Published: April 2, 2024

One Year Ago: Hail to Pitt! Alpha Beta Chapter Reinstalled

Theta Chi Fraternity proudly recognizes the first anniversary of the reinstallation of Alpha Beta Chapter at the University of Pittsburgh.

On April 2, 2023, after a nearly 25-year absence from campus, Alpha Beta was reinstalled with 47 Rechartering Members.

The Rechartering Members included: Tom Batteur (2025), Grant Beiler (2026), Jacob Bernens (2023), Cam Bunner (2023), Owen Clemens-Regan (2025), Adam Conway (2026), Tim Cortese (2024), Nevan Crossey (2025), Seth Erni (2025), Derek Ferrer (2026), Pudge Gbur (2026), Caden Goehring (2025), Robby Gold (2025), Matt Hamilton (2025), Ian Harrington (2025), Brennan Hipkiss (2025), Aaron Jackson (2025), Christopher Jean Baptiste (2025), Matt Joyson (2025), Josh Lee (2025), Eli Marks (2025), Zac Martinez (2025), Lane Miller (2025), Sean Mingus (2023), Kate Motley (2025), Karim Obaidi (2025), Aidan O’Neil (2025), Keenan Parrinello (2023), Ben Payne (2026), Isaiah Perine (2024), Connor Piorkowski (2023), Nick Price (2026), Jacob Riben (2025), Paddy Ross (2025), Mark Sarachman (2025), Ken-Ichi Shay (2023), Josh Smallwood (2023), Gabe Stahl (2025), Cam Stumpf (2025), Kaden Sweeney (2025), Karsten Taylor (2025), Alec Tehranian (2026), Austin Throop (2025), Amogh Vellore (2025), Kyle Visintainer (2025), Ty Welsh (2024), and Ben Willenbecher (2026).

The colony/chapter advisory board consisted of three Zeta Alpha/Slippery Rock alumni who were Rechartering Members during their collegiate days, including former Field Executive Eric Lehman (2021), former Assistant Director of Recruitment and Expansion James Jackson (2019), and Brody McKenna (2019). These brothers were joined by recent Pittsburgh transplant Abner Diaz (Iota Alpha/UNC-Wilmington 2005), who had just served as Colony Adviser and assisted with the reinstallation of his own chapter prior to his relocation.

In January 2022, then-Growth Specialists Cody Cline and Eric Lehman went to the University of Pittsburgh with the shared goal of recolonizing the Alpha Beta Chapter. Theta Chi had been absent from Pitt for more than 20 years and it was time to return. It was time for the Fraternity’s presence to reemerge on a campus that was long overdue for what Theta Chi had to offer.

Mark Sarachman (2025), Sean Mingus (2023), and Josh Lee (2025) were the first members to commit to reestablishing Theta Chi at Pitt and after that, there was nothing but momentum. In the coming weeks, 14 men had been chosen and Alpha Beta was recolonized on April 22, 2022. By the time staff had departed, the group had gone from complete strangers into a tightly knit brotherhood. Shortly after, Eric Lehman departed the International Headquarters staff to return to his hometown in Pittsburgh and agreed to stay engaged with the colony as their Colony Adviser.

The group excelled in recruitment in ways no one had seen at Pitt in quite some time. Lane Miller (2025) took on responsibility of the colony’s recruitment efforts and developed their program to guarantee success. In fall 2022, the initial group of 14 brothers added 19 men, more than doubling in size and was the largest pledge class that semester among the fraternities at Pitt. The group also excelled in philanthropy and service. Philanthropy Chairman Gabe Stahl (2025) organized a campus basketball tournament that raised nearly $500 for the UPMC Children’s Hospital Foundation and Alzheimer’s research and dedicated additional projects to support the USO.

By spring 2023, 14 additional men committed themselves to Theta Chi, tripling the colony’s membership from their initial recolonization. The men also proved themselves in the realm of academics: Theta Chi had the highest GPA among the other 19 fraternities at Pitt with a cumulative 3.35.

Alpha Beta Colony demonstrated in a very short time that they not only were deserving of recolonization by merit, but also by dedication to the Creed and by the character of its members. A petition for reinstallation was prepared and approved by the Grand Chapter.

The reinstallation of Alpha Beta Chapter occurred on a beautiful sunny on Pitt’s campus in Lawrence Hall on Sunday, April 2, 2023, at 1 p.m. EDT.

