May 28, 2020
Every year, more than 2,000 Sun Devils participate in recruitment and join an ASU fraternity or sorority. These Greek life leaders raise tens of thousands of dollars in philanthropic contributions, volunteer hundreds of hours of service, launch initiatives that improve campus life and earn invaluable leadership experience along the way. And ASU alumni, current students and community members are giving back to the next generation of Greek leadership through two recent support opportunities.
The Legacy Walllat the Greek Leadership Village was built as an enduring tribute to those who have served and supported the community during their tenure at ASU. The names of alumni who served as council leaders, chapter presidents and others who want to acknowledge the impact that their fraternity or sorority had on their lives are listed on the wall. The plaques, which are dedicated for a $300 donation, are displayed prominently near the entrance of the 30,000-square foot community center. The community center is home to all five ASU Greek councils, who use the facility to support their work to advance scholarship, leadership and philanthropy.
The plaque donations support signature leadership, education and wellness efforts that enhance the student experience. These include a presidents’ retreat, which provides workshops and resources to help chapter leaders develop their skills, set goals and advance initiatives such as National Hazing Prevention Week, mental health awareness, sexual violence prevention and more.
There are a limited number of spaces available on the Legacy Wall, but Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Gary Ballinger said there is still room for alumni and organizations who want to leave a lasting tribute. Ballinger said that plaques are a great way to support leaders within and beyond ASU because the proceeds support programs that help to hone the skills of future community leaders.
“Support for fraternity and sorority life just doesn’t impact the Greek community, it impacts the entire ASU campus and the Phoenix metro area. Our students are involved in so many different areas on campus and beyond that allow a donor’s investment in fraternity and sorority life to have far-reaching impact across the entire ASU community and beyond,” Ballinger said.
Sun Devils and community members are also supporting Greek life through the Jennifer Hightower Memorial Fund. Established in 2020 to honor the late vice president of student services at ASU, the fund is a way to continue Hightower’s legacy of Greek leadership. She was a member of Chi Omega and served as the Panhellenic Council president when she attended ASU. As ASU’s vice president of student services, Hightower was instrumental in the Greek Leadership Village and Greek Leadership Community Center’s development and mentored many students during her career in higher education.
In memory of Jennifer Hightower, this fund provides support for scholarships, support of the Community Center in the Greek Leadership Village and furthers the Fraternity and Sorority Life programs at ASU.
The family of spring 2020 ASU graduate Marie Sminkey is supporting the fund because they appreciated Hightower’s mentorship deeply. Sminkey’s aunt, Rita V. Beck, said she never got to thank Hightower in person for how much it meant to know that her niece was cared for in college even though she was far from home.
“We are a family from the East Coast, and having a family member attend a university so far away was often anxiety-provoking and stressful, even amidst the best of circumstances,” said Beck. “It gave us great comfort to know that our niece, Marie, had a reliable, healthy and unconditionally caring adult in her life to give her healthy support, guidance and comfort amidst multiple adverse experiences. That person was Jennifer Hightower.”
Beck said that they’re grateful to support Hightower’s legacy now.
“We feel honored to support the Jennifer Hightower Greek Leadership Memorial Fund. Jennifer's dedication, leadership and intrinsically kind ways were evident — even to strangers — and we hope that supporting this fund will enable others to carry on Jennifer’s passion for caring and helping others.”
Sminkey, who studied marketing and management at the W.P. Carey School of Business in her time at ASU, said that Hightower helped her through a stressful time in her life and was an indelible part of Sminkey’s ASU experience.
“Jennifer exemplified the spirit of ASU through her unwavering support of the entire student body and dedication to making our university the best that it can be,” said Sminkney. “She welcomed me to the university with a huge smile and open arms, and she stood by me throughout my college journey. My family and I will forever be grateful for her genuine service to students like myself. I am honored to have known her and to have seen her establish a legacy that will live on for decades to come.”
The lead gift for the Hightower fund came from Medistar. CEO Monzer Hourani knew and respected Hightower and gave a generous gift to continue her work and honor her legacy at ASU.
“I am very fortunate and grateful to have known Jennifer Hightower. By all measures, she was an energetic leader, advocate, mentor and friend to the ASU community. By her presence, she inspired and lifted others up,” Hourani said.
“My gift to the Jennifer Hightower Greek Leadership Memorial Fund honors Jennifer’s character and accomplishments — chief among them ASU’s Greek Leadership Village — in the hope that the fund will help continue her remarkable vision, spirit and work.”
Ballinger emphasizes that regardless of the way Sun Devils support Greek leadership, they’re investing in a cause that is much bigger than just the members of ASU fraternities and sororities.
“Your support for Greek life allows our community to continue to offer high impact support for students, chapters, and the entire community,” he said. “It really is an opportunity to put your dollars to work for the greater good.”