Brother Mike Golden of Delta Chapter was awarded a $3000 internship to be served through June 2000. Starting February 1, 2000, two additional internships were awarded to Tom Mercer (Epsilon) and Alix Minden (Kappa). Brothers Mercer and Minden assisted the National Office through October 1, 2000.
On April 5, 2000 the Supreme Council voted unanimously to recognize a Colony at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. Omega Chapter was then chartered on May 5, 2000. This historic day accomplished the milestone of completing all single Greek Letter chapter designations for Sigma Phi Delta. The charter members of Omega Chapter were: Jonah Charles Blake, Golam M. Bokhtier, Jeffery K. Chang, Endrit Gjona, William S. Irvine Jr., Jeremy Nacer, Ankoor Naik, Michael J. Torntore, Charter Chief Engineer Steven A. Weiss, and Jonathan Werner.
The Fifth Joint Province Convention was held between June 29 and July 2, 2000, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with Eta Chapter hosting. Key pieces of business emanating from the Convention were: (1) that Delta Chapter would be realigned to the Central Province; (2) the Petition of the Colony at Rutgers to become Omega Chapter was accepted unanimously; and (3) the National Director position, that would sweep together the offices of Executive Secretary and Circulation Manager, was approved. In addition Grand President Lindner reported a strengthening of the partnership with A.O.E. However, this has helped A.O.E. the most; SPD helped them start at least four chapters at schools in the US and Canada. Grand President Lindner also reported that the Fraternity had an incident where an active chapter did not follow the Risk Reduction Policy. The chapter and individual members found themselves with serious challenges from the university and local law enforcement. He reminded all that Sigma Phi Delta set up the Risk Reduction policies to educate the members of the risks they face and give them a framework to minimize their liability. The professional program was a tour of both Harley Davidson Engine plant and Miller Brewing Company.
In order to reduce damage when items are “stolen” by a visiting Chapter, the Supreme Council directed that each chapter build a Rip-off Trophy that would be the only item that allowed to be taken from chapters by a visiting chapter. The trophy shall be obvious and shall be able to be taken without damage. As partial repayment for damage caused to the Delta house, Kappa Chapter was directed to construct a Master Rip Off Trophy.
At its Chicago area meeting of April 6-8, 2001, the Supreme Council interviewed several qualified candidates for the newly created Executive Director position, and on June 1, 2001 Brother Robert R. Featheringham, an alumnus of Lambda Chapter, inaugurated the position of Executive Director of Sigma Phi Delta. This was the Fraternity’s first full-time paid position to handle fraternity affairs. This position was set up for a two year trial period, after which the Executive Director's effectiveness would be evaluated.
The Thirty-Fourth General Convention was hosted by Kappa Chapter at Tri-State University in Angola, Indiana, on July 19- 21, 2001. Attending this convention were a group of representatives from the Sigma Phi Delta Colony at Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as three representatives from Zeta Phi Sigma, an engineering sorority at VCU. At this convention a Chapter health system was instituted to provide a consistent basis to determine how well chapters are meeting the ideals of Sigma Phi Delta. The professional event was a tour of the Cooper-Standard plant in Auburn, Indiana. Tutorials were presented on Risk Reduction, Chapter Financial Management, Rush and Recruiting, and the Fraternity’s initiative, Engineers United, seeking to work together with Women in Engineering organizations for the benefit of the Engineering profession. The General Convention voted: 1) to assist the formation of Zeta Phi Sigma at VCU; 2) to initiate a general fundraising initiative of all members. As part of his normal Executive Director duties, Featheringham was appointed to the
position of Fundraising Manager. In the coming years, Brother Featheringham had the unenviable task of soliciting (in other words “begging”) the Membership for money to allow the International Office to do the Fraternity’s work. Additionally, Bob began the tradition of mailing out Birthday cards to Brothers at this time. The end of 2001 signaled the end of Grand President Paul A. Lindner’s time on the Supreme Council. For nearly a decade, from 1992 to 2001 (all but two of those as Grand President), Brother Lindner guided the Fraternity through some of its most tumultuous times and into the 21st Century. Elected at the Convention to succeed him as Grand President was Derek R. Troy, the first Alpha Chapter Alumnus to serve as Grand President since founding member Gilbert H. Dunstan.
On the expansion front, a colony was started at Virginia Commonwealth University and inroads were made at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) when Eta Chapter pledged and activated several students from that school. Both these efforts would eventually succumb to lack of interest. Chi Chapter at the University of Cincinnati went inactive at this time. In other interesting news, it came to the attention of the Supreme Council that a nationally distributed gentleman’s magazine had featured Sigma Phi Delta’s letters in a questionable cartoon within its pages. After some discussion it was decided it wasn’t worth the effort to pursue any further action.
