Honors Theses

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Leadership and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Amy Wells-Dolan

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

The definition of a sorority has evolved significantly from its origins in the mid-1800s. From their beginnings as secret literary societies to their current standing as corporate networks of sisterhood, sororities have grown from groups of a handful of women to chapters of over three hundred members. The National Panhellenic Conference's outline of the formal extension process has helped structure this growth, enabling the process to meet the needs of growing collegiate Panhellenic communities and allow NPC member sororities to continue to expand the reaches of their sisterhood. The process can be highly competitive, characterized by applications, interviews, and presentations, and perhaps the most competitive stage on which this process can unfold is the Southeastern Conference, a group of colleges and universities where Greek life thrives and recruitment numbers grow each year. The primary method of research throughout this process was personal interviews with professionals who possessed experience with the extension process in some way, particularly at the three SEC colleges focused on as case studies. In addition, scholarly works on Greek Life, student newspaper publications, extension documents of the National Panhellenic Conference and its member sororities were examined. The research was also able to draw on personal experience of witnessing extension efforts unfold on the campus of the University of Mississippi. The research findings revealed that the extension process is a joint effort whose success is dependent upon the work and dedication of the collegiate Panhellenic community, Greek Life officials and the colonizing NPC group. In addition, the extension process unfolds in a similar fashion on SEC college campuses with only minor changes based on each Greek community's unique needs. Ultimately, the research results proved that while no perfect formula for success can be written for an extension effort, common threads do exist. A supported and recognized need for additional chapters, a strong housing component, effective analysis and manipulation of recruitment numbers and thorough education of the Greek community on the extension and colonization process were found among the three SEC campuses examined and were all credited with playing a crucial role in the success of their extension efforts.

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