2000-2014: Zeta Psi in the Twenty-First Century

Fulfilling the promise of the new millennium, in the twenty-first century Zeta Psi has both adapted and expanded its reach to address the needs of a fraternity in a very different milieu than the parochial mid-nineteenth century in which it was founded. Once a collection of disparate chapters, the fraternity evolved in the twentieth century into a more cohesive brotherhood of spokes emanating from a common hub. The new millennium would demand yet greater strides in this direction to leverage the incredible explosion of interconnectivity occasioned by the presence of internet communications in virtually every aspect of life.

Crucial to such adjustments would be the nimble professionals of the Zeta Psi International Headquarters (IHQ) in Pearl River, New York, overseen for much of the twenty-first century by Executive Director Br M. David Hunter (Iota Alpha 1980; PhiAlpha CXXX). The duties of travelling secretaries had long since been superseded by so-called “leadership consultants” in visiting the various chapters, but under Br Hunter’s leadership, the staff at IHQ expanded dramatically and fully embraced the professionalism that would be required for the changes to come. Directors for chapter services, alumni development, and communications were established, allowing for the creation and implementation of long-term strategies despite the regular cycle of recently graduated Zetes passing through the role of chapter consultant.

Driving the professionalization and centralization of operations were the visions of the Phi Alphas and the fraternity’s volunteer leadership during this time. The fraternity made significant progress in consolidating its finances and instilling in its chapters the serious obligations that brotherhood imposed on members and chapters vis a vis the fraternity as a whole. There was a critical re-examination of our underlying strategy of expansion and maintenance of current chapters, looking to safeguard the fraternity’s prosperity and growth at suitable institutions long into the future. The Honor Campaign, Zeta Psi’s initiative to eradicate hazing, was launched in 2012. Nearly simultaneously, The Torch program was launched in 2013 to educate Zeta Psi members on the importance of ritual and history.

Backed by Br Hunter’s able corps and a brotherhood eager to seize the opportunities offered, these initiatives have proven uncommonly successful. The membership roll was trimmed of chapters long delinquent in their duties to their brothers that had staggered only through the charity of hope that reform might be realized, leaving a roster of chapters with robust recruitment operations and solid leadership. Just as a tree must on occasion be trimmed to ensure its most healthy growth, so must any organization at times make difficult choices to safeguard its future fortunes. Recruitment numbers by chapter are unrivalled, and even the total number of new Zetes being initiated every year has never before been equaled in the fraternity’s history.

On a broader level, these reforms have borne immediate fruit, since the 2000’s and beyond have proven a time of unquestionable excellence in the expansion of the Zeta Psi creed near and abroad. The old Northeastern stomping grounds of Zeta Psi were well served as always, with charterings of the Nu Delta at Marist in 2000, Nu Sigma at Seton Hall in 2003, and Mu Pi at Binghamton in 2007. Nor were forays into more southerly regions neglected, with new chapters at North Carolina State University (Sigma Gamma in 2007), University of Georgia (Beta Sigma in 2007), Georgetown (Gamma Epsilon in 2009), and the reactivation of the Delta Chi chapter at American University in 2010.

Perhaps most dramatically, the Leadership Training Institute program begun under Br Capozzoli added a crown jewel to its annual schedule with the Kirby Conference at Lafayette College, generously underwritten by the foundation established by Fred M. Kirby (Tau; 1942). Every January, the president of every Zeta Psi chapter – whether in America, Canada, England, Scotland, or Ireland – arrives in Pennsylvania for four days of leadership and career education, networking, and knowledge, bringing together the circle of Zeta Psi in the most literal fashion.

Internationally, Zeta Psi also surged back into its historically unrivaled position as the premier fraternity in Canada, seeing chapters chartered at the University of New Brunswick (Delta Kappa in 2000), the University of Waterloo (Alpha Theta in 2001), University of Ontario Institute of Technology (Tau Theta in 2005), Brock University (Theta Eta in 2009), and Queens University (Theta Psi in 2010), as well as the reactivations of the Alpha Mu at Dalhousie University in 2013, and the Sigma Epsilon at the University of British Columbia (also in 2013), and Chi Gamma at the University of Calgary in 2014.

Perhaps the greatest feat of expansion has been the move from a merely international to an intercontinental fraternity. Zeta Psi was the first international fraternity, and thus it was only fitting that it became the first intercontinental fraternity. Perhaps spurred by memories of the intrepid Xi men who ventured across the border from Michigan to found the first Canadian chapter, Theta Xi at Toronto, a brother hailing from the West Coast, Omar Haroun (Iota; 2006) took it upon himself to bring Zeta Psi to the British Isles, culminating in the chartering of the Iota Omicron chapter at Oxford University in 2008. This achievement was followed in short order by further expansion to the University of St. Andrews with the Sigma Omicron chapter in 2011, and to Trinity College, Dublin with the Theta Omicron chapter in 2012.

In (no doubt coincidental) tribute to Br Haroun’s origins at the Iota chapter at Berkeley, the most recent spate of expansion has focused much on the West Coast. Beyond the Canadian chapters at Calgary and Vancouver mentioned above, a new chapter, the Iota Nu, was established at the University of Nevada in Reno in 2013, and the re-activation of the Iota Delta at the University of California- Davis took place in 2014.

With the reach of Zeta Psi growing far indeed, the services offered its members had to grow as well. Moribund communications were rejuvenated and brought into the age of email and text messaging; the ancient archives of the fraternity were unearthed and carefully catalogued to bring their wisdom to an electronic medium where every brother could study them; records of brothers were organized, consolidated, and made electronically accessible to all who needed. Recognizing that active members are entitled to support long past their undergraduate lives, a robust suite of career development resources was developed, offering such widely-varying seminars in interviewing and resume preparation to mentoring and networking programs that link experienced professionals with newly graduated Zetes entering the field.

With an active brotherhood that now spans five countries and two continents, Zeta Psi has proven itself once again at the utter vanguard of fraternal movements, plunging forward with a momentum that will bear it far. Nor has the “Pond” proven a barrier to visiting with new brothers from Europe, as Zetes regularly travel to and fro for leadership conferences, conventions, or the simple social visit. There is no doubt that the Story of Zeta Psi will continue to unfold, and that the fraternity will remain a pivotal anchor for all its brothers, long into the otherwise uncertain future.