NJ Phi Beta Chapter Celebrates 50th Anniversary at Seton Hall
By all accounts, the weekend of events marking the 50th Anniversary of the founding of NJ Phi Beta Chapter of Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity at Seton Hall University was a huge success.
Nearly 65 undergraduate and alumni brothers showed up at the October 12th stag party at Cryan’s Beef & Ale House and a total of 122 alumni and guests attended the Saturday evening cocktail party and banquet held on October 13th in the Main Lounge of Bishop Dougherty University Center.
NJ Phi Beta Chapter was installed on April 28, 1962 as the first national fraternity to be approved by Seton Hall. It originated as Phi Beta Sigma Honorary Service Fraternity, which was founded on April 13, 1954 as the first local fraternity established at SHU.
The historic event, held in conjunction with University Weekend, was co-sponsored by The Setonian Foundation, the PKT Alumni Chapter and SHU Alumni Club, and the Office of Alumni Relations.
Jim Spaeth '65, anniversary event chairperson, said the event raised a net amount of $3,100 for The Setonian Foundation, which awards scholarships to qualified undergraduate brothers. Spaeth added, "That figure included $2,140 in contributions from brothers. Nearly half of attendees made a donation.” Spaeth thanked the SHU alumni office for assisting the fraternity in planning the event and for covering the cost of printing and mailing the invitations, producing the programs and some additional items.
On Saturday, October 13th, many alumni and guests arrived early to join a tour of the campus led by undergraduate brothers and attended a special Mass in Immaculate Conception Chapel celebrated by Chapter Chaplain the Rev. Paul A. Holmes ’A. Many brothers participated in various University Weekend attractions, including visits to the first-ever Beer Pavilion held in a tent behind the center.
Spaeth, who served as master of ceremonies for the evening, gave welcoming remarks. He thanked everyone for attending and supporting the fraternity. Nick Scalera ’63 then introduced the evening’s two guests of honor – SHU President Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban and PKT Executive Vice President Robert Riggs.
Dr. Esteban highlighted some of the university’s initiatives, including the reduced tuition program designed to attract the best and the brightest high school students and his bold plan to establish Seton Hall as one of the top 10 Catholic colleges and among the 100 preeminent universities in the nation. He also spoke about SHU’s strategic planning process, a mobile computing initiative, the largest freshman class in 32 years and physical plant improvements. Esteban then touted a project that "didn’t cost us a dime” – opening a 24-hour Dunkin’ Donuts in Walsh Library that has become a student favorite.
Executive VP Riggs emphasized Phi Kappa Theta’s role as a leader in the modern fraternity movement. Rob said PKT’s mission is to actively develop men "to be effective leaders who passionately serve Society, Fraternity and God” through five areas: leadership, fraternal, spiritual, intellectual and social. He urged brothers "to remember we are all part of something bigger than ourselves” and challenged them to "leave their legacy by serving positively to secure the future of NJ Phi Beta for the next 50 years.”
Spaeth and Scalera then recognized other distinguished PKT alumni attending the dinner, including: SHU Vice President for Advancement David J. Bohan (RPI, ’82); Chapter Faculty Advisors Dr. Peter Ahr ’A and Dr. Michael Valdez ’A; and PKT National Foundation Trustee Emeritus Gregory E. Stein (CCNY, ’70).
Nick Sena, Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement, described the role of the SHU alumni office in supporting individual alumni and alumni clubs and appealed for donations to assist the office in its work.
After dinner, Brandon Brewster ’97, President of The Setonian Foundation, explained its mission and services. The alumni chapter was founded on July 7, 1962 and became an SHU alumni club on January 1, 2008. It oversees monitors and supports NJ Phi Beta Chapter, awards scholarships to deserving undergraduate brothers and sponsors various annual social events for undergraduate/alumni brothers.
Brewster presented the Rev. Robert Grady and Dr. Bernard Duffy scholarships, each worth $1,000, to Chapter Vice President Joseph Lisella ’14 and Chapter Treasurer Steven Troullos '13.
Foundation trustee Marc Colasanto ’96 then presented engraved plaques awarded by The Setonian Foundation to six alumni of NJ Phi Beta Chapter – Doc Ahr, Brewster, Father Holmes, Bill Trub ’75, Scalera and Spaeth – in recognition of their "commitment and service to the fraternity” over the years.
In a moving tribute, Chuck Guariglia ’64 read the name of every brother in the classes of 1962 through 1965 who was a charter member of NJ Phi Beta Chapter. He then called to the stage the eight brothers of the inaugural PKT class who were present that night: Bob Berger ’65, Paul Byrne ’65, Guariglia, John Patton ’63, Thomas Portanova ’65, Scalera, Spaeth and Bill Tribus ’65. The group led all attendees in a rousing rendition of the Phi Kappa Theta Stein Song and a reverent version of Seton Hall’s Alma Mater.
Phi Kappa Theta National Fraternity now has approximately 50 collegiate chapters and colonies and nearly 45 alumni chapters across the nation.