Over the Nov. 15-17 weekend, 290 undergraduate and alumni members of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity celebrated the fraternity’s 100th year on the UND campus.
Delta Tau Delta started as Beta Chi local fraternity 100 years ago, in 1918-19, when nine undergraduates formed a new fraternity. Most founders were World War I veterans. Those undergraduate immediately assessed themselves $100 each ($1,500 in 2019 dollars) to invest in two lots at 2700 University Avenue, and raised $24,000 in bonds ($360,000 today) to build a new chapter house which opened in 1923, which has been the site of the chapter house ever since.
International Fraternity President Steve Paquette ’77 (Syracuse), ΔTΔ CEO Jack Kreman’04 (Nebraska at Kearney), Northern Division President Jeff Pelletier ’94 (Ohio State), and Steve Vedra ’02 (Butler), President of the ΔΤΔ Educational Foundation were present representing the International Fraternity.
Co-Chair of the UND Presidential Search Committee and Business Dean Emeritus Dennis Elbert ’68 ’72, represented UND. He started working for UND College of Business in 1980, became business dean in 1997, and retired in 2014. Robert K, Muhs ’77 director of airline operations for the Boeing Co. of Seattle, represented the alumni, and Jared Fowler ’21 spoke on behalf of the undergraduate members. Landon Bahl ’16 of Oklahoma City was the Master of Ceremonies and Centennial Chair, Joseph McGrath ’19 of Stillwater, MN was the Centennial Fellow organizing the centennial events.
The members of Beta Chi desired to affiliate with the strongest national fraternity possible. That group of 186 undergraduates and alumni started petitioning Delta Tau Delta in 1927 to demonstrate UND was of sufficient quality to enable expansion, and that the members were strong enough scholars and leaders to enable affiliation with Delta Tau Delta. UND was approved as worthy in 1931, the chapter became a colony in 1933, and successfully became Delta Xi Chapter of Delta Tau Delta fraternity on Nov. 23, 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression. Over the 100 year history, the Delt chapter at UND has been in constant operation except for three years during WW II, when all the members were called to military duty, and the chapter house was used as military barracks as were all fraternity houses at UND. Many fraternity chapters have lost their charter – mostly for hazing, alcohol, or low membership – and were re-chartered, but not Delta Xi of ΔΤΔ . Few undergraduate chapters at UND or on any university campus have that successful 100 year history of continuity of operations by undergraduate members.
Over the 100 years, the chapter has initiated 186 members in Beta Chi and 1,200 members into Delta Tau Delta fraternity. The North Dakota Delt chapter has produced many leaders. Five Delts have received honorary degrees from UND, ten have received a Sioux Award from UND, and five alumni were recognized nationally with the ΔΤΔ Alumni Achievement Award for national professional excellence: Harold Bangert ’27; Stan Moe ’34; Merlin Dewing ’56’58; Robert Feidler ’71’74, Norm Skalicky ’55, and Robert Muhs ’77. Merlin Dewing served on the international fraternity board of directors for six years, and ten years on the national ΔΤΔ Educational Foundation board of directors, following his service as president of the UND Foundation for two terms. Six North Dakota Delt alumni are recipients of the International Fraternity’s highest honor for service, the ΔΤΔ Distinguished Service Chapter: George Allen ’36, Ordean Dahl ’34, Merlin Dewing, ’56 ’58, Thomas Hanson ’69, Richard Schmidt ’76, and during the centennial banquet Bruce Gjovig ’74 of Grand Forks received that award. Gjovig has served as a chapter advisor, house corporation member, and was a founder and long-time chair of the ΔΤΔ Educational Foundation of North Dakota . He also served ten years on the ΔΤΔ Housing Commission for the national fraternity as well as he was longtime chair of the Alumni Interfraternity Council at UND.
Three Grand Forks Delt alumni received the John W. Nichols Bridgebuilder Award from the International Fratermotu for outstanding work with the Chapter House Corporation: Judge Joel Medd ’69, Kenton McGregor CPA ’69, and Ken Johnson PA ’69. All three were in the same pledge class in the fraternity, were initiated together, and then served as house corporation officers since 1980 – near 40 years of service each.
In 1978 North Dakota Delt alumni made fraternity history by forming the nation’s first chapter educational foundation, the ΔΤΔ Educational Foundation of North Dakota. Over 40 years, the Foundation raised over $2.3 M from over 430 alumni. This was after alumni raised funds to build a new chapter house in 1979. This is alumni support that puts our chapter on the top 5% of all 130 chapters in Delta Tau Delta internationally for alumni support and giving – top 1% of all 5500 fraternity chapters in 66 nationals on 800 college campuses. (2900 sorority chapters in 26 sororities on 630 college campuses). There are nearly 10 million Greek alumni – less than 3% of the population. Delt alumni wanted to ensure that young men of potential could afford a fraternity experience if they put forth effort, plus they wanted to reward fraternal, academic, professional and personal excellence.
The ΔΤΔ Educational Foundation has provided more than 4,600 individual academic scholarships and achievement awards to undergraduate and graduate members, amounting to over $1.4 M of financial support and encouragement. Additionally, the Delt Foundation supports a Leadership Academy for its members, and annually supports educational and leadership programs to encourage members to go to national conferences, bring in speakers, hold career nights with successful alumni, and keep an up-to-date computer lab in the chapter house. More than $500,000 has been allocated from alumni support for these educational programs.
In the last 35 years, the UND Chapter has been recognized 14 times as a “Top 20” Court of Honor Chapter in the International Fraternity, and six times was recognized as a Hugh Shields Chapter, being a top 10 chapter. This recognition is based on meeting criteria to mark organizational excellence including performance in finances, academics, community service, alumni relations, and membership education.
Most importantly, over 90 percent of the initiated members of the chapter graduate from UND, a retention and graduation rate 35 percent higher than UND enrollment as a whole. Besides developing strong leaders, all fraternities and sororities have a retention and graduation rate that is much higher than the university average, meaning campus engagement and peer support is highly valuable and leads to college success. Additionally Greek alumni have a substantially higher engagement for community service and alumni donations through life.