The History of the Alpha Pi Chapter
The extensive history of Alpha Pi Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity commences in 1889 with the founding of the Thulanian Club, the first local fraternity at the University of Minnesota. The Thulanian Club would remain on campus for several decades, but in 1924 the local organization ultimately resolved to merge its history with that of Theta Chi National Fraternity. On March 8, 1924 the Alpha Pi chapter was installed at University of Minnesota, and over the course of that weekend 33 active members and 65 alumni of the Thulanian Club were initiated into Theta Chi.
Although the era of the Thulanian Club had ended, its alumni were brought into the fold of Theta Chi. Among these men were several noteworthy figures including J. A. Preus ‘25 and Theodore Christianson ‘25, governors of Minnesota from 1921 to 1925 and 1925-1931, respectively. The Honorables Einar Hoidale ‘24 and Conrad G. Selvig ’24 both served in the U.S. Congress from Minnesota.
The years immediately following installation appear to have been a very busy time for Alpha Pi. A 1925 article from The Rattle of Theta Chi indicates that the chapter was actively recruiting the best athletes and scholars from among the University of Minnesota’s student body.
1929 was an important year for Alpha Pi with the 73rd Anniversary Theta Chi Convention was held in Minneapolis at the invitation of Governor Christianson. The events included an inspection of the newly constructed, English-style chapter house at 315 16th Ave. SE.
The chapter remained active in all respects, and boasted several eminent figures among its membership. Among them: ABC and CBS news anchor Harry Reasoner ‘44, who created the 60 Minutes news show. Local businessmen Tom Swain ‘42, Larry Laukka ‘58, and Fred Friswold ’58 all became leaders of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.
During the 1980s the chapter continued to thrive, and it was during those years that Paul Norstrem ’86 was a member. Brother Norstrem would later serve as Theta Chi’s National President from 2002 to 2006, and President of the Norwich Housing Corporation from 2016 to 2018—the first alumnus of Alpha Pi Chapter to serve on either of the fraternities governing boards.
It should also be noted that the late Bill Haggstrom ’58 served on the Board of Directors of Theta Chi Funds for Leadership and Education from 1990-1996. Theta Chi Funds, Inc. was merged with the Foundation Chapter of Theta Chi in 2002. Brother Norstrem was elected to the Foundation Chapter board last summer, as he is now one of very few men to ever serve on all three of the national fraternity’s governing boards. Brother Creig Andreasen ’90 became the third alumnus to serve on a national fraternity board when he was elected to the Grand Chapter in 2016.
An article in The Rattle in 1988 mentions the chapter that year as having refurbished parts of the house, received the highest pledge GPA, and mentioned that several of its members were involved in student government at the University of Minnesota.
Unfortunately, by the late 1990s Alpha Pi was facing hard times due to low membership and the chapter house had deteriorated. Moreover, this was a difficult time for Greek life in general at the University of Minnesota, and Theta Chi was by no means the only organization to leave campus. The Alpha Pi chapter was officially declared inactive on February 14, 2000. Not long after, the chapter house was sold and still stands today as a coffeehouse.
In the fall of 2012, two Leadership and Education Consultants from the National Fraternity arrived on campus and began recruiting men in order to form an interest group. Around that time, the Minnesota Daily published an article “After 13-year absence, Theta Chi Fraternity looks to come back.”
The International Headquarters accepted the petition for colonization later that semester, and a pledge pinning ceremony was held for the members of the colony on December 8, 2012 at Hansen Hall on the West Bank.
On October 31st 2017, the Alpha Pi chapter officially purchased their current house at 315 19th Ave SE, with support from the Alpha Pi Alumni, after a year of leasing the property. That same fall semester, they initiated 22 brothers, their largest class to date. In just five years, the Alpha Pi Chapter has grown from a colony of few members who met in a dorm basement, to having a place to call home in the heart of campus.
The chapter now boasts the largest membership in it’s history, with more than ninety men. Our GPA is 3.33, just above the All Fraternity Average and the All Men’s Average. In spite of the pandemic, we had a strong Fall pledge class.