Kent State House Dedication
On Sept. 16, 2016, the Kent State Chapter of Delta Upsilon officially dedicated its new chapter house in front of more than 100 members and guests. The facility, which can now house 29 men, gives the chapter a permanent space for the first time in five years, and housing stability for the first time in eight.
In 2008, Kent State University began to prepare for projected enrollment increases. Like many universities, it was forecasting steady growth and has, in fact, seen enrollment increase in each of the past 10 years. To accommodate such growth, it was necessary for the university to expand its footprint and construct several new buildings. To do so, it needed to purchase dozens of independently owned residential homes in the area, the Delta Upsilon house included.
At the time, the plan was for fraternities and sororities to lease new homes on campus-owned land and create a Greek Village. However, investment costs were high and the Greek Village failed to take shape. In 2010, two years after first being approached, the opportunity arose for the Delta Upsilon Kent State Alumni Chapter to purchase the university’s Foundation Building and turn it into the Kent State Chapter’s new home. However, more than three years would go by before negotiations would be completed.
Plans for the renovations began in 2013. Kent State Alumni Chapter members met with local firms DS Architecture, Warner Interiors and Metis Construction, Co. to discuss the chapter’s requirements and needs. Alumnus Michael Cesa, ’76, served as the Alumni Vice President of Housing with assistance from Nicholas Giorgianni, ’56; Douglas Cassens, ’68; and Stuart Thom, ’97.
Because the structure was being converted from office space to a residential chapter house, the 11,000 square foot facility underwent extensive interior demolition. Several new, larger water lines also needed to be run from the home to accommodate a fire suppression system and the water demands of future occupants. Renovations began in January 2016 and were completed by August 2016, in time for the chapter to move in at the beginning of the fall semester. The move-in marked the first time in five years the chapter had a permanent space. After the purchase of the old chapter house in 2011, and before the completion of the new facility, members were forced to live in either on- or off-campus housing and hold chapter meetings in the campus student center.
“You take a look at the last few years while the chapter was displaced and the men were living all over campus and the city, it was hard to operate as a fraternity. It felt more like a club,” said Cesa. “Now, by living in the same house, by having the chapter meetings there, it is really helping the brotherhood. I have already seen this group getting much closer than the chapter has been over the past few years.”
The new chapter house boasts 20 bedrooms (to sleep 29 men), three full bathrooms, one guest bathroom, a living room, two warming kitchens, three study rooms, an education/training room, an alumni office, a locker room, a laundry room and parking lot. It is also ADA compliant and Wi-Fi accessible throughout.
The Kent State Alumni Chapter launched a capital campaign to raise money for the home and worked closely with the Delta Upsilon Educational Foundation to set up a Chapter Educational Account (CEA), which assisted in providing donors with the opportunity to make part of their gifts tax-deductible. The campaign has yielded $220,000 for the project so far, and fundraising continues to help bring down the mortgage.
“When you look at the DU house, it’s more than a house, it’s a home,” Cesa said. “We [alumni] look back and treasure the time that we spent in the house that helped us build who we are. This new place, the boys call ‘the mansion.’ The guys really love it, and the alumni who stepped up are really pleased with the way it turned out. It’s phenomenal.”
The chapter house was officially dedicated on Sept. 16, 2016. Cesa; Giorgianni; Thom; alumni chapter treasurer Erin Lehaney, ’98; and chapter president Alexander Smith, ’19, took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony. More than 100 guests were in attendance, including the undergraduates, parents, alumni and university officials Provost Dr. Shay Davis-Little, VP of Facilities Planning and Operations Tom Euclide, Senior Assistant Director of the Center for Student Involvement Della Maria Marshall, Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Dennis Campbell, and DU faculty advisor Donna Carlton. The home’s architects and contractors, as well as past International Fraternity president Bruce Bailey, Denison ’58, were also in attendance. Following the ribbon cutting, a catered reception was hosted on the property and tours of the home were given.
“Our Alumni Chapter did a phenomenal job making sure the house had plenty of areas to study in peace, cook and clean with ease, as well as gather in a large living room and chapter room,” said Smith. “The best part is that all of the brothers now have a central location to hang out during the day as well as having a clean and pleasant environment to host events.”