The History and Evolution of the
Zeta Sigma Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha
Florida Institute of Technology
Colonel Kermit J. Silverwood (Former District President)
James Cicardo (Chapter Pledge Educator)
Members of the fraternity who may be considered as founders of the Zeta Sigma Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at the Florida Institute of Technology are as follows:
Carl Bollum Gamma Eta of Univ. of Southern California
Ray Mahaffey Gamma Beta of Univ. of Nebraska
Richard Lawrence Beta Kappa of Emory University
Jefferson Steck Chapter Unknown
Dr. Woodbridge Beta Beta of Univ. of Washington
Oliver Kern Beta Beta of Univ. of Washington
Lt. Col. Henry N. Moore Gamma Iota of Univ. of Mississippi
The above fraternity members are those who were in the vicinity of Melbourne and Florida Institute of Technology when procedures were initiated in order to be able to organize: first, an Alumni Chapter; second, a local fraternity, then a colony of Pi Kappa Alpha; and lastly, the chartering of Zeta Sigma Chapter. The following paragraphs show in chronological order the steps that were taken for the eventual chartering of the Fraternity on the Florida Institute of Technology campus.
In October 1965, Carl Bollum contacted Col. Silverwood, then the District President for District Nine that encompasses the state of Florida for Pi Kappa Alpha. It was in regard to the requirements for chartering an Alumni Association in the Melbourne, Satellite Beach, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, and Cape Canaveral areas. The organizational meeting for the Alumni Association was held at the Officers Club on Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach in October 1965. The purpose of the Alumni Association was to sponsor a Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at Brevard Engineering College. Approximately forty (40) Pi Kappa Alpha brothers of sixteen (16) different chapters were the first charter members of the Cape Canaveral Pi Kappa Alpha Alumni Association. Carl Bollum was elected as the first president.
Immediately after the formation of the Cape Canaveral Alumni Association, Carl Bollum along with Dick Lawrence contacted Dr. Jerome Keuper, President of Brevard Engineering College, as to his feelings toward a Fraternity on the BEC Campus. Dr. Keuper was the most receptive since he knew fraternities quite well and had completed a Doctorate Degree at the University of Virginia where Pi Kappa Alpha was founded on March 1, 1868. Dr. Keuper felt a fraternity system should be a part of the overall education system offered to the college students. He was also interested in having a fraternity system in order to give the opportunity to selected students for greater fellowship and to instill a spirit of service and esprit de corps within the college.
Carl Bollum and Dick Lawrence then contacted several interested students on the campus who, in turn, decided to form a local fraternity. Col. Silverwood was asked to meet with the students who had indicated interest in a fraternity and to outline steps to be taken to meet Pi Kappa Alphas requirements for an eventual charter. In order to simplify the organization of a local fraternity, the name of Alpha Kappa Pi was chosen for the local fraternity since spelling the name backwards indicated their interest in Pi Kappa Alpha. The local fraternity immediately began to exert a great deal of influence on campus. The members wore red vests every Wednesday along with ties and coats if the weather was cool and indicated to the other students and the faculty that the fraternity intended to exemplify high standards of appearance and behavior at all times. The local fraternity thus began their work towards meeting the requirements that Pi Kappa Alpha would require in order to be able to charter the group at a later time. The local fraternity became involve with many campus and civic projects that enhanced their public relations with the College and the civilian community. One notable project was the construction of a bridge over a creek that ran between the classroom area and the dormitories on the campus.
The local chapter of Alpha Kappa Pi began operation in November 1965 and by the end of the school year, in June 1966, the chapter had thirty-five (35) members. In the interim, the local chapter had become acquainted with the policies and practices of Pi Kappa Alpha and indicated their desire to become a colony of Pi Kappa Alpha.
