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SEPA Awards Announced

For the past 12 years Gamma Sigma Alpha has honored those schools whose fraternity and sorority GPA is at or above their undergraduate counterparts. Begun in 2000, the Gamma Sigma Alpha regional GPA competition seeks to recognize those schools within the various regions whose undergraduate GPA is the greatest above their undergraduate GPA. Last week, Gamma Sigma Alpha was pleased to recognize academic achievement among the sorority communities attending the Southeastern Panhellenic Association Conference. 

The institution receiving top academic honors with the SEPC Regional GPA award for Spring 2011 is ALSO our winner for Fall 2011 and that sorority community is at the University of Miami.

The schools listed below were able to achieve honor roll during both 2011 terms.

The Honor Roll recipients for SEPA are:

Birmingham-Southern College
Brenau University
Clemson University
Dartmouth College
Jacksonville State University
Samford University
University of Alabama
University of Central Florida
University of Georgia
University of Louisiana at Monroe
University of Miami
University of South Carolina
Valdosta State University

 

A full list of honor roll schools and regional award recipients will be published mid-month after awards are presented at The West Fraternal Leadership Conference. You still have time to add your school to our Honor Roll if the Fraternity/Sorority GPA is above the all-undergraduate GPA. Complete the online form here.

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 in Academic Achievement, GSA News | No Comments »

Scholarship Spotlight: Branden Stewart

With the 2012-2013 academic year scholarship application deadline looming just over a week away, we thought we’d share another Scholarship Spotlight with you to illustrate what it takes to become a Gamma Sigma Alpha scholarship recipient. This Spotlight focuses on Branden Stewart, a graduate from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and a proud member of Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity.
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Stewart graduate from GVSU with a degree in advertising and public relations. He was an active leader serving his fraternity and Greek Life Council as President during his time on campus. He was initiated into Gamma Sigma Alpha during his junior year and says his involvement in the organization contributed to his own accountability and focus academically. He was also a member of Order of Omega and Omicron Delta Kappa honoraries.
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Stewart was hired by Phired Up Productions  an education firm that works with fraternal and other cause-based organizations, to coordinate resource development after he served as an intern for the organization. In his internship role he authored 365 Days of Dynamic Recruitment and launched a peer networking initiative. Currently, he regularly contributes to the Phired Up Blog and is highly regarded within the company. The President of Phired Up, Matt Mattson, said, “Branden is a quiet, strong, determined leader who lives a values-driven lifestyle.”
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The Gamma Sigma Alpha graduate student scholarship assisted Stewart as he pursues his Master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education at Ball State University this year. The Board of Directors of Gamma Sigma Alpha was proud to recognize this outstanding student and wish him the best in future endeavors. Will you be one of our Spotlight students next year? Apply today!
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Posted: March 22nd, 2012 in Scholarship Spotlights | No Comments »

Can an honor society transform a fraternity community?

When I began my role as the Fraternity and Sorority Advisor at California State University, Northridge in May of 1999, I was faced with a nearly impossible task. It was only a few weeks before commencement, so there were not many opportunities to fully engage with and get to know the fraternal community before everyone went home for the summer break. Therefore, I decided to take advantage of the early downtime to fully research all chapter and council files. I approached this task with much anticipation, similar to a child on Christmas morning hoping each gift I opened would make my friends envious. As I read each file, I felt as if there was nothing but coal under the tree for me that year. What did I get myself into? What did I do to deserve this mess? The overall fraternity GPA was a 2.17! (Yes, if you remember your basic stats class, this meant many chapters were well below a 2.0). The sorority averages weren’t much better and I quickly became overwhelmed with the amount of work it would take to get this community back on track.

Upon further inquiry, I learned that a handful (literally) of students were solid students academically. These students were well known leaders and I knew that I had to capitalize on their popularity and provide them with some recognition and “extra bling” they could wear to chapter meetings and Fraternity/Sorority events. One of the many strategies I immediately implemented was chartering a chapter of Gamma Sigma Alpha Greek Academic Honor Society on campus. The extra membership badge and graduation cords would certainly be a talking point and hopefully trigger some conversations around academics in the fraternal community. The first induction consisted of 5 students in my office one night in early fall 1999. These few students were invited to speak at every Fraternity/Sorority event (recruitment, orientation, Greek week, council meetings, etc.) for the entire year serving as ambassadors for being balancing fraternal membership and academic success.

