Our goal is to Reacquire the Sigma Chi House from the University and allow our young brothers to experience the same growth and development that we Alumni experienced while living in the Sigma Chi House. And all of this while “having the time of their lives!” We have many successful Rho Rho Alumni, who attribute much of their success to the people and organizational skills, learned and developed while living at the Sigma Chi House. These formative undergraduate years are when “Life Patterns” are established and we know this leads to significant personal and professional success. Sigma Chi is a value based organization, and living in the House provides the vehicle or opportunity to actually practice these values and ideals, instead of just talking about them. We truly learned to work together, with a very diverse group and hold each other accountable (different temperaments, talents and convictions). We’ve established a House Reacquisition Team, with specific functional team leaders listed below
Now for the current situation. The University of Maine Development Office (who occupied the House since 2000) vacated the building in Sept 2016. The University wants to sell the building back to Sigma Chi, and has given us the First Right of Refusal, until July of 2017. They are open to a lease to buy agreement or outright sale, but we need to act before the end of June 2017.
The University System has had the building appraised at $510,000 and is asking for this plus closing costs. They are willing to work with us, as we figure out our financing, but are anxious to lock in a deal or seek another buyer.
During discussions last fall, they approached us and we agreed to the University Admissions Office using the first floor of the house for a staging area for prospective student tours, through the end of June 2017. This worked in our favor, allowing us more time to work on financing and the actual purchase agreement.
However, the University does have other interested buyers. Kappa Sigma Fraternity and a Sorority have both approached the University about purchase of the Sigma Chi House! The University is telling them Sigma Chi has First Right of Refusal, until the beginning of July!
The following are current activities for the Sigma Chi House Reacquisition Effort:
We’ve hired a professional capital campaign consultant, with his initial focus on performing a Feasibility Study. This is to see if our House Reacquisition Project is actually viable, from an organizational/donor standpoint. Since we’re starting this effort with no cash in the bank, our first priority is a “Seed $” $25k fundraising effort. This is critical, as our capital campaign consultant Dan Barry, who is most of the way through the Feasibility Study, is betting on our ability to raise the Seed $ to pay his fee. Obviously we won’t see the Study till his fee is paid, but tentatively it’s looking good. The Seed $ will also be used for a building inspection, website development, and miscellaneous project costs.
We’re currently establishing a new Rho Rho Housing Corporation, as the legal entity who will own and operate the house. The House Corp Executive Board will consist mainly of Brothers listed below, who are active in the House Reacquisition Effort.
The University is open to a Lease to Buy Agreement, which looks like our best option, as it’s unlikely we can complete our capital campaign before July 2017.
We have a tentative agreement with Jeff Mills, President of the UMaine Foundation, to administer our capital campaign and allow us to be a part of the Foundation’s 501c-3 tax deductible gift status. This type of arrangement has been completed successfully by many other Sigma Chi House Corporations and corresponding Universities. We’re in the process of providing these expert resources to Jeff, as we work to put this arrangement in place.
Peter Dufour (Tax Attorney & CPA) is establishing transparent financial guidelines and procedures, to handle Seed $ donations, auditing capital campaign donations through the UMaine Foundation, and ultimately chapter financial operations. Basically the chapter financial operations will be operating identically to a remote business location or division. With all the expected transaction visibility and regular audit procedures as set up by a CPA.
There were financial mishandling of funds issues in the early 90’s, after the house renovation. So we’re being very purposeful in setting up financial controls and visibility, supporting regular operational control and audit by our Alumnus CPA
Capital Campaign & Team - Dan Barry (Hired Capital Campaign Consultant), Frank Cook (URI Sig Volunteer Capital Campaign consultant), Perry Clough, Tim O’Halloran, Mike Nadeau.
We’ve hired Dan Barry Associates - who is a Professional Capital Campaign Consultant.
Dan comes to us highly recommended by Frank Cook, who is a URI Sig and retired capital campaign consultant. Frank has known and worked with Dan Barry for some years. Frank participated in the recent URI Capital Campaign to build a brand new $2.1M chapter house. As a Sig, Frank has volunteered to consult and help us with our Rho Rho House Reacquisition project.
