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After 13-year absence, Theta Chi Fraternity looks to come back

The fraternity originally left because of a deteriorating house and low enrollment.

Just over 13 years ago the University of Minnesota chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity closed its doors on campus. Now, it’s looking to make a comeback.

Starting this semester, national Theta Chi representatives will begin recruiting individuals interested in the chapter.

Brent Skaja, the coordinator for the fraternity’s Twin Cities alumni chapter, cites a strong local alumni base and an upcoming 2014 Theta Chi national convention to be held in Minneapolis as motives for the return this fall.

“We’ve got a strong national presence for Theta Chi without a chapter [on the Twin Cities campus,]” he said.

According to the fraternity’s website, at least five chapters have been installed at universities around the country in recent years, including comebacks at the University of Nebraska and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In addition, the fraternity is working with other campuses for expansion purposes.

The campus chapter closed in 1999 after a struggle with low enrollment numbers and a deteriorating house.

The house, now the home of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, was owned by Theta Chi for close to 80 years and fell under scrutiny when plumbing and wiring problems failed to pass Minneapolis city inspections, according to a 1999 Minnesota Daily article about the closing.

Even after attempts to coordinate with Theta Chi alumni, the chapter was unable to secure the funds necessary to repair the building, and, as a result, chose to voluntarily sell the house rather than face condemnation by the city.

Five remaining members of the chapter founded Omega Nu Alpha, which is still a part of the University’s greek community today but doesn’t retain any formal ties to the Theta Chi chapter.

According to Joe Macko, one of two on-the-ground representatives from Theta Chi international headquarters, a primary reason for the undergraduate chapter’s return is the strong alumni presence in the area.

Macko is currently helping form an interest group on campus. If enough interest is garnered, the next step would be recognition as a colony, or formal pledging to Theta Chi. The final step would be recognition as a chapter, which requires meeting a quota of 50 or more eligible men and receiving a charter from the national Theta Chi organization, according to its website.

In a press release, Paul Norstrem, a former University chapter president, expressed his excitement about the group’s return.

“We are very excited about coming home to Minnesota,” he said.

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