Good Times for Greek Life at Stetson

Stetson Sig Ep house
Stetson Lambda Chi Alpha house exterior
Lambda Chi Alpha’s new  home at Stetson.

Fraternal life at Stetson University apparently is growing stronger by the day, at least judging from charitable giving.

The Zeta Tau Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, founded in 1949 at Stetson, was again approved to charter by LXA international headquarters in April. In turn, a $1.5 million fundraising endowment campaign launched in July by its alumni association board is ensuring its future.

Meanwhile, thanks to the generosity of Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Florida Beta chapter alumni association board, SigEp brothers at Stetson are enjoying a new outdoor gathering area along with a revamped basketball court, among other changes.

Call this giving forward.

As part of Lambda Chi Alpha’s new future, Stetson is funding the renovation of a 1920s’ house at 208 E. Pennsylvania Ave., located across from the Sigma Phi Epsilon house, as well as a 3,840-square-foot addition (large chapter room plus bedrooms and baths for 14 additional brothers).

All construction will be completed by the fall 2017 semester, although seven brothers are living in the existing house this fall.

“For most of us, being a Lambda Chi was the best part of our university years,” says Ernest Ahlquist ’70. “We shared experiences we’ll never forget and have remained friends and brothers in the bond ever since.”

“All of us benefitted from the brotherhood and the traditions, principles and ideals that were instilled in us during our years at Stetson,” says Richard Swartz ’70. “We now have an opportunity to pass on this legacy to current and future generations of Lambda Chi brothers by contributing to the LXA Endowed Scholarship Fund.”

The campaign has two components. When the $1 million Lambda Chi Alpha Endowed Scholarship Fund is fully endowed, its earnings are expected to provide as much as $50,000 annually in scholarships to brothers or legacies. Dollars raised for the remainder of the goal will go toward the Lambda Chi Alpha General Purpose Endowment Fund. At $500,000, that fund will provide about $25,000 annually in stipends for General Assembly or Conclave activities, physical enhancements to the house, or other worthwhile goals approved by Stetson’s Lambda Chi Alpha Alumni Association.

According to Swartz, alumni leaders intend to receive gifts and documented pledges no later than Nov. 15, and pledges may be paid over a five-year period.

“The new house and campaign have provided a real catalyst for over-the-top excitement and re-engagement with our already strong 1,000-member alumni base,” cites G.A. (George) Mitcheson ’70. “Our target is to have 200 brothers plus guests on campus in November for ‘The Great Comeback!’ We are well over 100 now [in August], so these numbers are real and will likely be achieved.” More than 125 people returned in 2014, he noted.

Dave Schofield ’69, president of alumni association, believes the “significance of having a university administration that recognizes the importance of having responsible Greek organizations on a university campus is essential.” He applauds the support of Stetson President Wendy Libby, Ph.D.; CFO Bob Huth and Al Allen, associate vice president of facilities.

He labels the collaborative efforts between Lambda Chi Alpha and the university a win-win.

“The key to the success was recognizing early in the process that we were not in a negotiation but working together toward a common goal,” Schofield says. “… We owe Stetson our gratitude and appreciation for what we know will be a wonderful long-standing relationship.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon

Stetson Sig Ep house
SigEp brothers have new amenities.

Similarly for SigEp, alumni leadership provided the bulk of funding (total project costs were $284,000) toward the Sigma Phi Epsilon House Renovation Fund, while Stetson contributed approximately $76,000, and the fraternity donated $30,000.

The focal point of the renovation is a new three-tier, fenced concrete deck that offers a fire pit in addition to plentiful seating. It’s an ideal gathering place for SigEp brothers and alumni at Homecoming, on game days and throughout the year. Also, aside from the basketball court, the foyer and both gender-neutral restrooms in the house were renovated.

“Last spring we were on the final leg of wrapping up the plans for the house renovation,” Wes Brumback ’80, the board’s secretary, said. “Our board came together to fund it and, over the summer, the university’s facilities team, including Al Allen and Dave Rigsby, made our vision a reality. We are extremely pleased that our brothers will have a house that will give them great pride.”