Written by Kyle LaHucik
The Missouri Alpha Chapter was awarded its charter from Jeff Davis, President of the General Council of Phi Delta Theta on Saturday, April 22. Students at the University of Missouri have been working since last summer to become an officially recognized chapter on campus again.
On Friday, April 21, the 85 colony members participated in the initiation ceremony, led by Sparky Reardon, General Council Member-at-Large, other GHQ staff members, and Missouri Alpha alumni.
Originally founded on November 26, 1870, the Missouri Alpha Chapter went through a revitalization effort this year, as Missouri Alpha President Max Keeter discussed.
“The process of becoming an official chapter after first becoming a colony has been one of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences I have had yet,” says Keeter. “The amount of resources that we have been given to start with is simply awe-inspiring, and I am incredibly grateful to all of those who have provided for and guided us.”
The ceremonies on Friday and Saturday were a culmination of nearly 10 months of recruiting new members, selecting a new executive board to lead the revitalization and completing a 300-plus page petition. Chapter Advisory Board Chairman Tyler Reynolds explained the significance of the weekend.
“This weekend is important to the Missouri Alpha Chapter because of the long history and legacy that will continue,” says Reynolds. “It is also important to the Phi Delt alumni because it cements another great group of future leaders being initiated.”
Bruce McClelland, Missouri ‘63, drove from Kansas City to attend the installation weekend ceremonies and banquet. For many years, McClelland worked with the General Fraternity to foster growth as a member of the Survey Commission. He has also been a champion for Missouri Alpha along the way.
“Ours has been a proud chapter, with a rich history,” says McClelland. “I wanted to see it restored and thrive. In my experience as a General Officer, I knew the revitalization could be successful. I had seen it work throughout the Fraternity with outstanding results. This is a quality class; we can all be very proud to be a Phi.”
Some of those outstanding results along with words of encouragement and pride were delivered in the speeches given on Saturday.
The progress to get to Saturday took the work and commitment of every executive board member, officer, and colony member, and a major reason for the success was the guidance and support provided by Phi Delta Theta Leadership Consultant Matt Fritsch, who has lived in-house for the 2016-17 academic year.
Fritsch has high hopes for the re-founding fathers and described the process of recruiting them.
“The opportunity to re-establish a new chapter of Phi Delta Theta is a very unique experience and one that will allow our re-founding fathers to leave their legacy on campus,” says Fritsch. “The revitalization process allows a complete re-build of chapter infrastructure while targeting the best and brightest student leaders Mizzou has to offer, in an abbreviated period of time. Chapter revitalization offers a true entrepreneurial experience to undergraduates who are poised to re-brand and re-establish their own organization, while also inheriting the long and rich history of Missouri Alpha and Mizzou.”
The refounding fathers could not have gone from colony to chapter without the support of another person, Faculty Advisor Shannon Breske. Breske, a business administration instructor in the Trulaske College of Business, had several Missouri Alpha members in her course in the fall and was asked to serve on the Chapter Advisory Board.
“I was impressed with their engagement and professionalism,” says Breske. “I was excited to hear about the many positive changes they were making to the chapter, and I wanted to be a part of these positive changes.”
As a member of the University of Missouri community, Breske speaks about the newly-initiated Missouri Alphas and their chance to make an impact on campus.
“[They’re] authentic, they really care, they are upholding the principles of Phi Delta Theta and want to make contributions to campus,” says Breske.
Greek Relations Chair Ben Schnelle hopes to spearhead some of the contributions by building stronger relationships with other chapters on campus. A solid bond has already been built with Kappa Alpha Theta and other chapters, but Schnelle looks internally first.
“The way I see it, the goal for Phi Delt internally is to develop a culture that possesses all of the positive qualities of a well-run fraternity––a strong bond between members, academic pursuits, service and philanthropic endeavors, a thriving social aspect––while remaining free from the negative qualities that exist in fraternities that are set in their ways,” Schnelle says.
President Keeter has the same mindset and hopes to see GPA, philanthropy, social life and other aspects to be the pillars that Missouri Alphas build upon.
“They are the foundation for success, but it doesn’t pay in the long run to be identified for one aspect,” Keeter says. “Instead, I hope that this chapter will from here forward be known as the place where greatness is fostered and well-rounded individuals can always be found.”
Saturday’s banquet was planned by freshman marketing and textiles major Anthony Lupo, who was on an installation weekend committee with Keeter, Treasurer Joe Davis, Vice President Drew Faust and House Manager Chandler Fry. Lupo says it wasn’t easy planning for everything, but it was worth it.
“We finally got to celebrate our success not just as brothers, but as a chapter, said Lupo.”
In accordance with Phi Delta Theta’s Strategic 10-Year Plan, Phi Delt 2020 and its growth initiative, Phi Delta Theta is currently executing expansion strategies that culminate in seven chapter installations annually and 200 chapters by 2020. The installation of Missouri Alpha was the second chapter installation of 2017, and the Fraternity currently has 183 active chapters and 10 colonies.