Within one year, many younger fraternity and sorority members were showing signs of improvement. New member class GPA’s began to increase and eligibility for membership in the chapter did as well. In a few more years, our induction ceremony grew to a larger room in the student union with funding provided by the Vice President’s office. We included overall chapter academic improvement awards and other special academic recognitions such as certificates for all students achieving a 4.0 signed by the University President. Parents and faculty were invited and the importance of academic success was illustrated and people were taking note.

Now 10 years later, academic achievement is in our student developed strategic plan as a core principle for belonging to a greek-letter organization at CSUN. Our fraternity and sorority averages are above the all men’s and women’s campus averages. We had the largest spring induction class for the entire Gamma Sigma Alpha national organization. In fact we now average over 100 eligible students each semester. Chapters are beginning to reward their members by paying their induction fees and sponsoring special events just for those who join our GSA chapter. Next on the chapter’s agenda is to sponsor Study Jams for midterms and finals with massage therapists, coffee and midnight snacks, and other unique study incentives.

While bringing a chapter of Gamma Sigma Alpha Greek Academic Honor Society did not create an immediate change, it did light that initial spark eventually leading to an entire culture shift in our students’ priorities and confidence that they could be part of a fraternity/sorority organization and be academically successful!

This blog was written by Dr. Jamison Keller, Activities Coordinator at CSU, Northridge and member of the Gamma Sigma Alpha National Board of Directors.

 

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Posted: March 1st, 2012 in Chapter highlights | No Comments »

SEIFC Schools That Make Academics a Priority

Our Regional Awards have been announced at the Central Fraternal Leadership Conference/National Black Leadership Conference and the Northeast Greek Leadership Conference.  Men from fraternal communities in the Southeast region gathered this week for SEIFC and Gamma Sigma Alpha announced the Regional GPA Awards for this region today.

Congratulations to the fraternal community that was awarded our top academic achievement award for this region. This award is measured by the differential between the all-undergraduate mens GPA and the all-fraternity GPA. The fraternity GPA on this campus was consistently above the all-mens average and proves this community is putting academics first. The winner of the Spring 2011 semester award is also the winner for the Fall 2011 semester award and that school is the University of Miami! Go Hurricanes!

Our Honor Roll Schools in this region were recognized for having higher fraternity GPA statistics than the all-mens GPA statistics on their respective campuses. Congrats to these schools:

Birmingham-Southern College
Brenau University
Clemson University
Jacksonville State University
Samford University
University of Alabama
University of Central Florida
University of Louisiana at Monroe
University of Miami
University of South Carolina
Valdosta State University

Do you think your fraternity community should be added to our Honor Roll? We’ll continue to take GPA submission through the end of the semester, send us your information here.


Posted: February 24th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

GSA Presents Awards at NGLA

Begun in 2000, the Gamma Sigma Alpha regional GPA competition seeks to recognize those schools within the Central region whose fraternity and sorority GPA is the greatest above their undergraduate GPA. Schools who have already submitted their GPA information are featured on our Honor Roll and provided a certificate. If the Fraternity/Sorority GPA on your campus is higher than your all-undergraduate GPA, you can submit your grades through the end of the semester to be included in the HONOR ROLL. Submit grade information here.

Awards were announced today at the Northeast Greek Leadership Association in Hartford, CT. The institution receiving the highest academic award for the Spring 2011 academic period is Saint Francis University. Our winner for the Fall 2011 academic period is Washington & Jefferson College. Congratulations!

The 2011 Honor Roll Recipients for the Northeastern region are:

Muhlenberg College
Saint Francis University
Susquehanna University
Washington & Jefferson College

*The schools listed achieved honor roll status for Spring and Fall semester. Stay tuned–awards for SEIFC will be announced next!  To stay updated, follow Gamma Sigma Alpha on Facebook & Twitter.

