The Supreme Council met in Chicago, Illinois, on March 22 and 23, 1985, to review the status of the Fraternity and to prepare for the Twenty-Sixth General Convention. Of concern was the virtual inactive status of Rho Chapter. Members of the Supreme Council met in Naperville, Illinois, with the two remaining Rho Chapter members and with Rho alumni on March 23, 1985. The attitude and the reputation of the Chapter on the Bradley campus were not conducive to rushing and pledging. The Western Province asked, and received, permission to raise its dues to $20.00 per year. Pi Chapter had retired the mortgages on its two houses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and scheduled a mortgage burning for early May 1985.
The Supreme Council met before the Twenty-Sixth General Convention on August 28, 1985. The Executive Secretary was authorized to add a hard disk to his computer equipment. The Fraternity purchased the computer equipment being used by Editor Vosecky to publish the CASTLE. The Executive Secretary's compensation was reviewed. It was decided that his salary would remain at one dollar ($1.00) per year but that he would be allowed $1600 per year, payable quarterly, for non-itemized expenses. The Supreme Council, concerned over the increasing use of alcohol at rushing functions, mandated a Dry Rush for Fall 1985 and following years. This was not well received by some of the Chapters who were substituting alcohol for effort in rushing.
Held in Vancouver, British Columbia, on August 29, 30 and 31, 1985, the Twenty-Sixth General Convention was the first in Vancouver since 1951. The Fraternity was faced with continuing low enrollments and problems the Chapters need to solve to remain viable. To assist the Chapters in their rushing functions, the Grand Vice-President assembled all the available chapter literature into a book, which was distributed to the undergraduate chapters for new ideas and proven solutions. This had been done in an earlier year by Eastern Province Councilor Don Nelson. The concept of Joint Province Conventions, to provide more inter-chapter contact, was explored, but nothing developed from the idea. Yielding to inflation and the demand for increased activity from the National Office, undergraduate dues were increased from sixty to eighty dollars per year and undergraduate initiation fees were increased from forty to sixty dollars per year. Incumbent Grand President William J. Reinert was elected to a third term of office; Executive Secretary Beals was appointed to a seventh consecutive term of Office.
The Supreme Council met in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, on April 5 and 6, 1986. The percentage scoring of the Scholarship Award was changed to 50% for grade point average; 30% for Fraternal involvement; and 20% for University and civic involvement. It was hoped that this would be an incentive to increased participation in fraternal activities. There were indications that Lambda Chapter was staging a comeback and plans were made to hold the Nineteenth Eastern Province Convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Board of Trustees voted to provide new light boxes to the undergraduate Chapters to replace the boxes, which had been in use, in some Chapters, since 1939. In most instances, the plastic of the Coat of Arms was cracking and the cost of preparation of the individually painted transparencies was prohibitive. The Executive Secretary contracted with the supplier of the original transparencies to prepare a screen-printed Coat of Arms.
Shortly after the Nineteenth Eastern Province Convention, Lambda Chapter decided that the engineering enrollment at the Indiana Institute of Technology was too small and too disinterested in fraternities to continue to operate. Lambda Chapter went inactive, officially, on February 1, 1986. Their last formal initiation had been the initiation of four members on December 7, 1985. Rho Chapter, which had gone inactive in 1985, requested reactivation and initiated four new members on November 22, 1986. Since that time the chapter has grown in size and activity.
The Supreme Council meeting on March 13 and 14, 1987, was one of the most active in recent years. Held in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, it signaled the beginning of a new era in Fraternity operations. At the same time, the Council became increasingly aware of the pitfalls and risks of being an officer of a volunteer organization. The use of chemical substances, particularly alcohol, in the Chapter Houses and at Chapter functions; the possibilities of activities approaching hazing in some of the Chapters; chapter house safety and hazards; new tax laws affecting not-for-profit organizations; the tendency for people to sue for little or no reason; etc., increased the legal and financial responsibilities of being an officer. The question of permitting inactive status in an undergraduate chapter was again raised. Should married undergraduates be exempted from fraternal obligations? Over the past several years, the Federal Discount Rate had sunk to a low five percent. Recognizing that loans to housing corporations under existing laws could be made only at extremely low returns, the Council accepted the recommendation of the Board of Trustees to set a lower limit of five percent (5%) on any housing loan to a corporation associated with a Fraternity undergraduate chapter.
