Sunday, May 27, 2007

Does Alumni Commentary from Lambda Chi Fit SPE?

Is it all undergraduate?
by David L. Woods

Most of the writing on Lambda Chi Alpha celebrates the undergraduate institution. While this is logical, is it correct?

You also advised to write about CURRENT matters! Yet I wonder if the majority of members really have much CURRENT connection with our fraternity? And without an “occasional sojourn into the days of yore,” will any current connection ever develop?

Perhaps I am simply over-educated, in comparison to the average. But I read somewhere that today most college graduates wind up with at least two degrees.It seems to be that LAMBDA CHI ALPHA may be losing more than it is gaining by this total stress on undergraduate institutions and current fraternal events.

To begin with, are there not more former zetas than existing ones? What do we do with all those brothers from zetas now defunct? Like mine. Zeta Nu at San Jose State. While we existed only about 20 years, we still stand well in donations, names, etc. when periodically former as well as existing zetas are listed. But what is done with all the alumni from a former zeta? How do they gain or maintain a CURRENT fraternal bond?

After graduation from SJS I moved on to Stanford University. I completed a two-year master’s degree in broadcasting. I was also a resident assistant for a wing & a half at Encina Hall a large, historical freshman dorm. I was also graduate manager of Radio KZSU, contributor to the CHAPPARAL, actor in productions. I still hear from various Stanford outfits, & thus have become a life alumni member.

I spent twice as long at SJS, did more, but do not hear from SJS anywhere near as often as from Stanford. Maybe six little magazines is it for the school — despite my having donated my historical materials on naval & military signals — which has come to be far less an event than was pre-advertised before I committed to it.

Later I joined the faculty at Lehigh University. I don’t recall the number, but I think something like a dozen of the new Lambda Chi Alpha pledges that year were from from my classes & the University Radio-TV Workshop I ran. So far as I know our chapter is still there, but I’ve never heard from them — despite helping provide more than 30% of the membership over the next four years — during my one year on the faculty.

I would up at the Ohio State University — where they were very kind & allowed me to complete my PhD in 1976 — despite my initial enrollment back in 1954. That is a long time to finish a degree, but it was all legal & done with care. At OSU, I lived in the Lambda Chi house. I probably could not have afforded my one required full-time year, had I not been granted that opportunity. I was grateful, but have never been asked to show it.

Yet I never really felt like a chapter member. I was not asked to attend meetings. I did go to a few social functions. I even worked to set up a team to “manage & clean” the house for several special weekends — when money could be earned from outsiders for 80 beds plus food. I was not paid for this effort. And those women I got to come to make beds & clean were not paid either — although that had been promised by the fraternity before I recruited them. Indeed this dispute continued until the year’s end. Logically, I did not try to live at the house during subsequent shorter visits. I have never heard from any of my brothers at OSU since 1955. Was a good opportunity missed again?

A few years later, I worked for the Hughes Aircraft Co., and was offered free tuition for grad courses at USC. There was a Lambda Chi chapter there. I had brought a USC member back from the NY City convention a few years earlier in my car. While I visited the house several times, it was clear there was no interest is a local non-USC alum, even though resident in the region.

By 1963, I was in Florida working for the Martin Company & began an evening MBA at the Crummer School of Rollins College. My class of 1965 may have been the first (or at least 2nd) to graduate. There is a Lambda Chi undergrad chapter at Rollins. But by now I had apparently learned my lesson, & I never visited — nor was asked of my fraternal affiliation by Rollins. I do hear from the grad school with some frequency. And in today’s CROSS & CRESCENT I read of another Lambda Chi who was prominent in that Rollins/Crummer program! Were he & I the only two? I doubt it.

I have attended a national convention in FL. I have given funds from time to time. I donated a Pushcart Relay purple green & gold WWI metal helmet from our SJS ZN’s annual pushcart relays (blatantly stolen from the Michigan State Chapter). I announced these for several years, & was even brought back as guest announcer from Stanford!

I lived near the University of MD for many years. I taught there a dozen part-time. I attempted to contact the chapter there, but could see the chapter wasn’t interested. Later after moving to West Virginia, I contacted the chapter at Shepherd College now University. They have a dorm section method of fraternal living.I taught there several years. Neither the teaching nor the fraternity came to much. I offered them a complete set of the CROSS & CRESCENTS from 1949 to about 1990. They didn’t want them and had no place. No one thought of asking the college library.

Conclusion: I knew Tozier Brown, Lew Fetterly, “Doc” Dighalli, George Spasyk, & Wayne Montgomgery (a ZN who became a traveling secretary). I have demonstrated leadership in academia (offices in professional associations), the Navy Department, the Navy Reserve (retired CAPT), several Fortune 500 firms, many years of active leadership in professional military association in the US, Canada, & NATO, held many offices (national president of the ROA 1985-86, another LXA came some years after me — Jim Hannagan of MI), & for more than 50 years as an adjunct professor — decade at MD, decade at U of VA, decade at George Washington U, & currently more than a decade at Marshall University in WV. I’ve written many books & magazine articles on various subjects. Yet this is the first writing I’ve done for Lambda Chi Alpha since my ZN days as Cross & Crescent correspondent — virtually my first writing.

Am I truly at fault here? Or is Lambda Chi pretty well limited to our 330 existing chapters — & essentially the undergrad period at each?

Is it simply too hard to make Lambda Chi Alpha a truly lifetime experience for more of us? Including those who’s chapter has failed. Would it be worth the effort, if we tried?

David L. “Navy Dave” Woods, CAPT, USNR (Ret.), AB, MA, MBA, PhD, listed in Who’s Who in America past several decades