Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will welcome a new sorority to campus as of early next year. The university's Panhellenic Council, which is the governing body for WPI's sororities, has invited Alpha Phi Women's Fraternity to join the WPI Greek community in winter 2011. The addition of a new sorority comes as the number of women enrolling in WPI as first-year students climbed to a record level this year, and total enrollment is at an all-time high.
After a competitive review of three national sororities, WPI Greek Life's Extension Committee (comprised of representatives of the university's three National Panhellenic Conference sororities as well as staff and alumni) was charged with narrowing a competitive pool to one that will form a chapter at WPI. Alpha Phi's selection was based on what committee members felt would be in the best interest of both WPI and the interested organizations, using a range of criteria that included colony establishment plans, support for the colony, support for the established chapter, compatibility with WPI's mission, success at technical institutions, and overall fit with the institution.
With the growing enrollment of women at WPI on top of increased interest in the university's sorority experience, the Panhellenic Council felt it was time to provide additional opportunities for women to find sisterhood on campus, according to WPI Student Activities Director Emily Perlow. "The addition of Alpha Phi is a direct correlation to the increased enrollment of women at WPI," she noted.
Specifically, growth of WPI's female population hit an all-time high this year, as 34 percent of the incoming class was comprised of women—a dramatic 83 percent increase over the past five years. In 2005, the university welcomed 170 women; this year, however, 311 women have enrolled. "This enrollment increase has had an impact on WPI's sorority community," Perlow explained. "In the last five years, the university has gone from having two sororities and 65 women signing up for formal recruitment to three sororities and 175 women signing up for recruitment. Our chapter sizes have also increased from an average of 75 members to more than 95 members. In total, the Panhellenic community has grown from 175 women in 2005, to 325 women in 2010—in other words, from 27.5 percent of the female student population to 33.3 percent."
WPI senior and Panhellenic Council President Lillian Clark said: "The addition of Alpha Phi will give more women the opportunity to benefit from Greek life during their undergraduate career. The Panhellenic community is eager and excited to welcome Alpha Phi to WPI."
Alpha Phi, which was founded at Syracuse University in 1872 and has more than 200,000 members nationwide, will join a 120-year tradition of brotherhood and sisterhood at WPI. WPI is already home to three sororities, 13 fraternities, and one interest group on campus, making up more than 30 percent of the student population. Each year, the university's Greek organizations bring home several awards and honors that laud chapters for excellence in academic performance, community service, and leadership, among other areas.
"WPI's fraternities and sororities represent some of the strongest chapters of their 16 international organizations," said Perlow. "We challenge chapters to exceed their organizational best each year, and it is this push for continual improvement, reinforced by dedicated alumni volunteers who work with the chapters, that makes the WPI Greek community one of the most solid in the country."