment numbers will be exacerbated by the enrollment cliff coming in the next few years that will see an overall drop in graduating high schoolers that ultimately impacts college enrollment. We will continue to monitor these trends to be proactive in our approach.

The challenges presented to us make our focus on developing our current and future leaders a top priority. We need to build the bench so that we continuously have the next generation of leaders to take us to new heights.

Presidents’ Academy is a way for us to provide a membership benefit and this is our investment in you and your chapter. This event ensures you have the training you need to lead your chapters, to navigate managing your teams, and have the ability and confidence to lead. We are excited to have this event back in person next year and hope you are taking advantage of the reunion opportunities this week.

We continuously look for ways to adapt our educational programming to fit your needs. This includes all of the great webinars and officer training modules on Deltasig University.

Not only do we have an abundance of training online and learn how we can enhance our online presence, but we have also tried to find ways to provide consistent and relevant training with our LEAD Schools. This year we are having three LEAD Schools in various parts of the country to give ample opportunity for networking opportunities regardless of your home province, consistency in programming with cross functional efforts, and some localized elective sessions. We hope this will enhance both the national and local programming options.

Another way we look to increase visibility for our leadership development is through the relatively new Collegiate Advisory Committee. This is led by our two national COYs with Brennen Feder serving as Chair for this year. This committee allows collegiate members the opportunity to provide direct feedback to members of our Board, get exposed to national strategic discussions, and provide valuable insight to our Fraternity as we look to them as key stakeholders in our decision making process. Those applications are now open so please reach out to any of the recent national COYs with questions.

We are facing many challenges, most of those out of our control, and we can’t lose sight of those. We are facing university enrollment numbers that are concerning for our current model, a world that feels like there is no focus on collaboration, but rather, a desire to be divided, and all of this takes a toll on our mental health. We can’t be paralyzed by those threats; we must continue to progress and move forward.

Our Fraternity is strong. We are strong because of our brotherhood and each of you. Your persistence and perseverance continue to pay dividends that are going to be paid forward to our future. You all have much to be proud of so take time to celebrate that this week.

My pledge to you is that we remain focused on positive intent, providing the resources needed so we equip all of you to be ethical and successful leaders in your lives and in your community. We are stronger united and when we support one another. Let us show help and unity throughout the remainder of this week and share our experiences with those not able to be here so we can increase everyone’s positive reflection on their Delta Sigma Pi story.

Thank you for your time, dedication, and allowing me and the Board to serve you…and remember that day by day in every way we are getting better and better.

  • Fraternity Operations