Greetings from the Alumni Advisory Board. We provide this post to bring you up to date on the status of our chapter.
As you may know, Tennessee Zeta had its charter revoked and was placed under a cease and desist order-in the spring of 2014 by the National Office. Their infractions involved some forms of hazing. Hazing is not tolerated on any level under the national guidelines.
An alumni commission was formed in the fall of 2014 for the purpose of supervising and providing leadership to the chapter until they showed substantial progress that would warrant having the charter returned. The Alumni Commission consisted of co-chairmen John Keesee ’73, and Clinton Bailey ’73, and members Dane S. Ciolino ’85, W. Neal McAtee ’85, and Allen Reed ’12. The re-established House Corporation is led by Chuck Blake ’58 who serves as President.
Over the last two years the chapter members with the help of the Alumni Commission have worked diligently to change a culture that had deteriorated over the years. The True Gentleman Experience (TGE) has been invaluable in that regard. The TGE is a holistic educational program for Sigma Alpha Epsilon members that provides a well-rounded learning experience throughout all of their collegiate academic years. In addition, the comprehensive program allows them to develop personally and professionally and calls upon resources to help our members become gentlemen, scholars, stewards and leaders in their respective communities.
The following has been accomplished in a relatively short period of time:
- In the spring of 2015, Tennessee Zeta chapter received the Province Theta “Most Improved Chapter Award.”
- In the spring semester of 2016, our chapter had its highest average GPA in over 5 years.
- We have a higher percentage of varsity athletes than any other Greek organization on campus.
- We are taking on more leadership roles on campus. One of our members from the class of ’17 was elected president of the Intra-fraternity Council for the calendar year of 2016.
- The chapter won this year’s Intramural Championship.
- Community service is a topic of conversation at every weekly meeting. Every member performs a minimum of 10 hours of community service each semester.
- We currently have 70 active members in the chapter.
- In May, 2016, the Supreme Council of SAE voted to return the charter to Tennessee Zeta.
- The chapter is no longer on any form of probation.
It is obvious to us that Greek organizations can no longer be successful or even survive without help and involvement from alumni The members of our alumni commission have agreed to continue our involvement by serving on the chapter advisory board now that Tennessee Zeta’s charter is returned, but we need your help.
Over many years the lodge had been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that it had become barely usable. None of the plumbing worked. Most of the electrical outlets were out of order. There had been no heat in the building for over 30 years. There were leaks in the roof. There was no TV and the pool table was in terrible condition. Even more demoralizing was the condition of the Bunting Brothers portrait that had been vandalized with one-third of the painting missing entirely. The lodge was no longer a special place to gather and was rarely used other than for brief meetings.
The Alumni Commission and the newly-formed House Corporation opened a $30,000 line of credit with a local bank and began a house restoration project in the fall of 2015. The following has been accomplished:
- Installed an air conditioning and heating unit that services the chapter room, TV room and the kitchen.
- Performed major deep cleaning and painted the entire interior and some exterior portions of the lodge.
- Repaired the roof correcting all leaks.
- Repaired the plumbing and installed a toilet, urinal, and sinks.
- Provided a new 72″ flat screen TV with satellite coverage.
- Replaced the old pool table with a new SAE theme pool table that has purple and gold felt.
- Purchased new furniture that included couches and tables for the TV room and chairs for the chapter room.
- Installed new lighting and replaced all electrical outlets.
- Provided a refrigerator for the kitchen.
- One of our alumni from the class of ’71 made an anonymous donation by commissioning an artist to paint a reproduction of the Bunting Brothers portrait. This painting was unveiled during Homecoming 2015 and is now displayed at its rightful place above the fireplace. This donation boosted the moral of our members.
Photos of Lodge Post-Renovation
Need for Alumni Help
The restoration of the lodge required that we draw down the entire $30,000.00 line of credit. There is more work to be done, including repairing and water-proofing the back deck, landscaping, exterior work on the lodge that includes painting and wood work, and establishing a maintenance fund. But first we need to pay off the existing $30,000.00 loan. We are asking all Tennessee Zeta SAE alumni to chip in and help us with this cause that is near and dear to us all. Our goal is to raise $50,000.00 to pay off the line of credit, to finish renovating the lodge, and to begin a maintenance fund.
To date, members of the alumni board have personally contributed many thousands of dollars to the cause, hundreds of hours of time; two members of the alumni board personally guaranteed the $30,000.00 renovation loan. In the last two weeks, other alumni have contributed just over $10,000.00.
We are asking all alumni to consider giving a donation of $1,000.00. Please search your hearts and join our effort to the extent that you can afford to do so. Of course, we will accept any donations, large or small. All donors will be recognized on a plaque to be hung in the chapter room of the lodge. Please remit donations to:
Tennessee Zeta Foundation
1419 Glen Oaks Drive
Memphis, TN 38119
If you have any questions, please call John Keesee at (901) 277-1330, or Clinton Bailey at (901) 581-0359. We thank you all in advance for your generosity.
The Alumni Commission
Note: This letter was mailed to all known Tennessee Zeta alumni on July 27, 2016. Since the letter was sent, we have received approximately $10,000.00 in donations. Thanks to all who have donated!