Epsilon Mu's Scholarship Program Breeds Success
POSTED: 2008-05-29 :: LAST UPDATED: 2008-06-03, 16:00 ET

Six years ago, a group of dedicated alumni took their vision for a "different kind of fraternity" and re-colonized the Epsilon Mu Chapter at Butler University. Around that time, results from a university survey of upperclassmen and campus leaders indicated that fear of hazing and falling grades were two of the reasons that had kept men from joining fraternities in the past. Given that information, alumni advisor Dick Thompson (Butler) says, "We wanted to make the fraternity different from what was already on campus." So, they emphasized Sigma Nu's founding principle of eliminating hazing and implemented high grade point average standards for new members -- no man could join without a 3.0.

Despite hearing from the Assistant Dean of Students that they'd never get enough men to join, they went ahead and did it anyway. Tom Lofton, also a Butler alumnus, made a significant gift to the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation that would open a Chapter Scholarship Account for Epsilon Mu. They established a scholarship program and standards that they felt would attract the kind of men who were looking for a different type of fraternity experience.

Scholarship recipients are selected based on the previous semester's grades and awards vary based on GPA. Every member earning at least a 3.0 will receive some assistance for the next semester, starting at $100 for those earning up to a 3.09. The next tier is $200 for those earning up to a 3.19 and $300 for those earning up to a 3.29. Brothers who earn a perfect 4.0 receive a $1500 scholarship for the next semester.

The scholarship program has paid off in spades. Every semester since the chapter returned to campus, they have ranked either 1st or 2nd among all fraternities in grades. Last spring, nine brothers earned a 4.0, while the chapter boasted a GPA of 3.38, the highest they've ever attained. "We are very proud of that," says Thompson. "We've also found that pursuing a more academically minded student has helped keep the facility in good order. We opened the house with brand new furniture and to this day we haven't had to replace a thing," he explains. "I'm convinced that good grades and good behavior go hand in hand," he shares. In 2007, the chapter was named LEAD Chapter of the Year, and they've been was selected as a Top 10 Pursuit of Excellence chapter every year since 2004.

And contrary to what the administration predicted, the chapter has grown from 25 to 70+ men in the last six years, enough that they had to build an addition to the house last year. Thompson believes the growth is at least in part because of the scholarship program. "Some of them really depend on the scholarship. They need every source of funding they can get because Butler costs about $25,000 a year," says Thompson. Eligibility requirements also ensure that brothers are well-rounded. They are required to participate in one non-athletic activity on campus, be part of a student club, and live in the chapter house.

Sigma Nu distributes about fifty scholarships per year to eligible Epsilon Mu brothers. One of those was Bryan Frauhiger (Butler) who joined the chapter as a junior in spring 2006. He received a scholarship every semester until his graduation to a total of $4,000. Bryan was a chemistry major, and he says the scholarship program not only helped offset the ever-increasing cost of attending a private university but also provided motivation to achieve high grades. Bryan graduated Cum Laude from Butler with Highest Honors in chemistry, and he is now pursuing a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In 2007, he was named Sigma Nu's International Scholar of the Year, an award given to the individual who most upholds the academic values and endeavors of the international fraternity.

But he wasn't just academically successful. "Being a brother in Sigma Nu helped my personal development in a variety of ways. Most important was the ability to lead and contribute to a team effort. I have greatly improved in recognizing others' strengths and weaknesses in order to best utilize everyone's efforts to accomplish any given task," says Bryan.

He's thankful to alumni like Thompson, Lofton, and long-time House Corporation President Fred Gronau (Butler) who have faithfully served the chapter and who helped establish Epsilon Mu's scholarship program. Bryan recognizes that chapters are able to grow and achieve unprecedented levels of success because of alumni who are willing to give back of their time and financial assistance. "Sigma Nu truly is a second family to me. I know I can always count on my brothers to be there for me in both the good and bad times - even now when I'm 500 miles away from them," he shares.

For more information about opening a Chapter Scholarship Account for your chapter, please contact Brad Hastings at brad.hastings@sigmanu.org or 540.463.1869.

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