SigEp’s Florida Alpha Chapter was established in 1925. It was the 11th fraternity on the University of Florida campus and the 63rd SigEp chapter nationwide.
The chapter has historically been one of the most prominent organizations at Florida, producing many campus leaders, including student body presidents, homecoming chairmen and recipients of prestigious university awards. Six Florida alumni have been recognized with SigEp’s highest honor, the Order of the Golden Heart, and other alumni have gone on to serve in the university’s administration, the Florida state legislature, the governor’s cabinet and the Florida Supreme Court. The chapter has even produced two All-American football players.
Unfortunately, the chapter experienced cultural challenges in the late 2000s. And in December 2012, it became necessary to temporarily close the chapter.
Over the next three years, chapter volunteers continued producing the chapter newsletter, and regular alumni events provided opportunities for brothers to reconnect and establish a plan for the chapter’s return to campus. Bryson Ridgway, ’05, and Steve Shewbrooks, ’66, co-chaired an alumni-led committee that, starting in May 2014, laid the groundwork for the recolonization. With the help of SigEp’s new chapter development team, the recruitment process officially began in January 2016.
The past two years have been marked by a wonderful series of accomplishments for Florida Alpha, and the chapter’s success was celebrated with a chartering banquet on Jan. 27, 2018. Grand Secretary Billy Maddalon, North Carolina State ’90, conferred the charter, and several members of the school’s administration attended the event.
Today, the chapter has 89 undergraduate brothers and has achieved the highest GPA of all fraternities every semester since reopening. The brothers are also continuing the tradition of university involvement, with many serving as leaders in student government and other organizations.
The chapter has been publicly recognized by the school for its Balanced Man Scholarship program, which has made it easier for SigEp to recruit outside of rush and find the best men on campus. And it was named Florida’s Fraternity Chapter of the Year in 2017.
Florida Alpha has also received numerous SigEp awards since its return to campus. At the 2018 Carlson Leadership Academy, Patrick Goodrich, ’18, received the Zollinger Outstanding Senior Award, and Steve Shewbrooks received the Exemplary Service Award.
Among the many volunteers serving as mentors to undergraduate leaders, Bob Durham, Morehead State ’69, has played a key role in supporting the chapter’s growth as chapter counselor. The brothers also work closely with the university’s administration, including Jack Causseaux, director of sorority and fraternity affairs. Causseaux and members of his department have been avid supporters of the chapter throughout the recolonization process. More recently, Florida President Kent Fuchs engaged the chapter in a conversation about the future of fraternity and recognized the brothers for their Balanced Man Program.
Several other members of Florida’s faculty and staff serve as chapter volunteers and mentors. John Gresley, Valparaiso ’01, assistant dean and director of Florida’s MBA program, is helping the brothers refine their Balanced Man Program as balanced man steward, and the chapter is actively working to involve campus faculty in its programming. “We currently have two faculty fellows who offer guidance to our brothers on a regular basis,” reported Chapter President Graham Boone, ’20.
Alumni leaders Durham, Shewbrooks and Ridgway all spoke at the chartering banquet. Each emphasized the amount of hard work required to make the recolonization a success.
“Above all, we were able to glean from these speeches that our experience in SigEp is about more than just ourselves,” said Boone. “There were many who came before us, and there will be many that follow. We are responsible for representing this great Fraternity accordingly.”