SigEps at Christopher Newport meet weekly for structured study sessions, and they attend chapterwide workshops on topics like values-based leadership and civic engagement.
Each semester, volunteers and chapter leaders look to expand upon programs offered through their Residential Learning Community, and they recently created an academic support program to help any members struggling to maintain the chapter’s GPA standard. With this new program, brothers bolster performance with personalized action plans, peer mentoring, and staff support through the school’s Center for Academic Success.
Proof of the impact on members can be seen in a cumulative chapter GPA of 3.35, one of the highest GPAs amongst all campus groups, not just Greek organizations. Chapter leaders also returned from SigEp’s 2016 Carlson Leadership Academy with an Excelsior Award for academics and the Donald C. McCleary Award for Excellence in Member Development.
“I have witnessed tremendous growth in these men and am confident this chapter is making a difference in the personal development of brothers,” said Brian Larson, Christopher Newport Renaissance, director of the Christopher Newport President’s Leadership Program and faculty advisor for the chapter.
Engaging the entire campus
Eager to expand their impact on campus, the Christopher Newport brothers decided to look beyond their own membership.
“We have to show the values and virtues that we hold so dearly can serve as an active force for good,” said Andrew Matney, Christopher Newport ’16.
The chapter created partnerships with the school’s leadership and honors programs and has sponsored campuswide programs like the Global Competency Panel, which has brought foreign ambassadors and global business leaders to speak with students. Through these programs, SigEp’s impact on campus is growing.
An unexpected benefit seen since expanding the reach of chapter programs is that members have been exposed to new pockets of academic and student life. RLC Programming
Chairman Gerald McGuffin, ’18, cited the opportunity to meet and reach out to new people on campus as a chief benefit of the learning community. Faculty Fellow Outreach Chair Aaron Savage, ’16, agreed and added, “Being part of the RLC has allowed us to build stronger relationships with Christopher Newport faculty and staff.”
This growing partnership with the university includes the 2015 addition of a new faculty fellow: Molly Waters, an instructor in leadership studies and one of the chapter’s chief
“The chapter at Christopher Newport defies the fraternity stereotype,” said Waters. “As a professor, I notice their academic integrity in the classroom as they perform at the top
of their class and are always supportive of their peers.” Waters added that she’d be happy to see her own son join SigEp.
Other university officials have also taken notice of the chapter’s efforts to build a better experience for students on campus.
“SigEp models the way for behavior and purpose befitting gentlemen who attend our university,” said Robert Colvin, Christopher Newport Renaissance, dean of the university’s College of Social Sciences. This is just one of the reasons the chapter was the only fraternity chosen to occupy the first section of a new Greek community.
A new home for a growing RLC
The Christopher Newport Chapter currently reserves space on campus to host meetings and chapter events. That will change this fall when the brothers move into a new, three-story, 10,000-square-foot facility.
Noting the impact of SigEp’s RLC and the chapter’s growing ambitions, the university selected SigEp as one of four organizations and the only fraternity to occupy new Greek housing in an on-campus home developed and funded by the university. The facility will come fully furnished and house 24 brothers.
Design of the on-campus home took into account the needs of a learning community and will provide permanent space for SigEp’s faculty fellows and chapter advisors to hold office hours and interact with members on a more personal level. True to the chapter’s ambitions, Jonathan Toms, ’16, said the RLC will be a resource for “not just our chapter, but the entire community.”