For the first time in UT's Greek life, an administrator will directly supervise sororities and fraternities.
On Friday, UT Associate Dean of Students Jeff Cathey announced Lindi Smedberg as the director of Sorority and Fraternity Life.
After several years of planning, this development is meant to put UT's Greek system on par with other schools in the SEC, including the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia. Although advisers have guided and directed the Greek community in the past, the new director position is part of department restructuring.
Smedberg, who previously held the position as sorority and fraternity adviser for chapters and councils, said she believes having a high-quality Greek community is a priority at UT and plans to protect that priority through her new role.
"I know that a lot of administrators at the university had to work together in order for this position to be created," Smedberg said, "and I feel a responsibility to make them proud."
The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life also intends to hire two assistant directors in the near future.
"Working on a team with Assistant Director Jim Harrison, our two graduate assistants Teal and Taylor and the two new assistant directors, we will really be able to make a significant positive impact on UT's sorority and fraternity community," Smedberg said.
The Dean of Students staff formerly oversaw the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life, but Cathey said he looks forward to having a dedicated leadership position for the Greek community.
As Cathey explained, the director will head the department, leading new staff to engage students in the Greek community and provide them with the best experience possible during their career at UT.
The director will also be responsible for encouraging sororities and fraternities to avoid the pitfalls associated with Greek life.
In 2012, fraternities Pi Kappa Alpha and Phi Gamma Delta were removed from campus due to alcohol and drug-related misbehavior. This semester, hazing allegations landed fraternities Lambda Chi Alpha and Sigma Chi on interim suspension and probation, respectively.
Dean of Students Maxine Davis said recent sanctions placed on Greek chapters were not the sole reason for creating a new administrative position.
She said the administration has wanted to create this position since before some of the recent incidents.
"Within the last five years, increasingly I feel and I have felt that we really need more staff to work in that area to be able to address some of the issues that are there in a more hands-on way," Davis said.
Smedberg said her passion for the Greek community fuels her desire to serve in that hands-on role.
"I am really looking forward to the two new assistant directors coming on board so the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life will be able to be even more proactive in our programming and education," she said.
President of Delta Zeta and a junior in communication studies, Mary Pat Conway said she looks forward to working with Smedberg.
"I think that it is a great step toward performing at the best of our abilities that UT has the best Greek life around," Conway said. "I think Lindi is the absolute best person – she is amazing."
SGA Student Body President and Delta Tau Delta member Jake Baker said he is excited about the changes coming in the administration.
Although he cited the Panhellenic Council's Habitat for Humanity Lip-Sync fundraiser, which raised almost $30,000 last week, he acknowledged recent scrutiny.
"Greek life is a big tradition at UT, and we've kinda fell on some hard times," Baker said. "I think that's definitely an area of our campus that needed to be addressed."