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Chapter Officer Orientation

A well-organized orientation gives new chapter officers a thorough understanding of their responsibilities and results in better planning and a more successful year for the chapter. New officer training may take place immediately after chapter officer elections or during the summer. Advisors may conduct the orientation or provide assistance as outgoing officers prepare their successors.

The officer orientation sets the tone for the chapter in the coming year. This is the time to clearly communicate expectations for the year.

Orientation can be overwhelming for new officers, as they are inundated with information on chapter, regional and international programs and resources. In addition to time spent learning the ropes of their new leadership roles, incoming officers should have a chance to bond and enjoy each other’s company. Advisors and outgoing officers can help develop a team spirit among the new officers by including fun, interactive team building exercises to the orientation schedule.

Planning an Officer Orientation

Schedule a weekend or at least a full day for officer orientations. Reserve a meeting room on campus, at a local restaurant or other meeting facility. Outgoing officers, incoming officers and advisors should attend.

New officers should familiarize themselves in advance with their responsibilities, the chapter’s bylaws and Phi Theta Kappa’s programs (especially the Five Star Chapter Plan). New officers may be encouraged to plan a brief ceremony of appreciation for outgoing officers.

Outgoing officers should update their chapter resource materials, including chapter records and lists of user names and passwords new officers may need such as the chapter’s website and social media accounts. Outgoing officers should bring this information to the orientation. Many chapters make the transfer of materials from one officer team to the next a ceremonial event.

Advisors should conduct a campus tour to personally introduce new officers to key members of the faculty, staff and administration with whom the officers will be working.

Sample Agenda

Icebreaker Activity

An icebreaker is a fun way to introduce members of the group to each other, get them moving and set the tone for the day of fun and learning that's ahead.

What is Phi Theta Kappa?

Begin with a brief history of Phi Theta Kappa and your chapter.


Review the four levels of the Society – local, regional, divisional and international – and discuss communication on these levels. Officers should know how and when to contact:

  • Local – officers, advisors and college faculty, staff and administrators
  • Regional – Regional Coordinator, Associate Regional Coordinator and Regional Officers
  • Divisional – International Officers and Association of Chapter Advisors Officers
  • International – Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters Staff

Officer Responsibilities

Discuss the role and responsibilities of each officer as covered in the chapter bylaws. Each outgoing officer should individually review responsibilities with his or her successor.

Explain how to form committees and the functions of any current committees. Discuss delegation of responsibilities as a time management tool and an opportunity to develop and take advantage of each member’s unique strengths.

Evaluate, as a group, how well the officers functioned during the previous year. Note any suggestions for improvements or recommended changes in officer responsibilities.

Inform new officers of resources and benefits available to them. Include any benefits or resources provided by the chapter or institution.

Outline a clear transition period for outgoing and incoming officers. Encourage new officers to view their leadership responsibilities as a challenge, and stress the rewards of office and leadership development.

Outgoing officers should provide their successors with any chapter-related materials, such as treasury records, the official chapter record book and/or logins and passwords.

Phi Theta Kappa Programs

Review information about all Phi Theta Kappa programs outlined on the Society website and any accompanying printed materials. Make this information more pertinent by giving illustrations and examples from your chapter.

Teaching Leadership

Incorporate lessons from the Phi Theta Kappa Leadership Development Studies Program if a chapter advisor is a certified instructor.

Some important leadership topics for chapter officers include team building, goal setting and delegating. Group exercises are especially effective for communicating these concepts. Your college’s student activities department and the Internet can be additional sources for activities to build leadership skills.

Chapter Planning

Outgoing officers should explain the procedures involved in planning for a successful year.

Use the Five Star Chapter Plan as a guide to plan your chapter’s level of engagement for the coming year. The program effectively organizes and helps your chapter prioritize everything from basic chapter operations to engage in Society programs like the Honors in Action Project and the College Project.

Discuss any annual or traditional events as well as opportunities to introduce new projects.