As Penn State continues work to overhaul the culture of Greek life, Steve Veldkamp has been named special assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs to lead those reform efforts.
Veldkamp also will serve as director of Fraternity and Sorority Life while leading "the implementation of vision and reform in the university’s fraternity and sorority communities," according to a news release. He will work with Fraternity and Sorority Life at Penn State's Commonwealth Campuses and will represent Penn State at regional and national gatherings along with Vice President Damon Sims.
“I am looking forward to helping create cultural change for Fraternity and Sorority Life at Penn State, and to fostering constructive relationships among undergraduates, alumni, national leaders and their organizations,” said Veldkamp. “As we are part of the national dialogue, I am also enthusiastic about creating a new vision for what Greek life can be that connects back to the founding principles of Pennsylvania and our nation.”
Veldkamp comes to Penn State from the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research (CFSR) based at Indiana University, where he developed a national assessment survey for campuses and headquarters and has worked with university presidents on the role of fraternities and sororities in higher education. He regularly consults with universities and Greek organization headquarters and is a frequent presenter at national conferences.
Previously assistant dean and director of Student Life and Learning at Indiana University and a past director of the Interfraternity Institute, Veldkamp is a member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors, and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
"Penn State is fortunate to have attracted a leader in this area with Steve's exceptional experience, insight and reputation,” Sims said. “I'm increasingly confident that the strong and innovative approach we've adopted to responding to both the challenges and the opportunities fraternities and sororities offer will succeed at Penn State and become a model for others to follow."
The university has been searching for a new director of Fraternity and Sorority Life since 2015, when former director Roy Baker left the position. Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs oversaw the office from the fall of 2015 to July 2017.
Penn State has implemented a wide range of reform measures for fraternities and sororities since the death of sophomore Timothy Piazza following a bid acceptance night at the now banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Piazza's death is alleged to have resulted from fraternity hazing after he was given at least 18 alcoholic drinks in the period of 82 minutes.
New restrictions have been placed on alcohol, social events and new member recruitment. The university took over the fraternity and sorority misconduct process and added new resources for closer monitoring. School leaders have also advocated for tougher state and federal hazing laws.