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Building the new Greek Village

A call for leadership, tradition and philanthrophy

In 1955 construction began on Fraternity Row. The college built seven fraternity lodges in a project costing a total of $77,500.

For 60 years those houses have been used by students and visited by alumni. Bands, shaving cream fights, first dates… if only the walls could talk.

Now it’s 2015, and the college has come full circle with plans to build a new Greek Village.

Mike Lackey ’81, a Kappa Sigma brother, first met his wife, Susan Morrison Lackey ’81, a charter member of Kappa Delta, at Fraternity Row. Despite this sentimental connection to the old fraternity houses, Lackey acknowledges that it is time for a change. “You can’t help but notice how sad the old chapter houses look these days. They are obsolete, no longer seem to fit in with the rest of the campus, and it’s clear that they need to be replaced,” he says.

Demolition of Fraternity Row will begin in the summer of 2015, but the new Greek Village will not be built on its current site between Black Science Annex and Greene Hall. The new Greek Village will enjoy prime real estate on campus, across Evins Street from Main Building and across Cumming Street from Gibbs Stadium. Moving the location to the social center of campus will make the Greek Village easily accessible from The Village apartments, occupied mainly by seniors and juniors, and the ideal spot for pre- and postgame celebrations throughout the year.

Unlike the current Fraternity Row, the new Greek Village will serve as the home for both Greek women and men, with sororities as well as fraternities having dedicated houses. Instead of meeting in tiny offices and maneuvering around overstuffed closets in Andrews Field House, Wofford women in sororities will enjoy ample space in the Greek Village. Additionally, the new Greek Village will feature an NPHC/Multicultural House that will include offices for National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations on campus and a black alumni hall of fame. The inclusion of this home in the Greek Village provides a space for diversity initiatives and programming focused on enhancing the campus experience for the growing number of Wofford students of color.

“Students of color will have the unprecedented occasion in the Greek Village to expand and sustain their involvement in Greek life at Wofford by promoting and sharing their histories, cultures, traditions and ideas with the community,” says Ellis Colvin ’83. “The new Greek Village will become the major crucible for Wofford minority students to build personal relationships and to partner with alumni in professions that will value their liberal arts education, diversity, talents and abilities in a highly competitive world. As a Wofford alumnus, I am personally supporting and contributing to the 1854 Heritage Campaign for an NPHC/Multicultural House because of its legacy potential for minority students, the black alumni and their families to have an enduring presence on Wofford’s campus.”

The total cost of the new Greek Village project is approximately $7.7 million, and with the college’s investment of $2 million and a private gift of $600,000 to fund the multipurpose pavilion located at the entrance, the remaining approximately $5.1 million has been divided by the 11 houses for fundraising purposes.

The 60-Day Blitz

On Jan. 24, 2015, the college embarked on a “60-day blitz” fundraising campaign for the Greek Village. Approximately 75 individuals, including current students and alumni representing each Greek organization and the Black Alumni Steering Committee, attended the Greek Village campaign kickoff held on Wofford’s campus. Staff representatives from the offices of Student Affairs, Development, and Marketing and Communications were present, as well as representatives from McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture.

During his welcome President Nayef Samhat emphasized the importance of Greek life to the vision of Wofford College. A hush fell across the crowded room as the designs for the new Greek Village were unveiled in an animated flyover video of renderings, which included narration explaining the project’s features and architectural details.

After review of the site plan and layouts of houses in the Greek Village, discussion turned to fundraising. In order to begin construction on the Greek Village as soon as possible, each organization was charged with the mission of raising $400,000 in outright gifts and pledges by April 1. Attendees then split into their individual groups to plan fundraising geared toward their specific organizations.

Fueled by their passion for the Wofford Greek-life experience and the realization of the transformative nature of the Greek Village, dedicated fundraising leaders from each fraternity and sorority spearheaded these efforts. With the help of the Office of Development, organizations used direct mail, email campaigns, marketing videos, phone trees and other means of communication to get the word out and raise support for the Greek Village campaign.

Design of the Greek Village

The vision for the Greek Village was designed with the help of Wofford administration and Greek-life students through on-campus workshops with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. As organizations acquire the necessary funds, they will continue to work with the architects to design a space that is uniquely their own. Organization leaders and their respective alumni advisers will have the opportunity to choose from six architectural styles and a variety of exterior materials, as well as an interior layout that suits their particular needs.

