Fraternity Opens New House on Campus
The broad smiles on the faces of Richard Swartz ’68 and Dave Schofield ’69/M.B.A. ’71 spoke volumes near the front door of the new Lambda Chi Alpha house on campus. Proud of the past, they were thrilled to help usher in another era for their dear old fraternity.
In April 2016, the Zeta Tau Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, founded in 1949 at Stetson, was approved to again charter by its international headquarters. A $1.5 million fundraising endowment campaign by the fraternity’s alumni association board was launched that July. A total of $1 million was earmarked for the Lambda Chi Alpha Endowed Scholarship Fund, while the remaining dollars would go toward a general-purpose endowment fund. By November, the campaign had raised the requisite pledges from fraternity alumni.
Now, there were only days before Fall Semester 2017 was to begin on Stetson’s historic campus in DeLand, with construction completed on a house for 14 current Lambda Chi students. Five other students will live in an adjacent renovated house, opened last year and further enhanced this year. The 19 residents represent approximately half of the fraternity’s membership at Stetson.
The new house sits on more than one acre at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Bert Fish Drive, across from the Rinker Center parking lot and catty-corner to the Edmunds Center.
Swartz called it a beacon for the future.
“This is just an absolute perfect location and a great house,” he said. “This is going to make a huge difference in their [students’] ability to become a real brotherhood.”
Swartz had pledged Lambda Chi in his second semester after arriving from Leesburg High School in nearby Lake County. He intended to play on the Hatters’ basketball team but jokes that he wound up majoring in “fraternity affairs.” He resided in the fraternity’s previous house on campus. Five decades later, last summer, he found himself co-chairing the fundraising effort (with Ernest Ahlquist ’70).
“We do this because we love the fraternity. That’s the bottom line,” commented Schofield, who was a first-semester pledge from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and also lived in the house. “It meant a lot to us when we were here, and it means equally as much now that we’re alumni.”
As they walked through the new house, they shook their heads at the spaciousness of the bedrooms and the convenience of multiple bathrooms. Their typical refrain (with satisfaction): “This is so much nicer than what we had.”
Both concluded that the house clearly means much to Stetson, too. The original fundraising goal was to pay for actual construction, but the university stepped in to renovate a 1920s’ house plus build a 3,840-square-foot addition, as part of a financial reimbursement arrangement with the fraternity. An outdoor patio area also was built, resulting from separate fraternity fundraising.
The change in funding dynamics helped to ensure campaign success.
“This couldn’t have happened without really great support from Stetson,” said Schofield.
“We had brothers who donated money that might not have donated strictly to a bricks-and-mortar house,” explained Swartz. “But because they knew it was going to be a Lambda Chi Alpha-Stetson endowment, they donated money and more money than they might have otherwise. It’s such a lasting legacy.”
Swartz added that the work of Stetson’s leadership – principally President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D.; Bob Huth, chief financial officer; and Al Allen, associate vice president of facilities – made monitoring the construction activity “very, very easy.”
Libby is expected to be on hand for the house’s official dedication and ribbon cutting during Homecoming 2017 in November.
By that time, Cody Hurst will be months into enjoying his new digs. The senior, majoring in aquatic and marine biology, is second vice president of the fraternity at Stetson and will serve as resident assistant for the house. He offered thanks to the university, but he reserved special praise for the efforts of those who came long before him.
“Without exceptional alumni support, it wouldn’t have been possible,” Hurst said, “and I honestly wouldn’t have seen us getting such a wonderful house for this fraternity to grow.”