After Binghamton University chose not to renew the contract of former assistant director of Greek Life Sunni Solomon, administrators now face the challenge of finding a new director willing to take a position already under national scrutiny after reported transgressions of a Greek system in crisis.
A hiring committee began reviewing applications for the position over the summer. They initially narrowed the search to four candidates from a pool of about 50; however, two of the finalists later chose not to pursue the job. In response, the University decided to invite an additional fifth candidate.
Zach Stein, president of the Interfraternity Council and a member of the hiring committee, said the new director should be “personable, someone knowledgeable that will be able to help guide us out of this hole that we’re in now.
“Whoever gets this job will have to work with us extensively, so we need somebody who we can get along with and that we’ll want to work with,” said Stein, a senior majoring in anthropology.
Stein is one of the four student members of the search committee. The committee also includes five staff members.
April Thompson, dean of students, said input from both Greek and non-Greek students is essential to the selection process.
“Student input is critical,” Thompson said. “We want to hire a director of Greek Life that is supported by the students.”
Assistant Dean of Students Milton Chester is the chair of the search committee. He said that he hopes to relay the committee’s recommendations to Thompson by Oct. 15.
The committee interviewed the first candidate, Lester Coghill, in an open presentation Thursday in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center.
Coghill is currently the assistant director of campus activities and student engagement at the University of Maine.
In his presentation, Coghhill said that BU Greek Life members have the tools necessary to overcome issues that arise but need training and advice as to how to use them. He encouraged students to use resources such as campus administration, national or international headquarters, and the association of leadership and values.
“We’re here to be a resource, so please take advantage of that,” Coghill said.
Coghill also encouraged fraternities and sororities to “live your values” and project a positive image to the public.
“Be who you say you are and project that image,” he said. “If we can’t live our values as fraternities and sororities, then there really is no reason for us to exist anymore.”
He promised that if selected, he would make himself available to students outside of his usual office hours.
“It’s never a nine-to-five position,” Coghill said. “I make myself available to people, as needed, for things to get done.”
Coghill added that he would not be afraid to share stories of “the stupid stuff we did” while pledging a fraternity as well as why his chapter no longer participates in those practices.
Alex Liu, a member of Zeta Psi and a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics, and law, attended the presentation to listen to the potential new director.
“He [Coghill] seemed very approachable and energetic during his presentation, and asserted that we have all of the necessary tools to be successful and to grow on this campus,” Liu said.
However, he said that he hopes to see a more specific objective for the future from other candidates.
“I hope to see a more clear plan with more innovative ideas to better Greek Life on this campus,” Liu said.
The next candidate for director of Greek Life will give an open presentation at 1 p.m. Monday in New University Union room 324.