KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 27, 2001 -- Alumni of Theta Chi fraternity today announced the sale of their fraternity house for $375,000 to the University of Rhode Island. The proceeds of the sale were donated to the URI Foundation to fund student scholarships, faculty research and other charitable activities at URI.
"This is the best way to ensure that Theta Chi's influence continues to be felt at URI. We envision that scholarships, classroom and study areas and even parks will carry on our name," said Ronald Cruff, president of the fraternity's alumni organization, a 1956 graduate and Narragansett resident.
It is the first such donation by one of URI's fraternal organizations, according to Robert Coleman, executive director of the URI Foundation.
"We are delighted to be able to facilitate such a significant gift and to be in a position to continue to provide support to the University on a number of important fronts," said Coleman.
Built by the fraternity's brothers and alumni in 1921, the four-level, 14,000-square-foot house is located at 14 Upper College Road close to the entrance to the Kingston campus.
The University closed the house in 1992. Last year a steering committee comprised of Theta Chi alumni from the last six decades decided to sell the chapter house and donate the proceeds to charity.
Several charities were considered. However, there was a clear preference to give the money to URI, according to Chris Barnett, class of 1978, who spearheaded the effort.
The committee wrote to more than 500 Theta Chi alumni telling them of its recommendation and asking for their advice. The alumni overwhelmingly approved.
"All of us have close ties to URI," said Barnett. "It's hard, if not impossible to separate our memories of URI from Theta Chi."
Theta Chi and URI share a long history. The chapter was founded in 1911, the first national fraternity at URI, then called Rhode Island State College.
The house was the first fraternity house on the Kingston campus. Harold Browning and John Meade, whose names are memorialized on two URI buildings -- Browning Hall and Meade Stadium -- were among the first brothers. The house has been expanded and renovated over the years. While its physical shape was altered, certain customs remained unchanged. Brothers always slept in an unheated attic on rows of bunk beds called "the racks."
Another custom was the fraternity's commitment to serving others. Its motto of "the helping hand" was embodied in its annual fundraising efforts for The Salvation Army and the Leukemia Society of Rhode Island
A seven-member committee of Theta Chi alumni will meet annually to recommend worthy recipients of the newly established endowment.
"We hope this fund will serve as a reminder to alumni and recipients that the spirit of Theta Chi is important and still very much alive," said Lorne Adrain, vice president of the fraternity's alumni organization and a 1976 graduate.
URI is in the process of completely renovating the 80-year-old structure which served as an interim home of the Multicultural Center from 1993 until 1998. The building will temporarily house the Admissions Office during the renovation of Green Hall.
Upon completion of Green Hall, the house will be the site of a major social and educational policy research operation headed by Robert D. Felner, professor and director of the School of Education at URI. His successful research and evaluation work centers on school reform in public K-12 education and on preventive interventions and social/educational policy.
For Information: Chris Barnett, 823-5775, Jan Sawyer, 874-2116