Skip to main content
Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

The honors keep coming for URI’s Zeta Beta Tau fraternity

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Chosen as one of best in North America

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 10, 2005 -- The University of Rhode Island’s Zeta Beta Tau fraternity has earned the North-American Interfraternity Conference 2005 Undergraduate Chapter Award of Distinction.

Four undergraduate chapters were chosen in April for the national awards from a pool of 55 nominations.

In addition, the fraternity just received a URI Diversity Award for emphasizing individuality and welcoming diversity.

The latest honors follow a number of accolades garnered by ZBT in the past year, including the prestigious Brummer Cup, the award given last summer to the top ZBT chapter in the nation.

The North-American Interfraternity Conference awards program is open to all fraternities, not just those affiliated with a central national office.

“These awards recognize the overall leadership and excellence in the advancement of fraternity ideals,” said Peter Smithhisler, vice president for media and community relations at the conference. “The people and groups being recognized have proven that they advance the ideals of their fraternity in their everyday lives and have worked to ensure the future of fraternities by living their espoused mission and values.”

All of this has been accomplished without a chapter house on the Kingston Campus. In March, however, the 74 brothers and numerous alumni broke ground on a new home to be built at the site of their former chapter house, which was destroyed by fire in 1994.

During the groundbreaking ceremonies, Leo Robinson, president of the ZBT alumni corporation that is responsible for the construction project, said the current group of brothers has an outstanding record. “These students are really the future of what the fraternity system can be,” he said.

ZBT President Dan Riley said it has been quite a year for the URI chapter. “We are very proud of all the accomplishments of the past year,” said Riley, a resident of Tiverton. “It is always great to be recognized for the work that we do. The key thing to do now is to keep this work ethic going and continue to make the strides we have been making. That responsibility falls on every brother to do his part in some way.”

The URI Diversity Awards program said that Zeta Beta Tau originated as a group for men not welcome in Greek letter fraternities because of their religion and ethnicity. It evolved as one of the first fraternities to welcome men of all races, colors, and creeds.

To its credit, the local chapter has evolved even further.

“(The members) publicly and privately monitor their language for inclusiveness. This group has gained a reputation for extending personal energy beyond the usual philanthropic activities of Greek chapters, emphasizing service as a way to learn about diversity,” the Diversity Awards program says.

The brothers have mentored children with developmental disabilities, volunteered in communities where the need is great and the language is not English, sponsored the Holocaust Vigil and helped Meeting Street set up for its telethon.

“ZBT has raised the bar for the Greek system and has received much recognition both locally and nationally. However, no recognition surpasses the significance of this Diversity Award. This is a group that puts its energy where its values are,” the Diversity Awards program says.

“The awards and recognition however, mean little to the members of the fraternity,” Riley said. “ZBT remains an organization set on doing something because it’s the right thing to do and not for the awards that may follow. More important to the brothers is the mission of showing fraternities in a positive light, ridding the stereotypes often associated with fraternities, and making the URI campus a more welcoming place to students and visitors alike.”