Epsilon Tau History - Theta Chi Fraternity @ SFA

Epsilon Tau History


May 20, 1961

Stephen F. Austin State College

Nacogdoches, Texas


History of Epsilon Tau Chapter:

Working on our second 50 years at SFA

Theta Chi Fraternity has officially existed at SFA since its installation on May 20, 1961. However the roots of our Brotherhood extend another 23 years into the past, to 1938 with the founding of the Austinite Social Club. In the late 1950’s there were 5 prominent men’s social clubs on the campus of Stephen F. Austin.  The History of the Stone Fort Museum, regarding social events, states:  “Various SFA clubs, including the Sawyers, Foresters, Lambda Gammas, and Austinites have used the Fort." A fifth club, the Rebels, owned a cannon from the Mexican-American War known as the "Gray Ghost" which it used in Homecoming celebrations.

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In 1960 the Sawyers were granted a charter of Delta Sigma Phi and Lambda Gamma was granted a charter of Pi Kappa Alpha.  In 1961 the Austinite Social Club, which now were combined with the Rebels, was granted a charter of Theta Chi Fraternity as the Epsilon Tau Chapter.  In 1962 the Foresters were granted a charter of Phi Delta Theta. The Epsilon Tau Chapter was just the third Theta Chi charter extended in the State of Texas following Delta Mu at the University of Texas and Delta Phi at the University of North Texas and the 134th chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity.

The following is an article published in The Rattle of Theta Chi, our national quarterly magazine, in the summer of 1961:

"History was made at Stephen F. Austin State College at Nacogdoches, Texas, recently opened to national fraternities, when on Saturday, May 20, the Austinite Social Club, founded in 1938, was installed as Epsilon Tau of Theta Chi Fraternity, making a total of 134 chapters.  It was the third chapter to be instituted by Theta Chi in May, Epsilon Rho being placed at Rider College May 6 and Epsilon Sigma at Wagner College May 7.  Following the installation of the chapter and its officers, the charter was presented to Epsilon Tau’s president by Joseph D. Ross, Jr., national president.  Immediately after that, a reception was held at the Student Center.  Next, a brief tour of the campus was taken with the Delta Phi Chapter from North Texas State University.  The banquet began at 5:30 p.m., in the Student Center Ballroom with a welcome address from the newly installed chapter president, Samuel Baty.  Others on the program were: Dr. James L. Nichols, Jr., honorary member and chapter adviser, Joseph D. Ross, Jr., national president, and William F. Frantz, past national president, who had been largely instrumental in interesting Theta Chi in this college. There were thirty-eight undergraduates in the group installed and three faculty members:  Dr. James L. Nichols, Dr. Charles K. Chamberlain, professor of history and government, and Dr. William O. Gay, professor of psychology. The Austinite Social Club had its origin in 1938 as one of the first service clubs on the campus, becoming a social club officially in the spring of 1960.  Dedicated to promoting knowledge, building strong character, inspiring friendship, and encouraging social harmony, members have participated in all the college activities.  A homecoming float is built each fall, and at each home football game the group fires the confederate cannon named “Gray Ghost,” each time the Jacks score a touchdown.  Every Christmas there is a dance with Sigma Kappa, and in the spring semester the “Old Southern Garden Dance” is enjoyed.  The group also has informal stag parties and participates in the intramural sports."

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"The Officers of Epsilon Tau installed May 20 are: Samuel Baty, president; Joseph Hightower, vice president; David Perdue, secretary; Thomas Woods, treasurer; Jerry Hustead, marshal; Charles Bratz, first guard; Ralph Cooper, second guard; Patrick McMurrogh, historian; Reed Edwin Hopkins, librarian; Albert Dorn Cook, chaplain. Installation plans were made largely by William Frantz, (Alpha Pi/University of Minnesota 1939) former national president, now of Orange, Texas.  He met the national officers at the airport there and drove them to Nacogdoches. Established in 1921 by the Texas legislature, Stephen F. Austin State College is part of a community which developed around Guadalupe Mission, founded in 1716.  Its early enrollment of only a few hundred students now exceeds 2,000.  The college has four-year curricula which lead to a bachelor’s degree in arts, science, business, forestry, music, and home economics.  A master’s degree can be obtained in three fields. Evidence that Stephen F. Austin State College is considered potentially a fine fraternity school is the fact that this year chapters of Delta Sigma Phi and Pi Kappa Alpha have been installed."

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Loss of the chapter, and a new beginning...

