Alumni from the Kappa Alpha fraternity at West Virginia University hope the new look of their reconstructed house also will have a positive impact on the overall organization.
Bill Brewer, president of Kappa Alphas alumni organization called Alpha Rho Corporation, hopes the new house will serve as the foundation for a positive Greek experience centered on good conduct, leadership and stability.
The alumni raised the funding for the house through mailings, phone calls and meetings with its approximate 700 members.We talked about restoring the house and fraternity to its former standards,said Brewer.Thats what motivated a lot of people to get involved.
To date, the group has raised $1.2 million. The total projected cost with furniture and other professional fees is $3.3 million. And Kappa Alpha is not the only Greek organization looking to upgrade its current facility.
Ron Justice, assistant director of student affairs, said other Greek organizations on campus are following suit. Currently, at least four others are planning to remodel or renovate.Kappa Alpha has set the bar for the rest of the fraternities and sororities on campus entering into the new Greek housing program. Its wonderful to get a model in place. The alumni and undergraduates were very instrumental in setting an example for the whole campus,Justice said.
Kappa Alpha was established at WVU in 1897. The first house was bought in 1907 and occupied until March 2004, when it was demolished.
Brewer said most of the Greek houses on campus are in need of some type of renovation, adding that this is the first Greek housing facility to be built at WVU since the early 1960s.I think weve shown that its doable if you stay focused,Brewer said.And we think it will attract higher quality students in the Greek system.
The alumni group contracted architects Cunningham and Associates, Inc., of Columbia, Mo., to design the house and Pray Construction Company of Scott Depot, W.Va., to rebuild the structure after demolition.
The planning stages began four years ago when members of Alpha Rho decided the former building was beyond repair. Construction began Dec. 30, 2005, and was completed on Oct. 13 this year.Weve needed a new house for many years,Brewer noted.Finally, our alumni realized that the existing house could no longer be used. It was far beyond the current health and safety standards. It just wasnt safe.
If you dont have a house, its hard to be a fraternity. The decision was to get organized, or we knew the fraternity would just go away.
Alumni held a black-tie dinner on Oct. 13 and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 14 to celebrate the houses official opening.
Although students had to be housed in a hotel for the first two weeks of classes this semester, they have been occupying the third floor where the bedrooms are while construction continued.
Today, just a few finishing touchessuch as landscapingneed to be done to call the construction complete.
The house has 14 enclosed parking spaces, is set up for high speed wireless Internet and is handicap accessible in two of the 35 bedrooms for members. Each room is set up with a loft for the beds to increase living space on the floor for couches, chairs and electronics. The air conditioned facility also features a large dining room with a full-service meal program and a patio for studying or social gatherings.
Currently, there are 42 active members in the fraternity and 20 pledges. Twenty-one students are living on grounds now, but Brewer expects the house to be full next fall.
A unique alumni chapter room was built with brick from the original house, a nostalgic element for alumni. Justice commented,Its a beautiful home. You wont find any like it in the country.
The house also contains an apartment for a house director, formerly known as the house mother, another element brought back from the past. The director is Paula Owens.Were the first fraternity here to do that. We think it is really beneficial. It helps to promote a positive environment. Shes not there to be a disciplinarian, but if misconduct occurs, she is instructed to try to stop it and then bring it to our attention. Just knowing a responsible adult is there, helps us to oversee the property,Brewer added.
The boys have responded well and embraced it. They have adopted her as sort of a mother figure. Theyve gone to talk with her for counsel.
Brewer said the Alpha Rho alumni group is very active in overseeing the chapter.Its very important for alumni to have hands-on involvement to set policy and standards,Brewer said.