The Fifth Decade
The 1980s began on a high plane of activity and performance, continuing the momentum that had built up through the 1970s. Both the Fraternity and Chapter were busily involved in many programs and activities, both old and new.
Some Fraternity Activities
In the spring of 1980, the Fraternity established the Good Nabor Alumni Award to recognize alums who exemplify the Fraternity's goals and objectives in their post college career. At the 1980 Homecoming Banquet, John F. "Jack" Rendquist, '46, was announced as the first recipient.
With the number of members and activities constantly expanding, management of the Fraternity's affairs were becoming more complex. To help bring continuity to and make readily available available to the Board of Directors guidelines for managing the Fraternity's affairs, a handbook of policies, procedures, and practices was prepared by the Business Agent and a copy distributed to each Director in late 1980. To further strengthen management, the Board of Directors was enlarged from seven to nine members in 1981, with three Directors to be elected every year for three-year terms. The Board was to elect its own officers who would also serve as the Fraternity's officers.
1986-89 Renovation Plan
Air leakage around the windows in the Chapter House had become legend, and was adding significantly to the heating bills in cold weather. The dining room needed a new floor covering and ceiling, and the dining tables and chairs needed to be replaced. The available funds were insufficient to cover the project's cost. The Board initiated a comprehensive fundraising campaign among the members, and by the Fraternity's fiftieth anniversary date of April 29, 1989, had gifts and pledges amounting to about $15,000. Installation of the dining room windows as well as the residing of the south gable were completed in 1987.
In 1988-89, the remaining windows on the first floor, except those in the kitchen, were replaced as well as some on the second floor. The remodeling of the dining room was completed during the semester break. It had new paneling, drop ceiling, and flooring to go with the chairs and tables purchased in the fall of 1988. Vernon L. Brazle, '60, Robert H. Reiners,'60, and Eric A. Reiners, '89, did the dining room remodeling work. Some interior decoration was done, and the living room floor was re-carpeted.
Some Chapter Activities
Chapter members were quite active in their studies and activities. Some were instrumental in forming a new Ag club called Illini Pork Pride. Several members have been officers in the club, which is affiliated with both the Illinois and National Pork Producers Associations. The Active Chapter did the telephone solicitation for the Nabor Commitment Fundraising campaign. A new approach was taken by the men in the house in 1988-89 in using committees assigned to specific areas for Chapter improvement. This helped to advance the progress and enhance the future of Nabor House. in 1986-87, the Chapter bought a computer for the house, and the Fraternity underwrote a computer printer for the Chapter. The Chapter also purchased a copying machine in 1987.
Scholarships Big Financial Help
Scholarships have always been an important financial resource for many of the men in Nabor House. They have enabled many individuals to attend the University, who otherwise would not have had the financial means to do so. This was especially true with the men who were in the house prior to the war. Even with a much stronger economy since then, the scholarships remained necessary for some Nabors. Records of scholarships are not routinely kept by the Fraternity. But, information in the Feb. 15, 1960 Nabor Nubbins showed that 22 of 28 men in the fall of 1959 had scholarships worth a total of $3,425 that fall. A survey in the fall of 1988 indicated that 22 of 32 men had scholarships worth $26,853 to them for that semester alone.
Selected Scholastic Achievements
During the 1980s, the men of Illinois Chapter compiled an outstanding scholastic record. In the 18 semesters from teh srping of 1980 through the fall of 1988, the house exceeded a 4.0 GPA 15 times, and the other three were well up toward a 4.0. Their GPA of 4.289 in the spring of 1983 was the highest in the history of the house. And 10 men were named to Bronze Tablet, an amazing feat.
1983-84: A Remodeling Project
Much maintenance work was done on the house, and two major renovation projects were undertaken during this decade. In 1980, the front hallway was remodeled as part of a relatively minor renovation project. But major remodeling needed to be done. It was becoming increasingly apparent to both the Active Chapter and the Fraternity Board that the house was due for major improvements. So, the major time consuming activity of the Board during the 1980s was to improve the physical structure of Nabor House.
Since the purchase in 1965, the house had served the Illinois Chapter well, but the Board needed to look to the future. Construction of a new house was considered, but due to the high cost of construction and the wish to retain the current location, it was determined that a new building was not feasible. The Fraternity's goal to provide housing at a reasonable cost was a priority, and consequently, a remodeling plan seemed best.
At the Annual Meeting on Oct. 15, 1983, under the direction of Fraternity President S. Gene Schwarm, '78, a remodeling plan was approved. it included expanding the kitchen, rebuilding the showers, improving the dining area, and upgrading the fire safety aspects of the house. The estimated cost was $70,000. The Fraternity's decision for the Board to proceed included the following guidelines: (1) there would be no significant increase in the rent to the active chapter, (2) there would still be room to house 38 men, (3) the building fund would not be totally depleted, and (4) a fundraising program would be conducted to help pay a portion of the cost.
A building committee was appointed, plans drawn, and bids solicited. James N. Traub, '68, took the lead in the project and he, along with F. Scott Riefsteck, '76, and Harold F. Reetz, Jr., '70, became the persons primarily responsible to see the project to its completion. The project was divided into a basic plan to remodel the kitchen, repair the shower, and bring the house into compliance with fire safety codes. An additional phase to combine the second floor shower with a new bathroom and to convert the old bathroom to a study room was also considered. The initial bids were higher than expected. This gave the Board the impression that the project might be larger than anticipated. At that point, fundraising became a priority, and a goal of $38,000 was set. Even though much effort was made by the Board, and especially by Business Agent Larry Dallas, '75, contributions fell short of expectations.
The Board elected to go ahead with both the basic and additional plans, felling that it would be wrong to repair the second floor shower and to ignore the need to upgrade the restroom facilities. The cost savings of doing both at the same time were significant. Included in the dual plan was additional fire and safety code work. Some of it was required for the current house remodeling, but a large portion was due to future requirements. For both safety reasons and cost savings, the additional improvements were made.
As with most construction projects, the normal delays and frustrations were encountered. One of the most frustrating aspects of the project for the active chapter was the fire alarm system and its frequent false alarms that continued for some time before the bugs were worked out.
When the project was finally completed, the total cost was about $100,000. It was paid for by using $22,000 of existing funds, $11,000 from contributions, and $57,000 borrowed on a new 30-year mortgage loan. The cost overruns were due in part to the decision to go ahead with the additional plan. More importantly, about $10,000-$15,000 was for life safety changes.
The project made it clear that for the Fraternity to live up to its commitment to provide adequate housing at a reasonable cost to the young men of the active chapter, the members of the Fraternity would have to make a financial commitment. So the Board established an ongoing fundraising program called the Nabor Commitment Fund to insure that the Fraternity lived up to its responsibilities to the Active Chapter.
The fund was set up at the Board meeting on Nov. 24, 1985, and was to be the annual clearing account for the building fund for money coming in from the real estate line item, the initiation fee, and contributions. The total receipts from this fund were then to be disbursed annually to the Building Fund. At the same meeting, the Board increased the initiation fee to $100 effective for any members initiated after Oct. 1, 1986. The fee was to be earmarked for the Nabor Commitment Fund and consequently be added to the Building Fund.