Written by James L. Prescott, CAC Director Emeritus
The Chicago Alumni Chapter was started on September 12, 1921 at a meeting held at the Beta Chapter House located in Chicago’s Gold Coast area.. Twenty-seven alumni Brothers from Beta Chapter voted to establish the Chicago Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi at this meeting. This meeting was held in response to a vote taken earlier at the 1920 Congress of Chapters (as the Grand Chapter Congress was called in those days) held in New York City. That vote required adherence to existing fraternity law that provided for alumni status upon leaving school. Up to this point the Brothers of Beta Chapter made no distinction between collegiate, graduate and alumni brothers. A Brother was simply a Brother, whether in school or out. But it could be easily seen that with the quick passage of time there would be more alumni brothers of a chapter than collegiate brothers, with the resulting problems in chapter operations that could easily develop. The solution, an alumni chapter in Chicago, made perfect sense.
Only a year earlier Chicago alumni began to have an influence on the affairs of Delta Sigma Pi. That influence was to last literally for decades. It was also at the 1920 Congress of Chapters that the first non-Alpha was elected Grand President (or as it was called back then, National President). This first non-Alpha Grand President was none other than Chicago’s “Gig” Wright, a charter member of Beta Chapter, which had been established in 1914. No other alumnus of Alpha Chapter has ever again held the office of Grand President. “Gig”, as he was referred to, held the office of Grand President for two terms, during which the establishment of new chapters was the top priority. Between the time the Fraternity went “national” in 1914 and the election of “Gig” Wright as Grand President in 1920, only one other collegiate chapter had been added to the chapter roll. That chapter was Gamma Chapter at Boston University. This situation was largely due to the impact of World War I on college enrollments. Chicago and New York were the only alumni chapters in existence, and had also been impacted by the war. But the War was over, and it was clear to “Gig” Wright that our expansion efforts were getting no where, and so he made that a top priority of his administration. Between 1920 and 1924, “Gig”’s two terms as Grand President, 29 new collegiate chapters were installed. Not until the four year period beginning 1968 was this record equaled.
Upon leaving the office of Grand President, “Gig” accepted part-time employment as head of the newly established national headquarters, The Central Office. The Central Office of Delta Sigma Pi was officially established in Chicago in 1924, and in 1926 the position was made full-time and offices rented in a Chicago Loop office building. During World War II most operations of the fraternity had to be suspended, and “Gig” kept as much of The Central Office in operation as possible while taking no salary. The Central Office remained in Chicago until the Fall of 1956 when it was moved to it’s present home in Oxford, Ohio. “Gig” Wright had announced his retirement from his position of Grand Secretary Treasurer (now called the Executive Director) in 1955. In recognition of his tremendous contribution to the fraternity it was decided that the new Central Office building being constructed in Oxford, Ohio would be dedicated to “Gig”. “Gig” Wright died in 1980 in La Grange, Illinois. Succeeding “Gig” as Grand Secretary Treasurer was fellow Beta alum James D. Thomson, who remained in that position for nearly ten years.
During his long service to Delta Sigma Pi “Gig” has been credited with establishing the Standard Accounting System used in collegiate chapters, and creating a uniform Ritual, Regalia and insignia. The “old” Life Member program was proposed by “Gig”, fraternity publications improved, services to chapters increased, and the CEI was instituted by him as well. He also served as the second president of the Chicago Alumni Chapter. Some have felt that the influence that “Gig” enjoyed in the Fraternity was more than one person should have, but it must be remembered that when Delta Sigma Pi needed a true leader one person did emerge to provide that leadership, and that person was “Gig” Wright.
While “Gig” Wright is a big part of the Chicago story, many other Chicago Deltasigs have also had their impact on Delta Sigma Pi. Also serving our Brotherhood in the capacity of Grand President was Thomas M. Mocella, also of Beta Chapter. Tom also served his fraternity as Regional Director and Chicago Alumni Chapter President prior to being elected Grand President. His brother, Bob, is also a member from Beta Chapter and has served the national fraternity as Director At Large, and served as Chicago Alumni Chapter President.
Other native Chicagoans, and Brothers who call Chicago home, such as Past Grand President John Henik, have served Delta Sigma Pi over the years at the national level. These Brothers are recognized in this directory in the section headed GOLDEN COUNCIL MEMBERS. It is an honor for all of us that we count them among our own.
Living up to its reputation, Beta Chapter at Northwestern Chicago Campus was dominant in the Chicago Alumni Chapter for many years. Beta Chapter has now been inactive for many years but the future of the Chicago Alumni Chapter is as bright as ever due to the continued support it receives from alumni of the other Chicago area chapters and from Brothers initiated around the country. A tradition of leadership that was started by members of Beta Chapter many years ago continues to drive the Chicago Alumni Chapter today.
Today, the Chicago Alumni Chapter is proud of its 200 plus membership, and offers its members a program of activities that is as varied as the members themselves. While making sure that we do not become too involved with the operations of our local collegiate chapters, we also recognize that they are the source of many of our future members. In recognition of this a number of activities are conducted by The Chicago Alumni Chapter that involve collegiate chapters. Begun in 1984, the Chicago Alumni Chapter Invitational Basketball Tournament attracted chapter teams from all over the Midwest. In recent years this tournament was modified to become a volleyball tournament. In 1982, the Chicago Alumni Chapter instituted the Chapter Efficiency Award, an annual cash award presented to that Great Lakes Region collegiate chapter(s) that achieve the highest point total in excess of 85,000 points.
In 2000, the Chicago Alumni Chapter established their very first scholarship program, the Thomas M. Mocella Award. This scholarship program is named in honor and memory of CAC Past President and Past Grand President Thomas M. Mocella. In 2018 the scholarship amount was $1,250. Click on the Scholarship link below to read more about this award.
Our second scholarship program was begun in the fall of 2002. Named in honor and memory of CAC Past President and Past Grand President H. G. “Gig” Wright, this “fellowship” currently offers Chicago Alumni Chapter members a $1,000.00 graduate study grant.