Friday, November 4, 2011

Faculty Advisor Spotlight- Alpha Phi- Professor Walsh

Name: Vincent A. Walsh

Department: English

Chapter You Advise: Alpha Phi
As a faculty/staff advisor, why did you become involved with Alpha Phi? 

Two of my former freshman English 1&2 students, Jenny Ingalls and Bari Mogil, both members of Alpha Phi, approached me during the fall term of 2008 and asked if I would be willing to serve as faculty advisor for the sorority. Since I had developed a great relationship with both Jenny and Bari as students, I readily agreed. I am very interested in Greek Life here at Lehigh, as well as nationally; I’m also an enthusiastic supporter of student activities, particularly initiatives that develop strong leadership and critical thinking/problem solving skills, and also activities that promote intellectual life at Lehigh. I serve as faculty advisor for a student club on campus -- one that formed just last year -- called The Music Box, which provides a forum for Lehigh musicians to stage performances on campus and at local Bethlehem venues that showcase the amazing musical talents of Lehigh students, particularly those who are not formally involved in Zoellner’s music program. I’m also working as a mentor for student mentors who will be working with local inner-city students in Allentown and Bethlehem; this mentoring program is being organized and directed by Christa Wessels from OFSA and Maria Asayag from Admissions. In general, I feel that Greek Life has so much to offer our students and our campus community that is truly exemplary! I want to help develop these positive aspects of fraternity and sorority life, at the same time as we interrogate and challenge some of the less savory aspects of Greek Life, which unfortunately get a lot more press. It has been a true privilege to work with Tim Wilkinson and all of the staff at OFSA, and to feel part of the amazing work all of you are doing to transform Greek Life on campus, so that it can realize its optimal potential, and also serve as a model for how Greek Life should be promoted and transformed nationally.

As a faculty/staff advisor, what are you expecting from Alpha Phi in regards to communications with you?

Kaitlin Slattery is our scholarship/intellectual development chairperson this year, and she’s doing a great job. We keep in steady contact via email and phone; we are planning one jam session (seminar style conversation) each month for the rest of the year; our first session in early September focused on the topic of sexism, and we’ve all decided to stay with that topic for the year, especially considering this is the 40th Anniversary of Women at Lehigh. Kaitlin has also worked with me to get Alpha Phi on board as a sponsor for the special Women’s Concert at Lamberton on Nov. 5 -- which will feature all women performers; this event is being sponsored by the Women’s Center and President Gast’s 40th Anniversary Celebration of Women at Lehigh Celebration.

As a faculty/staff advisor, how would you like to get involved with Alpha Phi?

I see my main role as helping develop the intellectual achievement of Alpha Phi, and communicating the importance of this crucial aspect of Greek Life with other Greek houses at Lehigh, and across the campus generally. I also want to help connect Alpha Phi to events like the Nov. 5 concert, and also elicit their continued support for Lehigh’s outreach effort to connect with students in nearby inner-city schools. We had our first jam session at Lehigh with the Latino Leadership Club members from William Allen H.S. in Allentown last spring; Alpha Phi provided a huge stack of fresh hot pizzas and a small lake’s worth of a variety of soft drinks. The jam was a huge success; in January, we will be kicking off a mentoring program run by Lehigh Latino undergraduates who will be working directly with the William Allen Latino leadership Club; we hope to expand this program to Bethlehem schools next year.

Do you have any specific interests or areas of expertise that you would like/be willing to share ?

I bring a wide-ranging scholarly research base of knowledge that can help promote intellectual discussion on numerous levels, particularly issues connected directly to students’ individual majors and specific career and research interests.

Do you have any specific interests or areas of expertise that you would like/be willing to share with the entire Greek community?

I would like to help promote serious intellectual discussion among all members of the Greek community at Lehigh -- both about crucial issues affecting the world at-large, and in particular issues right here in the Greek Life we share at Lehigh regarding hazing, sexism, the out-of-control drinking “culture,” racism, and homophobia.

Any other additional comments?

I feel proud and happy to be part of the OFSA and Lehigh’s vibrant, evolving Greek Life; I really think we can create a model here at Lehigh that will serve as a lodestar for Greek Life across the country.