The worst of times
It is with great regret that I report the Beta Theta chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity has gone silent. At the behest of Cornell University which withdrew recognition of our chapter as a Greek letter organization on campus for the next two years, the active chapter has surrendered its charter to Pike National, and Alpha Theta has agreed not to finance or otherwise support an underground Pike chapter at the 17 South Avenue property or elsewhere during this same period.
The Cornell sanction comes at the end of a series of disciplinary problems with Beta Theta culminating last January with an event where liquor was served and two freshmen ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. This story made the front page of the Cornell Daily Sun and with that came issues that have taken Cornell, Pike National and the Alpha Theta Board a full academic semester to resolve.
Attached is the full letter from Cornell to the Pike alumni .
Please note the following:
What's next: the best of times
During this semester-long struggle, there has been one recurring theme, noted by both Cornell University and Pi Kappa Alpha National: the overwhelming enthusiasm and efforts of key alumni. While this has been lacking in some ways these last few years, it is palpable now. We have forged a new Alumni Advisory Board of local alumni who serve as mentors in the future and as local liaisons to the University.
We are all energized at the thought of hitting the restart button. The coming weeks and months will be the time for alumni to become involved and imbue new brotherhood with the values and vision that we all hold dear.
Since 2001, several fraternities have been thrown off the hill and returned strongly - typically within 2-4 years. Like a phoenix from the ashes, we will return. The target is 2012 - the 100th anniversary of Alpha Theta.
I'm sure you all have questions. I'd encourage you to email or call me directly.
We are afforded a great opportunity. We can rebuild this fraternity - better than we ever were. We're going work hard to recolonize 17 South Avenue into a brotherhood, of which we all can be proud. Join us!
Ed Catto ‘85
In recent years, several alumni have discussed the possibility of providing alumni advice to the active chapter through several advisors, rather than a single individual. In fact, Pike National has provided the construct for group advising in its Alumni Advisory Board program .
One of the requirements established by National during the period of conditional suspension immediately after the January incident was the establishment of an Alumni Advisory Board. So, Alpha Theta contacted regionally located alumni who might be able to serve the chapter in an advisory role. By March, this group of dedicated alums was in place.
At this time, discussions with Cornell revealed that the University was also requiring an Alumni Advisory Group, and the frequency of contact with Cornell put the AAB in the best position to be called upon to meet directly with the University. Ultimately, the AAB has played a major role in the informational exchange thusfar, and is in place to continue with its job in recolonizing the Beta Theta chapter.
So, introducing the members of the newly-formed Alumni Advisory Board:
Bob Ball '65, Pittsford NYWe invite you to review this compilation of their CV summaries.
Mike Bilik '08, Ithaca NY
Logan Cheek '60, Pittsford NY
Bob Forness '87, Chatham NJ
Andy Glasner '86, Trumansburg NY
Tom Helfrich '64, Pittsford NY
Jim Hodges '60, Lake Forest IL
Ken Hull '64, Binghamton NY
Taz Ochs '79, Trumansburg NY
Bill Page '85, Victor NY
Nate Rudgers '82, Pavilion NY
George Weiner '64, Rochester NY
Chuck Whitehead '83, Ithaca NY
In the near term, the AAB will be working with Alpha Theta in planning between now and recolonization in 2012. It's a real benefit to Alpha Theta to have alumni with this level of expertise & experience assisting in the challenges ahead.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
In any event, we have been able to rent the 16 available spaces to Cornell students through the end of spring 2011.
An Engineering PhD. candidate, Ricky Chachra, has been engaged as our residence advisor and will be living in. He had previous experience as an undergrad RA. Ricky will collect the rents, act as house manager, and enforce the leases. A law firm in Ithaca prepared the lease documents for Alpha Theta.
A property management company, Certified Properties, was retained to look at the floor plan and help figure out what the market rates would be for the individual rooms. Some tenants will have two rooms, others only one. We determined that we don't need full service property management and Certified will be paid only if we rent as a direct result of their own advertising campaign and network that is independent of what we are doing. Cornell has also agreed to refer students to us - most likely transfer and international students.
The Student Management Corporation (that currently acts as bookkeeper and buying cooperative for many of the fraternities and sororities as well as the former active chapter) will provide us with some basic property management services - managing any receivables, making their approved vendors available to the RA (lawn care, inside cleaning - if the tenants want that, etc.). Ray Canzler will continue as our general contractor and Alpha Theta's representative to the Ithaca Building Department for life safety issues such as sprinkler system and fire alarm inspections. Property insurance will continue from the current carrier and we will be able to purchase general liability insurance from Pike National.
The house may end up co-ed and will probably have a coop living atmosphere. The residents will have full access to the kitchen and will need to police themselves. The individual leases will allow for Alpha Theta to use the commons areas of the house for Homecoming including the annual Alpha Theta meeting and reunion weekend.