International President Creig Andreasen served as the Presiding Officer and was assisted by International Secretary Alan Copeland, International Treasurer Tom Thompson, Past Grand Chapter Member John Lydon, then-Director of Growth Jermaine Merritt, former-Growth Specialist & Alpha Beta Colony Adviser Eric Lehman, CAB member and former Assistant Director of Recruitment and Expansion James Jackson, CAB member Abner Diaz-Lao' (Iota Alpha/UNC-Wilmington 2005), and Rattle Editor Ben Hill.

Additional attendees included several Alpha Beta alumni, brothers from Beta Chi/Allegheny, Gamma Eta/Bucknell, and additional alumni from Zeta Alpha/Slippery Rock.

Following the ceremony, brief remarks were made in Lawrence Hall by International President Creig Andreasen, International Secretary Al Copeland, Jermaine Merritt, and Alpha Beta Chapter President Jake Bernens (2023). Pizza was served and the new executive board gathered for a photo at the Pitt Panther statue outside the William Pitt Union. The men were soon joined by the remaining Rechartering Members on the steps of Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning for a final group photo.

A fraternal highlight of the day was the establishment of a new three-generation legacy for the Fraternity. Three generations of Theta Chis from three different chapters joined each other in brotherhood with grandfather Ted Payne (Delta Theta/Toledo 1960) and father Doug Payne (Alpha Chi/Syracuse 1992) attending the ceremony to initiate Ben Payne (Alpha Beta/Pittsburgh 2026). Doug took Ted’s Badge and presented and pinned the family Badge on Ben.

Another highlight occurred when Alpha Beta alumni dropped off scrapbooks from the 1920s as well as a framed collage from the original chapter that contained a photo of their first chapter house, a group shot of the first Alpha Beta initiates, and banquet (print) programs.

During the social gathering, Doug Payne presented the chapter with a custom Theta Chi/Pitt cornhole set as a reinstallation gift to Alpha Beta Chapter.


“Looking back over the last year, we’ve been able to build something truly amazing. What makes this chapter so special is the diversity in brotherhood we have created, our spectacular reputation on campus, and our ability to continue to attract more unique but also like-minded men to our ranks. Our recent class consisted of 23 members, our biggest class to date. Being the last of the Rechartering Members to run this chapter, I can safely say the new generation will take this fraternity to new heights. We went from being the smallest fraternity on campus when I joined to the 5th biggest in a little over the year. Looking forward, Alpha Beta Chapter only has growth and success embedded into its future; it’s all we have over known.” – Current Chapter President Zac Martinez (Alpha Beta/Pittsburgh 2025)

“Alpha Beta fully embodied our maxim ‘Alma Mater first and Theta Chi for Alma Mater,’ and they were academically gifted. They were very sociable, but also very responsible. They all enjoyed each other, enjoyed brotherhood, and enjoyed the fraternity so they’ll all be successful for years to come.” – Former Sr. Director of Growth Zack Brown

“They’re an amazing group of guys. From when we first started on campus, they’ve gone from an interest group of 4-5 guys to a chapter of 79. The leadership is impeccable, top-to-bottom, and the chapter truly cares about one another, and I’ve never seen something quite like it. It’s going to be exciting to see what new heights they can reach moving forward.” – Chapter Adviser Eric Lehman (Zeta Alpha/Slippery Rock 2021).

“Working with the Alpha Beta chapter from their inception was a journey of positivity, perseverance, and an overall show of growth in the best way possible. I remember having conversations with them and being surprised at the ideas their leadership had as it pertained to growing the chapter, establishing their presence on campus, and who they wanted to be as an organization. They knew what it meant to be a man of Theta Chi before they were even initiates, and that was great to see. Seeing where they are today as an active chapter couldn’t make me prouder. We know the hurdles that colonies must go through to get established on their campuses, and we know the first year can be the hardest – these men have defied those odds and have continued to grow, and I’m excited to see where they go from here!” – Former Assistant Director of Growth, Jermaine Merritt

The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, was founded in 1787 as the Pittsburgh Academy, and it became the Western University of Pennsylvania in 1819. By 1908, it was renamed as the University of Pittsburgh, which it has remained in perpetuity since. Today, the University of Pittsburgh is a leading research institute with a diverse student body of over 28,000 students from all 50 states and over 100 countries.