In the 19th century, Monmouth College pioneered the women’s fraternity movement. In the 20th century, the college again led the way with its innovative Wackerle Career and Leadership Center.
Helping to oversee both of those aspects of campus life, while also developing new programs for the 21st century, is Michelle Merritt, who was recently promoted to associate dean of students at Monmouth College.
Merritt’s promotion came shortly following the announcement of a Greek life initiative at her alma mater, where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma.
“Coming to Monmouth from Fort Lauderdale, I was pretty scared,” recalled the 1989 graduate. “My sorority was a group that embraced me and took care of me, like a big sister would.”
She continued, “My Greek life involvement enriched my college experience and helped me grow my leadership skills. It gave me opportunities I wouldn’t have had and it eventually determined my career field. It’s also produced lasting relationships. Not a day goes by that I’m not communicating with one of my sorority sisters.”
Merritt is pleased that MC’s administration “sees the value of Greek life to the campus culture.”
“Building the (new Alpha Xi Delta) sorority house is exciting for us,” she said. “Our goal is for continued growth, both in numbers and in terms of housing. We’d like to bring some new chapters on board.”
Founded in 1867 at Monmouth College, Pi Beta Phi was the first women’s fraternity in the nation, and Kappa Kappa Gamma was founded at Monmouth three years later. More than a century later, Monmouth gave birth to another aspect of campus life.
“We were the first college in the nation to have a career and leadership center, and we will continue to be innovative as the professional landscape changes,” said Merritt. “Instead of being strictly a placement center, we look at our role as being more of a relationship building center. We are working hard with our alumni and development offices to create more meaningful opportunities that connect our alumni and students.”
When recapping her duties, Merritt also offered a sneak peak at some upcoming programming innovations.
“Service to others is very important in developing student leaders,” said Merritt, who was recently named board chair of the OSF Holy Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization associated with Monmouth’s Holy Family Medical Center. “We don’t want them to just do service. We want our students to embrace the concept of stewardship and to learn to lead through experiences that result in positive social change.”
To that end, Merritt’s office plans to implement several programs when the students return to campus.
“Look for some exciting new things to happen this year,” she said.