Theta Chi Celebrates Sesquicentennial Convention at Norwich University

Several hundred members of Theta Chi - one of the nation's largest fraternities - were on the campus of Norwich University June 8-11 for their Annual Convention, and to celebrate the organization's Sesquicentennial.

Theta Chi Fraternity was founded on April 10, 1856 at Norwich University, which at the time was located in the town of Norwich, Vermont. Since its founding, the fraternity has installed 215 chapters in 44 states and over 156,000 men have been initiated into the fraternity.

"We had more than 600 alumni and undergraduates register from all across the USA and Canada," said Andy Robison, Chief Operating Officer for Theta Chi. "This is twice the size of a normal convention for us, the draw obviously being the opportunity to visit Norwich University and the 150th Anniversary Celebration activities."

The activities during the convention included various receptions, educational events, and legislative business sessions. There was also a special day trip to the Town of Norwich, Vermont, to visit the Theta Chi Monument on the grounds of St. Barnabas Church, and to hold presentations and ceremonies on the town green. The convention concluded with a closing banquet in Plumley Armory back on the Norwich campus.

Seven Norwich alumni attended the event; Daniel Fleetham Sr. '34; Daniel Fleetham, Jr. '69; Nicholas Collins '55; Charles Perenick '56; Ray Hendrickson '59; Dan Kenny '58 and Gen. Russell Todd '50.

Robison said several very significant events took place during the convention. "Nick Collins was presented with a sword inscribed with the Theta Chi Coat of Arms as a special thank you for his role in recovering a few hundred bricks from the site of the Old South Barracks in Norwich, Vermont," Robinson said. "At our 2000 convention President Schneider helped to present these bricks to our chapter members."

Robison said a second memorable moment at the convention was when Daniel W. Fleetham, Jr. was initiated into the fraternity, and his father, Daniel Fleetham, Sr. presented his son with the badge of Theta Chi. (In 1960 President Ernest Harmon discontinued fraternities at Norwich.)

During the closing banquet Vermont Governor James Douglas and Norwich President Richard Schneider each offered brief remarks.

"At your centennial celebration, Judge Hughes said that national college fraternities help develop better understanding and unity among people in all sections of the country," Schneider said. "With your 'helping hands' you are carrying a torch of fraternity, discipline, and scholastic achievement which was lit over 150 years ago. I applaud you!"

Two Norwich University cadets, Frederick Norton Freeman, Class of 1857, and Arthur Chase, Class of 1856, founded Theta Chi fraternity. Theta Chi is now the 11th largest men's national fraternity in North America. Among its alumnus members are filmmaker Steven Speilberg; automobile executive Lee Iacocca; Medal of Honor recipient Captain James Burt, a Norwich alumnus and WWII veteran who passed away recently; and Ross Greening and Harold Watson, two of the 32 pilots who participated in the famous Doolittle Raid in April 1942. Watson was also a Norwich alumnus.