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    The gentlemen of Sigma Alpha Epsilon would like to officially welcome students back to another Spring semester here at The University of Texas at Tyle...Read More

History

HISTORY OF THE TEXAS ZETA CHAPTER

In Spring 2007, The University of Texas at Tyler invited the national representatives of two fraternities to its campus: Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Pi Kappa Phi. Adam Slutzker and Brad Klohla, then the Coordinators of Chapter Development for Sigma Alpha Epsilon, arrived in early February and met with the men who would become known as "The Core" of the Texas Zeta Chapter's Founding Fathers: Joshua Skalka, Jacob Garner, Olusomi Adeyoju, Tracy Bailey, Carlos Alvarez, Jeffrey Hawthorne, and John Henegar. Sigma Alpha Epsilon's catching presentation energized these men to begin the colonization process, which resulted in the recruitment of the additional Founding Fathers: Russell Gregory, Matthew Faulkner, Joshua Lowery, Guillermo 'Billy' Diaz, Whitney Yates, Stan Kinney, George 'Greg' Lake, Cody Beard, Kenny Lange, and Adam Attaway. This interest group was colonized on February 24, 2007 as the Texas Zeta Colony in a ritual conducted by its Big Brother chapter, the Texas Chi Chapter of the University of Texas at Dallas. 


After Colonization, Texas Zeta focused on the goals of 1) earning a charter from Sigma Alpha Epsilon and 2) establishing itself on the UT Tyler campus. To the former goal, the Founding Fathers strove to become the fastest-chartered colony in Sigma Alpha Epsilon's modern history. To the latter goal, Texas Zeta coordinated with other Greek organizations, the Campus Activities Board, and the Black Student Association, and with this cooperation came recognition and commendation. The young Colony also benefited from the presence of Dr. Dana Adams, its faculty advisor, an Sigma Alpha Epsilon alumnus from the Texas Beta Chapter at Texas Christian University (Class of 1968). At the close of the Spring 2007 semester, Texas Zeta was ahead of schedule in the chartering process with Sigma Alpha Epsilon and was recognized by the University with the "Outstanding New Student Organization" Award. Eminent Archon Joshua Skalka, the Texas Zeta Chapter's first president, was also awarded the University's first-ever "Fraternity Man of the Year" Award. 


After returning from the Summer 2007 break, the Colony sent its first delegation to the 72nd Annual John O. Moseley Leadership School and received valuable information and priceless encouragement from the 700+ delegates in attendance. In Fall 2007, Texas Zeta recruited 80% of the freshman who went through the University's first formal Rush Week program; these men became Texas Zeta's first pledge class, Pledge Class Alpha. Shortly after, the Colony was notified that it would receive its Charter from the National Fraternity on December 1st, 2007 -- 9 months and 3 days after colonization -- successfully fulfilling Texas Zeta's goal of becoming the fastest-chartered Chapter in modern Fraternity history. 


Times would not prove easy for the newly-chartered Chapter, however. The onset of a global economic recession in 2008 led to University budget cuts, tightened student budgets, and challenging recruitment seasons. This was compounded by the graduation of several Founding Fathers soon after chartering and the transfer of others away from the University. Texas Zeta used this period to solidify its presence on campus, including the establishment of annual Sigma Alpha Epsilon events and the election of brother Jonathan Getz as 2008 Homecoming King. Spring semester recruitment marked especially hard times for Texas Zeta, however; as the recession deepened, the University did not offer Spring semester Rush Week programs, and the Chapter experienced two consecutive years of three-man Spring pledge classes (known as the "Spring curse"). Texas Zeta's second Eminent Archon, Rusty Kuciemba, steered the Chapter through these difficult times but graduated at the end of his term as president. 


When the final remaining Founding Fathers graduated in Spring 2009, the Chapter was faced with a challenge: a new generation of leaders would have to step up, recruit with all the energy they could muster, and make difficult policy decisions to keep Texas Zeta moving forward. Texas Zeta met the challenges posed by this transitional period head-on. After returning from the Summer 2009 break, the Chapter approached the Fall 2009 recruitment season with a determined zeal. While the University's Rush Week program provided several new recruits, the Chapter also poured a tremendous amount of effort into personal, one-on-one individual recruitment. Brothers encouraged friends, classmates, and fellow organization members to take up the challenge of becoming a True Gentleman, and their diligence paid off. For the first time since its chartering, Texas Zeta's pledge class (Pledge Class Epsilon) exceeded double-digit numbers. 


The Chapter learned well from its past mistakes; it encouraged new brothers to begin serving in leadership positions prior to older brothers' graduations, and it worked to solidify the bonds between older and newer pledge classes. The fraternity's third Eminent Archon, Lloyd Blondin, chaired an Executive Committee comprised of representatives from every current pledge class in the fraternity. Despite the continued lack of a University-sponsored Spring Rush Week program, Spring 2010 marked the defeat of the three-man "Spring curse" with the initiation of a strong eight-man pledge class, Pledge Class Zeta. The Chapter also reformed its budgeting practices, overhauled its Bylaws, and saw a significant increase in collective GPA to above a 3.0 average. Because of its dedication to leadership and academic diligence, Texas Zeta has repeatedly attracted pledges from other Greek organizations who reconsidered their initial decisions and switched to Sigma Alpha Epsilon. We enter the new decade as the premier Greek organization on the UT Tyler campus. 


The Texas Zeta Chapter has managed to compile many accomplishments in its short history. Our Chapter holds the the highest fraternity GPA, and several Texas Zeta brothers have been named to the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society. Brothers from the Texas Zeta chapter were awarded UT Tyler's "Fraternity Man of the Year" Award in 2007, 2009, and 2010, as well as Homecoming King in 2008. Texas Zeta won Best Overall Performance during UT Tyler's Greek Week Lip Sync competitions in 2007, 2009, and 2010, while taking Best in Show during Greek Week 2008. Most recently, Texas Zeta took home the gold medal in the campus-wide 2009 Patriot Days competition. Brothers are widely involved on campus and have been leaders of campus organizations and teams including: Student Government Association, Campus Activities Board, Order of Omega, Students in Free Enterprise, Cheerleading, Philosophy Club, College Republicans, and College Democrats. Our Chapter takes pride in its diversity and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation. 


Three years after its founding, Texas Zeta is already in the process of establishing its own Chapter Alumni Association. Texas Zeta alumni brothers have moved on to success in graduate school, teaching, working in the private sector, and starting new businesses. Many alumni have remained in the East Texas area and continue to support the Chapter through volunteer work, networking opportunities, and financial contributions. Texas Zeta also maintains close relations with its Big Brother chapter, the Texas Chi Chapter at the University of Texas at Dallas. In turn, we now serve as the Big Brother chapter of the Texas Phi Colony at Stephen F. Austin University and are in the process of establishing the Texas Epsilon Colony at the University of Houston.