Faculty Advisor Andrew Robison, Ph.D. Shares His Fraternity Experience

Andy Robison first arrived at Purdue in 1997 as the Assistant Dean of Students for fraternities and sororities. He left Purdue in 2005 to become Chief Operating Officer for Theta Chi Fraternity, then returned to Purdue in 2008 with University Residences, where he now serves as Director of Facilities Operations for a staff of 300 service staff, 4.5 million square feet of space, and over 14,000-bed spaces. Robison is the “loveable odd duck” of the advisory team, a Theta Chi and former Purdue dean, now faculty advisor for the Beta Zeta Colony.

Why did you join a fraternity?
I joined Theta Chi at Indiana State University in 1986. This was back in the day when freshmen didn’t bring cars to campus and most didn’t go back home until Thanksgiving. What a transformative life-changing experience that four months turned out to be for me. I wanted to belong and immerse myself in campus activities, leadership positions, and student employment opportunities. Joining a fraternity was the perfect gateway for me to achieve those goals. 

I ended up having so much fun at ISU that I never wanted to leave college! I found out about university administrative jobs in student life and business services, and the rest is history. I’ve held positions with Miami University, University of New Hampshire, Georgia Tech, Theta Chi Fraternity, and Purdue. My undergraduate degree is in health and safety, and English education. My original plan was to be a high school teacher, but I’ve transferred that training and skillset to higher education administration. My good looks and humor also help a lot.

Why Sigma Nu? Why did I take on Beta Zeta alumni role?
A couple of years ago, a Noblesville High School (Indiana) classmate of mine contacted me. Her son, Ben Collins, was interested in Purdue, so I rolled out the old gold and black carpet and gave them a VIP campus tour. Ben enrolled in fall 2017 and became a member of the Beta Zeta colony as it started up. After Ben joined the colony, my old classmate contacted me again, and asked, “Ben is interested in Sigma Nu, is it a legit operation at Purdue?” As a former dean, I knew enough to be dangerous about Sigma Nu in general, and Beta Zeta in particular. I responded, “Absolutely, it’s one of the best fraternities in North America and has a long storied history at Purdue. Becoming a founding member is a great opportunity!”

Fast-forward a couple more months, and Ben contacted me and said Beta Zeta needed a faculty advisor to become an officially recognized student organization. Most of my current work at Purdue involves leading full-time staff and managing assets and facilities. For several years, I was missing those rewarding teaching moments and advising opportunities of my old dean days. So, it didn’t take more than about 30 seconds for me to accept the invitation to become faculty advisor!

What is your relationship with other Beta Zeta alumni?
I’ve known and advised many Sigma Nu commanders and officers from the 1997-2005 era, worked with key advisors including Al Wurster, Bob Taylor, and Dave Mennen, and several members who also served on the Interfraternity Council. Two notables are Matt Kline (AAB member) and Andy Byerly. I also know a few current and former staff members from Sigma Nu headquarters, including new Beta Zeta AAB member Noah Borton. 

How did the fraternity influence your career?
Fraternity taught me how to be a leader, though admittedly I was more of a transactional leader at that time. I have slowly tried to bring more relational leadership to my skillset. I was a responsible and dependable leader, but didn’t understand there is more to life and leadership than being a taskmaster. There is an old 20th-century leadership philosophy called “management by walking around,” which means you create an informal network and be a visible leader. The more rapport you can build and develop relationships, the more success you are likely to achieve as a leader.

Thirty years after my college experience, I’m still trying to find the perfect leadership balance between task and relationship. Leadership requires you to get things done but at the same time motivate and inspire people. Leadership is about building and maintaining a shared vision, and that requires both dreamers and doers, and maximizing strengths of everyone in the organization.

Robison brings his targeted experience in fraternities to the Beta Zeta alumni group with great enthusiasm. His input will undoubtedly bring confidence in the alumni leadership of the fraternity, as well as encourage the involvement of Beta Zeta alum.

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