1985-present....Detailed Theta Eta Chapter history below

The Theta Eta Chapter of Northern Illinois University is one rich in history, purpose and tradition.  This page will aid in your historical knowledge of everything including the events leading to the colonization of the Beta Phi Gamma's through our present day Theta Eta chapter home in cyberspace.

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914 Greenbrier


From the Fall of 1985 until the Summer of 1994, Theta Eta made its home at 914 Greenbrier. We lived here longer and initiated more men than in any other location. It is the place most NIU Sigma Nuís called home. The house slept 28 men at full occupancy. It was a great house for brotherhood due to the first floor layout. To enter the house through either the front or side entrance, you had to pass through the living room where there were always a number of brothers sitting around the fireplace on couches watching TV. This stimulated much interaction and community, which was great for brotherhood. It had a home-like quality, carpeted and drywall vs. tile and cinderblock, which most NIU fraternity structures are made of. While the layout was good, there were constant issues with the house falling into disrepair. The floor was literally falling through the ceiling in the back kitchen. Every shower in the upstairs bathroom was an adventure. Wet wiring in the walls would occasionally result in getting shocked when you touched the shower faucet hardware. The basement while small, always gave the appearance of a crowded party.

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COMMANDERS AT 914 GREENBRIER
Jim French    OH 181   1985-1986
John Klebecka     OH 186      1986-1987
Tom Kermgard    OH 216    1987-1988
Tim Weeks   OH 246       Fall 1988
Mike Gentile        OH 255    1989-1990
Steve Sliga   OH 272  1990-1991
John Butler    OH 300     1991-1992
Sam Ligamari  OH 291    1992-1993
Sean Reilly OH 315       Spring 1993
Steven Prior    OH 349  Fall 1993
Bryan Malenius    OH 325  Spring 1994

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At 914, Theta Eta enjoyed its largest membership.  The 1980ís and early 1990ís were great years for Greek numbers.  Sigma Nu was as large as 65 men from 1985 through about 1990.  While these were big numbers for Theta Eta, it was still a small to medium-sized group relative to other fraternity memberships.  It is fair to say six or seven of the fifteen fraternities at NIU had 100 or more men during this peak in the mid to late 1980ís. 

Despite her small size, it is notable that Sigma Nu boasted many student leaders on campus, which lent greater exposure and credibility to the fraternity.  Steve Sliga, Theta Eta 272 served as IFC President in 1990.  John Butler, Theta Eta 300, was president of the Debate and Forensics team and later went on to become a two-term Student Regent - the highest elected position a student can hold in the state from 1992-1994.  John Fallon, Theta Eta 280, was a highly visible student senator who ran for SA President, but was defeated in a messy political battle that got splashed across the front pages of the Northern Star.  Despite this loss, John was an outstanding representative of  both Sigma Nu and the Greek system. Brett White, Theta Eta 264, was president of CAB (Campus Activities Board)  the largest budgeted student organization at NIU.

Amidst the success of Theta Eta during this time, it would be unfair not to mention the fact that she came very close to losing her charter in the Spring of 1989. Difficulty in collecting house rent and dues resulted in budget deficits. Robbing Peter to pay Paul became the practice in keeping head above water financially. When faced with paying the electric bill or Headquarters, the decisions become obvious. Unfortunately, Theta Eta accumulated a debt to Headquarters in the $25,000 + category. The National office sent Vice-Regent, Mike Long to end the financial tailspin and revoke the charter. Thanks to good leadership, negotiation and commitment to task, the executive board under the guidance of Commander Mike "Vito" Gentile, Theta Eta 255, and Treasurer Brad "Jack" Buttliere, Theta Eta 266, the chapter was able to send Brother Long home, not with the charter, but with a promise to repay Headquarters the money it was due. There was a running joke where brothers would replace the charter on the wall  with an empty Domino's pizza box to remind everyone just how close we came to losing the charter.  A payment schedule was established and Theta Eta retired the debt ahead of schedule with the help of some "creative fundraising". 

It is interesting to note that Theta Eta was instrumental in the founding of another Sigma Nu chapter. Brother Mike Osborne, Theta Eta 360, pledged in the Fall 1992 semester. One year later, in the Fall of 1993, he transferred to Southern Illinois University. Seeing that there was no Sigma Nu chapter at SIU, he determined to start one. Mu Lambda was chartered as the 264th chapter in Sigma Nu in the Spring of 1995. Theta Eta lives in spirit at SIU and perpetuates her legacy with every Mu Lambda initiate.

