What is Accreditation?
The Accreditation process is designed to review and assess all facets of chapter operations and is a key process in the development and maintenance of chapter standards. Accreditation evaluates the contributions that each chapter makes to the campus and local communities.
During the 2002-03 academic year, the decision was made to undertake a comprehensive plan to recommit and strengthen the fraternity and sorority community at Lehigh University. This plan, known as the Strengthening Greek Life Initiative, was the result of a task force commissioned by University President Gregory Farrington. The original Accreditation process commenced during the 2004-2005 academic year. In 2010, the “Next Steps for the Fraternity & Sorority Community” report was released. One sub-committee was tasked with developing what is now known as the Lehigh University Accreditation process for fraternities and sororities.
In 2014, a re-visioning committee of staff, students, and alumni was charged with evaluating the Accreditation process and identifying areas of change including metrics, requirements, ratings and timing. At the conclusion of the re-visioning process, the committee identified common themes derived from focus group data, student assessment results, and committee discussion which led to the changes outlined below. Many thanks to the individuals who served on the re-visioning committee as well as the numerous students who provided valuable input.
In the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years, the Accreditation process was modified due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on chapter operations. For the past two academic years, chapters submitted Year End Evaluation Reports based on evaluation topic areas relevant to the challenges and opportunities the pandemic presented to the fraternity and sorority community. In Fall 2020, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs called for an Accreditation Evaluation Committee, tasked with evaluating the existing Accreditation Rubric through an auditing process, assessing the audit results through a Rubric Assessment, gathering feedback and input from stakeholders and key partners and proposing final Rubric revisions. During this audit, many gaps were identified, including absolutely no reference to standards or measures on the chapter’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, resulting in the addition of specific indicators within every metric area of Accreditation. The goal for this was to set a standard for our organizations to begin the dismantling of the Anti-Racist doctrine and implement standards of excellence for our organizations in the space of creating equitable experiences. In addition, overall inconsistencies with how the rubric progressed and regressed were identified and resolved. Finally, the committee identified the complexity between qualitative and quantitative measures and while quantitative measures are more tangible to measure, they are not always able to be equitably applied when evaluating fraternity and sorority chapters. Qualitative evaluation allows for the panel to review the entirety of the organization through the metric areas, versus applying absolute and unconditional standards. A revised Rubric was presented for the 2021-2022 academic year, including a supplemental Accreditation Syllabus.