Local fraternity finishes $2.8 million renovation

Alumni donations funded $2.3 million, $500,000 from national contributions



Gamma Chi chapter president George Jarvis, left, and WSU President Kirk Schulz, right, cut the ribbon for the Alpha Tau Omega lodge after the fraternity’s $2.8 million repair and remodel.

KYLE MOEN, Evergreen reporter

After a $2.8 million renovation, the WSU chapter of Alpha Tau Omega held a ceremony Saturday to celebrate.

The renovation was made possible by the $2.3 million the chapter raised through alumni donations and the $500,000 donation from the national fraternity. That $500,000 in donations came after WSU’s ATO alumni transferred the deed of the house to the national fraternity’s property group.

The remodel is the first in 50 years, ATO President George Jarvis said.

After forming a board of trustees consisting of the fraternity’s WSU alumni, there was an impressive change in support for the chapter, chapter adviser Paul Wiggum said.

Once there was a healthy relationship with alumni and the active members it allowed the fraternity to ask for donations. At the grand reopening ceremony, there were about 200 people in attendance, Wiggum said. There were also various members from administration present.

WSU President Kirk Schulz spoke in a keynote address and helped in the ribbon cutting, and Mary Jo Gonzales, vice president of Student Affairs, also attended.

Wiggum said he was delighted with having such high-profile members of the community in attendance.

“People who generally worry about fraternities were there in support,” he said.

Historically, there had been tension in the past between fraternities and WSU administration, Wiggum said. Now the fraternity has the support of the administration, he said, and wants to make sure the house’s conduct aligns with the goals of the university.

It is important for Greek chapters and administration to be on the same page when it comes to things like academics and safety, Wiggum said.

With the help of an alumni building committee, the fraternity was able to make upgrades to the inside of the chapter house, Wiggum said. These included a complete kitchen renovation, expanding the chapter room and living room and replacing the sleeping porch with private rooms.

“Everything is all new,” Wiggum said.

Renovations are about 95 percent complete, Jarvis said, and all residents of the building are moved in. Most of the work left is on the exterior of the building.

The goal of the renovation is to attract driven students to join ATO, Wiggum said.

He said he hopes the new house will help continue the positive relationship between alumni and active members, he said, and that ATO will inspire other fraternities and sororities to reengage with alumni.

“It is amazing what can get done,” Wiggum said.