Rick Holland Named Distinguished Delta Upsilon

Restarting an undergraduate chapter takes considerable planning on the part of the International Fraternity and chapter alumni. Well before recruitment begins, conference calls are held, fundraising efforts launch, and excitement ramps up. Many Syracuse alumni were involved in the return of the undergraduate chapter, which was reinstalled Jan. 27, 2018, but during their planning calls, the quietest alumni voice was perhaps the strongest.

On his end of the receiver, the voice of Rick Holland, Syracuse ’83, was weak from throat cancer treatments. His comments were quiet, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from being a part of the planning. Holland had spent years preparing for the chapter’s return and advancing the International Fraternity. He had already given back in so many ways, but he wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to serve. Fittingly, at the Syracuse Chapter’s reinstallation reception, Delta Upsilon surprised Holland with the Distinguished Delta Upsilon Award.

Delta Upsilon’s highest individual honor, the Distinguished Delta Upsilon Award, recognizes brothers who have shown their dedication to the Fraternity by giving their time, talent and treasure. Over the years, Holland has served Delta Upsilon on every level: undergraduate chapter President, International Headquarters staff member (including eight years as Educational Foundation Executive Director), alumni chapter President, and member of both the International Fraternity’s Board of Directors and the Educational Foundation’s Board of Trustees. When Holland was an undergraduate, the Syracuse Chapter was just a few years removed from its first reinstallation. Holland recognized his experiences in DU were thanks to the alumni who brought the chapter back in 1976. Therefore, it was his “obligation” to give back to the Fraternity that meant so much to him.

“Those alumni made the decision to stay involved in DU, and in doing so, they literally changed my life,” Holland said. “Even though I didn’t join until my sophomore year, there was nothing more important to me than DU when I was an undergraduate … the Fraternity has really had a profound and lasting impact on my life from the moment I joined.”

On the international level, Holland’s dedication to DU has moved the Fraternity forward in many ways. On the chapter level, other Syracuse alumni credit him with keeping the alumni chapter alive after the undergraduate chapter closed in 1996. Mike Whalen, Syracuse ’85, goes as far as to say, “Rick started plotting our comeback the day we left campus.”

Holland knew that if the alumni remained engaged, their support could bring the chapter back when the time was right. In his time as alumni chapter President, he made sure reunions were planned and information and news were communicated. In 2016 when the Syracuse Chapter was recolonizing, it was natural that Holland led the charge of the Dikaia Foundation, the Syracuse Chapter alumni’s fundraising arm. Using his expertise, he spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the chapter’s return as well as a Chapter Legacy Plan through the Delta Upsilon Educational Foundation. In total, his efforts have helped raise more than $325,000 to date.

“Rick led our comeback charge, whispering encouragement on task force calls,” Whalen said. “It really was an amazing thing to see: a guy depleted by his treatments and with an imperceptible voice making fundraising calls, leading our return. But that’s Rick, always putting the brotherhood above self.”

For Holland, giving back to the Fraternity is always a no-brainer. When an organization impacts you in so many ways—Holland even met his wife through DU—you give back in any way you can. It is the true spirit of a Distinguished Delta Upsilon.

“As a DU alumnus, if the Fraternity meant anything to you,” Holland said, “I really feel you have an obligation to stay involved to keep DU thriving because, without exaggeration, its presence on campus changes lives.”