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2011 News Releases

Longwood Theta Chi chapter receives fraternity’s highest chapter honor

June 23, 2011

Tyrone Brooks (center) treasurer of Longwood's chapter of Theta Chi, accepts on behalf of his chapter the fraternity's highest chapter honor.
Tyrone Brooks (center) treasurer of Longwood's chapter of Theta Chi, accepts on behalf of his chapter the fraternity's highest chapter honor from Warren Hoffman (left) and Michael Mayer, past foundation board president and executive director, respectively, of Theta Chi.

Longwood University's chapter of Theta Chi fraternity recently received the fraternity's highest chapter honor.

The chapter was one of four from across North America to receive the Howard R. Alter Jr. Award for Chapter Excellence at a nationwide fraternity event in June. In August three more chapters will receive the award, given to active chapters that demonstrate excellence in several designated areas of chapter operations. The Longwood chapter also received the Alter Award in 2009.

"The award is for overall chapter performance including scholarship, recruitment, new member education, service and philanthropy," said Bart Zino, director of communication for Theta Chi fraternity. "It honors chapters that capture the spirit of hard work, achievement and high standards that were exemplified by Brother Alter, who was a legend and was known by everyone for his high standards."

The award was created in 1984 when Alter retired as Theta Chi's executive director and has been given annually since 1986. Alter served the fraternity for 54 years before his death in 2009.

"The number of recipients varies every year," Zino said. "We've had as many as 12 and as few as two. Consideration for the award is by application only. A committee of current and former  field staff members reviews each application and selects winners."

The award was presented June 11 by Michael Mayer and Warren Hoffman, executive director and past foundation board president of Theta Chi fraternity, respectively, and was accepted by Tyrone Brooks, treasurer of the Longwood chapter. It was presented during the fraternity's inaugural Initiative Academy, held June 9-12 in Bloomington, Ind., which the fraternity describes as "the premier leadership development experience for emerging leaders." Theta Chi, founded in 1856 at Norwich University in Vermont and headquartered in Indianapolis, has 128 active chapters across the United States and Canada.

Longwood's Theta Chi chapter had 65 members at the end of the spring 2011 semester and is the university's largest social fraternity. It began as an "interest group" in 2005, became a colony in 2006, and was chartered April 20, 2007 as the Iota Lambda chapter, the 218th chapter to be chartered. The next day, some 56 brothers were initiated as members. The chapter's philanthropy is Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief organization. The president of Longwood's Theta Chi chapter is Bobby Smith, and the adviser is Matt Coates, residence education coordinator for Frazer.

"Receiving this award is a huge honor and shows that our chapter is doing things the right way," said Smith, a rising senior from Midlothian. "In my opinion, receiving it a second time has been much more rewarding than the first time. It can be compared to winning the Super Bowl. When your team wins, you gain a sense of self-satisfaction and achievement, but unfortunately you tend to lose motivation and drive. That makes repeating much more difficult. We saw a decline in members' motivation following the 2009 Alter Award, but we set new goals and objectives and, instead of saying 'We want to win the Alter Award,' we recognized that we wanted to be the best our chapter could possibly be, and the award simply gave us the blueprint to do so."

Including the current Student Government Association president, four of the last five SGA presidents have been members of Theta Chi.

"While this recognition is very special and meaningful to the chapter, the contributions that Iota Lambda chapter (of Theta Chi fraternity) has made to our campus are of equal, if not greater, significance," said Dr. Tim Pierson, vice president for student affairs. "In a time when many question the value of fraternity life, Theta Chi has raised the bar and elevated the standard while bringing honor to the chapter, fraternity life, and Longwood University."

Billy Boulden, Interfraternity Council adviser and assistant director of student activities, echoed those sentiments. "It's difficult to describe a chapter that does everything I ask and complies with all of the standards of our institution. Longwood is lucky to have Theta Chi as a part of our community. They truly embody what it means to be Theta Chi men. They are actively engaged throughout campus life and are involved with athletics, SGA, Lancer Productions, Peer Mentors, Resident Assistants, and many more organizations. I could not be more proud of these men."

Otis Brown, a Theta Chi brother who is president of the Longwood Real Estate Foundation and vice rector of the Longwood Board of Visitors, has been involved with and supportive of the chapter. The chapter's alumni have also been a big help, said chapter president Bobby Smith.

"Receiving the Alter Award is recognition not only of our undergraduate chapter but of our alumni as well," he said. "People may believe that joining a fraternity is a four-year college experience, but that is simply not the case. Once you are a Theta Chi, you are a Theta Chi for life, and our alumni have truly embodied that statement through their continuous support and guidance of our undergraduate chapter. We would not be the chapter we are without our alumni support."

The chapter is aided by a Chapter Advisory Board (CAB), whose president is Patrick Crute, a 2010 Longwood graduate who lives in Chesapeake. "The structure of Theta Chi involves highly involved alumni who create an Alumni Corporation," said Crute, manager of municipal affairs for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. "The corporation consists of a board that runs the business side of the fraternity, such as our ownership of a house on Second Street, and the Chapter Advisory Board, which focuses on the chapter itself. The CAB advises and assists the chapter in its day-to-day operations and any other related issues."