The focal point of the Greek Village will be a multipurpose pavilion, generously funded by an anonymous donor. The pavilion was designed to mirror the style of Main Building and will serve as a common gathering place in the Greek Village, suitable for campuswide functions.

The 11 houses of the Greek Village are arranged in a formal pattern to complement the Greek Revival architectural style. The colonnade at the back of the houses defines a grassy courtyard area that is available for formal and informal gatherings. Taking into consideration the patios and colonnade area of each house, organizations will have plenty of outdoor space for band parties and other events.

An initial question from both alumni and student populations involved how each house would maintain privacy. Each house of the Greek Village will have appropriate fencing and landscaping on the back patios in order to provide fraternities with proper security and control measures as required by their national organizations.

The architecture of the Greek Village will offer opportunities for students who participate in Greek life to gather seven days a week—not just on the weekends. The houses of the Greek Village will be significantly larger than the current Fraternity Row houses, providing ample space and modern amenities suitable for hosting chapter meetings, guest speakers, study sessions, social events and other programming.

The Greek Village and the Wofford Community

“The Greek Village will be something for all our constituents to be proud of,” says Calhoun Kennedy ’89, associate vice president and executive director of Development. “Wofford is one of the few institutions, if any, that is making an investment in Greek life. From a brick-and-mortar standpoint to programming, Wofford recognizes the history and importance of Greek life to our students and alumni.”

According to Kennedy, the new Greek Village will position Wofford as an example to similar institutions for excellence not only in architecture of community space, but also in standards of Greek life as a whole.

Bob Cantey ’91 of Sigma Alpha Epsilon sees the potential the Greek Village will provide in strengthening the already tight-knit Wofford community.

“The Greek Village will essentially be the center of campus. It will give the college a place where Greek and non-Greek students can attend social events and other activities,” he says. “Its open design and inclusion of sororities and the NPHC/Multicultural House will encourage a more diverse environment, allowing for friendships to form that might not otherwise have happened.”

Mike Lackey agrees: “Ultimately, [the Greek Village] will be more useful to more students.”

The Greek Village also will play a role in helping alumni feel more connected to the college.

“I think it will be great for alumnae to also have a central gathering place when they come back to campus,” says Sharyn Beard Pittman ’92, a Zeta Tau Alpha sister and alumnae adviser. Pittman believes that the new Greek Village will serve as the ideal gathering spot for everything from Homecoming to reunion weekends to tailgates and more. The Greek Village will be a place for Wofford students and alumni alike to call their own.

Andrew Strasburger ’13, a brother of Pi Kappa Phi, sees the Greek Village as an important steppingstone for Greek-life students and the college as a whole.

“Greek life shaped the way that I interact with the world through lessons in character and leadership,” he says. “A Wofford degree is a lot more than a piece of paper; it is a guarantee of the quality of the holder’s education and integrity. To ensure that this guarantee continues in the future, the students need a place to learn these beyond-the-classroom qualities. The Greek Village will provide a community of learning that will continue to guarantee the utmost value of a Wofford graduate’s true worth, both academically and personally.”

For more information about the Greek Village, please visit wofford.edu/greekvillage. There you can make a gift or pledge, learn about available naming levels, track the progress of each organization, find answers to frequently asked questions, take a virtual tour and view architectural renderings.

Questions? Contact the Wofford Office of Development at 864-597-4200.

Make a Gift to the Greek Village

It’s easy to make a gift or pledge to the Greek Village. There are three ways to give:

1. Donate Online
Access the online giving form at wofford.edu/supportwofford/onlinegiving and select your method of payment.
In step 2, designate your gift to the “Greek Village” and then indicate which organization you would like your donation to support.

2. Mail Your Donation
Mail your gift to the Wofford College Office of Development at 429 N. Church Street, Spartanburg, S.C. 29303.
Make all checks payable to Wofford College and please specify which organization you would like to support.

3. Call to Make Your Donation
Call the Wofford College Office of Development at 864.597.4200 to make your gift and specify which organization you would like to support.

by Ryann Kroske McCall '13