All the Pike memorabilia (composites, trophies, plaques, ritual items, etc.) have been moved from the house to off-site climate controlled storage.
It is anticipated that the rents should be more than adequate to keep Alpha Theta solvent in the absence of the active chapter, and perhaps even build some reserve for capital improvements. Of course, to those alumni that feel themselves in a position to be generous, donations to Alpha Theta outside of regular dues will be greatly appreciated.
Go to Updated Alumni Notes
Ken Parsons '89 is retiring from the Air Force in July after more than 21 years of flying the not-so-friendly skies.
"I'm leaving a legacy, though, as my son, Travis, just completed basic training and is joining my squadron as Loadmaster on the same C-5 Galaxy that I've been flying since the Gulf War back in 1991. Travis will be a crewmember on my final flight with the Air Force sometime in June."
"I'll still be flying all over the world in my big brown UPS 747s, so if you need a knock-off watch from Hong Kong, let me know."
Alfredo Martel '87 left the Colonel, the KY Derby, Rick Pitino & his white suit behind, for the Arctic weather of Minneapolis, where he now serves as SVP-Marketing for Caribou Coffee, second largest retail coffeehouse operator in the nation.
"Family is doing well, girls growing up fast, and I just signed up for my first triathlon to be held in June 2010. ppka!"
ZuLu '86 has been remiss in writing since Homecoming 2008, which was "one of the most inspiring, life-affirming weekends in my life. It was so great to reconnect with so many Pikes and get their support."
"Christmas Eve 2009 was the 18 month anniversary of my diagnosis with Cholangiocarcinoma — bile duct cancer — which we think is pretty much a miracle considering the doctors only gave me 6 to 12 months to live. Every day is a wonderful present and I am living life to its fullest. I have been on chemotherapy continuously since July 2008. Considering all of that, I am doing really well physically and emotionally. I am participating in a clinical chemotherapy trial out of Nashville (about a 4 hr drive) that is showing promising results for me with minimal side effects. I am still working a fairly full schedule (about 8:30 to 3PM) each day in between doctors appointments and trips to Nashville."
"I have seen Jeff Lowe several times. He and Dik Saalfeld met my wife, Coleen, and me for drinks and dinner in Baltimore (while we were up for a consultation at Johns Hopkins) back in November ’08 and we met up again Lowie again this fall in Blatmo. Lowie also made a trip down to Hotlanta to keep me company while I got 6 hours of IV chemotherapy. To raise money to fight cholangiocarcinoma and to remind me of what a hosebag and a@#hole I really am, friends of mine arranged an open bar 'roast' of yours truly in February 2009. It got pretty wild and outrageous. Jeff Lowe, Lars Fuchs and Bob Forness ’87 managed to make the trip down to roast my hindparts. And to think I liked those guys . . ."
"This spring, Coleen and I also made a quickie trip to NYC to see the Mets’ new CitiField and managed to get together hastily with Lars Fuchs ’86 and his wife for cocktails at Pete’s. Fortunately, without a napkin on my head, no one recognized me or tried to kick me out of my old watering hole. Warren Kurtzman ’87, Mike Greenberg ‘85 and Joe Kane ’86 all made detours this Summer from previously scheduled trips to make time to visit us in Atlanta. It was great to spend a few hours with some old bros like me reminiscing and laughing about what fools we were and are. I do feel bad that I didn’t feel well enough to see Bill Page ’86 over the 4th of July when he was in town with his studly volleyball playing son, Robbie. But sometimes, chemo just kicks your ass and you have to just accept that."
I just appreciate all the support, kindness and other phi phi K A stuff, via email, Facebook, phone calls, text messages and otherwise (special thanks to Chow and Thrax). It means the world to me and keeps me fighting. If you are ever going to be in Atlanta, just email me and let me know.
Huck DeVenzio '69 writes that the summer reception during Reunion Weekend was a welcome gesture that was nicely done. "Thank you for the event, and congratulations on doing it well."
Neil Best '82 had dinner in NYC in November '09 with a bevy of Pikes slightly younger than him, including Casey Sayre '83, Paul Wessel '83, Paul Linskey '84, Ed Conti '83, Mike McCoy '84, Kevin O'Connell '84, Steve Bloom '85, Ed Catto '84, Bob Forness '87, Elliott Dee '84, and one or two others. "Catto convinced a bunch of nubile twenty-something females that it was Conti's batchelor party, so they posed for pictures with him . Highly amusing."
Vernon A. Dyke '60
Raymond C. Lava '55
December 20, 2009
John M. Patton '52
July 21, 2009
Pierre E. Provost IV '60
Randall W. Reyer '39
David J. Rietz '60