University of Rochester

Greek Life

New Initiative Guides Fraternities and Sororities

Sue Bloch ’64 has represented Gamma Phi Beta as a member of the Alumni Hellenic Council for the past 15 years. Well versed in the roles of sororities and fraternities on campus, she jumped at the chance to help guide the system into the future.

After three years of work the new initiative was unveiled this spring. Dubbed “Expectations for Excellence,” the College effort challenges students in fraternities and sororities to take a more focused approach to programming, self-assessment, and review. Chapters must set objectives and outline activities to help achieve their goals, assess how well they meet their targets, and develop plans for upcoming years.

“I knew we were embarking on the cutting edge of a project that would change—and hopefully strengthen—the relationship between the University and the sororities and fraternities,” says Bloch. “Perhaps it could be a model for Greek life at other campuses.”

Developed through a process that included students, faculty, student life advisors, and alumni from the Rochester area and around the country, the new program was officially launched last March.

Bloch and Jerry Gardner ’58, ’65 (Mas), a member of Alpha Delta Phi and a senior trustee of the University, cochair a new Alumni Relations Committee.

Jody Asbury, dean of students, says the program is intended to bring students closer, make sure they are using the University resources available to them, and to better connect the fraternity and sorority system and its organizations to the College’s overall mission.

“We are already seeing the changes,” says Asbury. “They are coming into our major calendar weekends and helping us reshape those weekends in ways we never saw before.”

Under the program, fraternities and sororities must submit a plan every year that outlines their goals for the coming 12 months. The process, which is similar to the academic model for accreditation, has been followed by other major units of the College for several years, says Matt Burns, associate dean for students.

The initiative also follows the College’s overall model of self-assessment and improvement and aligns better with Rochester’s curriculum, he says.

“The program is designed to create an environment where fraternities and sororities can address their shortcomings and improve on their strengths—all in an environment of autonomy,” he says.

As of last spring, about 20 percent of students enrolled in the College were affiliated with 31 recognized Greek organizations. The system includes 18 fraternities and 13 sororities as well as a set of student-run councils that work with the dean of students office.

The new program differs in three significant ways from previous efforts:

  • It’s facilitated and supported by the College through a process of partnering among students, alumni advisors, faculty, and staff.
  • It’s developed based on the five rubrics of the College—scholarship, community building and leadership, programming, nonacademic student conduct, and organizational management.
  • It’s supported through a network of more than 20 faculty and staff volunteers who will work with chapters and alumni advisors and assist in the self-assessment and goal-setting part of the program.

Monica Miranda Smalls, director of fraternity and sorority affairs, says the program could ultimately create a College-centered fraternity and sorority system.Learn More: Fraternity and Sorority Initiatives

Jody Asbury, dean of students, and leaders of the Alumni Hellenic Council will discuss new initiatives for fraternity and sorority alumni and the “Expectations for Excellence” during a presentation at 1:45 p.m. Saturday, October 7,
as part of Meliora Weekend.

For more information, contact Janalee Biondolillo, associate
director of Alumni Relations, Fairbank Alumni House, 685 Mt. Hope Ave., Rochester, N.Y. 14620; (800) 333-0175.

For Smalls, the mission is to strengthen the system in place and tie the chapters into the everyday activities at the University. The alumni community has reacted with high hopes for the future of chapters on campus.

“Alumni are excited that fraternities and sororities are being given that attention—good attention,” Smalls says.

Daryl Reisfeld ’03, vice president of the Delta Upsilon alumni board, is pleased to see the new efforts.

“I was very glad that it was being communicated with everyone and that the University was showing its sincerity toward the Greek community and the future of the Greek community,” he says.

The changes, Smalls says, are already under way.

“We just want to make sure that we have a viable, strong, College-centered, successful fraternity and sorority community,” says Smalls.

—Enid Arbelo