Posted: February 24th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Scholarship Plan Planning? Here are some great examples for possible inclusion!

We highlighted the Fraternity/Sorority Community Academic Report Card on our website and blogged about the process of creating a scholarship plan. Below are some “Best Practice” examples we’ve compiled that have been shared with us from Gamma Sigma Alpha chapters across the country and through our Regional Academic Award Submissions. We have categorized them in the same way we did for the report card so they can be easily added to your scholarship plan that outlines activities in that way.

Standards and Policies: 

  • At Case Western Reserve University the Gamma Sigma Alpha chapter assists the Greek Life office and handles peer appeals when Greek officers, both within the chapters and the officers of the governing councils are academically ineligible to hold office.
  • Working in conjunction with the Academic Centers for Excellence office, each Greek-letter organization is paired with a graduate academic coach to help with academic presentations and/or individual member issues at the University of South Carolina.

Scholarship Program:

  • Many fraternity/sorority chapters across the country, including those at Muhlenberg College and Clemson University, are required by the Greek Life office to have an annual scholarship plan that includes measures to address low achievers and new members as well as a reward system for high achievers
  • We encourage you to find a way to recognize all 4.0 students. Communities around the country do this during a Greek Awards Ceremony, Scholarship Tea with the President, Free coffee voucher, newspaper ad, etc.
  • Oklahoma State University hosts a scholarship chair chapter office training to share successes & challenges.

Resources: 

  • Butler University hosts a Midnight Breakfast each finals week—free breakfast in dining halls served by faculty & staff, learning resource center is on-site distributing study tips, give-aways and tutoring opportunities.
  • Missouri State University’s fraternity/sorority life office implemented a tutoring program for students struggling academically.
  • We encourage all chapters that have physical chapter space to expand quiet space availability on campus and encourage enforcement in chapter houses during mid-terms and finals week. Indiana University’s large chapter houses do this each semester.

Faculty Advisors/Faculty Relations: 

  • University of Central Florida hosts roundtables for advisors with a topic of scholarship each semester.
  • The Gamma Sigma Alpha chapter at the University of Iowa created a faculty/staff appreciation award for individuals who help contribute to the academic success of their members, chapters & community.
  • The Gamma Sigma Alpha chapter hosts quarterly faculty dinners with students at Northwestern University.
  • Elmhurst College hosts a Faculty Appreciation Day throughout the Fraternity/Sorority community, encouraging students to send thank you notes, post signs in faculty lounges, tweet or utilize social media to spread appreciation.

Community Culture:

  • Many communities, including the University of Louisiana at Monroe, publish grade ‘rankings’ of Greek-letter organizations as a way of recognition, we encourage you to incorporate these statistics into recruitment materials.
  • Do not only recognize highest GPA—also recognized most improved and encourage chapters to recognize individuals for most improved in their chapters
  • Brenau University hosts a Study-a-thon each semester. The University of San Diego does this with free chair massages to increase student attendance. We encourage all communities to host a social freeze during ‘dead’ week which NO SOCIAL EVENTS may be scheduled.
  • Integrate an academic focused event into Greek Week (tutoring circles, study hours with snacks, Greek Assembly with speaker on tips to be a better student
  • Conduct a “Letters in the Library” campaign—encouraging members to wear their lettered attire to study in the library and record their study hours in a binder at the library desk. At the end of the semester, award the chapter that had the most study hours to member ratio. Drake University did this and the program was so successful they now also host ‘Letters in the Gym” to encourage healthy lifestyles!

Do you have a ‘best practice’ to add to our list? Tweet, post on Facebook or comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted: February 16th, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Central Awards Announced at CFLNBGLC

For the past 11 years Gamma Sigma Alpha has honored those schools whose fraternity and sorority GPA is at or above their undergraduate counterparts.  This elite group of schools represents the top 5% of schools throughout the country.

