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Greek life at Lehigh makes the grade

Jennifer McCusker ’12, a member of Delta Gamma sorority, gives a presentation to the Greek Accreditation Committee this spring. Delta Gamma was one of nine fraternity and sorority chapters to receive a gold ranking from the committee.

Of the 29 Lehigh fraternities and sororities reviewed this academic year, nine earned gold chapter status, 15 earned silver and four earned a bronze ranking, according to a recently released report by the Greek Accreditation Committee.

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

Chapters that earned the gold ranking were Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Sigma Kappa and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternities, and Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta and Pi Beta Phi sororities

Chapters earning silver were Alpha Tau Omega, Chi Psi, Delta Phi, Delta Upsilon, Kappa Alpha, Kappa Sigma, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Kappa Theta, Psi Upsilon, Sigma Chi and Theta Chi fraternities, and Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Phi Beta and Lambda Theta Alpha sororities.

Chapters earning bronze were Delta Chi, Phi Gamma Delta, Pi Kappa Alpha and Theta Xi fraternities. The only chapter to receive a poor ranking was Delta Tau Delta fraternity.

A plan to improve the quality of Greek life

Tim Wilkinson, director of fraternity and sorority affairs, attributes the progress to the SGL, which was launched in 2005 to address challenges to the university’s fraternity and sorority community, which is one of the nation’s oldest.

The SGL was conceived by a task force of students, alumni, faculty and administration and charged with conducting a thorough analysis of Greek life at Lehigh and outlining a plan to improve the quality of that experience consistent with the values and ideals of the university. Two years ago, the SGL initiative received the Outstanding Change Initiative Award from the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, the professional association dedicated to the national fraternity and sorority community.

Last academic year marked the final year of the accreditation process put in place as part of SGL’s recommendations. In 2010-11, all of Lehigh’s chapters will participate in a revised accreditation process that was created as part of the Next Steps for the Fraternity and Sorority Community strategic planning process.

The revised accreditation process will grade chapters in five areas: intellectual development, leadership development, community development, organizational development; and facilities management. Seven chapters participated in the revised process last year as pilot groups.

The strong accreditation results cap a productive year for Greek life at Lehigh. Parents and Colleges recently selected Lehigh as one of America’s Best Colleges for 2010 in the “Most Engaging Greek Life Schools” category. Lehigh finished third in the survey, behind Birmingham-Southern College and Vanderbilt University.

The rest of the schools in the top 10 were: Wake Forest University, DePauw (Indiana) University, Bucknell University, Union (New York) College, University of Mississippi, University of Georgia and Albion (Michigan) College.

At this year’s Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors annual meeting, Greek Life Coordinator Veronica Hunter received the 2009 Gayle Webb New Professional Award and the Greek EMerging Leaders program (GEM) received the Excellence in Educational Programming Award.

Lehigh was also selected by HazingPrevention.org to host the 2011 Novak Institute on Hazing Prevention. The event brings together professionals from all aspects of higher education to build campus coalitions to eradicate hazing. It will be held in June 2011.


Photo by Douglas Benedict

Story by Bill Doherty

Posted on Friday, July 09, 2010

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