The University of Louisville Alumni Magazine: for alumni, faculty, staff, students and anyone that is a UofL Cardinal fan.
Issue link: http://louisville.epubxp.com/i/255274
4 2 | L O U I S V I L L E . E D U MODEST BEGINNINGS It's a vastly different landscape from 1980, when Joni Burke, 81GE, volunteered to be Greek adviser under then-Dean of Students Harold Adams. There were 19 Greek chap- ters on campus and 572 members. Back then, not many people lived on campus, and the massive historic homes on Unity Place were mainly for meetings, not liv- ing. In fact, women couldn't even live in a house without a housemother. "It was a hard sell then. We've def nitely benef ted from the presence of students living on and around campus," said Burke, the university's f rst and only fraternity and sorority life adviser until she retired in October. Brooke Isbell, who served as the coordinator for fraternity and sorority life at Virginia Commonwealth University, now takes on that role. Consider the success stories: • According to the UofL Off ce of Institu- tional Research, from 2006–12, the UofL Greeks posted a record retention rate and had a nearly 70 percent graduation rate. • Record participation in Pan-Hellenic Council recruitment, with more than 300 women joining. (Fall 2013) • Record Interfraternity Council recruitment, with more than 400 men joining. (Fall 2013) • Seven Fulbright scholars in the past four years. (Fall 2013) • The Divine Nine — all nine of the historically black national fraternities and sororities — are represented on UofL's campus. "The trajectory of the university is continuing upward, and so is the campus life experience," said Dean of Students Michael Mardis, 94E, 96GE, 07GE, a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity during his undergraduate years at UofL. "Every time UofL raises admissions standards and the quality of students they attract, the new students come in with certain expectations. One of those is a vibrant sorority and fraternity community." GROWTH PLANS Burke said the Greek system was on a steady incline when Tom Jackson became vice president for student affairs. He pushed to grow the program further to become a model for student engagement. In the last 10 years, Greek membership numbers have doubled and the university plans to promote membership opportuni- ties by increasing the number of fraternities and sororities on campus. The growth of Greek life has been part of an ongoing strategic effort that has included the development of additional Greek housing, a focus on retention and campus-wide research and collabora- tive efforts to focus on areas of needed improvement. Part of that effort included the creation of a task force, chaired by Pan-African Studies Professor Ricky Jones, that developed the framework for having a robust National Pan-Hellenic Council. Within a few years, UofL earned distinc- tion as the only school in Kentucky with all members of the Divine Nine on campus. Advisers and university administration were and remain committed to cultivating leaders who shared the same dedication to bettering their community. Throughout the year, chapters organize events to raise money for their charities of choice, including walks, a watermelon bust, dinners and step shows. The annual Fryberger Greek Sing at The Louisville Palace raised $15,000 in 2013 to benef t UofL's community music program and scholarships. As a group, Greeks completed 35,000 service hours last year. REACHING OUT Joel Ben Thomas, a junior and member of Sigma Chi from Cadiz, Ky., was looking for a place to f t in and make friends when he went through Interfraternity Council rush. But he also wanted to get involved in other activities."There was a moment when "It's amazing the growth of the Greek system…it is a tribute to (university leadership) and their commitment to Greek life and student life." –Jeanine Triplett "Bid Day" is always a popular event on campus. Membership in Greek organizations has more than doubled in the last decade, boasting more than 1,900 active members of UofL fraternities and sororities. U L _ 4 2 4 2 UL_42 42 1 / 2 9 / 1 4 2 : 5 7 P M 1/29/14 2:57 PM