Winter Board Meeting Report; TKE Moving Forward

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By Tom Becker ‘69

President, Pi Chapter House Corp. Board

Your Pi Chapter House Corporation board meeting was held Saturday, January 20 in State College.  Five alumni board members and three active officers attended.  With the actives operating the chapter outside of the house, the meeting focused on what all has been accomplished by the actives in keeping up with new requirements from the University.

A new, new member’s education program has been revised and approved by the University.  All actives will have signed the required university's new Relationship Agreement by early spring or will be officially dropped as active fraternity members by the university.  Officers are attending frequent university sponsored seminars aimed at correcting various practices at all fraternities.  It was reported a decline in fraternities during 2017 from 46 to 38. TKE is not counted as a closure. There are 22 sororities on campus.  The actives have disaffiliated 14 members living out of the house, being 7 seniors, 6 juniors and one 5th year student.  Disaffiliation was based on those members lack of commitment to supporting the continuation of the house.  There were 66 members in the spring of 2017; 52 actives for Spring of of 2018.  Fall 2017 house academic GPA was 3.07.  IFC average GPA was 3.17.  Sororities were 3.35 GPA.  All University was 3.19 GPA.

Chapter actives will be working this coming semester to increase their standing as graded by the new university Stand of Excellence Report.  Areas TKE needed more improvement and involvement were in Membership Development (educational, leadership program and seminars); Civic Engagement (community/neighborhood involvement, volunteering, campus leadership positions), and Chapter Operations (timely reports, updating risk management).  The official Zone Day of rush for spring 2018 saw about 300 rushees visit the open house at the chapter house.  Three local alumni board members also participated in the Zone Day with the actives.  The house was opened to allow rushers to view the ongoing improvements of new lighting, re-painted common areas, and the refinishing of all the first floor wood flooring.  Actives reported those improvements and the condition of the house impressed a lot of the rushees, even with the furniture being stacked in rooms not having floors refinished.  Actives anticipated extending between 20-25 bids.  Actual extension of bids has been narrowed to 18, all of whom attended the bid extension dinner held at a local restaurant.  Eleven bids were accepted.  New potential members bids had to be accepted by January 31 and all new potential members must be initiated by March 30, as required by the new university regulations to shorten pledge periods. All rushees for this semester were freshmen, who may or may not move into the house in the fall of 2018 depending upon their abilities to get out of other housing/apartment contracts they may have previously signed.  Many of the apartment complexes in State College require students to sign contracts a year to nine months in advance of actual occupancy.  Thus complicating a lot of the fraternities in getting new potential members to move into chapter houses at Penn State.  Many of the new members may have to remain in their apartment contracts and not live in the house until their junior and senior years.

Exterior and interior maintenance of the house has been ongoing through continuation of previous contracts with local contractors, vendors and suppliers.  No abuse of the ban on parking at the house have been reported.  No vandalism had been reported during fall semester's vacancy.  House is being reviewed continuously with interior and exterior security cameras, borough police patrols, and weekly check-ins by local alumni board members and our maintenance contractors.  House billing services will no longer be run through the university Bursar's office.  The university has also elected to discontinue this service and will leave all collections the responsibility of each house.  Discussion of duties and integration of a new university faculty academic advisor were discussed.  A faculty advisor has been identified and has been working with the actives.

Four actives were approved to attend the TKE regional Leadership Conferences held February, 3 in New Jersey.  A new active house manager has been selected.  He will take on his responsibilities effective July 1, with additional training and orientation by the local alumni and contract vendors who help maintain the house.  The new house manager has maintenance skills in having worked summers with his father who is a general contractor.

Actives presented several ideas for improvements to the physical house to include over various forthcoming semester budgets: outdoor lighting for front of house to illuminate the triangle portion of the front facade.  U.S. and TKE flags mounted on 45 degree poles off face of house from second floor.  Mounting flags on the house will be more secure from frequent thefts of flags off the flagpole in the front yard.  New uses for the discontinued laundry room were discussed.  Repairs of the slate paving on the front terrace were requested.  Additional concrete paving over the grass area enclosed in the rear patio was requested.  The need for basement coat racks or hook rails for party guests was presented.  New carpeting and furniture purchase to replace several existing pieces were postponed until the April 22 spring board meeting when the board and actives will have a more complete picture on the number of members moving back into the house for fall 2018.  House bills for fall 2018 will be at the same monetary level as was assessed during the spring 2017 semester.  All house bills will be required to be paid in full before members can move back into the house.  This had been a long-standing policy, which unfortunately had not been effectively collected under the arrangements with the university bursar's office.

Generally, the alumni board has been pleased with the extensive amount of work the current active executive board members have done in management re-organization, filling officer positions, establishing task force committees, recruitment activities, establishing contacts with TKE national advisors, finding a new faculty advisor, risk management upgrades, developing new members education program, and culling of members not dedicated to the continuation of the chapter.  All past due financial obligation to the house by current, disaffiliated, and recent graduate members have been satisfied.  All borough and university points accessed to TKE for code violations have expired.  Pi TKE currently has no violations outstanding.  It is the first time in 4-5 years.  The house looks forward to re-opening of the chapter house for the fall 2018 semester.  A re-opening celebration for alumni, guests, and actives is being planned for the away football weekend of September 22, 2018.  Further details will follow.  Make your hotel arrangements early in order to attend this all day affair.  We look forward to this event to show off our active membership, newest pledge class, and the re-furbished chapter house.  Pi TKE is alive and doing well.

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