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The Spears Family Epsilon Epsilon Center for Excellence Advances the Mission of Sigma Nu

Sigma Nu brothers will have another reason to visit the Sigma Nu Fraternity Headquarters in Lexington, Va., with the opening of the Spears Family Epsilon Epsilon Center for Excellence educational and residential facility.

The 9,000-square-foot facility, set to open in 2023, will significantly increase residential capacity and educational meeting space to meet the Fraternity’s growing needs.

“The Center will be the nexus for brothers to engage in meaningful LEAD Program sessions, teambuilding activities, and dialogue as they focus on the development of their mind, heart, and character, on chapter excellence, and on becoming ethical leaders,” said Brad Beacham (Texas Christian), Executive Director of Sigma Nu Fraternity.

The vision for the Center for Excellence began more than a decade ago with the development of a master plan for the Fraternity’s Headquarters.

Developing Ethical Leaders 

The Center for Excellence will be used primarily by collegiate chapters who make the pilgrimage to Lexington throughout the year to tour the historic Sigma Nu Fraternity Headquarters, including the Museum and Library, and participate in interactive LEAD sessions facilitated by Sigma Nu staff and volunteers.

In the future, the Center will also serve as the home for Sigma Nu’s academy for emerging leaders during the summer months.

Visiting the Fraternity’s Headquarters, the town of Lexington, and the Virginia Military Institute is a powerful, memorable experience for all Sigma Nu brothers.

“When you walk into the Sigma Nu Headquarters, you can feel the history,” said Jack Behm (Michigan), who visited the headquarters in 2019. “From the official trees from the state where chapters [are located] to the Alpha Room containing flags from every chapter…it was cool to see how much influence Sigma Nu has.”

The design of the Center for Excellence will allow up to four visiting collegiate chapter groups simultaneously. The group living environment will create a retreat-like experience, said Beacham, while promoting connections through teambuilding activities and “hands-on” experiential learning.

“The opening of the Center expands our capacity and allows us to provide this incredible Lexington experience for more brothers. Simply put, the Center accelerates our Mission to develop ethical leaders,” noted Beacham.

Beacham sees the Center also serving groups of alumni who may want to have a reunion experience in Lexington and for groups visiting the area to provide service to the Lexington and greater Rockbridge County community.

Building Upon History

Established in 1958, the Headquarters and grounds in historic Lexington, Va., are revered by Sigma Nu Fraternity as its literal and symbolic home. Affectionately known as The Rock, the Headquarters is situated on a site overlooking the Virginia Military Institute, where Sigma Nu Fraternity was founded in 1869, Washington and Lee University, and downtown Lexington.

Each year, thousands of alumni and collegiate brothers, often joined by family members, visit Lexington, VMI, and the Headquarters.

“When brothers visit Lexington, they connect personally with Sigma Nu’s history as they literally walk in the footsteps of our founders,” Beacham said, “It is a special place where our history is brought to life.”

Brothers leave with a greater appreciation for the Mission of Sigma Nu and their place in the Fraternity’s present and future.

“Visiting Headquarters was incredible…and one of the coolest experiences I’ve had with Sigma Nu,” said Jacob Scott (Kansas), who also visited in 2019. “What really stood out was the real focus on principles that our founders had.”

The Spears Family Epsilon Epsilon Center for Excellence will augment existing facilities, including the Ethical Leadership Center, the Carriage House Barracks, the Pathway of Honor, the Robert L. Marchman III Memorial Flag Pavilion and War Memorial, the Memorial Rose Arbor, the Fletcher Honor Library, the Alpha Room, the Museum, the Wing of Service to the Brotherhood, and the original Headquarters building, which was originally built by the grandson of VMI’s first superintendent.

“All buildings and displays were intentionally renovated or designed to display Sigma Nu’s history, principles, and Mission and to make them accessible for all who visit,” Beacham said.

The Strong Support of Alumni

Funding for the Center for Excellence facility was spearheaded by Dr. William “Bill” Spears (Oklahoma State/Texas Tech). Dr. Spears pledged $1.5 million toward the project and successfully challenged his Epsilon Epsilon Chapter Brothers to match his generosity.

Dr. Spears is the founder and CEO of Cenergistic, a Dallas-based energy conservation company that assists organizations in becoming more energy efficient. He said he was inspired to make the gift after reflecting on the experiences he gained in his own chapter. 

“I feel indebted to Sigma Nu for the leadership capabilities I developed during my time with the chapter,” said Spears, who was inducted into Sigma Nu’s Hall of Fame in 2021. “I believe my time with Epsilon Epsilon Chapter shaped me in ways that are still bearing fruit to this day.”

Beacham credits the unwavering support of Sigma Nu’s collegiate chapters and alumni in helping expand and preserve the Fraternity’s unique Headquarters over the years, noting there are few comparisons.

The Center for Excellence expands access to the original vision for the Headquarters. “The idea was to provide a literal place that symbolically and physically represents our founding, our principles, our Ritual, and our Creed…and accelerates the Mission of the Fraternity,” Beacham said.

Sigma Nu alumnus Jamison Keller (Cal State San Bernardino) says the Fraternity’s Headquarters plays a significant role in his connection and contributions to Sigma Nu even today, long after he graduated.

“Having gone to school in California, the first chance I had to visit our national Headquarters was as an alumnus,” said Keller, Assistant Dean and Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “When I walked the property, spending time with each of our historical pieces, I was in awe of how I was a part of this much grander level of brotherhood.”

He noted that the first visit, which was followed by many more visits back to Lexington, Va., ignited a whole new level of dedication to living the life of honor to which Sigma Nu calls all its Brothers. 

“I choose to give back to Sigma Nu in many ways, including supporting the Headquarters, so that other brothers can have the same experience I have had,” Keller noted.

© 2015-2022 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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