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Empowering the Past, Present, and Future of Greek Life Through CliftonStrengths

headshot of Hunter Carlheim
Hunter Carlheim
Assistant Director, Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life

Over the past five years, the sorority and fraternity community on Rocky Top has grown by 63.7%, from 4,304 members in spring 2018 to 7,045 members in spring 2023. This growth has created space for 27% of the total undergraduate population to be an active member of a chapter within that community. As the community has continued to grow, the need for more touch points with chapter officers has become increasingly important for student leadership development, communication, collaboration, and empowerment.

With chapter presidents, council executive board members, and certain officers getting specialized training throughout the year, the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL) took a step in the direction of creating programs and education that created a pipeline of inspired students who wanted to take on leadership roles or were seen as emerging leaders within their chapters. This mission gave way to the creation of the Future Greek Leaders program.

This program uses CliftonStrengths education to guide two targeted communities of students through different stages of leadership. The two communities are first-year and second-year chapter members who haven’t gotten involved and older chapter members who are no longer in leadership roles whose organizational knowledge can be better utilized.

One hundred Future Greek Leaders (FGLs), which are first-year and second-year members of their chapters, are taught about their personalized strengths in a team setting designed to not only teach them the theory of strengths but also take them on a journey of team building challenges, in-depth discussions, and thought-provoking sessions to see how their strengths show up in action.

Focusing the discussion on how their team is made up of different strengths and motivations, the FGLs see how their strengths add to the overall diversity of a team to make it stronger. Greek Life community members who have previously held leadership positions serve as facilitators who lead a small group of FGLs. Small groups focus on reflecting on the team building activities and overall reflection on their role in the community. Small group facilitators make connections between activities, strengths, and how they connect to actual leadership examples they’ve seen as community leaders. As FGLs learn about their leadership styles and strengths, their facilitators are learning how their own strengths are skills they can transfer from being an active leader to a mentor within the community.

With two cohorts completed, OSFL continues to see these students take on leadership roles in our community, on campus, and off campus. As the community continues to grow, it is our goal that this pipeline of emerging leaders equipped with the knowledge of strengths, community values, and teamwork leaves the community better than they found it.

What are student participants saying about the Future Greek Leaders program?
“Through this opportunity, I was able to learn how my strengths as a leader hold more power than I may realize. This weekend allowed me to see that I am a part of a bigger picture and allowed me to learn how I can use both my individual values and my chapter’s values in order to make our community better.”

“I learned that as a leader staying true to my values and ethics is the most important part. The Greek community is special because of those shared values that each chapter holds, and enforcing those as a leader is what makes a strong chapter. This aligned really well with my strength of belief.”

“I learned that I am a quiet leader and I don’t need to be the loudest in the room to have my voice be heard.”

Future Greek Leaders student facilitators also shared…

“This was the first retreat I have been to where I feel like I have had an opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with others.”

“The truth is that I needed this retreat to re-spark my passion for helping others and building relationships. I also made so many memories that I will cherish forever.”

Since January 2020, 20,969 Vols have taken the CliftonStrengths assessment, including 90% of this year’s first-year students. This assessment measures talent across 34 themes in four domains of executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. Taking the assessment allows students to understand and appreciate their strengths and those of their peers. The top 5 strengths represented across the entire student body are Restorative, Achiever, Competition, Adaptability, and Relator.

At, students can access coaching sessions with UT Certified CliftonStrengths coaches and find academic courses and workshops where strengths-based learning is applied.

UT faculty, staff, and administrators can also take the assessment, identifying their natural talents in order to perform at their best and better support UT’s mission.

Fall Recruitment By the Numbers

  • 47 chapters on campus
  • 450 people attended Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council’s Meet the Greeks event with 391 students interested in a chapter
  • 1,132 potential new members registered through Interfraternity Council recruitment
  • 1,977 potential new members registered through Panhellenic’s recruitment
  • 2,274 bids were given for Interfraternity and Panhellenic chapters