Barry McNamara  |  Published January 18, 2024

Great Greek Grades

Monmouth’s fraternity, sorority students had stellar fall semester.

LEADERS OF THE PACK: Chapter presidents Will Plumley (center) of Sigma Phi Epsilon and Julia Bean of Pi Beta Phi are pictur... LEADERS OF THE PACK: Chapter presidents Will Plumley (center) of Sigma Phi Epsilon and Julia Bean of Pi Beta Phi are pictured with Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Student Engagement Cullen Marshall.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Looking to improve your grade-point average in college?

The answer might be as simple as joining a fraternity or sorority, especially at Monmouth College.

While detailing the outstanding achievements that Greek life students made during last fall’s semester, Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Student Engagement Cullen Marshall explained that the stereotype associated with the 1978 film Animal House doesn’t apply at Monmouth.

“I have to mention how proud I am of our young men, as the all-fraternity average GPA was a 3.09, compared to the unaffiliated/independent male average GPA of 2.86,” said Marshall. “The word ‘fraternity’ often evokes images of partying and irresponsibility, so when our men are able to combat that stereotype and excel in and out of the classroom, I try my best to celebrate that.”


SigEp, Pi Phi lead the way

A 2022 Monmouth graduate, Marshall was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, which led the way last fall among the College’s fraternities with a 3.31 GPA. Pi Beta Phi led the sororities on campus with a 3.65 GPA, helping the All-Greek GPA reach 3.23 – nearly two-tenths of a point higher than the non-Greek student average.

“The word ‘fraternity’ often evokes images of partying and irresponsibility, so when our men are able to combat that stereotype and excel in and out of the classroom, I try my best to celebrate that.” – Cullen Marshall


“I’m extremely proud of all the chapters, as they each perform at their absolute best academically while still finding time for service, programming and leadership development,” said Marshall. “If you’ve ever met any of our student leaders at Monmouth, you know that they take on a lot of responsibilities. In particular, I have a great deal of respect for those who excel academically while taking part in both fraternity/sorority life and athletics. I think between those two areas, students are given skills such as discipline, dedication and time management that will serve them well in any career.”

Julia Bean ’24 of Eureka, Illinois, the chapter president for Pi Beta Phi, agreed with Marshall’s last point.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the members of Pi Beta Phi,” said Bean. “These women truly embrace everything this campus has to offer. Many are involved in other sports and organizations and are still excellent academically.”

Track and cross country athlete Will Plumley ’25 of Geneseo, Illinois, previously headed SigEp’s standards board, which addresses academic concerns.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the members of Pi Beta Phi. These women truly embrace everything this campus has to offer. Many are involved in other sports and organizations and are still excellent academically.” – Julia Bean


“SigEp has a longstanding record of academic achievement, and I was very happy we were able to continue that last fall,” said Plumley, who was recently elected chapter president for 2024. “I’m looking forward to continuing that legacy and to even boosting our GPA higher. There’s always room to improve.”


Academics as a priority

While students – such as Plumley – who are used to achieving at or near a perfect 4.0 certainly help the Greek life GPA bottom line, Marshall also pointed to the assistance that students on the other end of the spectrum receive when they join a fraternity or sorority, thanks to academic achievement being viewed as a priority.

“A shared ideal or core principle of all seven of our chapters is academic excellence, so returning members put a lot of emphasis on grades and dedication to one’s studies when looking at potential new members,” he said.

Once a member, a student also has the option to provide consent for any early warning grades and mid-term grades to be shared with Marshall, their chapter president and their chapter adviser.

“This way, if I see a member’s name on the early warning list, I can get in touch with the president and adviser and work out a plan for how to best assist the student,” said Marshall. “I’ve found this to be especially helpful for newer students who may not feel comfortable asking for help or may not know where to go for support.”

“Especially for new members, academic achievement is brought up quite a bit,” said Plumley. “Everyone in our fraternity has to take our new member development class, which talks about how to make the most of your time at Monmouth, including where to turn to for help.”

“If you have a member of the fraternity who’s in the same major, that’s an incredible resource. You can bounce ideas off each other, or get tips and advice about a certain class or professor.” – Will Plumley


Plumley said that help can often come from inside the fraternity.

“If you have a member of the fraternity who’s in the same major, that’s an incredible resource,” he said. “You can bounce ideas off each other, or get tips and advice about a certain class or professor. That maybe happens if you’re an independent student living in a dorm, too, but in a fraternity or sorority, it’s a 24/7 resource.”

Eventually, new students gain the experience to know that Monmouth’s faculty are very approachable and that such interactions are a major part of what makes the College distinctive.

“Here at Monmouth, it’s quite common to build close relationships with members of our faculty and staff,” said Marshall. “And members of fraternities and sororities are given unique opportunities to interact with their professors and staff members outside of the classroom and build those types of relationships.”

Bean provided an example of how academics are incentivized in her sorority.

“Academics in our chapter are discussed weekly in our chapter meetings on Sunday,” she said. “When the members come to the Pi Phi house, there are three buckets labeled A, B and No Skip. Members will write their name on a piece of paper and put it into the bucket if they got an A, B or didn’t skip any classes that week. During our meeting, a name is drawn from each bucket and that member gets a prize and recognition for their achievement. We also have a Facebook group with all the members to remind each other of important events such as study hours and tutoring around campus.”

An incentive for SigEp, said Plumley, is an award program that recognizes, among other accomplishments, the highest new member GPA and the most improved GPA.

“Last year, our winner went from a 3.0 to a 3.75,” said Plumley. “Winners can use their award to help pay off their dues or other expenses they might have.”

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