Col. Silverwood contacted the fraternitys national office in Memphis, Tennessee. Earl Watkins, the executive secretary, and John Horton, secretary of Supreme Council of the national fraternity were requested to visit Brevard Engineering College to determine the eligibility of the college for a national fraternity and to make an initial inspection of the local fraternity. Earl Watkins, a Pike from Millsaps College, John Horton, a Pike from Davidson University, and Col. Silverwood visited the campus of Brevard Engineering College in October 1966. After conferring with Dr. Keuper, and touring the campus for consideration by Pi Kappa Alpha, Earl Watkins was very much impressed with the college; however, John Horton was of the opinion that the college would not survive financially and would, in a short time, be forced to cease operations. Therefore, John Horton would not support the expansion of the fraternity to the Brevard Engineering Campus. At this time, there were only about 350 students on the college campus and the outlook for an expanded enrollment did not seem very plausible. In addition, the national fraternity was not receptive to the name of Brevard Engineering College since it did not, in their opinion, connote a school of high caliber or one that might gain national recognition in the future. Additionally, the national fraternity had an unwritten policy whereby a Pi Kappa Alpha Chapter would not be approved for any campus where Pi Kappa Alpha would be the only national fraternity on campus.
After the visit of Earl Watkins and John Horton, the local fraternity was disappointed, but did not lose interest in being able to eventually gain the recognition of Pi Kappa Alpha and to become a Chapter of the Fraternity. The local fraternity grew in strength and stature and in a short time had a membership of over forty-five (45) men.
Early in 1967, the name of Brevard Engineering College was changed to Florida Institute of Technology, which eliminated the disapproval of the national fraternity. Also, since it was necessary to have another national fraternity on campus, the Alpha Kappa Pi local took appropriate steps along with Dick Lawrence, and their Alumnus Council to begin to form another local fraternity. Since Dick Lawrences father was a Chi Phi, Mr. Gladfelter, the Executive Director of Chi Phi, was contacted as to their interest in organizing a fraternity on the FIT campus. Chi Phi was most receptive and with the help of the Alpha Kappa Pi colony, sufficient young men were recruited to be able to form a local fraternity that would, in the future, apply for recognition as a chapter of Chi Phi.
With the name of the College changed to FIT and the organization of another fraternity on campus, two of the roadblocks that had prevented the local Alpha Kappa Pi colony from being recognized had now been eliminated. The other roadblock was the presence of John Horton on the Supreme Council who vowed that he would never approve a Chapter at FIT.
At the National Convention that was held in August 1967, John Horton retired and a new Supreme Council was elected.
As soon as the new Supreme Council was sworn in, Col. Silverwood presented to them a history and prospectus of FIT and requested that the local fraternity Alpha Kappa Pi be inspected by the fraternity for recognition as a colony of Pi Kappa Alpha. The new Supreme Council then agreed to consider a colony at Florida Institute of Technology. Steps were taken immediately to have the Delta Delta Chapter of Florida Southern College and Delta Upsilon chapter of Stetson University visit Alpha Kappa Pi and to recommend or reject the local fraternity for possible recognition as a colony of Pi Kappa Alpha.
In October 1967, Alpha Kappa Pi was inspected by the closest chapters and was established as a colony with the main purpose of securing a Charter by March 1, 1968 as a Centennial Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha. The colony had a very difficult task to perform since they were required to meet the following requirements in less than five months (normal time required is 12 months):
1.) Must have a savings account of at least $1,000.
2.) Must have a House Corporation chartered by the State of Florida.
3.) Must have a minimum of forty members.
4.) The grade point average of the fraternity members must be equal to or better than the all-mens average.
5.) Must have attended a District Convention within the past year.
6.) Must secure recommendations from the President of the school, the Dean of Student Affairs, and one other faculty member indicating the quality of the men in the fraternity and their feelings toward the chartering of the local group.
7.) Must have participated in numerous civic and college activities and must have gained recognition through newspaper articles or other media.
8.) Must be inspected by the three closest chapters and representation of the national office to insure that they meet the necessary criteria for the fraternity nationalization.
In January 1968, the Pi Kappa Alpha colony at Florida Institute of Technology was inspected by chapters from Florida Southern College, Stetson University, and Florida State University and was unanimously recommended for a charter in Pi Kappa Alpha. An inspection team from the National office also visited the FIT campus and approved the colony for nationalization as a Centennial chapter with chartering ceremonies to be held on March 1, 1968.