The year 2002 was marked with several sweeping changes to the Fraternity, many coming from motions presented to the General Convention by mail-ballot vote. The first of these came on January 15, 2002 when the Supreme Council certified the General Convention mail ballot vote on changing “Christian” to “Virtuous” Manhood in the Object of the Fraternity. The term “Christian Manhood” had been controversial since the beginning of the Fraternity, per Grand Old Man Robert J. Beals. In written correspondence he stated, “Alternative language would be acceptable.” In fact, the 30th General Convention in 1993 directed a committee to develop alternative language. In expansion efforts, the question would always inevitably be raised regarding why we espouse Christian ideals if we were not a Christian organization? In the face of an ever expanding, diverse Fraternity, it was deemed desirable to remove the last vestiges of our former policy of restricting membership to Christian Caucasians and North American Indians. This change notwithstanding, our Declaration of Principles and Objects remains intact. “We believe in an Eternal God who has power over the lives of men, while, at the same time, not espousing any denominational or religious creed.” (Manual of Procedure).
Other legislature passed this year included:
- A Constitutional amendment authored by Grand President Troy that restructured the way the Fraternity was organized that made for a more unified and stronger International organization. Provinces remained but would only serve as geographical areas that Province Councilors oversaw. By-laws, governmental organization, and fees at the Province level were eliminated and accordingly, there would be just one Fraternity dues amount. The International Office assumed control of funding all province retreats/conventions rather than having each Province do this from separate Province accounts.
- A Constitutional amendment to eliminate the Board of Trustees restriction that disallowed more than two members being from same active chapter. Additionally a requirement was added that members be at least five years out of school before assuming office. This was to ensure local, parochial Chapter interests did not drive the Board’s considerations.
- A Statutory Code amendment changing the requirement that The CASTLE be mailed in October, rather than September.
The seeds of new chapters were planted this year when contact was made by Grand Vice-President Hileman and Communications Director Minden with a group of enthusiastic students from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. They would eventually be colonized on November 9, 2002 with Alpha Alumnus Tony Troutman in attendance. Additionally an Interest Group was started at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology after an inquiry from a group of students in that country was received. Throughout the year, discussions were had regarding the feasibility of “advancing the Engineering Profession” at universities throughout the world. In preparation for the arrival of any such chapters outside North America, the following legislature was enacted:
- A Constitutional amendment requiring engineering school curriculum either be ABET (US), CEAB (Canada), or ABET-SEP (non-North American schools) accredited. In cases where Petitions for Charter came from non-North American schools that were not accredited as ABET-SEP, the Supreme Council could waive the requirement before sending the Petition for Charter to the General Convention.
- Dues were adjusted to account for the disparate affordability in the countries where we were located. (At the time, the current GDP’s were: US=$100; Canada, $68.73; and Bangladesh, $4.33.)
In 2002, for the first time ever, the Pledge Manual, the Manual of Procedure, Constitution, Statutory Code, and several forms were placed online. Many of these efforts were headed up by the intern for that year, Brother Jeffrey Leesman of Delta Chapter.
Locally, the Supreme Council was notified of problems at Eta and Phi with their landlords. At Eta, several disputes with Marquette administration arose regarding the lease of their newly constructed three-year old house and the amount of rent that they were being charged. At Phi, despite having a verbal understanding of right of first refusal on the purchase of their house, Phi's landlord sold the Phi Castle to the university. Luckily, temporary housing was found and a new Phi Chapter House was identified.
Brother Featheringham headed up efforts to have our Coat of Arms and Letters, trademarked after their registrations had lapsed undetected years previous. It was eventually decided that according to common law, little doubt existed that we owned our Coat and Letters. As such no action was deemed necessary at the time to solidify our ownership position. Featheringham also completed the necessary Certificate of Revivor for Articles of Incorporation paperwork that put us in good standing with the California Franchise Tax Board.
Featheringham also stepped up efforts in his role as Merchandising Manager. During this year it was decided that the Fraternity adopt a new logotype that could more easily convey that we were a fraternal organization of engineers, something that the Coat of Arms couldn’t readily do at-a-glance. A contest was held and a design by Eta Chapter was chosen as the eventual winner. It should be noted that this design was further refined by Brother Ian Santarinala of Delta Chapter, the first of many contributions to Sigma Phi Delta.
2003 began on an upbeat note with the initiation of ten charter members of our first chapter outside North America (and first dual-letter chapter) at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh on January 5, 2003. Efforts in creating the Beta-Alpha Chapter of Sigma Phi Delta were spearheaded by Omega Brother Golam Bokhtier. Grand President Derek Troy and Grand Vice President Keith Hileman made the long trip around the world to conduct the Chartering ceremonies. The Charter Members were: Sk. Monsur Ahmed, Anwar Iqbal Ahmed, Debashis Dash, Md. Rakib Ud Dowla, Sagar Gope, Shahnewaz Hasanat-E-Rabbi, Mohammad Samiul Hossain, Riyadh Hossain, Md. Tofiqul Islam, S.M. Raiyan Kabir, and Tasibul Islam Khan.
