Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The University of Toledo - Sig Ep Alumni Remember UT and a Home Away from Home

The University of Toledo - Sig Ep Alumni Remember UT and a Home Away from Home


For some people, the word “fraternity” conjures up images of John Belushi wreaking havoc in “Animal House.” But for former members of the Ohio Iota Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon at The University of Toledo, “fraternity” invokes the very real memories of campus and chapter activities, of brotherhood, and—for many—the memory of two Old Orchard parents who provided a home away from home.

From the mid-seventies to mid-eighties, John and Margaret Mandula’s four sons each attended and graduated from UT: Mark (Bus ’79, MBA ’80); Jack (Eng ’81, MBA ’87); Thomas (Bus ’83, MBA ’84), and David (Bus ’86). All four brothers were also Sig Eps.

Living just blocks from campus, the Mandulas opened their home for a decade to Sig Ep young men.

“My mom, who worked at UT for ten years, essentially adopted a lot of guys when we were in school,” said Mark Mandula. “Many ate, slept, and hung out at our house. As a result, she was awarded the honor of being a Golden Heart (little sister).” When she died in November 2011, Mark inherited her pledge paddle, signed by many of the young men.

Mark said he and his brothers felt a huge debt to his parents, and also to UT and Sigma Phi Epsilon. “When my dad passed away in 2003, we decided to create the Sigma Phi Epsilon Margaret R. and John Mandula, Jr., Challenge Fund,” said Mark. “My mom and dad believed in the power of education, and we felt the best way to honor them would be through a scholarship.”

The scholarship’s goal is to reward those Sig Eps who epitomize a “Balanced Man.” Criteria include grades, chapter and campus involvement, and an essay describing a challenging event in the member’s life and how he overcame it.

“Having read these stories over the years, I have been humbled. Not only do all the guys have amazing grades, chapter involvement, and campus involvement, but they have successfully overcome some serious setbacks,” said Mark.

Since 2003, the Challenge Fund has been awarded to 14 students. Many have sent notes of appreciation, saying the scholarship was the difference between staying in school or being forced due to economic reasons to drop out.

Last spring, the Mandula brothers chose to boost the scholarship fund by establishing a challenge grant. Under the terms, the family offered to match every dollar, up to $50,000, donated to the fund through October 2012. As of mid-November, the total goal of $100,000 has been nearly met.

The fund-raising drive has been spearheaded by Ted Behnken, president of the UT Sigma Phi Epsilon Alumni Association. “Without Ted’s leadership and involvement, none of what we have been able to accomplish so far would have been possible,” noted Mark.

Mr. Behnken (Bus ’82, MBA ‘88) said the Mandula family has been an incredible force in developing scholarships to benefit the University and members of Sig Ep.

“We appreciate all they have done, and in the spirit of their parents, our university and fraternity will benefit by this gift that will live forever,” he said.

“All four of us believe that paying forward is important to ensure current and future Sig Eps have the opportunity to receive an education at The University of Toledo,” added Mark. “We encourage and challenge other UT alumni to contribute to their alma mater.”
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