Brother <<Last Name>>,
An Exciting Start to the Fall on Campus
Believe it or not it’s already the end of summer 2022 and schools across the nation are back in session. At Cornell, forty-one Dekes have returned to Ithaca to resume their studies, many of whom will be residing at the DKE lodge at 13 South Avenue. The alumni association hosted a “welcome back” BBQ for the returning brothers on Saturday August 20, represented by Delta Chi alumni Ari Sobel ’99, Pete Bachrach ’01, Bob Platt ’73, and Matt Karp ’20. Chef Sobel once again amazed all of those in attendance with his culinary talents and the assembled undergraduate and alumni brothers had productive conversations regarding plans for a successful Fall rush (which is already underway and looking promising) and identifying impactful house improvement projects to target over the coming school year. I am thrilled to report that the undergraduate chapter leaders continue to demonstrate their understanding of what is needed for the chapter to be successful and their ability to operate the chapter day in and day out with minimal alumni oversight and intervention. We can all be proud that DKE has returned to campus and become a strong, well-regarded house.
While they were in Ithaca, alums Bachrach and Platt connected with undergraduate House Manager Guy Anello ‘24 and our contacts from the Cornell Facilities department to discuss ongoing house maintenance projects that we hope to have wrapped up in the next couple of months. First on the docket is a project to address issues with the west wall of the house facing the Jewish Living Center. This is a continuation of a similar project that addressed the south, east, and north walls in the summer of 2021. Temporary scaffolding has been erected to enable worker access to repair the masonry in the tower and the chimney for the library fireplace, as well as repaint the exposed wooden windowsills and other external woodwork. We hope to have the scaffolding taken down as quickly as possible so that new students can once again see the external beauty of our grey stone castle.
We are also nearing completion on several smaller but equally important projects in and around the chapter house. We are rebuilding the flower bed next to the mailroom and connecting a downspout on the south porch to underground drainage pipes in order to better manage the water runoff away from the house. We are repairing the stained-glass windows that allow natural light into the chapter room while shielding the activities within from prying eyes. Finally, we are working to replace several iron pipes that feed water from the basement to the second-floor bathrooms. Originally added in the 1960’s, these pipes are showing signs of corrosion after many decades of use and need to be proactively replaced before pipe failures cause serious water damage in the house.
The impending completion of the projects listed above will mark the completion of a major milestone in our efforts to preserve our beloved chapter house for the use of generations of future Dekes. Since our return to campus in 2018, the focus of our house improvement efforts and dollars has been to better secure and protect the outside of the house to prevent unnecessary damage from rain, snow, and standing water, as well as improve the aesthetic appearance of the house to help attract new brothers. Our collective focus will now shift from prioritizing the outside of the house to the inside of the house. This shift will require thoughtful conversations between Cornell Facilities managers, Deke alumni leaders, and current Deke undergraduates about the most important and consequential improvements that can and should be made to the house over the next few years. Much of that conversation will also revolve around how we can finance those projects responsibly during times of high construction cost inflation, supply chain holdups for essential construction materials, and lack of clarity around the economy and its impact on our alumni donor base. In response to many of your great questions about where we go next, I plan to send out several follow up emails in the coming weeks outlining our options for near term internal house projects, our financial situation as it stands today, and some thoughts on what we all can do together to ensure that the future of DKE at Cornell remains strong and enduring. Please excuse the excess email traffic as my intention is to provide everyone a comprehensive understanding of where we are now as a chapter and where we need to go in the years to come.
I hope you all enjoyed your summer and will be back in touch soon.