On May 17, 2003, Beta-Gamma at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, entered the roll of Sigma Phi Delta Chapters. The Installation was conducted by Grand President Troy and Grand Vice-President Keith Hileman. Charter members were Cory L. Broussard, Wesley A. Buchhorn, William C. Carpenter, Jace R. Daigle, Jeremy L. Huebel, Kyle D. Kibodeaux, Joshua L. Morgan, Jeffery D. Nelson, Richard L. Nero, Freeman M. Peart, and Travis G. Watson. Interestingly enough, Beta-Gamma becomes our second Texas Chapter after Gamma Chapter at the University of Texas at Austin.
Also in May, it was learned that Eta Chapter had been suspended for two years by Marquette (reduced to one year with the help of Executive Director Featheringham and Eta Alumni) and had been evicted from their recently built house for violating the University’s Risk Reduction Policy. Following suit, the Supreme Council charged Eta Chapter with violating the Fraternity’s Risk Reduction Policy. After a plea of guilty, Eta was placed on a three-year Chapter Improvement Plan for the duration of their suspension which outlined the positive steps necessary for Eta to regain their Charter which was placed into the custody of the General Convention.
Also this year, Brother Ian Santarinala unveiled an official cleaned-up version of the Sigma Phi Delta Coat of Arms. The Coat, which had remained unchanged since 1934, was reincarnated in several versions throughout the 90s with each version suffering from severe digital artifacts. Brother Ian Santarinala, using original source versions of the Coat, was able to create a rendering true to the wishes of the original designers. The Coat of Arms, Fraternity Logotype, and new slogan “The Premier International Fraternity of Engineers” were all featured prominently in new Fraternity stationary in the form of letterhead, envelopes, business cards, and memorandum templates.
The Thirty-Fifth General Convention was opened on July 24, 2003 by Grand President Troy on the campus of the University of Illinois. The Convention was held in conjunction with the occasion of Delta Chapter’s 75th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Celebration. Future Executive Secretary Ian Santarinala was Convention Chair. Between this celebration and Alpha’s four years earlier, this would be the first of many Diamond Jubilees celebrated by our Chapters in the coming years. The planning of the Convention exposed the Fraternity for the first time ever to the world of liability insurance, a topic that would be on the minds of the Supreme Council in the upcoming years. The University of Illinois required any organizations meeting on its premises to carry a $1 million liability insurance policy. Luckily, Brother Featheringham was able to find us a carrier willing to issue us coverage for a one-time event thus ensuring that the convention could proceed. However, with recent events at Eta (and future violations of the Risk Reduction Policy at Epsilon and Delta) the need for a National Liability Insurance Policy to protect the Fraternity’s Active Chapters, Alumni Chapters, and Officers from personal risk was crucially needed. Other business conducted at the Convention included the raising of Active dues to $100 and Alumni Chapter fees to $400. It was also decided at this Convention that the Office of the Treasurer would become a voting member of the Supreme Council. Brother Featheringham after reviewing the work of the Executive Director position graciously offered to continue for another two-year term at a reduced salary with no bonus, and also on a consulting basis so as to divert responsibility of payroll taxes to himself rather than the Fraternity. The weekend culminated with the Convention Banquet attended by many Delta Alumni. It was announced during dinner that Theta Alumnus Eric Newell, class of 1967, had been awarded the Sigma Phi Delta Professional Achievement Award for his contributions to the field of energy supply in his role as CEO of Syncrude Canada Ltd. and for his work in strengthening partnerships between education and business.
The onset of 2004 marked a major milestone in the history of Sigma Phi Delta. Due to the Sigma Phi Delta Foundation’s rules limiting a Board of Director’s service to two terms, for the first time in 60 years Robert J. Beals did not serve the Fraternity in any capacity. Shortly thereafter, on February 28, 2004, the second Grand Old Man of Sigma Phi Delta entered the Castle Eternal.
We should also note the contributions of Brother Keith “Stick” Hileman (7289) of Kappa Chapter whose term ended at the beginning of 2004. During his tenure as Grand Vice-President five new Chapters were added to the Fraternity, Chi, Psi, Omega, Beta-Alpha, and Beta-Gamma. His time as Grand Vice-President marked one of the more active periods in the Fraternity’s expansion.
During the Fall of this year, Information Systems Manager Ed Hurst launched an initiative to automate online many of the forms the fraternity required. For countless years, pledges had to submit typewritten copies of their Form 1’s to the Executive Secretary. In this modern age, the entire initiation lifecycle would be transacted online.