By 1993 and 1994, Theta Eta had graduated all of its campus leaders who had carried the leadership load in the late 1980ís and early 1990ís and membership slipped below forty for the first time in 10 years.  There was a gradual, yet noticeable decline in student enrollment and Greek membership across the board - not just at NIU, but nationwide.  Lower membership made it increasingly difficult to fill the house with men.  Our landlord continued to increase our rent, reaching as much as $47,000.  We once again ran up a debt with the landlord and were at risk of not renewing the lease on the house.  Our worst fears were realized in the middle of the Spring 1994 semester.

Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity who lived across the street in the old Kappa Delta house, was experiencing the same low membership and deficit with their landlord.  AKL bailed themselves out by stealing our house from under us by striking a deal with our landlord, Jim Modulin.  It was a good deal for AKL.  They reduced their annual rent from $77,000 to less than $50,000.  Sigma Nu, however, found themselves scrambling to find a suitable place to live that Fall.  We were faced with the prospect of moving back into a small house down at the end of Greenbrier, a huge loss considering how hard the men in the early 1980ís worked to move into a larger, higher profile house.  As our prospects for another home dwindled, Brother Joe Delphin, Theta Eta 324 hatched the idea to move into the house AKL had abandoned.  Alumni board members, Steve Sliga and Kevin Kedzior, decided it was not unreasonable to approach Kappa Delta (the owners of 919 Greenbrier) and make them an offer they could not refuse. 

Good timing and a buyers market made the upcoming negotiation a real David and Goliath victory for Sigma Nu.  There was no other fraternity at the time who had the housing need or membership to justify such a move.  It was clear Kappa Delta was in a financial jam.  Their only choice was to rent to Sigma Nu on our terms, or leave it boarded up and pay the tax on an empty house.  The Sliga-Kedzior team politely made a $30,000, take it or leave it offer.  Kappa Delta had no other choice but to accept the offer.  The good news of the new house was announced to the membership at the Spring 1994 Informal Dance at Matthew Boones restaurant. 

 919 Greenbrier

In the summer of 1994 Alpha Kappa Lambda and Sigma Nu swapped houses.  The AKLís must have been scratching their heads.  We got a house twice as large -10,000 square feet, room for 48 men and a 50% rent reduction.  The new house was unfortunately, trashed by AKL.  The basement was flooded.  Windows were broken.  Graffiti was painted all over the walls.  It required a massive clean up effort.  Thanks to founding brother, Tony Marsiglia, Theta Eta 1, the necessary dollars were donated to do just that.  Upon hearing the good news of the new house and its needed clean up, he donated a check for $1000 on the spot. 

The house was cleaned and painted inside and out.  Brother Lowell Dertiger, Theta Eta 37, had custom drapes made for the chapter room.  Brother Dan Schmieder, Theta Eta 155, donated some beautiful couches and chairs for the chapter room.  Brother Kevin Kedzior, Theta Eta 275, managed to get a 12 person conference table donated for the executive boardroom.  Brother Rick Gayeski, Theta Eta 58, donated chairs and file cabinets to finish the room.  A large slate pool table was purchased for the brotherhood room.  The finishing touch was a large wooden Sigma Nu badge and Greek letters for the front of the house constructed by brother Sean Reilly, Theta Eta 315. 

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COMMANDERS AT 919 GREENBRIER
Bryan Malenius    OH 325  Fall 1994
Joseph Delphin   OH 324  Spring 1995
Whitney Bergfeld OH 334  1995-1996
Rich Metz  OH 383    1996-1997
Robert Stillo  OH 387   Spring 1997

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The new location was a big lift for Theta Eta.  The new house and the enthusiasm it inspired resulted in a large Fall 1994 pledge class.  Sigma Nu began to make a name for itself in athletics.  Guided by athletic director Carl Valianatos, Theta Eta 352, and anchored by new members Randy Barden, Theta Eta 377 and Steve Polacek, Theta Eta 373, Sigma Nu began making noise in the Greek flag football and basketball divisions, adding to its already acclaimed floor hockey team.  In the Spring 1995 semester, Sigma Nu won its first basketball championship in the Competitive division.  Next on the agenda was a move up to the Highly Competitive bracket.  The next year in the Spring 1996 semester, the boys managed to defeat Lambda Chi Alpha who had held the title for three consecutive years.  This may have been the greatest athletic achievement for Sigma Nu since the storied 1980 Greek Flickerball Championship.

