As I write this letter, students just finished the academic school year at Oregon State
University and Alpha Gamma Rho – Alpha Beta Chapter is nearing the end of its ninety-ninth year of presence on campus. Our brotherhood, much like agriculture itself, has always been through both good times andbad times, yet always moving forward to build a better future, building better men. Alpha Beta Chapter has been through some tough times in the last ten years. I want to share with you some of that history, some of the difficulties encountered, some of the efforts to reverse declining trends and most importantly, seek your engagement and input as we chart a new course to increase recruitment of young men and continue improving the Chapter House.
Fifteen years ago, the facility was suffering significant levels of deferred maintenance and physical obsolescence. Beginning at that time, improvements were initiated with a focus on upgrading the kitchen to better accommodate food preparation and serving the live-in brothers. The alumni andactives of Alpha Beta Chapter agreed that the declining condition was negatively impacting recruitment. Acquiring new members was increasingly difficult as many parents chose to have theirsons stay in other forms of campus housing that was deemed more livable for college life. At the time, the Alumni Board toured other fraternities on campus to see what they had to offer and realized Alpha Beta Chapter was at a crossroads. The choice was self-evident. Either invest significant capital to upgrade the Chapter house, or close it down.
The Alumni Board chose to invest. In 2014, a third-party fundraiser with a focus on Greek related housing, Pennington & Company, was retained to conduct a capital campaign on behalf of Alpha Beta Chapter. This effort was successful and through the support of many generous alumni, nearly $800,000 was raised, with most of these monetary pledges to be paid over five years. In the summer of 2017, a construction firm completed a remodel of all the study rooms and other needed improvements. Most of the study rooms went from 3-4 students to 2-3 student to allow for more space for technology upgrades.
Despite robust pledges to the capital campaign, funds from donors did materialize as planned and remodeling costs ran considerably over budget. Nonetheless, several alumni stepped forward and formed a group to loan the necessary money to finish the remodel project. Repayment of that loan was to come from remaining pledges from the capital campaign. While significantly reduce from pledges received, there is still an outstanding loan balance over $200,000 and the Alumni Board is committed to paying it in full. Presently, interest only payments are being on this smaller balance. Capital set backs are easily defined, identified and addressed. Impacts on brotherhood present a much greater challenge on the life of the fraternity.
In early 2016, a disgruntled Alpha Beta live-inmember communicated with Oregon State University and the national Home Office of Alpha Gamma Rho accusing his brothers in the chapter house of various hazing and harassment activities. Upon further review, it was determined by the university that the fraternity would be placed on suspension for five years. During the suspension period, there were 5-10 actives in the chapter house, far short of its remodeled capacity of 32-35 brothers.
Now the good news! The suspension was lifted at the beginning of the 2022/23 academic year and is receiving great support from AGR Home Office and the OSU administration. The current live-in active members are very focused on recruiting new members in order to continue a strong legacy for the future of Alpha Beta! These young men are very energetic and deserving of the support of all AGR alums with an interest in the life of the fraternity as we approach our 100-year anniversary at OregonState University.
While this letter provides history and context of some difficult years at Alpha Beta, I am writing this letter to urge you for your participation and engagement. Alpha Beta needs active alumni involvement, from referrals of incoming students that would become great AGR’s, for financial support to continue improving the Chapter House and reducing outstanding debt, and most importantly by spreading the word to all your fellow AGR’s that might not receive this letter. Our database is incomplete so we know this letter will only be seen by a portion of the more than 1200 alums of Alpha Beta Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho.
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