This article was written by Richard “Dick” Penhallegon ’63 for the summer 2017 issue of Shipherd’s Record, Olivet College’s alumni magazine.
April 26, 2016 marked an exciting day in Olivet College’s Kappa Sigma Alpha (KSA) history as the ground breaking for a new house was celebrated. Since that day, steady progress was made on the new house, which was completed in time to welcome home KSA actives in August. The new house dedication was held during Homecoming 2016 weekend. The modern and functional house truly is a “home away from home” for actives today and for future generations.
“We feel strongly that a permanent gathering space for actives and alumni, as well as residential space for KSA actives, is essential in the Olivet College environment,” said brother Dick Penhallegon ’63, who organized the Ground Breaking Ceremony and co-chaired the Dedication Ceremony with Mario Rodriguez ’13. “Special thanks should go to President Corey, his administrative staff and the Olivet College Board of Trustees for their strong support and belief in this endeavor. This is a significant step forward in maintaining the tradition of KSA’s presence on campus as a responsible society.”
At the dedication ceremony, attended by more than 100 actives, alumni, college staff and friends, Olivet College President Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., commended the speedy construction and praised the nearly 30 percent of KSA alumni who funded the construction through financial gifts. In addition, President Corey noted the importance of a residence and meeting place for the society. Other speakers included Mike Fontaine ‘88, Mike Hescott ‘87 and Ed Heator ’80, each of whom celebrated the rich history of KSA and the excitement this new chapter will bring to the society. Dr. Charles Blackman ’46, trustee emeritus, and then-active chapter President Derek Beslock ’17 led a ribbon-cutting ceremony, symbolically representing the age span of KSA alumni and active members. George Gullen ’61 led the singing of the fraternity song “Brothers All,” to conclude the dedication.
The dedication was the culmination of nearly 10 years of fundraising, originally intended to upgrade the house that was built in 1878 and purchased by the fraternity in 1956. “Engineers assessed the old house and gave estimates of what it would cost to repair and maintain it,” said Ed Heator ’80, KSA brother and development officer for the college. “By 2011, the house was condemned and upgrading to meet current building code was determined to not be financially feasible. Therefore, KSA alumni agreed to have the house demolished, which occurred in 2013.”
Under Heator’s guidance, fundraising efforts garnered generous donations from almost 30 percent of alumni. In late 2015, with the fundraising goal in site, a construction sub-group was appointed by the KSA Alumni Board to coordinate final plans and building details, as well as to work with the college to finalize approval. The goal of having the house completed by the return of actives for 2016 fall semester was met, thanks to good weather over the summer and the dedication and expertise of Bronco Builders.
The 3,800 square foot building is home to eight active members and includes a chapter room, kitchen and basement. “The new house is smaller, energy efficient, and built to last 75 to 100 years,” Heator said. In addition, should the need arise, the house is designed to accommodate construction of additional second-story living space.
Since it’s 1922 inception, KSA has occupied three previous houses. The first  was on Parsons St but was lost due to fire in 1932. The Hance House [currently the President’s house] was acquired in 1934 and used until the WW II years. In 1956, the Ely residence was purchased and used continuously until 2 years prior to demolition in 2013. The new house was built on this property.
In November 2014, the KSA Alumni Board was formed to ensure the continued success of the organization. Not only has the establishment of a board provided opportunities for to actives to collaborate and network with alumni, but both groups see the direct advantages of working together toward shared goals. In an organization like KSA that has such continuous shifting of membership, an alumni board provides needed stability.
The mission of the Kappa Sigma Alpha Alumni Board is to serve as mentors to today’s actives and to be a liaison between the alumni and current active members of the Kappa Sigma Alpha fraternity. The board also functions as a liaison with the college administration. This is the first society on campus to establish this type of responsibility, and it proved especially critical during the house planning and construction phase. The Board will also provide oversight on the upkeep and long term development/maintenance of the fraternity house.
The original members of the board include Chairman Mike Fontaine ’88, Vice Chairman Jerry Capps ’90, Secretary Ed Heator ’80, Mike Hescott ’87, Dick Penhallegon ’63, Roger Wood ’81, Mario Rodriguez ’13, Marcus Ledesma ’13, Tim Baker ’77 and Ed Smith ‘79. Scott Ramage ’89 recently joined the Board.
“The rewards of working with my brothers to accomplish the major goal of reestablishing a living and gathering space on the campus has been two fold. First, the KSA brothers succeeded with their goal of reestablishing a living and gathering space on the campus for actives. Second, each of us received the gift of establishing new acquaintances, including the young men who are today’s actives and other KSA alumni, in addition to renewing previous friendships,” said Dick Penhallegon ’63.
Kappa Sigma Alpha fraternity is entering a new period in its history in a new fraternity house and with a new relationship with its alumni. Through it all, we know that we are BROTHERS ALL, HELD BY FRIENDSHIP’S BAND.
WE proceed knowing that WISDOM CONQUERS ALL.