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Eta Mu Chapter Rises from the Ashes of 100-Year-Old Chapter Home

In November of 2017, the Eta Mu Chapter at Kettering University experienced the unthinkable. An electrical circuit sparked, caught fire, and engulfed their charming, nearly 100-year-old house in flames. Thankfully, all the brothers were evacuated safely as over fifty firefighters answered the call from nearby departments.

Unfortunately, the house could not be saved — a devastating loss. The chapter members lost their home and personal possessions – computers, clothing, books, - everything.

But the chapter's story did not end there.

In the face of this tragedy, collegiate and alumni brothers from the chapter drew close and took action to get through this challenge together.

In the days following the fire and loss of the house, alumni formed an incident command team to handle the aftermath - relocating the undergraduate brothers, implementing emergency clean up, and salvaging decades of memorabilia.

Once the immediate concerns were under control, the housing corporation began to plan how to rebuild. Building on campus or selling and buying an existing large house were explored, but rebuilding on the beautiful, six-acre, historic property was quickly brought back into focus.

Under the strong, steady leadership of Housing Corporation President, Brother Kevin Marion and the unwavering determination of Project Manager, Brother Rick Cawthray, the Eta Mu Chapter House was rebuilt. Kevin's excellent negotiating skills and Rick's construction expertise produced an extremely well-engineered, commercial-grade structure that is built to last with the

latest in safety, comfort, efficiency, technology, and function while maintaining the character and charm of the original house. Through smart planning, early ordering, and pre-staging the materials, the house was reconstructed on time and under budget.

Throughout this transition, the active chapter also continued its commitment to excellence. Though the chapter had to relocate to find other accommodations until the new house was constructed, the men never neglected their operations. The chapter actually increased in size, continued to support philanthropic organizations such as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the American Cancer Society, and maintained chapter traditions such as freshman science night, midnight pizza, and the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Move-in was in January of 2021. The kitchen quickly became the favorite part of the house. There's always someone hanging out in there, making food, having refreshments, or watching TV. They love using the living room, playing games, or watching movies almost every night on the massive projector screen. The solarium is also a great place to be when they want to get out of their room and get a little bit of quiet. It's often used for meetings and study groups. They love the new house.

During the construction process, alumni were also able to contribute to restoring the memories of the old home that were lost in the fire. The alumni knew that insurance would cover the rebuilding of the house. Instead, alumni, including the Delta Chi Rho 11th Fellowship (the chapter's predecessor organization) and the chapter's founding members, decided to focus their fundraising efforts on trimming out living and communal spaces. Housing Corp Treasurer, Brother Gary Zahn, began a project to collect memories from chapter alumni. Many poignant, funny, sad, inspiring, and touching stories of the 65-year-old brotherhood will be enshrined in the new house. They are making it a home.

Brother Marion shares that he was excited to see his three major goals achieved. He hoped the alumni and undergraduate members could "ensure the active chapter was not only stable but grew, rebuild the physical property on time, and through careful cost management, fund a strong, sustainable housing corporation and alumni network to bridge the Eta Mu Chapter well into the latter part of the century."

© 2015-2021 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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