by Doug Ireland
A lot of us have built houses, maybe even more than once. Start with the basics: how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need or want?
Not often is the answer 12 bedrooms. And if it is, what’s the right answer for the bathroom count?
That’s one of the fundamental questions that Alexandria’s Robert Broadwell, and his fraternity brothers, had to answer as they started down the path to building an on-campus home for the Beta Omicron chapter of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity at Northwestern.
Broadwell’s days as an NSU student were over 40 years ago. He’s a senior advisor for the student chapter nowadays, and has been a longtime member of the Beta Omicron alumni board. Spearheading that group is another Alexandria native, David D. Morgan.
Replacing the current, smaller Pi Kapp house across University Parkway from campus has been a goal for the alumni group for several years. When it became a plan last fall, Broadwell stepped up as project manager, and after shopping for a builder, found the perfect fit with Tudor Inc. of Alexandria.
The opportunity to do a design build, with Tudor’s team taking the project from concept to constructed, was ideal. As the NSU campus prepares for the start of the fall semester in mid-August, the new house is nearly finished, with 12 lucky young men itching to move in when the doors officially swing open on August 1.
They’ll move into a house featuring four three-bedroom pods, each anchored to its own living room and accessible to the communal areas where fraternity brothers and friends can relax, cook, wash clothes, and convene meetings. The new PKP house has around 5,300 square feet and is being built at a $1.1 million cost that will be covered by donations from a core group of the Beta Omicron chapter’s over 600 alumni, sale of the current house, and rent from the young men living in NSU’s new gem.
“This is wonderful!” said university president Dr. Chris Maggio during a walk-through with Morgan, Broadwell and others. Tudor vice president John Voltz, construction superintendent Calvin Campbell, and architect Adam Grunzinger of Alliance Design Group, part of the Tudor Inc. team, shared insight and got last-minute input from their clients during a June 17 visit.
The pod concept and many other elements of the design originated from a survey of the current chapter membership designed by another Beta Omicron advisor, NSU biology department head Dr. Chris Lyles. Maggio, whose son Scott was a vice president of the Pi Kappa Phi chapter (Theta Phi) at Louisiana Tech, said the pods are a prototype piece as university officials at NSU and elsewhere develop concepts for future on-campus housing.
The new home and its innovative design was only possible because of courageous and unselfish commitment by Beta Omicron alumni, an unusual blend of brothers from before 1980 and after 2000. NSU’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter thrived during their day, but was inactive for the final 20 years of the last century, before roaring back to life. The new house attests to the brothers’ lifelong bonds and is an investment in the future of the fraternity, and the university.
“I know what being a member of this fraternity has meant to my personal and business success,” said Morgan, who founded the national United Teachers Associates supplemental insurance company in 1981 that has developed into the Austin, Texas-headquartered Association Member Benefits Advisors. “When Pi Kapp was returning to NSU, I made a commitment to get involved so that the young men at that time and in the future could have support from myself and other alumni to provide the same kind of life-changing experience I had here.”
With Morgan as the cornerstone, and others like Alexandria businessman, Bruce Kinder, and Natchitoches financial advisor, Shawn Daily, continually lending assistance, NSU’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter (pikappnsu.org) has become the national fraternity’s standard bearer for alumni involvement, winning top honors in that category on a regular basis among some 190 chapters from America’s colleges and universities.
The construction and impending opening of their impressive new house is the most tangible proof yet.