While nobody can deny the rich history of Ohio University, one of the oldest universities in the country, for some, 2016 will mark the final year that one of Athens oldest buildings is open to students.
The Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house on 50 East State St., one of my favorite places in South Eastern Ohio, is undergoing significant renovation throughout the 2017 school year. While the century-old original house will be demolished, the impact of the chapter and its alumni will live on for generations to come.
Originally founded in 1906, the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity made its way to Ohio University in 1911 and quickly built a house for their members that stands to this day. Needless to say, the house is in dire need of renovation but nevertheless many members are still sad to see it go.
While this massive renovation project will certainly mark the end of an era for the longest continually operated chapter at Ohio University, it also serves as a time to reflect on the partnership between the fraternity and Ohio University over the last century.
The late Ohio Senator Greg Voinovich, an Ohio University graduate and Phi Kappa Tau member, formed the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs in 1998.
According to the schools website: “The school integrates scholarship, learning, and practice to solve environmental and energy problems; promotes value creation, smart policymaking and innovation in governments and nonprofits; builds businesses, drives entrepreneurship, helps develop the regions economy and molds current and future strategic leaders in public and environmental affairs.”
Before Voinovich was spending his college days at 50 East State, famous actor and Navy veteran Paul Newman joined the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. Although Newman never graduated from Ohio University, he spent the rest of his life raising money for his SeriousFun Children’s Network.
— Phi Kappa Tau Ohio U (@OUPhiKappaTau) April 2, 2016
To this day, every chapter of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity donates money raised during their philanthropy events to Newman’s charity. The Ohio University chapter consistently gives more than any other chapter in the nation. In 2015, the members of the Ohio University chapter raised $3,000, a sizable difference than the $1,000 average given by other chapters.
Although the house that has fostered these outstanding Ohio University alumni is being torn down, the influence of the chapter will undoubtedly grow as time goes on. While the renovation of this historic house is definitely due, the members of the fraternity will certainly miss their favorite place in Athens throughout the lengthy process.