Begun in 2000, the Gamma Sigma Alpha regional GPA competition seeks to recognize those schools within the Central region whose fraternity and sorority GPA is the greatest above their undergraduate GPA. Schools who have already submitted their GPA information are featured on our Honor Roll and provided a certificate. If the Fraternity/Sorority GPA on your campus is higher than your all-undergraduate GPA, you can submit your grades through the end of the semester to be included in the HONOR ROLL. Submit grade information here.

Awards were announced today at the Central Fraternal Leadership Conference/National Black Leadership Conference in St. Louis, MO. The institution receiving the award for the Spring 2011 academic period is ALSO our winner for the Fall 2011 academic period. The winner is Oklahoma State University.

The 2011 Honor Roll Recipients for the Central region are:

Albion College (Spring & Fall)

Ball State University (Spring & Fall)

Binghamton University (Fall)

Case Western Reserve University (Spring & Fall)

Eastern Illinois University (Spring & Fall)

Elmhurst College (Spring & Fall)

Longwood University (Fall)

Missouri State University (Fall)

Northwestern University (Spring & Fall)

Oklahoma State University (Spring & Fall)

Pennsylvania State University (Spring & Fall)

Rutgers University, New Brunswick (Spring & Fall)

University of Illinois (Spring & Fall)

University of Iowa (Spring)

University of Michigan (Spring & Fall)

University of Washington (Spring & Fall)

Wittenberg University (Spring & Fall)

Stay tuned–NGLA Conference is next week and we’ll be announcing our regional winners there and online! To stay updated, follow Gamma Sigma Alpha on Facebook & Twitter.

Posted: February 10th, 2012 in Academic Achievement, GSA News | 1 Comment »

Who needs a scholarship plan?

This time of year, students are beginning new terms as council leaders. Your governing council may have a dedicated position for scholarship, as we recommend, or the responsibility of scholarship oversight falls into another job description. Either way, reviewing/revising or creating a scholarship program is a good place to start.

In order to assess strengths & weaknesses, in terms of academic achievement on your campus, complete the Fraternity/Sorority Community Academic Report Card. This report card is easy to complete and can be done during a one-on-one meeting with an advisor or during an executive council meeting. It can also be translated and used by each chapter on your campus if desired. The report card divides scholarship into five categories: Standards & Policies, Scholarship Program, Resources, Faculty Advisor/Relations and Community Culture. After completing the report card, review each category and determine successes & challenges and determine a single change in each category that could be implemented into the community.

Try to ensure that the change can be translated into a SMART goal. This is easily defined as a goal that is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Timely
Simply stating, “We want to reach out to more faculty mentors” isn’t a SMART goal. However, rephrasing it to say “The IFC Council will recruit a faculty member to serve as a scholastic mentor for each of our chapters on campus by the end of Spring semester,” meets all of the characteristics above.
When you determine a change goal as well as some successes for each category of the report card, a revised/updated or new scholarship plan can be drafted. Ensure that you are inclusive of all parties involved in implementing the plan during the creation process. This may include faculty, staff, seniors, new members, council officers, etc. If you are not inclusive, implementation becomes nearly impossible. Utilize the honor societies on campus to have this dialogue and if you don’t have an honor society on campus, adding that as a change goal is an important step. These organizations demonstrate that students can achieve balance among academics and other extracurriculars.
 
Remember that any change on campus is a marathon, not a sprint. Know you can make a difference, but it takes time and commitment. Gamma Sigma Alpha is happy to help review scholarship plans from any campus and assist in any way we can. Visit www.gammasigmaalpha.org for additional resources. Stay tuned for some ‘best practices’ in each category of the report card to be highlighted on this blog next week! Follow GSA on twitter or Facebook to stay updated!
Posted: February 1st, 2012 in Academic Achievement | 1 Comment »

Scholarship Spotlight: Eva Ryan

Eva Ryan, A 2011-2012 Gamma Sigma Alpha Scholarship Recipient

Eva Ryan is a recipient of a Gamma Sigma Alpha Graduate Student Scholarship for the 2011-2012 academic year. She is currently a full-time graduate student at the Manhattan School of Music taking classes towards a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Flute. Ryan was an undergraduate student at Northwestern University where she served as president of the Beta Tau chapter of Gamma Sigma Alpha. She is a proud member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and was recognized at Northwestern as a Greek Emerging Leader.

