Update from your DTS Alumni Association Board — May 5, 2022
To keep our alumni up to date on actions that have taken over the past couple of years we prepared the following summary. It’s long because a lot has happened and it is overdue.
Active Chapter Brother Membership
There are currently only 10 Active Brothers two of which are students in CALS. Despite our bylaws that have existed since 1921 stating that our specific purpose is for students interested in the study of agriculture it has gradually transitioned to a social fraternity with CALS students a minority. This is something the board is actively trying to rectify.
You may ask how are we trying to do this? One way is through our scholarship offerings. We have 3 Robert R. Spitzer Scholarships granted annually to men for $2,000 each for which applicants must be students in CALS and preference for those who will live in the house. A $1,200 David A. Wieckert scholarship has similar requirements. The selection of the recipients for these scholarships was previous done by UW Foundation staff. That responsibility has been transferred to the DTS Educational Foundation In addition, the DTS Alumni Association offers five $1,500 housing scholarships for men to join DTS and live in the house. The DTS Educational Foundation annually awards 3 Russell Ballweg awards. The criteria for this award is scholarship, leadership and brotherhood. They also give out on a bi-annual basis the Dallas Borneman Brotherhood Award. This award is voted on by the Active Brothers and confirmed by the Educational Foundation. The value of these awards varies by year, depending on the value of the Educational Foundation Account.
We learned, to our great disappointment, that just posting the scholarships availability on our website was not enough. We didn’t have any eligible applicants for the 2022-23 school year. We are taking steps to address this and encourage alumni to make current and future CALS students aware of these Spitzer, Wieckert and housing scholarships.
Active Chapter Sister Membership
In May of 2021, the DTS National organization forced every chapter to disassociate with the Little Sisters. This was done primarily to limit liability. It was a major blow to Sister involvement in DTS. Between 1988 and 2018 we had 93 Sisters, many of them living at 252 Langdon. They had their own officers, functioning smoothly with the Brothers. The house was near or at capacity with their presence.
To rectify this legal hurdle the board on October 17, 2021 created a separate legal organization with its own set of approved bylaws. The name of this organization is “Demeter’s Treasured Sisters, LLC which has convenient initials of DTS. Demeter was the Greek goddess of agriculture. So now we have a legal structure in place to have Sisters living in the house. The challenge is we currently have only 1 or 2 Active Sisters.
Currently all of our scholarship offerings are restricted to men in CALS. When the Sister organization is functioning again we will open these offerings to women in CALS as well. The past six Robert R. Spitzer scholarship recipients have all been to women in CALS, none of whom joined DTS nor lived in the house.
What are today’s CALS students looking for in a fraternity?
Part of our strategy to enhance our membership numbers is to get input from current students. What are today’s men and women in CALS in their freshman and sophomore year looking for in a professional agriculture fraternity? What might be offered that a social fraternity doesn’t? What can we offer to compete with existing agricultural organizations? Would a leadership training initiative be a “must have” component? To help answer these questions we have hired a company to conduct individual interviews with 20 men and 20 women who are current freshman or sophomores in CALS. The study is to be completed before the end of the 2022 spring semester. This information will help us formulate promotional materials and recruitment strategies.
In addition to these student interviews, we have reached out to several agricultural employers, to see what new college graduates are missing and need to develop. Our intention with all this information is to build a program that will encourage men and women in CALS to join DTS.
The house at 252 Langdon
There was an offer to buy our house for $2,700,000. At the March 13, 2022, meeting of the board, the decision was made to not sell the house. There were intense discussions leading up to this decision about the need for a house to be a successful fraternity, the lack of a plan for what would we do with the proceeds and whether another house could be found or built if so desired at some point. It was felt that the house being in a prime location on campus would be sellable in the future if that were a needed action.
With the decision to keep the house we turned our focus toward to improvements. The house needs updating to meet the desires of today’s students. It’s been over 35 years since the interior has had a thorough updating. The bathrooms/showers do not meet today’s standards. In the common areas, floors, wall coverings, lights need to be replaced. Room doors need to be lockable. The kitchen which was designed for group eating and a cook does not meet the need for members and renters storing and cooking their own food. Many windows need to be replaced. The Wi-Fi system needs updating.
To get this work done the board approved proceeding with borrowing $350,000 against the property. $300,000 to be used to make the needed improvements noted above. The remaining $50,000 is for marketing to CALS students to increase membership.
With low membership and a mix of members and renters, keeping the common areas and bathrooms clean has become an issue. We will be a hiring a cleaning service to address this. This was felt to be important to attract new members and renters to keep the house at or near capacity.
We currently have a contract with a rental agency to fill rooms, not occupied by Active members, with renters. They can be men or women. Renters pay somewhat more rent than members do. Despite this, we had 10 vacant unrented rooms this spring semester. It is our belief that the steps outlined above will help attract new members and renters. The ultimate goal is a house filled with members and no need to hire a rental agency.
DTSGAMMA.COM our new website
Our previous website was no longer functioning. In June of 2021 the board contracted with a company to build a new website. This was completed in two months and was operational the beginning of August 2021. It has many components including the scholarship offerings, room rental rates, contact updating, finding another member, wall of fame, alumni stories, etc. Take a look. There is a lot there.
It is difficult to measure what impact this has had on the recruitment of new members. UW was on distant learning for some time and some students opted to live at home or wherever as a result. We have four rooms in the house that are rented and being paid for although the person chose to leave it vacant. Social events were also negatively impacted. Some house members were infected. The Mature Reunion was cancelled for the past two years.
DTS Educational Foundation
At their annual meeting on April 10, 2022 an election of officers was held. The new President is Greg Hansen, Darand Borneman re-elected Vice President, Ross Peebles re-elected Treasurer, and Scott Johnson re-elected as Secretary. They are planning on having the scholarship awards program in conjunction with the Alumni Association annual meeting on October 22, 2022 at some location other than 252 Langdon.
2022 Mature Group Reunion
We are sorry to announce that there will not be a Mature Group Reunion this year. Bryce Larson had worked hard to try to make this happen and we thank him for his efforts. Getting a commitment from a hotel, continued covid concerns at places to visit, the lack of busing companies because many went bankrupt with covid, along with a series of health issues among committee members has led to this decision. We hope to form a committee to plan for 2023. If you are willing to help with this, please send an email to email@example.com .
Over the past 7 months there has been a major effort made to update the directory. Despite this effort we are lacking contact information for many.
There are 1,511 members going back to 1921 on this file of which 586 are known to be deceased leaving 925 not known to be deceased. Of the 925 there are 93 Sisters and 832 Brothers. Below is a breakdown of contact information availability for those 925 not known to be deceased.
Street address Email address Number (% of 925)
No No 224 (24%)
No Yes 21 ( 2%)
Yes No 295 (32%)
Yes Yes 385 (42%)
Total 925 (100%)
The bylaws for the Alumni Association have been revised and approved at the November 7,2021 annual meeting. The major changes are allowing current modes for voting and staggered terms of office for the 5 board members. New bylaws for the Sister organization have also been created.
Respectfully submitted to you by your current Alumni Association Board
Brian Koch, President
Greg Hansen, Vice President
Jon Falk, Treasurer
Kenneth Offord, Secretary
John Brunnquell, Member at Large