Summer 2013 Quill & Scroll Cover Story:
SIGMA IS BACK!
By Joseph S. Rosenberg, Xi Alpha ’96 and Benjamin Kirk, Sigma ’77
A little more than three years ago , the National Office received a phone call inquiring how to recolonize the Sigma Chapter at Oregon State University (OSU). This initial call kicked off a collaborative venture between Sigma Chapter alumni and the National Fraternity that led to the resurgence of the Sigma Building Corporation (SBC), and the reemergence of a KDR undergraduate chapter on the West Coast.
Reengaging alumni and the recolonization of the Sigma Chapter were both critical aspects of the tactical objectives of the five-year Strategic Plan the Fraternity launched at the 2012 National Convention. Reengaging Sigma Chapter alumni was a task organized by Benjamin Kirk, Sigma ’77, and Scott Mattravers, Sigma ’75, that led to a SBC meeting at the 2011 Homecoming football game. Executive Director Joseph Rosenberg attended the meeting to discuss the collaborative plan with alumni to resurrect the Sigma Chapter. At that meeting the corporation board decided to join the National Fraternity in a mutual effort to bring KDR back to the West Coast. An agreement, in principle, was reached that the National Office would share the cost of positioning an educational leadership instructor (ELI) in Corvallis, Oregon, for the sole purpose of recruiting and developing the new chapter. Seventy percent of the ELI’s time was allocated for the recolonization efforts at OSU and 30 percent for tasks relating to the National Fraternity.
At the same time, Sigma alumni launched a bold challenge to raise nearly $120,000 for the successful recolonization of the chapter. Alumni agreed that the original chapter house sale proceeds were not to be used for any expenditure other than a new house in the future. On the day of the chartering banquet (May 18, 2013), more than 100 Brothers had donated generously to SBC. As a result, the corporation has funded all activities from these donations.
ELI David Cooper, Phi Beta ’10, played a vital role in recruiting, educating, and retaining new members, while SBC funded three sets of air tickets to send undergraduates to conventions and leadership training and recruitment training events. Also, donations have funded all the communication pieces, which are being completed at a substantial discount by Comcoa thanks to Scott Mattraver’s generosity. SBC also loaned $5,000 to the newly initiated Brothers to guarantee the refundable security deposit for a duplex, which undergraduates have leased for the fall 2013 semester. On top of this, alumni provided one $500 recruiting incentive scholarship and two $500 “Mae Shirtcliff” scholarships.
The chartering banquet at the Sheraton Portland Airport was a momentous evening event. Brothers Don Owings and Scott Mattravers went the extra mile to plan and orchestrate a banquet that brought together 135 Brothers. Owings’ grand vision was to celebrate Sigma and stage an evening that would link the past with the present and provide a solid foundation to build a strong undergraduate chapter at OSU.
National President Brian Stumm, Iota Beta ’92, flew from Helsinki, Finland, to attend the dinner and present the charter to Brother Alec Ramsey, Sigma ’15. Brother Stumm enjoyed a lively conversation with Brother John McClure from the Class of 1946. In his keynote address, retired OSU Dean of Students William Brennan shared stories of some of the “adventures” of KDRs during his tenure. The recurring theme throughout his address, however, was the gentlemanly manner in which KDRs always acted on campus, representing an organization that lived true to its motto, Honor Super Omnia. Another major highlight of the evening focused on alumni Brothers who presented current undergraduates with keepsakes from their time in the Sigma Chapter house to be kept at the new townhouse.
At the chartering, SBC President Kirk cautioned that “The next two years are critical for us as we need to avoid the ‘sophomore slump,’ which could result in a stumble. For those folks who remember the lack of support from the National Fraternity from our undergraduate years . . . forget about it! Not only is Sigma back, but the National Fraternity is also back! We would not be where we are without their financial and physical support, as well as their wisdom.”
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