The University of Rochester's new Fraternity and Sorority Systemóa College-centered program that works to strengthen and engage these groupsówas awarded the Grand Bronze Excellence Award in the Student Union, Student Activities, Greek Life, Leadership category by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the largest national professional organization for student affairs professionals.
The award, which means that the program is designated as the third best in the nation in this category, will be presented to the University in April. Entries within each category were reviewed by a cross-section of experienced NASPA members. Judges reviewed submissions rating areas, such as the positive impact on student learning, the relevance to institutional mission, and originality and creativity.
In the fall of 2003, the University began a three-year process involving trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and students to review the fraternity and sorority system and implement a structure with standards and assessment. The goal was to develop a sustainable plan that would support freedom, responsibility, and community, while promoting active learning, connecting groups and their members to the College and its resources, and cultivating the multiple identities of students.
Monica Miranda Smalls, director of fraternity and sorority affairs, and Matt Burns, associate dean of students, said the new system blends seamlessly into the mission of the College of Arts, Science, and Engineering. It gives fraternity and sorority members the chance to pursue their passions but be held accountable for those efforts.
"In the past, people could not see the good things fraternities and sororities were doing, because they were always focused on the negatives. Now, students have a systematic way to share all of their efforts and successes on campus, and in the community," Smalls said.
For example, one component of the restructured plan is the Expectations for Excellence Program, the hallmark of the new system. It emphasizes goal-setting, planning, and self-assessment in an accreditation model of accountability that gives students the opportunity to set their own goals and surpass their expectations.
"Connecting their programming with self-assessment created phenomenal synergy," Burns said. "They now have a way to measure their success and that gives them a sense of accomplishment."
Other programs include a new member orientation, enhanced skill and leadership training, and increased programming, event, and philanthropy support to strengthen community engagement.
College Dean of Students Jody Asbury said the University's new fraternity and sorority system will offer students another chance to define their goals.
"At the University we always encourage students to follow their passions," she said. "So if part of that passion is being in a fraternity or sorority, we want to give them the resources, training, structure, and support they need to be a responsible and effective member of that community."