Theta Etaís 25th Anniversary - April 1995

In the Fall of 1994, with the active chapter making positive strides, the alumni group realized the Fraternityís 25th anniversary was on the horizon.  Brother Kevin Kedzior spearheaded the event with the coordination of many alumni and active chapter members to host a gala black tie anniversary reunion.  More than 60 alumni flew in from all over the country to attend the event held at the spectacular Five-Star OíHare Westin.  The entire active chapter also attended the event which doubled as the chapters annual White Rose Formal.  All told, including spouses and dates, over 200 people congregated to celebrate 25 years of Sigma Nu at NIU.  Before the gala officially kicked off, there was a special initiation ceremony for Beta Phi Gamma members who had graduated prior to the installation of Theta Eta Chapter of Sigma Nu in April, 1970.  These brothers were never knighted as Sigma Nuís, but now had the opportunity to become full members in the Theta Eta chapter.  Nine brothers chose to become initiated that day.

These Beta Phi Gammas were fittingly initiated by the man who started it all back in 1966 - the original Beta Phi Gamma, Theta Eta number 1, Tony Marsiglia. Later that evening, the brothers were entertained by a dynamic multimedia presentation.  Brother Paul Keeler, Theta Eta 277, selected over 120 of the best photos from 25 years of chapter history books and set this to music.  The brothers laughed, cheered and reflected as three decades of memories flashed before their eyes.  The rest of the evening saw much dancing and cheer to the sounds of Theta Eta 315 - Brother Sean Reillyís band, -Trilogy- (a.k.a. Trifecta).  Brother Reilly also contributed his artistic talent by designing the 25th anniversary logo, which appeared on all the invitations and signage for the event, stamping everything with a professional touch.

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BETA PHI GAMMA INITIATES
Irving Anderson    Theta Eta 384
Sherwin Brook   Theta Eta 385
Glen Carson       Theta Eta 386
Daniel Kozinski   Theta Eta 387
Randy Lemcke Theta Eta 388
Edward Nelson   Theta Eta 389
Charles Rounds   Theta Eta 390
James Long     Theta Eta 391
Frederick Noverini  Theta Eta 392

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The Demise of Theta Eta


 While athletics were on the rise, membership was on the decline. Sigma Nu was also entering into the danger zone regarding risk-management issues. The personality of the chapter was bending toward a party culture that was taking the fraternity in the wrong direction. Men who were an asset to the fraternity suddenly chose to distance themselves. This change in personality had an impact on recruitment and overall work ethic. Too few men were willing to put in the hard work and the long hours to turn the tide and bring Sigma Nu back to acceptable standards. Rent and dues collections, which had always been a challenge, became critical issues as the chapter dipped down around thirty men. We no longer had the manpower to compensate for brothers who could not or did not pay their way. We racked up significant debt with the National Fraternity and our landlord. When push came to shove, the only way out of the financial predicament was to generate positive cash from excess rent revenue. With an annual rent obligation of only $30,000, we only needed 17 men to live in the house to break even. Any rent above the 17 would be used to service the debt to bail themselves out. The burden was laid squarely on the shoulders of the current actives in the Spring of 1997. It was all up to them. Alumni board members Steve Sliga and Kevin Kedzior passed out housing contracts at a chapter meeting and explained the situation that no less than 17 men would be required to live in the house, or else the alumni would be unwilling to renew the lease for another year. Two weeks later when lease commitments were due, there were only eight men willing to live in the chapter house. Clearly, a majority of the active members had lost sight of the value of membership and were electing to live in apartments, not the chapter house. By their own choosing, Sigma Nu at NIU was no more.
 The alumni were unwilling to incur more debt with the landlord and refused to sign a lease for the active chapter. Without a chapter house, there was no hope generating positive cash flow to catch up on past due rent to the landlord. The debt to the National Fraternity had exceeded $10,000. Risk-management had become a very real liability to the active alumni group, the University and the National Fraternity. Membership had grown small and apathetic. The alumni group voluntarily stepped in, secured the charter and turned it over to the National Fraternity in hopes of re-colonizing Theta Eta in the future. That was May, 1997.