In 2001, the Grand Chapter made the decision to remove the Epsilon Tau Chapter due to numerous risk management violations. The old fraternity house on North St. was sold, all chapter artifacts were placed in storage and many dedicated Alumnus Brothers began to patiently wait for the right opportunity for Theta Chi to return to SFA. 6 years later, in 2007, representatives of Stephen F. Austin contacted the Grand Chapter of Theta Chi and requested that the Grand Chapter consider the recolonization of the Epsilon Tau Chapter. Citing the considerable support from the vibrant base of Alumnus Brothers, the Grand Chapter began the process of restoring the Epsilon Tau Chapter.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of many Alumnus Brothers, including George Reese ('73), John Ward ('70), Gary Holverson ('88), Jimmy Crow ('86) and others, the Grand Chapter officially began recolonization efforts in the fall of 2008. Expansion Coordinators Corey Fischer and Phillip Burns arrived at SFA and immediately began to recruit the core of the interest group. By early October of 2008, 21 bids had been accepted and the Epsilon Tau Interest Group formally petitioned the Grand Chapter for colonization. On December 6, 2008, the Colonization Ceremony was held in the Tiered Conference Room in the Baker Pattillo Student Center at SFA. 23 men were given their new member pins, and the Epsilon Tau Colony was reinstated.

Throughout the spring semester of 2009, the Epsilon Tau Colony continued to grow together as Brothers, students and men. As the Epsilon Tau Colony advanced towards reinstallation, the excitement of all the men of the colony, and of the Alumnus Brothers, continued to build as May approached.

Re-Chartering and Re-Installation of the Epsilon Tau Chapter

Theta Chi made its triumphant return to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas on May 9, 2009. Following a record-breaking eight month expansion period including just four months as a colony, the group organized by Expansion Coordinators Phillip Burns - Iota Lambda / Longwood University, and Corey Fischer - Iota Beta / Missouri State, was installed as the Epsilon Tau Chapter.

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Epsilon Tau Alumni in attendance at Initiation and Chapter Installation were:

Alan Smith – roster number 994 / Spring 2000

Andrew Jones IV – roster number 973 / Spring 1999

Branden Yarbrough – roster number 778 / Fall 1990

Scott Hilton – roster number 766 / Fall 1990

Gary Holverson – roster number 698 / Fall 1988

Michael Clifton – roster number 484 / Fall 1980

Paul Sumrow – roster number 478 / Fall 1979

John Mathews – roster number 377 / Fall 1974

Jerry Bristow – roster number 354 / Fall 1973

Mark Wood – roster number 352 / Fall 1973

George Reese – roster number 344 / Spring 1973

Lyn Stevens – roster number 326 / Spring 1973

Dick Goodman – roster number 301 / Fall 1971

Jeff Arnold – roster number 287/ Spring 1971

John Ward – roster number 260 / Spring 1970

Founding Father Jim Wark - roster number 45 / Spring 1961

On the evening of May 8, 37 Pledges of the Colony including three alumnus members, were initiated into Theta Chi Fraternity in the Austin Ballroom of the Clarion Inn in Nacogdoches, TX. The Alumni Charge was administered by two Epsilon Tau Alumni; Jerry Bristow, uncle to the undergraduate Recruitment Chairman Kyle Bristow, and Jim Wark an original founding-father of the chapter.

Undergraduate Initiates were; Jonathan Albarado, Kevin Arnold, Justin Blair, Kyle Bristow, Jonathan Carr, Danny (DJ) Currington, Andy Dawkins, RobbyHale, Ronnie Hall, Kevin Hickey, Erick Jenkins, James Jenkins, Nathon Jones, Carl Kalmick, Justin Knight, Jarrett Luthy, Anthony Martin, Geoff Miller, James Miller, Josh Norris, James Parrish, Eric Phelps, Stephen Ptaszek, Billy Reese, Brice Rodrigues, Casey Roe, Scott Shuman, Brandt Silvi, Jamal Smith, Darren Stewart, Cody St.John, Hunter Throckmorton, Brad Whitworth, Lucas Windham.

At 10:30 am Saturday May 9, 2009 the chapter installation ceremony began also in the Austin Ballroom of the Clarion Inn. Shortly before noon, surrounded by mysterious circumstances, the Epsilon Tau interest group had slowly slipped from existence. In its place nearby was found alumni spanning over four decades with visiting undergraduate brothers along side the members of the newly re-chartered chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity.

National Marshal of the Grand Chapter, Brian Hall of Theta Eta / Sam Houston State University served as Installing Officer for the occasion. Other representatives of the International Fraternity serving on the Installation Committee were; Terry Johnson – National Historian of the Grand Chapter, Gamma Pi / State Univ. of New York in Buffalo, Ben Hill – Director of Undergraduate Services for IHQ, Eta Kappa Chapter at James Madison University, Alan Carter – Regional Director, Charter Member of Eta Omicron / Northwestern State James Guillory – Regional Counselor, Theta Rho / McNeese State University, Jeremy Higgins – Director of Risk Management for SFASU, Theta Eta/Sam Houston State University and Expansion Coordinators Phillip Burns and Corey Fischer.

The Installation Committee also consisted of Undergraduate Brothers from the following Chapters: Delta Mu / University of Texas, Eta Omicron / Northwestern State University, Eta Rho / Centenary College of Louisiana, Theta Rho / McNeese State University, Iota Delta / Southeastern Louisiana University. In comments following the ceremony, with the exception of Delta Mu which was established prior to 1961, visiting undergraduate brothers commented that their roster books listed members of Epsilon Tau as honorary chapter members in attendance at each of their home chapter's installation.

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