The director of CSU Greek Life has decided to step down from his position to work as executive director for a national Greek organization.
Mark Koepsell, who has been a fixture with CSU for nine years, submitted his letter of resignation Friday. He made his decision public to both Greek governing bodies on Monday and has since sent e-mails to every chapter president.
His announcement comes a week after Sigma Alpha Epsilon was suspended from its national chapter and barred from their house after violating alcohol rules, but Koepsell said the timing happened by chance.
“I think it is complete coincidence of timing,” Koepsell said. “I have been in complete negotiations since the summer.”
Koepsell is set to leave CSU June 29 for the Mid-American Greek Council Association, the largest of four regional organizations dedicated to the training and development of Greek leaders throughout the United States.
“I got an opportunity I can’t refuse,” Koepsell said. “Colorado State has been very good to me.”
Koepsell will help move the MGCA from its headquarters in Manhattan, Kan., to Fort Collins where he can continue life here with his wife and two young children.
Often the go-to man when controversy strikes Greek Life, Koepsell is used to the criticism but insists the negative stories never deterred him in leading a group of students who he describes as dedicated students full of energy and charisma.
“It is the not the first time the kitchen has been hot; other things have happened before SAE,” he said. “I’m not jumping ship.”
The CSU Greek system has been tarnished over the years. The biggest hit came with the death of Samantha Spady, who in 2004 was found dead in the Sigma Pi fraternity house after a heavy night of binge drinking. According to those close to Koepsell, including colleagues and Greek students, Koepsell was adamant about changing the negative image of the Greek system.
“Greek life all over the country is undergoing change, and I think Mark saw that, and he tried his best to help us adapt with that change,” said Chris Smith, president of SAE. “Sometimes the changes were effective and sometimes they were not.”
Smith says Koepsell’s departure is not a shocker.
“We actually thought this was going to come sooner than this,” he said.
Smith calls Koepsell’s resignation a “business move” designed to better his quality of life.
Koepsell wants to be remembered for the positive products churned out by Greek Life, such as the Up ‘Til Dawn program that has donated about $400,000 to charity and the national recognition of the CSU Intrafraternity and Panhellenic Councils.
Anne Hudgens, executive director of Campus Life for the division of Student Affairs, has had conversations over the past year with Koepsell over the possibility of seeking a new job.
“I had two reactions,” she said. “For one, I was delighted for Mark. And two, I had a sinking feeling of somebody who has done a really good job and now he has to be replaced.”
Within the coming months, Hudgens says she will begin to form a hiring committee to replace Koepsell in conjunction with Greek student opinion.
“I was appreciative of Mark letting me know now, rather than telling me in spring,” Hudgens said. “He’s a guy who has had a vision for our Greek students living up to the vision they vow.”
Prior to joining CSU, Koepsell spent four years at St. Louis University in the offices of Campus Life there and also spent two years working with sororities and fraternities at Milliken University in Decatur, Ill.
Koepsell says he will continue his quest to make the CSU Greek system nationally renowned.
“I think the best thing about working in the Greek life office is that I work with some of the most talented students on campus,” Koepsell said. “I’m going to miss it very much.”
Staff writer James Baetke can be reached at email@example.com.
Fallen Greek houses during Koepsell’s tenure
1998- Sorority Alpha Chi Omega and fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha were expelled from the university for displaying a scarecrow on the back of their homecoming parade float believed to depict Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student who was beaten to death for being a homosexual.
2000- Fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha reinstated after completing community service mandated by CSU Greek Life.
2004- Fraternity Sigma Pi loses national recognition after the death of Samantha Spady, the CSU student who was found dead in the Sigma Pi house after a night of heavy drinking.
2004- CSU Greek Life bans alcohol.
2005- Sorority Zeta Tau Alpha loses its national charter because of declining membership and recruiting difficulties.
2005- Fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha expelled from the university after reports the frat had facilitated so-called “rise and ralph” parties.
Aug. 2006- Sorority Kappa Alpha Theta loses its national charter because of “risk management” and financial issues.
Oct. 2006- Fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon suspended from its national charter and barred from its house after drinking violations.