By Don Koop, ‘56
“In 1953 a group of students living in a non‐fraternity part of the fraternity quadrangle formed a local fraternity. Known as “independents” for their residence status, they chose to name their new fraternity after the first three letters of that word: IND. Iota Nu Delta quickly became a respectable new organization with many achievements to its credit. I pledged the fraternity in 1955.
“In 1956 we felt that we’d like to become part of a national organization with all of the advantages that it would bring. After research by our officers, we agreed that Sigma Phi Epsilon was the best choice and we were accepted by them for membership. To facilitate bringing us into the fold, our officers were initiated by a team of Sig Eps at Worcester Poly. The rest of us were issued pledge books so we could familiarize ourselves with the rules, regulations, and traditions of Sig Ep. There is confusion as to the date of our becoming part of Sig Ep. I’ll hazard a guess that our four officers were initiated in March, 1956 and the rest of us on December 8, 1956. At that time, those of us who wished to do so were initiated by a team of alumni from Boston University and MIT. Being the first chapter in the state, we were designated Connecticut Alpha and I was the 14th member of the “Founders.” Not all active members of Iota Nu Delta chose to become Sig Eps but some of the alumni did. It was a good group with good spirit.
"The Founders’ Group consisted of: Joe Chioffi, Al Babineau, Jim Bugbee, Dan Williams, Ernie Merz, Don Latici, Don Scholl, Bob Champagne, Bill Cutler, Sal Casillo, Mike Gorman, Vin Cirillo, Leigh Ferguson, Don Koop, Ed Funaro, Ed Blondin, Sid Short, Al Scaramella, John Kronkaitis, John Kleperis, Mike Sharon, Larry Carlstrom, Al Yaeger, Les Burrows, Dick Concelmo, Al Karr, Bill Dubay, Al Stickles, Mike Konikowski, John Anderson, Ed Maher, Dan Ambruso, Dan May, Don Littlefield, Bob Gibson, Walt Sweeney, Dario Biagiarelli, Roger Anderson, Jim Burnes, Pete Becker, George Grandell, Jim Mycock, Gene Mastrangelo, Carl Weinstein, and Ray Holst. The vast majority of them are still living. Al Stickles’ son, Robert, later became a Sig Ep at CT Alpha, the only father‐son duo I’m aware of.
“In subsequent years, we pledged an increasing number of diverse and talented students. A University Scholar, a WHUS chief engineer, a Daily Campus editor, varsity football and basketball players, participants in the Interfraternity Council, commanders of both Arnold Air Society and Pershing Rifles, and others of note brought increasing respect and achievements to Sig Ep. We won the Greek Sing three consecutive times under the talented leadership of Al Scaramella. We hired our own chef and managed our own dining facilities. We were proud to be Sig Eps. One of us (Jonas “John” Kronkaitis) went on to become the commanding general of the Lithuanian Armed Forces!
“Although I graduated in 1958 and left the state to earn a PhD in Chemistry, I returned whenever I was in the area to drop in on Sig Ep. In the course of those visits, “home” meant a number of locations ranging from University‐owned, to private, and back. In the meantime, our original location in the right‐hand side of the upper‐most structure of the fraternity quadrangle was demolished and replaced with a dining facility. The most recent gathering of which I was a part occurred in 2000 when a fellow Founder, the late Bob Champagne (a Korean War vet), organized an informal, and successful, reunion.”
By the late 1960s, fraternities and sororities were affected by the great wave of anti-establishment feeling pervasive throughout the country. The majority of fraternities and sororities at UConn were forced to close in the early 1970’s and Connecticut Alpha was no exception. Our last pledge class was Fall 1971 and we were gone by the end of the school year.