The Alumni Group Established - ThetaEta.com introduced


Though the active chapter was dormant, Theta Eta alumni maintained their cohesion with the idea of re-colonization glimmering in the back of their minds. In February of 2001, a tragic event stimulated never seen before activity amongst Theta Eta alumni. Brother Gary Strasser, Theta Eta 254, suddenly died of a massive brain aneurysm at age 33. Upon hearing the news, brothers from the mid 1980ís to the early 1990ís made their way to the funeral to mourn the loss of their treasured brother. After the burial, the brothers congregated at a local pub to exchange stories and celebrate the brother that had been a great friend to so many of them. It was agreed that the brotherhood should be brought together regularly, not just when a brother joined the Chapter Eternal. The brotherhood unanimously elected Tom Kermgard, Theta Eta 216 and Kevin Kedzior, Theta Eta 275, to coordinate a Homecoming reunion celebration to honor brother Strasser and bring 30 years of brothers together.
The planning and coordination of this Homecoming event forced the alumni group to become more organized in every aspect. Most importantly, it incorporated the use of email and the Internet to regularly and affordably communicate with brothers now scattered all over the country. In short time, over 180 email addresses of the 407 Theta Eta initiates were compiled. Information about the Homecoming event was broadcast via email. Brother Sean Reilly, Theta Eta 315 created a functional web site. Weekly whoís coming updates were made to the site, stimulating intrigue and interest amongst the membership. Brother John Yaeger, Theta Eta 276 made on-line payment a reality via Pay-Pal. By the time Homecoming rolled around in October, over 100 brothers from 14 states came in for the event. There was even a brother from Lithuania who made a special trip to the States for Homecoming, brother Tom Chaddarvicius, Theta Eta 371.



NIU HOMECOMING 2001


Theta Etaís best attended social function to date. Over 100 brothers from 14 states descended on the Northern Illinois campus for a Caribbean pig roast tailgate.

The event had a Caribbean style theme complete with Pig Roast, steel drum band, blended margaritas, mai-taiís, pina coladas, and leis. Twenty five percent of the membership was in attendance. More impressively, over 50% of those who we were able to be contacted by phone or email had made the trip. This was proof positive that Sigma Nu played a significant role in the lives of its members and still resonated in the hearts and minds of many men. Homecoming 2001 got the attention of the University, the National Fraternity and even the Theta Eta brothers themselves. The massive turnout proved Theta Etaís value and future to be legitimate, despite there being no active chapter at NIU.
The alumni group began meeting regularly, gathering every two months, to establish goals and strategies for the future of Theta Eta. A poll of the alumni determined that there were three key values to membership, which were: regularly scheduled social events, the ability to communicate with each other via an accurate and growing database, and the preservation and perpetuation of its heritage and history - the intangible, nostalgic quality of the fraternity. The key element in being able to maintain all three of these membership values was a functional, regularly updated and maintained, professional web site.
Brother Jason Gough, Theta Eta 305 stepped up to the challenge of creating such a web site to serve the purposes of the alumni group. ThetaEta.com was rebuilt from scratch. It is the central location for our brotherhood database, which boasts over 210 accurate email addresses. Alumni membership chairman, Jim Murphy, Theta Eta 15 maintains and grows this database. ThetaEta.com also catalogs the heritage and history of Theta Eta chapter. Hundreds of photographs from the past as well as chapter composites are archived here, plus new social event pictures as they happen. All Theta Eta events and information are posted here and marketed to the brotherhood via ThetaEta.com as brother Gough creates dynamic flash introductions to hype brother events.
Annual Theta Eta Golf Outing
 One of the highlights of the alumni social calendar is the annual golf outing, hosted by Brother Steve Sliga, Theta Eta 272. In 2002,The First Annual took place at Tamarack Golf Club in Naperville, IL where over 30 brothers came together for lunch, 18 holes of golf, plus dinner and cocktails on the 19th hole. Brother Reilly designed the logo, which appeared on the hats which each golfing brother received. The Second Annual took place at Mill Creek Golf Course in Geneva, IL. Nearly 40 brothers attended this event, validating the popularity of the golf outing and insuring its annual appeal, perpetuating its tradition for years to come.




Theta Eta Today


 As the alumni group continues to strengthen, interest in the re-colonization of the chapter becomes an increasingly important topic of discussion and debate. The NIU Greek Life Standards Board, seeking to strengthen the quality and size of membership in its Greek community, hosted presentations for interested groups to petition establishing Greek organizations at NIU. Sigma Nu Headquarters submitted a formal letter of interest to the University in May of 2003. The Standards Board heard presentations in October of 2003. Sigma Nu is confident that they will receive an invitation from NIU to return to its campus. The alumni group looks to coordinate with the National Fraternity and the University to re-establish Theta Eta in the Fall of 2006. More to come..