Dan is currently in the Feasibility Study Phase, where he’s interviewing Alumni, to gauge interest and determine viability of the project. It’s not a science, but there is a tried and true approach, used by all capital campaign consultants.
Assuming the Feasibility Study indicates that this is viable project, we will undertake a Capital Campaign.
Seed Money is our major focus right now.
Attaining 501c-3 Tax-Free Donation Status. We’ve met with Jeff Mills, President of the UMaine Foundation. Similar to URI, the UMaine Foundation is open to managing our Capital Campaign and also attaining 501c-3 100% tax free donation status. Jeff Mills envisions the Foundation working with our Capital Campaign consultant and team, sharing contact information and including Sigma Chi donations, etc. And also recognizing donations directed to the Sigma Chi House Reacquisition, the same way as normal Foundation donations (various donor level awards). We agree with Jeff that they are all donations to the UMaine community.
The actual Capital Campaign will be directed by our Capital campaign consultant Dan Barry, and organized and staffed by Generational Teams of Rho Rho’s.
2000 - 2010: Jason McLaughlin, Neil Spillane, Justin Dunbar
1990 - 2000: Rick Haney, Ron Milley, Eric Hodgkins
1980 - 1990: Pete Dufour, Nick Lee, Charlie McBrady
1970 - 1980: Tom Murphy, Shawn Kimball, Dan Thayer
1960 - 1970: Perry Clough, Bob Bloomquist, Pat Mariono
1950 - 1960: Bill Johnson, Al Bingham, Dave Cunningham
House Renovation and Conversion to Residence Team - Dean Schiraffa, Ron Milley, Mike Poulin
Dean Schiraffa worked with a local General Contractor to define renovation requirements, in accordance with university and regulatory requirements. This report will be available on the website.
We still need to run a couple of different renovations scenarios: The “Bare Bones Option” with only absolutely required physical renovations, used furniture & kitchen equipment, etc., and the Preferred “Do it Right/Do It All Now Option”
House Operations Team - Rick Haney, Clint Relyea, Shawn Kimball
How do we insure that we don’t lose the house?
Re-establish the Sigma Chi Rho Rho Culture. Remember re-opening this House is just like starting a new business. We have 40 bed hotel with a restaurant, with few employees. There are no standard operating procedures or experienced leadership group. We’ll have a group of Millennials that have never had to do duties. Or on a higher level, have never had to hold their peers accountable. When many of us moved into the Sigma Chi House, it had been operating for decades. There was no question that we would do duties or how they would be done. There were new brothers to teach you how to do the duty, older brothers who made sure the duties were being done right, and then senior brothers who had the experience to lead by example.
Development of Strong House/Chapter Leadership. In the Old Days, House Operation was more or less Institutionalized, to the point where the House ran, no matter who was in the offices. And the Chapter Excelled at Holding Each Other Accountable! As well as Pushing our Brothers to be Better and Do Better. We have many successful Alumni, and the common thread is they lived and developed themselves in the Sigma Chi House. Here we learned and grew as individuals and leaders. Brothers learned how to deal with people! We learned how to “Move the Herd,” or “Herd the Cats,” or how to successfully move an organization toward success.
Why is this Effort Different from the 1992 Renovation?
- We learned a lot from the 90’s renovation.
1. The chem-free initiative was lead by nationals, but organized locally by alumni who hadn't been in school in over 40 years. The change was drastic, and not supported by enough alumni.
2. It was a very grassroots effort, and as a result, a treasurer who should never have been trusted was put in place. John Moon's relationship with the active brotherhood was severely damaged by this point, but the house corporation was not aware because they did not have an internal house operations team in place.
3. The University-backed $400k mortgage hung over the heads of 18-21 year old students, who were too young to understand the responsibility of a mortgage of that magnitude. As a result, recruitment became about filling the house with numbers instead of filling the brotherhood with qualified members.
4. Various alumni groups had grown too comfortable with finger-pointing over disagreements regarding the new direction. Today there is no new direction or agenda, we are simply re-establishing a lost culture for our chapter.
5. We have direct access to all of URI Sigs who were involved in the planning and building of their brand new, $2.1m house, which opened in 2015.
How Can You Participate?
1. Physical participation on one of the teams.
2. Telephone and online support for Communications and Capital Campaign Teams.
3. Make a donation!