To Leigh Thiedeman, being the director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is about more than improving the program. It’s about being a support system and establishing bonds between Greek life members and staff.
Thiedeman assumed the role of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Greek director on June 17, 2019, replacing long-time director Linda Schwartzkopf, who retired from the role at the end of the 2018-19 school year.
Thiedeman said she hopes to make UNL Greek life more inclusive, as well as establish relationships between the four Greek councils.
“If we can bring out leaders from different groups to meet each other early on, I think it brings people together in a different way and shows that we have four councils and one community,” she said.
In her presentation as a candidate, Thiedeman said she wants to build strong partnerships with offices on campus, like the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, and launch inclusivity workshops during the Spring 2020 semester using input from different offices.
Thiedeman said safety and student well-being are also top priorities. She said she wants to partner with Big Red Resilience, the Title IX office and Counseling and Psychological Services to educate members about mental health and alcohol abuse.
“At the end of the day, what’s more important to me is that students find the support they need,” she said. “That might come from different places, but it is really important to make sure students know what university support looks like so they know what’s there.”
Thiedeman said the Greek life office conducted safety training at the end of sorority recruitment, where they talked about safety measures on campus, like stepping in when someone is in danger. Members of multiple offices attended, including the UNL Police Department, Title IX office, victim advocacy and UCARE.
“We want this to be a fun Greek community for people to find their place and a sense of belonging,” she said. “We also want it to be safe.”
Thiedeman said she thinks Schwartzkopf was an excellent director who set the program up for success by making it a safe haven for members.
“It’s clear that students see the office of fraternity and sorority life as a support system,” she said. “I’ve appreciated it that [Schwartzkopf] had great relationships with students. That has made [it]so much easier to come in and establish my own relationships,” she said.
Jake Johnson, assistant vice chancellor of Student Affairs, said he and the search committee are thrilled to have Thiedeman as the new Greek director.
“The search committee had a monumental task of trying to find someone who could continue [Schwartzkopf’s] legacy and commitment to students,” he said in an email. “I think we did that.”
Thiedeman previously served as the assistant dean of residential education at Stanford University and worked at Pi Beta Phi Fraternity headquarters, where she helped with leadership development consultant programs, recruitment and residents.
Johnson said he and the rest of the committee felt Thiedeman’s previous work experience has prepared her for this position.
“[Thiedeman’s]approach balances celebrating achievements with holding chapters accountable for high expectations,” he said.
Thiedeman said she plans to be more involved in Greek life by attending more events than she had at her previous jobs.
“I want to be able to pop by philanthropies,” she said. “I want to see the chapters, support them, and for them to know I’m here as an advisor and support system.”
Thiedeman said she’s still learning how to effectively serve as UNL’s Greek director, despite her experience and goals.
“What I’ve been a part of at other institutions might look very different than what the need is at UNL,” she said. “I don’t want to make assumptions about what students want or need.”