Fraternities and sororities have a new home at FIU: the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Enrichment.
FIU’s is the first center in Florida dedicated to enhancing fraternity and sorority members’ collegiate experience on a holistic level while building affinity that persists long beyond graduation. Its staff strive to provide co-curricular activities that prepare students in the areas of leadership development, social responsibility, service and philanthropy, community impact, and career readiness.
“Greek life prepares us for life skills of family, leadership, career, and service to others – it prepares us to make a positive impact on society with the best that is within us,” said FIU President Kenneth Jessell at the center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. “Greeks are setting the standard in many professional arenas – in higher ed, social service entities, athletics, business, government, and more. And on university campuses, vibrant, successful, and accountable Greek life programs contribute to the performance of our students and the success of our universities.”
The center embraces the belief that fraternity and sorority engagement should enrich not only the chapters and their members, but the campus and greater community, as well. Its launch responds to a demand across FIU’s campuses to offer the swiftly growing fraternity and sorority population expanded opportunities and programming.
FIU’s membership has grown 30 percent since Fall 2021, reaching more than 1,300 students last semester. The number of active organizations represented on campus is also growing. Currently at 34 chapters spread among four national governing bodies – Panhellenic Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council, and Interfraternity Council – center director Stephen Dominy expects there to be more than 50 chapters at FIU by 2028, and he aims for the Greek-letter community to eventually represent 10 percent of FIU’s 56,000-strong student body.
Dominy joined FIU in 2021 to lead efforts to reorganize and strengthen FIU’s fraternity and sorority life. Since then, the university has brought on additional full-time staff to assist with event planning, chapter oversight, and creating structures that provide focused support to chapters and councils as well as leadership coaching.
Programming continues to expand and evolve, as well. Workshops and other opportunities cover topics such as service learning, professional development, networking, unity, mental health awareness, sexual assault awareness and hazing prevention training, alcohol and drug awareness, and much more.
“Offices of fraternity and sorority life at our peer institutions across the nation are evolving to better support the experiences of their chapters and members. FIU’s center provides innovation, opportunities, exploration, and more for our alumni, students, and staff,” Dominy explained.
Fostering lasting affinity with alma mater
The center’s creation was guided in part by the consultation of alumni who have remained active members of the FIU community for years.
Among them is Sigma Phi Epsilon alumnus Thomas Jelke, PhD, ’90, who has long served on the FIU Alumni Board of Directors. Having remained actively involved in FIU’s SigEp chapter (eventually joining the organization’s national board and serving two years as president), Jelke has watched FIU’s Greek-letter community blossom since its early days.
“I can say without a doubt that [joining SigEp] is the main reason I am still closely affiliated to FIU. I attribute my development as a student outside the classroom, my persistence to graduation, the connection to my dearest lifelong friends, and my development as a young leader to my time with my fraternity,” said Jelke, who is now founder and CEO of the higher education consulting firm t.jelke solutions.
The center aims to prepare Panthers for life after college which includes affinity to the institution. The relationships and connections formed will sustain the efforts to enhance mentorship, career preparatory skills, and more. These efforts can be enhanced by creating an exceptional and memorable campus experience that graduates remember fondly for years to come.
Alumna Bianka Gomez '05, '23 had such an experience, and it’s why she has been a volunteer adviser for FIU’s chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII) for the past 12 years.
“Joining a women's fraternity has given me a local and national network I continue to connect with after 22 years,” Gomez said. “AOII elevated my confidence and leadership skills throughout my time at FIU. Volunteering as an advisor… has helped me fulfill my personal goal of helping others with their leadership development and has led to my career success in construction management.”
With the partnership of FIU’s successful, dedicated alumni and the commitment of university staff, Dominy believes FIU can develop a national benchmark for effective resources and staffing for fraternity and sorority communities.
“I believe that this center will put FIU on the map for creating change and support for fraternity and sorority experiences,” Dominy said. “We strive to be a trailblazer in higher education.”