Shortly before the Twenty-Seventh General Convention, the Winnipeg Alumni Chapter reported that it had sold the Xi Chapter House at 77 Spence Street in Winnipeg. The house was unsuitable for more than two or three persons to live in and was in need of considerable repairs. Concern was immediate over the continued viability of Xi Active Chapter without a house in which to meet.
The pre-Convention meeting of the Supreme Council on
September 2, 1987, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, continued the activity begun
in March. Minor changes were made in the Chapter Efficiency Contest to
give more credit for expansion and special activities in the Chapter.
The United States Internal Revenue Service had ruled that interest income
from investments of the Board of Trustees and of the National Office
was not business-related but were taxable. It was discovered that the
Fraternity Scholarship Program had not been approved by the IRS and the
interest income used for still taxable. There was, however, a legal "out". If the monies for the Scholarships were "set aside" in
a separate account, which could be used for no other purpose, such monies
were not taxable. Of course, the Trustees and the Supreme Council set
up such a set aside Fund for 1987 and subsequent years.
Triangle Fraternity had approached the Executive Secretary during the summer concerning the possibility of a consolidation of national offices, and other functions, of the two fraternities. Triangle National President James Marshall and Executive Director Jack Sargent met with the Supreme Council to explore the possibilities. Triangle Fraternity had thirty-two undergraduate chapters and three colonies at the time of this meeting. It was the consensus of both groups that a committee be formed to consider the feasibility of such action. This would not constitute a merger but a consolidation of activities, with both fraternities retaining their names, Rituals, etc. Immediately prior to the Convention, a letter was received from the Theta Tau Fraternity suggesting a merger. It was decided that a merger was out of the question and the Theta Tau offer was summarily rejected.
As is required at the time of every General Convention, the Supreme Council reviewed the compensation of the Executive Secretary and the Circulation Manager of the CASTLE. The one-dollar ($1.00) annual salary was retained but the non-itemized expense allowance for the Executive Secretary was increased to $2000 per year and for the Circulation Manager to $800 per year, effective January 1, 1988.
The Supreme Council adopted a "Risk Reduction Policy" to
provide guidance to the Chapters and officers in those areas were liabilities
and risks were prevalent. The General Convention later adopted the Policy
as well. More stringent regulations on the use of controlled substances,
especially alcohol, were proposed and adopted by the Twenty-Seventh General
Convention. The Executive Secretary indicated that he and the Secretary-Treasurer
of the Board of Trustees were covered under a financial bond.
The Twenty-Seventh General Convention met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on September 3, 4 and 5, 1987, with Eta Active Chapter as Host. Members of the Milwaukee Alumni Chapter had petitioned for re-charter and were represented at the Convention for the first time in over twenty years. The format of this Convention reflected the new ideas surfacing in the Fraternity. Seminars were held on Legal Liabilities, Career Networking, Expansion opportunities and Procedures, and Rush Activities. The possibility of a Resume Book and a Fraternity program to provide resume access to the members was broached. Plans were made for the continued growth and expansion in each of the areas in an effort to reverse the low membership, low number of chapters, and limited Fraternity recognition.
Since its inception, the Fraternity had required that active chapters pay undergraduate dues after the six-month period in which they were incurred and then on a prorated basis. The Convention adopted a totally different approach in that undergraduate dues, effective March 1, 1988, would be due in advance and there would be no prorating of dues. Undergraduate member dues were retained at eighty dollars per year, but the due dates were changed from November 1 and April 1 to October 1 and March 1 of each year. Undergraduate and alumni initiation fees were increased from sixty to eighty dollars plus the cost of a badge. The Convention again considered the inclusion of women in the Fraternity membership, noting that inasmuch as we are social as well as professional, we are exempt from the Federal requirement that we admit women. The Convention decided to retain our all-male membership. The possibility of expanding our membership to include computer science majors was considered. Inasmuch as it might be considered as changing our engineering identity, no decision was made.
