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Ribbon-cutting ceremony caps fraternity house’s million-dollar renovation

With the snip of a green ribbon, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house – known as the Old Grey Barn – was officially reopened Saturday during Reunion Weekend.

Alumni and current brothers were on hand to celebrate the million-dollar restoration campaign. One of the ceremony’s highlights was the completion of the front porch, which spans the entire front of the house.

Mechanical engineering graduate Doug Fish ’01 has been fundraising co-chair for the last three years. He has worked with international affairs graduate Jeff Gingerich ’97 on the renovation’s capital campaign.

“For all of us the dedication is immensely gratifying,” Fish said. “We have succeeded in securing the future of the chapter house and with that the future of the chapter by providing a state-of-the-art living facility for the current brothers.

“For me, my fraternity experience was one of the most important learning experiences of my life. This revitalization of the chapter house is my way of making sure that future generations will have the opportunity to benefit from the Phi Psi experience.”

Leading the capital campaign were biology graduate Roger Newton ’72 and mechanical engineering graduate Jim Akerhielm ’86. In addition to Fish and Gingerich, the core group of alumni who initiated the renovation project include civil engineering graduate John Pierce ’81, building committee co-chair; electrical engineering graduates Wes Crouse ’81 and R. Jay Geiger ’62; A.B. engineering graduate Alex La Roche ’98, housing corporation president; mechanical engineering graduate Bill Turner ’71; chemistry graduate Robert Leciston ’63; and economics and business graduate Robert McCabe ’67.

The construction portion of the project was managed by Crouse, Pierce, mechanical engineering graduate Jon Glick ’05, and mechanical engineering and international studies graduate Bill Faust ’02.

Newton, Fish, and La Roche were presented with plaques recognizing their special contributions to the project.

“This day came quicker than I thought, and it came as a result of the hard work of all these people,” said Newton.

The chapter expressed gratitude to the College administration for its support and cooperation in the project. Current brothers were housed in Rubin Hall this past school year while the fraternity house was under construction. Fish particularly acknowledged the support of Bruce Ferretti, director of physical planning, Plant Operations, and President Dan Weiss.

Weiss, Fish, Newton, Pierce, La Roche, and Claude Warren, assistant executive director of Phi Kappa Psi National Fraternity, offered remarks.

“This was a long time coming, and I congratulate all of you for your commitment,” Weiss said. “Thank you for devoting your time and effort to ensure that the members of Phi Psi have a strong academic as well as fraternal experience.”

Phi Psi students appreciate their fraternity experience and strong connections with the fraternity’s alumni.

“It has been my great honor and privilege to join Phi Kappa Psi this year with such a group of great guys,” said corresponding secretary Joey Haymaker ’09 (Hellertown, Pa.), a double major in Spanish and economics & business. “While Rubin Hall has become our makeshift home, I cannot count the times I have heard ‘I miss the house.’ It is definitely an understatement to say that the brothers are looking forward to the future of Phi Psi in the redone house, and we cannot say enough about the generous support from our loyal alumni.”

The Pennsylvania Theta Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi was founded at Lafayette March 15, 1869. In 1903, two alumni purchased a tract of land off Sullivan Lane that the fraternity house would eventually occupy. It is believed, though not officially confirmed, that President Woodrow Wilson, a Phi Psi brother from Princeton, visited the “Old Grey Barn” while in office.

In 1969, the house was moved to its March Field location as part of a project completed in 1971. Unfortunately, the house fell prey to years of wear and tear, leading to the need for the renovation project.

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