Washburn University Foundation


Young alumni see opportunity to give back in fraternity house project

Pictured: Senior computer information sciences major Patrick Towle, left, and senior anthropology major Patrick Barry, who are members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

Phi Delta Theta house

When two Washburn University alumni, the late Ronald Richey, ba ’49, jd ’51, and Robert Taggart, ba ’51, Topeka, had the vision to renovate the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house, more than 100 alumni came together to make the project a reality.

Richey and Taggart led planning and fundraising efforts for the nearly $2 million, multi-year project. Fraternity members moved into the renovated house in the fall of 2011.

Gifts of all sizes came from Phi Delta Theta alumni, including a group of young alumni who saw an opportunity to give back to the fraternity that had given them so much. Some Phi Delta Theta members like Brady Rothrock, bba ’11, Overland Park, Kan., and Phil Sanders, as ’10, ba ’10, certificate in diagnostic medical sonography '11, even made pledges as students.

“The house was a big part of my learning process and my development, and I wanted to make sure that the guys down the road had a house and the same opportunities,” Rothrock said.

Daniel Usera, ba ’08, Lansing, Kan., made his pledge as a graduate student at the University of Iowa.

“I had been thinking about giving, but as a new graduate, I didn’t have a lot of money,” he said. “I realized it’s not as much about what you give; it’s about giving what you can. I think that is what drove the sense of community with this project.”

Sanders was impressed by how many current members and alumni contributed in any way they could.

“Members were encouraging each other to help, and alumni were contacting other alumni and calling their pledge brothers,” he said.

Today, students like senior computer information sciences major Patrick Towle. Topeka, and senior anthropology major Patrick Barry, Kansas City, Mo., get to experience firsthand the results of the project.

“I love that alumni had the opportunity to put their names on rooms around the house,” said Towle, who took alumnus status with the fraternity during the spring 2014 semester. “It’s another type of connection that they still have with the fraternity.”

Barry added, “It’s a story of how guys like me had such a positive experience that they wanted to give back. It’s inspiring. I hope I will want to do the same.”

Younger alumni often feel like they can’t give much, Rothrock said, but every gift matters.

“Contributions in masses can make a big difference. If you want to give back, and do that every year, it can become a substantial amount of money because it adds up over time,” he said.

Usera said his involvement with the project encouraged him to continue a habit of giving.

“Giving was a very personal thing for me. Going back, seeing the results of my gift and being happy with the results — that showed me that this is what giving can do,” Usera said. “And because I started giving shortly after I graduated, I’m more likely to give in the future.”