As soon as the local fraternity Alpha Kappa Pi had received colony status under Pi Kappa Alpha, the chapter became very interested in securing a fraternity house. Dr. Keuper was in full accord with the chapter house providing additional accommodations for students since FIT was deficient in student housing. In addition, fraternity housing was considered essential in furthering the fraternity system at FIT. Carl Bollum, President of the Cape Canaveral Alumni Association, who was in the real estate business in Satellite Beach, had learned of a large Southern mansion type house on the Indian River in Palm Bay which was for sale. This house, which had thirteen (13) rooms and seven (7) baths and had been built as a ministers retirement home, was now in financial difficulty with the loan company which was about to foreclose on the mortgage. Carl Bollum immediately began negotiations with the mortgage holders and the owners to determine if the house could be purchased at a reasonable price. Before the house could be purchased as a fraternity house, however, it was necessary for the Alumni Association to go before the City Council and have the housing area rezoned from a single-dwelling residence to a multiple dwelling residence. Mr. Bollum spent a great deal of time and energy meeting with the City Council and the Zoning Board, and convincing the other property owners that a fraternity house would not have an adverse effect on the property values in the area.
Eventually all the owners were contacted and finally gave their permission to the Fraternity House Zoning. Mr. Bollum was then able to go ahead and make arrangements for purchasing the house. It was necessary also to raise sufficient money in order that the down payment could be made on the property. Furniture and kitchen equipment also needed to be obtained in order to furnish the House occupancy by fraternity members. A $40,000 loan was obtained from the Pi Kappa Alpha House Corporation of the National Fraternity in order to purchase furniture and other equipment for the bedrooms. Dick Lawrence had completed all legal documents for chartering the House Corporation through the state and when the arrangement was made for purchase, the Title for the Fraternity House was taken over by the Pi Kappa Alpha House Corporation of Florida Institute of Technology. Dick Lawrence as treasurer assumed responsibility for making arrangements for the payments of the mortgage each month to the Pi Kappa Alpha House Corporation of the National Fraternity. The fraternity house was badly in need of equipment for the kitchen and dining room and a great deal of money would be required to purchase suitable equipment. About this time a restaurant which had been located in a large private home in Melbourne decided to close its doors and placed their kitchen and dining room equipment for sale at a very low price. Dick Lawrence and Col. Silverwood visited the restaurant and decided that the refrigerator, bun warmers, kitchen range, deep freezer, and the dining room tables and chairs were sufficiently low priced and the house corporation was able to secure approximately $2,500 worth of equipment for less than $700. With the purchase of this equipment for the kitchen and dining room and the purchase of beds and mattresses and other furniture through the loan from the National House Corporation, the fraternity was able to move into the new house in October 1967 with a great sense of pride.
The Pi Kappa Alpha colony at FIT met all of the requirements for nationalization well ahead of the deadline of March 1, 1968. It was approved and chartered as the Zeta Sigma Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha on March 1, 1968 as a centennial chapter, along with Zeta Pi of the University of South Florida and Zeta Rho of the University of North Dakota. Zeta Sigma had completed their nationalization requirements in less than five (5) months, which was considered a record for new chapters. Mr. Garth Grissom, a Pike from Alpha Omega of Kansas State and President of the National Fraternity, was present for the chartering ceremony along with other representatives of the National Fraternity. Approximately thirty-seven (37) members were initiated as Charter members with Dr. Jerome Keuper, President of FIT and Mr. Ray Work, Dean of Student Affairs being initiated under the special dispensation rule of the fraternity. The first President of Zeta Sigma Chapter was William Osborne.
The Zeta Sigma Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha was thus made part of the National Fraternity of Pi Kappa Alpha through the hard work of many individuals who felt a deep sense of responsibility in chartering a quality chapter. Everyone involved in the chartering of Zeta Sigma was confident that the chapter would grow in strength and be one of the top chapters of the Fraternity in the years to come. Zeta Sigma is very much indebted to all those loyal members of Pi Kappa Alpha who worked so unselfishly to make possible the beginning of the fraternity system at the Florida Institute of Technology.