As young men and women consider joining a sorority or fraternity this fall, they should know they’ll have big shoes to fill in the classroom.

The latest data shows UofL with an overall six-year undergraduate graduation rate of 52.1 percent for the period 2006 ‒ 2012. During that time, UofL fraternities and sororities achieved a 69.8 percent six-year graduation rate, according to data collected by the Office of Institutional Research and released this summer by the Dean of Students office.

This is the highest rate since Institutional Research began tracking such data in 2002.  In every year of tracking, students involved in fraternities and sororities have surpassed the university-wide target of 60 percent.

Not only do incoming fraternity and sorority members have a high bar for academic achievement, they must also rise to the challenge of Michael Mardis, dean of students, who has asked each group to develop a chapter plan to increase its graduation rates even more. He would like chapters to look at their own graduation rates and model their practices after chapters with higher rates. He also asks them to contact members who have dropped out of college and encourage them to return to finish their degrees.

“It’s not uncommon for Greeks to come to me and say, ‘What can we do to help the University,’” Mardis said. “This is a primary way Greeks can help the University and have a lasting impact on the future of their members.”

Part of the Greek success comes from the support system inherent within chapters. When a member struggles, there are often others in the chapter who reach out to help that person get back on track. Their help serves as an early intervention system.

“The individual benefit of helping that one life can have a ripple effect on others,” Mardis said.

Mardis said he hopes to be able to track the graduation rates of other types of campus groups in the future, noting that it’s possible some groups could use the same methods as Greeks to better their retention rates.

Brandy Warren
Brandy Warren is coordinator for marketing and communications in UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing, where she manages special events and promotes UofL’s Division of Student Affairs. She previously worked at daily newspapers in Kentucky and Alabama.