Zeta Rho History

In the spring of 1967, inside Squires Hall in room 102 D, a group of men assembled to listen to a man by the name of Bernie Basch. He spoke to these men about what makes a man great: scholarship, leadership, athleticism, and being a gentlemen. Mr. Basch then invited this group of men to form colony of the fraternity that would help them along this path: Pi Kappa Alpha.

As the year wore on, more men became interested in joining, and on March 1, 1968, the colony became established as the Zeta Rho Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha. As it was established 100 years after the founding of the national organization, Zeta Rho Chapter also received the privilege of being one of three Centennial Chapters.

The Founding Members of the Zeta Rho Chapter:

Warren Schlect, William Menojah Jr., Leonard Rut Jr., Everett Heringer, Ronald Bedard, Mark Nettum, Roger Fossum, Larry Thompson, Thomas Cruden, Alan Freuh, Layne O’Niel, Dwight Frazer, George Gagnon, Russell Baker, Christopher Dill, Ronald Heaney, Louis Di Donate, Sidney Lerfald

(Mr. Warren Schlecht, Alpha ’68, was the first initiate; Mr. Thomas Cruden, Alpha ’68, was the first President of Zeta Rho Chapter)

With the founding of Zeta Rho Chapter, the immediate concern became finding a place for Zeta Rho Chapter to call home. They found home to be in a house not far from campus located along Greek Row, originally built as a family home in the early 1920s. The founding members fixed the house up and readied the house for the fall of 1968.

In the mid 1950s, chapters across the nation began to adopt the fire truck as an unofficial symbol, with many chapters buying fire trucks to use for various purposes. Alpha Chapter, after rebuilding the house, started the search for Zeta Rho Chapter’s fire truck. They were successful and found a 1931 Chevrolet Fire Truck that they bought from the Starkweather Fire Department for $200. The fire truck was used pick up dates, pledges, driven in parades and any other event that they participated in. Eventually the fire truck was retired due to insurance concerns, and now sits beside the current house, waiting to be restored.

As the years wore on, Zeta Rho Chapter had several important milestones. The first was in 1972 when the Little Sister’s gave the chapter the lighted Pi Kappa Alpha letters to place above the front door. The second was the enlargement of the chapter house from 1977 through 1978, adding a new kitchen and enabling the house to hold 23 men.

The third milestone, and probably the milestone with the most impact to the chapter, was the Great Flood of 1997 that hit Grand Forks. Members had helped put up sand bags to defend homes near the river, but no one had accounted for the dikes breaking. Ultimately, 90% of Grand Forks was flooded, causing roughly $3.5 billion in damages. One of those casualties was the original chapter house.

Luckily, between an active alumni base and dedication from those members, a plan was formulated to help build a new house for the Zeta Rho Chapter. That plan was realized in early 2004 when the new 7,800 square foot house was unveiled at a formal Dedication & Ribbon Cutting ceremony held on March 6, 2004.

With a new house, an extremely active Alumni Association, a dedicated active chapter, an outstanding Chapter Advisor and Faculty Advisor, the Zeta Rho Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha can only grow and become stronger than ever.