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Improvements in Greek life continue

A recently released report from the Greek Accreditation Committee underscores the continuing progress of Lehigh’s Greek community in improving and strengthening the university’s fraternity and sorority system.

Of the 26 fraternities and sororities reviewed this academic year, seven earned gold chapter status, 14 earned silver and five earned a bronze ranking. For the first time since the accreditation process began during the 2004-05 academic year, there were no rankings of either “poor” or “unacceptable.”

Also notable is the recent naming of a Lehigh staff member and one faculty member as recipients of national Greek awards.

Tiffany Showalter, Greek life coordinator in the office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, was named Campus Administrator of the Year, and Ken Sinclair, professor of accounting in the College of Business and Economics and advisor to Chi Phi fraternity, was named Chapter Advisor of the Year by the Chi Phi National Congress.

“I am extremely proud of the progress we have achieved since the implementation of the Strengthening Greek Life initiative,” said John Smeaton, vice provost for Student Affairs. “It is a tribute to the sincere commitment to excellence by many outstanding students, alumni/ae and colleagues on campus.”

Tim Wilkinson, director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, said that the fact that no chapters earned less than a bronze rating in the accreditation process indicates that the standards set by the Greek community are having the intended impact.

“The chapters have embraced this process and used it as a motivating influence to improve their communications with their national headquarters, as well as with our office,” he says. “They’ve used accreditation and their headquarters’ standards as a blueprint for where they needed to go as a chapter.”

Wilkinson singled out several chapters for extraordinary accomplishment, including fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa, which maintained gold status for the second year in a row after having a “poor” rating in 2004-05.

“We also commend the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, which earned gold status four years in a row—the only chapter with that distinction,” Wilkinson says.

Also notable, Wilkinson says, was the ability of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, which lost chapter privileges during the 2006-07 academic year and returned this year with a “very strong silver ranking.”

The fraternity chapters receiving gold rankings this year are Phi Sigma Kappa and Kappa Alpha.

The sororities receiving gold status this year are Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta, and Pi Beta Phi

Fraternities that earned silver status were Alpha Tau Omega, Chi Phi, Delta Tau Delta, Delta Upsilon, Kappa Alpha Psi, Kappa Sigma, Phi Kappa Theta, Psi Upsilon, Sigma Chi, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and Theta Chi.

Sororities that earned silver status were Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta.

Fraternities in the bronze category were Chi Psi, Delta Phi, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Gamma Delta and Theta Xi

No sororities earned less than silver status, Wilkinson adds.

A year of progress

This latest report follows a productive year in Greek life at Lehigh, which was capped by the university being named the recipient of the prestigious Outstanding Change Initiative Award by the Association of Fraternity Advisors, the professional association dedicated to the national fraternity and sorority community.

Established in 1996, this award recognizes major initiatives or long-term plans that have led to measured results in areas related to scholarship, education, leadership development, risk management, retention and recruitment. Further developments include the expansion of Lambda Theta Alpha, a Latina sorority, as well an anticipated expansion of non-residential men’s fraternities and other multicultural fraternities and sororities.

“It’s an exciting time,” says Wilkinson. “Over the past few years, the standards of the fraternity and sorority community have been redefined and solidified. Now it is time to explore opportunities to grow the community in ways to ensure that fraternities and sororities contribute positively to Lehigh’s living and learning environment.”

Formally adopted by the university’s board of trustees in February, 2004, the Strengthening Greek Life initiative outlined a series of tactics that would improve the Greek system and outline its future viability, Wilkinson says.

The accreditation committee that ranks the chapters is comprised of a dedicated group of Greek actives, Greek alumni and Lehigh staff who meet at the conclusion of the spring semester to review and finalize the accreditation results for all of the university’s fraternities and sororities. The results are based on chapter-specific efforts and performance through the previous academic year.

All chapters that receive a gold or silver rating receive additional benefits to recognize their hard work and dedication to the ideals of the Lehigh University Greek System.

--Linda Harbrecht


Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2008

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