The 27th General Convention elected George J. Flanders, Rho alumnus, to be the tenth Grand President of the Fraternity for the biennium 1988 - 1989. Brother Flanders was born in Bunker Hill, Indiana, on June 3, 1960. He was initiated by Rho Chapter on February 11, 1979, and graduated in 1980 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Bradley University. He later obtained an MBA from Bradley. George is the second Rho alumnus to be Grand President. As the elections ended, for the first time since 1950 there was not an elected member as a National Officer from Delta Chapter. The Supreme Council approved the appointment of Dr. Robert J. Beals to an eighth term as Executive Secretary.
The first Supreme Council meeting outside the greater Chicago area was held on February 10 and 11, 1989, at the home of Grand President Flanders in Aurora, Colorado. All members of the Supreme Council attended the meeting. A business plan for the Fraternity was adopted, but was never fully implemented during Grand President Flanders' tenure. It was announced that Xi Chapter now had quarters at 71 Mapleridge Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba. They had purchased a frame construction bungalow in a residential area. Details of continuing a Career Network position within the Fraternity were discussed, with Scott Morrison, Delta alumnus, as the principal contact for this job-search office. In light of the pending installation of Upsilon chapter in the Central Province, the Council recommended to the 28th General Convention a consideration of changing Province boundaries. If changed, this would be the first change since 1948.
The resignation of Eastern Province Councilor James C. Kwock on September 15, 1989, preceded the appointment of G. Mark Shaw, Delta alumnus, as Eastern Province Councilor.
In the spring of 1987, James P. Schleck, then Central Province Councilor, and Dan Neal, Eta Chapter's Expansion Chairman, visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison with the intent of starting a student group toward charter as a chapter of Sigma Phi Delta. In the fall of 1987, Andrew Cotter, brother-in-law to James Schleck, enrolled in engineering at Wisconsin-Madison. During its formative months, Eta Chapter nurtured the new colony.
On April 8, 1989, Grand President George J. Flanders installed Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Phi Delta on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Assisting with installation were Grand Vice-President James P. Schleck, former Grand President William J. Reinert, Central Province Councilor Donald J. Nelson, Executive Secretary Dr. Robert J. Beals, and members from Eta and Kappa Active Chapters. Ten men made up the charter membership of Upsilon Chapter. They were Andrew A. Burns, Andrew B. Cotter, Daniel M. Prommelt, James A. Martinson, Robert C. Mutchler, David J. Uselmann, Jeffrey D. Wolfe, Thomas E. Wuttke, Arthur R. Ziesemer and Daniel R. Zinky. Arthur R. Ziesemer was Charter Chief Engineer and Andrew A. Burns was Chapter Secretary.
Executive Secretary Beals drafted amendments to the Constitution and Statutory Code of the Fraternity, which would provide for colony status for groups interested in becoming chapters of the Sigma Phi Delta Fraternity. This more formal status of colony would provide better organizational structure, better recognition on the campus, and would provide a focus of activities on the campus. The General Convention, by mail ballot, approved the provisions on June 20, 1988, and they went into effect at that time. Members of a colony are not initiated members of Sigma Phi Delta but have the status of pledges of an undergraduate chapter.
The Twenty-Eighth General Convention was held in Winnipeg,
Manitoba, with Xi Active Chapter as Host, on August 31 and September
1 and 2, 1989. In a "first", the Convention elected former Grand President William J. Reinert, ninth president of the Fraternity, to be the eleventh Grand President for the biennium 1990 - 1991. The Convention planned for a Rush Seminar, at which all chapter rush chairmen would be expected to be present. This Seminar was planned by Central Province Councilor Donald J. Nelson and was held in Chicago, Illinois, on January 13 and 14, 1990. Realizing that the preponderance of Fraternity activities are financed in U.S. funds and that the Canadian member, while paying the same "face amount",
was actually contributing about 80% to 85% support because of exchange
rate, the Convention established that all dues, fees, jewelry items,
supplies, etc. would be paid in U.S. currency or its equivalent. Jewelry
and supplies had already been purchased under this provision. In another
financial move, the Convention directed that a $50.00 registration fee
be imposed on all chapter delegates to the Twenty-Ninth General Convention.