Randolph-Macon Lambda Chi Alpha
Founding at Randolph-Macon
The fraternity was established at Randolph-Macon as a chapter of Theta Kappa Nu in 1926. Theta Kappa Nu was a fraternity that specialized in establishing chapters at small colleges around the country. They created over 40 chapters in a period of less than two years.
Merger with Lambda Chi Alpha
In 1939, Theta Kappa Nu found itself suffering from the lingering effects of the depression and decided they needed to merge with another national fraternity in order to survive. Lambda Chi Alpha had been successful establishing fraternity chapters primarily in larger schools, and they had a good working relationship with Theta Kappa Nu. The two fraternities decided that it would be in the interest of both of them to combine forces. The merger was the largest fraternity merger in history. At that point, the Randolph-Macon chapter became the Kappa-Tau Zeta of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.
End of the Line for the Old Fraternity House
In 1967, Randolph-Macon College decided that they needed to construct a new three story dormatory (Conrad Dorm) in the spot where three wood frame fraternity houses stood including the Lambda Chi Alpha house. The college had no excess capital to assist the displaced chapters to relocate, but they did have a vacant lot on College Avenue that could accommodate several houses. The college agreed to provide part of the land to Lambda Chi Alpha at no initial cost. The alumni of the fraternity were responsible for securing financing to constuct the new chapter house. In exchange for the risk and sacrifice made by the loyal alumni like Tommy Ogden as part of building this house, the college agreed to a long term (25 year) lease with the House Corporation on the land and the house. The alumni arranged for the house construction and the new house opened in September 1968. The expectation by the college was that the fraternity would charge a rent similar to what the college charged for dormitory space and that House Corporation would be solely responsible for all expenses incurred.
Lease Arrangement Extended
In 1982, as part of the retirement of some old debt, the lease on the Lambda Chi Alpha house between Randolph-Macon and the House Corporation was extended through August 2039. The House Corporation continued to be self-sufficient in spite of some difficult financial periods in the 1970's.
House Mortgage Paid Off
In 1993, the House Corporation made its final mortgage payment on the house. At that point, as part of the lease agreement, the house, along with the land, became totally owned by Randolph-Macon. The fraternity began paying Randolph-Macon $500/year to continue to lease the house from the college.
Thomas W. Ogden Jr. '27 Scholarship Created
In 1994, the directors of the House Corporation realized a long term goal of creating a financial needs scholarship with the college to help Lambda Chi Alpha students and legacies of alumni with tuition expenses. Tommy Ogden had been instrumental in arranging for the construction of the present fraternity house and served as the first House Corporation president. The scholarship was dedicated posthumously to Tommy in recognition of the years of dedicated support. An initial $25,000 check was presented to President Ladell Payne forming the first scholarship ever created by a social fraternity at Randolph-Macon College. In subsequent years, the House Corporation directors authorized additional annual five figure gifts to the Ogden Scholarship and encouraged our alumni to support it as well.
The George B. Oliver '49 Scholarship Created
In 2002, the House Corporation decided to form a second financial needs scholarship to recognize the many years of support from Randolph-Macon history professor and Lambda Chi Alpha brother Dr. George B. Oliver. Another $25,000 check was donated to form this second scholarship to also help Lambda Chi Alpha students and legacies of alumni with tuition expenses with a preference toward history majors. The House Corporation continued to annually support both scholarships at significant levels.
Closing of the Chapter
In December 2006, the administration of the college claimed that members of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity has caused the illness and need for hospitalization for one of the associate members of the fraternity. They relied on a single witness to develop their story and presented their findings to the executives of the national Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity (Nationals). The Directors of the House Corporation and other concerned alumni attempted to get answers to inconsistencies in the College's story, but no cooperation from the College was forthcoming. The Director of Chapter services for Nationals, relying solely on the report from R-MC, felt a membership review was the best alternative where each member would be vetted to see if they would be retained or ejected from the fraternity. The administration of Randolph-Macon rejected this suggestion and insisited that Nationals close the chapter. Nationals, adhering to a policy of not remaining on campuses where they are not welcome, complied with Randolph-Macon's request to close the chapter in February 2007 ending 80 years on the Ashland campus.
Several alumni continued to be troubled by the unexplained inconsistencies in the college's story that was widely reported by the college to Nationals, the R-MC community, the authorities and the press among others. The college remained uncooperative in sharing details with the alumni of Lambda Chi, so this committee of Lambda Chi alumni began an investigation of our own. Through Freedom of Information Act requests, the committee determined that, while the young man who was hospitalized had consumed alcohol while under the age of 21, his need for medical treatment was not directly related to his alcohol consumption at the Lambda Chi Alpha house at R-MC. There was nothing in any medical records to reflect that his heart had stopped en route to the hospital as the college's sole witness had reported. Further, the investigation revealed that members of the fraternity has not dumped him in his dorm and left him unattended when he had consumed too much alcohol. He was actually left in the care of the college's witness almost two hours before she called for medical assistance. Had the college done a more thorough investigation, they might have discovered what occurred during those two hours that did, apparently, trigger the need for medical attention for the young man.
The Presentation of the Findings to Randolph-Macon
In June 2007, after concluding the investigation, the committee of Lambda Chi alumni presented their findings to the President of Randolph-Macon. The report pointed out that:
the college had failed in interview any student members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and instead had relied on the one witness' testimony
they had failed to thoroughly investigate the story on their own
the actions of the Lambda Chi Alpha students at R-MC had not caused the need for medical treatment
the Lambda Chi Alpha students had not carelessly left him unattended at his dorm
members of the College Dean's office had stated on several occasions that the college wanted the fraternity closed contrary to the college president's public statements.
