Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Lehigh’s Greek community goes for the gold

A recently released report from the Greek Accreditation Committee indicates that fraternity and sorority chapters on campus have earned more gold rankings than in any year since the accreditation system was implemented.

Of the 27 fraternities and sororities reviewed this academic year, nine earned gold chapter status, 12 earned silver and five earned a bronze ranking. There was only chapter ranked “poor.”

“This latest report is ongoing affirmation that we are moving in a very positive direction through the Strengthening Greek Life initiative,” said John Smeaton, vice provost for Student Affairs. “It is a tribute to both the hard work that is being done by so many in the Greek community and to the sustained support from dedicated alumni and university colleagues.”

Chapters that earned a gold ranking include: Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Sigma Kappa, and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternities; Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Pi Beta Phi sororities

Chapters that earned the silver ranking are: Alpha Tau Omega, Chi Phi, Delta Phi, Delta Tau Delta, Delta Upsilon, Kappa Alpha, Kappa Sigma, Phi Kappa Theta, Psi Upsilon, Sigma Chi, and Theta Chi fraternities; Alpha Chi Omega sorority

Chapters that earned the bronze ranking are: Chi Psi, Phi Gamma Delta, and Theta Xi fraternities; Delta Gamma and Lambda Theta Alpha sororities

Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity received a “poor” rating. Chapters that are determined to be an "unacceptable chapter" for one year or a "poor chapter" for two years in a row lose recognition and university group housing immediately, as outlined by the Strengthening Greek Life Task Force Report that was issued in January, 2004.

The three new fraternities—Lambda Sigma Upsilon, Delta Chi and Pi Kappa Alpha—were not evaluated this year as all three chapters began operations in the spring semester. All three organizations will participate in the accreditation process during the 2009/10 academic year.

A groundbreaking year

Tim Wilkinson, director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, says the accreditation report is the latest in a series of both positive and groundbreaking developments for the Greek community at Lehigh.

“It’s been an incredibly productive year for the Greek community at Lehigh,” he says. “We see the overall GPAs of members of our Greek community remain very strong, our recruitment numbers are higher than they have been in more than a decade, and we see a sustained interest in community service on the part of our chapter members. They have raised more than $70,000 for charitable organizations and more than 10,000 hours of direct community service.”

This past academic year, additional developments included:

• The re-founding of Pi Kappa Alpha and Delta Chi fraternities, which were selected for recolonization by the Greek Expansion Committee. Both chapters will be non-residential, bringing the number of non-residential Greek options up to five organizations.

• The continued development of Lambda Theta Alpha, the first historically Latina sorority in university history, founded in spring 2008

• The founding of Lambda Sigma Upsilon, the first historically Latino fraternity in university history

• The designation of Lehigh’s chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity as chapter of the year award recipient through the Kappa Alpha Psi Inter/National Headquarters.

• The designation of Lehigh’s chapter of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority as chapter of the year award recipient through the Alpha Omicron Pi Inter/National Headquarters.

Still, Wilkinson notes, the past academic year was not without challenges.

“The Greek community is committed to fostering an environment that is respectful, inclusive and accepting—one that reflects the broader campus community as well,” he says. “And when events indicate otherwise, we are moving swiftly to address them.”

Such was the case with the suspension of Greek Week for the 2009/10 academic year, following the decision to remove four chapters from this year’s event due to offensive actions of those organizations.

“The negative reaction to those developments came from the students themselves, which indicates a shift toward intolerance for that sort of behavior,” he says. “The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, with input from the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council, moved quickly to respond to those concerns. The decision was that we take Greek Week offline in order to give us a chance to examine alternatives.”

The ongoing evolution of the Greek community will be guided by the office’s Next Steps Initiative, which debuted this year and is charged by the Greek Partnership Council to examine the future direction of the Greek community.

It follows on the progress made through the Strengthening Greek Life initiative, which was formally adopted by the university’s board of trustees in February of 2004. The program outlined a series of tactics that would improve the Greek community and outline its future viability, Wilkinson says.

The accreditation committee 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, Wilkinson explains.

Permanent accreditation committee members include: Wilkinson; Jessica Manno, assistant dean for Student Leadership Development; and Chris Mulvihill, assistant dean for Student Conduct.

Wilkinson says the process was designed for chapters to be active members of an educational approach that focuses efforts in five general areas: scholarship, leadership, citizenship, partnership, and stewardship.

“It allows them to take a clear, objective view of what it means to be Greek at Lehigh,” he adds.

All chapters that receive a gold or silver rating receive recognition for their hard work and dedication to the ideals of the Lehigh University Greek community will work with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and their individual alumni/ae corporations to receive appropriate incentives.

-- Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Tuesday, July 07, 2009

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