 

An accomplished musician, Ryan decided to forgo the opportunity to attend a conservatory or traditional music school in order to attend Northwestern. One of the reasons she made this choice was to be involved in fraternity/sorority life and other campus activities. She volunteered her time at local schools and retirement homes throughout her undergraduate career.

 

During her time as President of Gamma Sigma Alpha, Ryan coordinated the first-ever Leadership Reception with the University President. She also continued the tradition of hosting intimate faculty dinners with Gamma Sigma Alpha members each quarter. In addition to playing a pivotal role for Gamma Sigma Alpha, Ryan co-taught the Greek Emerging leaders class. Her co-teacher in this role, wrote her recommendation letter and stated, “Eva believes in the values of Kappa Kappa Gamma and the true purpose of sisterhood…She did not shy away from challenging topics and on many occasions would speak about how she has combated hazing, alcohol abuse and stereotypes within fraternities and sororities.”

 

The Board of Directors of Gamma Sigma Alpha recognized Ryan as an extraordinary student, leader, scholar and role model. We wish her continued success. For information on the graduate student scholarship application process, please visit our website and plan to apply by April 1, 2012.

Posted: January 9th, 2012 in Scholarship Spotlights, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Making Resolutions for Better Grades?

Council leaders & advisors, these tips can be distributed periodically via social media sites over the course of the semester or presented during an “academic focus” portion of a council or chapter meeting. It may be a great way to get Gamma Sigma Alpha initiates involved in helping the academic culture of the campus.

Students occasionally make the mistake and ‘learn’ to study when exam time comes around, but the best time to make changes to your schedule and preparation activities comes at the early part of the semester to allow you to get ahead of the game.

Here’s how you do it…

Consistent Preparation–Needs to happen throughout the semester and is the MOST important:

  1. Go to class (we know you knew that)
  2. Take notes in class. Know the kind of notes you should take…do you learn best sharing notes with a friend to review the ‘take-away’ lessons? Do you like flash cards? Hand-written or electronic? Make these choices and stick with them.
  3. Take notes as you read. Highlight the book, or use your classroom note-taking strategy as you review the text.
  4. Participate in class. Close facebook and listen!

Preparing to get the grade:

  1. Reverse planning: Take a look at the course schedule and work backwards. Make your own plan to spread out the assignments and readings so that you don’t get overwhelmed or behind.
  2. Make lists: This is a great way to consolidate your responsibilities in each class and know which topics you should focus on each week leading up until mid-terms, then final exams. Include a ‘goal sheet’ that you can reference over the course of the semester to see if you are on target.
  3. Know your professors: Discuss class issues throughout the semester. Do not wait until after grades are released. If you are struggling, ask for resources. An introduction early in the semester can go a long way.
  4. Every day is important. It’s easy to fall into that habit of ‘blowing off’ the first couple weeks of the semester, but when you do, you’ll spend the remaining time just trying to stay afloat. Do the opposite and work just a bit everyday.

Maximize your study time:

  1. Use active studying techniques: flash cards, online tutorials, roundtable studying with friends.
  2. Know your memorization strategies: You may find success reading out loud, using acronyms, trying to visualize what you are learning or using association to tie the new subject with something you already know in your mind. All these techniques can be found in online resources with a quick internet search and may make the difference for you.
  3. Focus on the goal sheet: keep it updated and use it to know if you are keeping pace with what you want to accomplish this semester. Think about doing a buddy syster so that you have a friend keeping you accountable and you do the same for them.
  4. Keep alert: There’s a reason teachers forced you to do calisthenics in middle school. Take a brisk walk or break to stay alert and on task when studying.

Follow these tips for a successful semester & don’t forget to join Gamma Sigma Alpha!

Our thanks goes to The Student Academic Resource Center at the University of Central Florida for sharing some of these tips with us.

 

 

Posted: January 3rd, 2012 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »