A longtime University of Minnesota faculty member and adviser to the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, also called FIJI, was recognized for nearly 20 years of involvement in the organization.
Amelious Whyte, director of public engagement for the College of Liberal Arts and academic advisor for FIJI, was named the University Interfraternity Council’s Advisor of the Year in April.
“I often say that I’ve made three great decisions in my life, and one of them was becoming the chapter’s academic advisor,” Whyte said.
The award is given out annually by the University’s IFC and recognizes advisors from the 30 campus fraternities.
Whyte said his role as academic advisor is to help the chapter stay invested academically and make sure members are connected to resources on campus.
Each semester, he meets with every new member one-on-one to help guide them through the transition from high school to college.
“What really ... inspires me about Amelious is that, when he’s talking or when he’s listening, he’s not just doing it because he has to,” said Luke Abbott, a University junior studying chemical engineering and former chapter president. “He’s doing it because he really ... wants to.”
Abbot said Whyte makes himself available to help members with issues outside academics, such as mental health and personal issues.
“Amelious is really there to help them, and really does care how they’re doing on a personal level,” he said.
Whyte joined FIJI as an academic advisor in spring 1998, despite being vocal about the Greek community’s issues with binge drinking at the University, said John Schmit, a University alumnus who was a member of the fraternity from 1998-2001.
Schmit recalls that Whyte was actively involved and committed to getting to know the chapter’s members, while also being outspoken about problems in Greek life.
Even though the chapter has grown substantially since he joined 20 years ago, Whyte has continued to make authentic connections with members and stay in touch with alumni, he said.
Moving forward, Whyte said he hopes to help more members get involved with other programming outside Greek life, and to continue helping students make the best of their time at the University.
“There’s a value in being able to build relationships with students,” he said. “For me, it gives me such a different insight into the University and how students experience it.”