In spite of these troubling actions by the college, the president stood by his story and continued to assert that the closing of the fraternity was justified. The findings of the investigation were also presented to the executives of Lambda Chi Alpha Nationals. They were dismayed that the college's story had been so inaccurate. While they were symathetic to our plight and believed that closing the chapter was a mistake, they reiterated that when asked to leave a campus, they leave, and as soon as they are asked to return, they will consider doing so as well.
Discussions Begin About the Return of Kappa-Tau Zeta
In October 2007, under pressure from numerous Lambda Chi Alpha alumni at R-MC along with the findings of the investigation, the college invited the Executive Director of Lambda Chi Alpha Nationals, Bill Farkas, to campus to discuss a path to recolonization of the chapter. After meeting with the college administration, Bill made a presentation to over 50 Kappa-Tau Zeta alumni spanning seven decades of graduation years. He made it clear that R-MC had not yet invited them back, so there was not much they could do until that initial step took place.
New Conditions for Recolonization Emerge from R-MC
In December 2007, during a meeting with a member of the investigation committee, the President revealed that he had new conditions for the business arrangement between the House Corporation and the College. He claimed that a Board of Trustees policy gave the College the right to seize full control of the fraternity house as a condition of their cooperation on the recolonization of the Lambda Chi Alpha chapter. This was a troubling development for the House Corporation since this would effectively terminate the House Corporation's reason for existing and would take away from the brotherhood an asset (the lease) that many had sacrificed for over the past 40 years.
In January 2008, a committee of Randolph-Macon Trustees and Lambda Chi Alpha alumni met to discuss some mutually agreeable alternative that would allow the Kappa-Tau Zeta recolonization process to proceed. Unfortunately no agreement was forthcoming from the college that did not involve the House Corporation surrendering all financial and operational control over the property.
In March 2008, an invitation that had been extended by the college to Executive Director Farkas to come back to Randolph-Macon to make a formal presentation for recolonizing the chapter was revoked.
In the following months, a number of Lambda Chi alumni continued to work with the College in an effort to re-colonize the Chapter. In early May 2008, Mr. Farkas was apparently invited by the College to return to R-MC to make a presentation to the Inter Fraternity Council (IFC) and the Greek Alumni Advisory Board (GAAB). No Lambda Chi alumni were invited to participate. At least one Lambda Chi alumnus was recently advised by the Administration that the IFC and GAAB had decided that the Chapter would not be invited to return to campus for at least one to two years due to excessive competition for members by existing fraternities. Despite the constant efforts of Housing Corporation members and several influential Lambda Chi alumni, there was no agreed upon plan to return the Chapter to R-MC.
In September 2008, the House Corporation sought legal guidance on how the lease at the college should be protected. A complaint was prepared and delivered to the college alleging bad faith on the part of the college for refusing to allow the fraternity to recolonize on campus. Several weeks of conversations between the legal representatives for both parties yielded no new developments. Toward the end of these discussions, the President of the college threatened to permanently bar the fraternity from ever being allowed recolonize on campus if the House Corporation proceeded with formally serving the complaint and proceeding with the legal action against the college. The House Corporation concluded that it was prudent to drop the complaint at that point. The college broke off all discussions with the House Corporation. The directors of the House Corporation were advised at that point to direct all future conversations to the attorney representing the college.
At best, given the lapse of time, the graduation rate of current members, the recalcitrance of the College and the time and logistics involved in re-establishing a chapter that has been closed for so long, it is likely that if and when the Chapter is allowed to re-colonize, it will be a daunting and, perhaps, overwhelming endeavor.
The Kappa-Tau Chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha has a long established and well-deserved reputation as an excellent college fraternity. Until it was closed, the Chapter was one of the strongest, most diverse groups of students on campus. The Housing Corporation, through its volunteer members, has kept the fraternity house in excellent condition and has never asked for nor expected any financial support from the College. Through the prudent management of its financial resources, the Housing Corporation has established two scholarships at R-MC and contributed over $120,000 to them. The Chapter has a history of producing college and community leaders as well as some of the most philanthropic members of the R-MC alumni body. Lambda Chi alumni take great pride in the fraternity's accomplishments and its role in the College community.
The closure of the Chapter has been a matter of great consternation to many Lambda Chi alumni. While it was disappointing to hear of the circumstances leading to closing, it is even more distressing to find that, in response to learning that the closure resulted from a mistaken understanding of the facts, the College appears unwilling to take any meaningful steps to remedy the situation. One can only hope that there is no underlying motive, such as the desire to deprive Lambda Chi alumni of the benefits of the Lease that the brothers earned and negotiated in good faith.
This web page was prepared in response to numerous requests for information and is intended to inform Lambda Chi Alpha alumni of R-MC of the current status of their Chapter. It is also a call for support and an invitation to all who care about our Chapter to offer advice and guidance. We are certain that there are many alumni who share our love of the fraternity and the College and who, like us, ask for nothing other than a fair opportunity to preserve an institution that has enlightened our lives and greatly contributed to the welfare of the College. If you would like to continue to receive any information related to the Chapter, please provide an email address. You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If opportunities to discuss any new developments emerge, the House Corporation will promptly share this information with all alumni on our mailing list.