Rho Chapter’s roots go back to 1922 when a local fraternity, Beta Nu Epsilon began as a local Jewish fraternity at what is now the University of Rhode Island. After a favorable visit in early 1928, the brothers of Beta Nu Epsilon became the Rho Chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi at an initiation ceremony held at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence on April 1, 1928. Separately that night, Rhode Island State College’s President Howard Edwards also was initiated into the fraternity. Initially the chapter occupied a wood frame home just off the eastern portion of campus. The fraternity continued to grow and prosper. In the Fall of 1931, Robert W. Krovitz was initiated into the chapter. Later, Bob Krovitz would serve as Supreme Master (President) of the national fraternity. Bob and his wife Bella continued their involvement with the chapter until later in life.
Soon Rho outgrew the old wood frame house. A new chapter house was built at the corner of Alumni Avenue and Lower College Road and was dedicated on Thanksgiving evening 1931. The Tudor style home, built to accommodate 40 men stood where the current Fogarty Hall now stands. The chapter continued to grow, and despite a prohibition on recruiting new members during World War II, the chapter remained active with 6 brothers and one pledge (a legacy) and shared the chapter house with students on campus. In 1943, word was received that Past Master Lt. Irving Blazer (‘32) became Rho’s first casualty of the war. Beginning in 1945, as the war wound down, Rho brothers returned to campus and rebuilt the chapter so that by the fall of 1946 the chapter was almost back to normal.
In 1961, the chapter was notified that the chapter house was to be torn down in July for the construction of what is now Fogarty Hall, then slated to be the College of Pharmacy. A new, $400,000 chapter house that was occupied by 52 men was built in what is now Fraternity Circle and dedicated on November 17, 1963. Many alumni including long-time advisor Leo Katz -to whom the house was dedicated, and University President Harold Horn were in attendance. Rho flourished for several more years until the era of campus unrest in the early 1970s at which time, in 1971, the house was closed and the chapter became inactive . In 1976, re-colonization of Rho began with the first initiation of a new group of men held at the Jewish Community Center in Providence.
In 1976, re-colonization of Rho began with the first initiation of a new group of men held at the Jewish Community Center in Providence.
As the colony grew in subsequent years, Rho once again moved into the chapter house at 6 Fraternity Circle beginning in Fall Semester, 1978. On October 21, 1978 Rho Chapter was re-chartered in a ceremony held in the chapter house, which at the time was rededicated to Leo Katz, Robert Krovitz and Richard Wilkes representing past, current and future alumni. The chapter flourished for several more years, but was once again closed in the mid 2000s after a fire resulted in significant damage to the building. After negotiations with the International Fraternity, Hillel took possession of the building and after destruction of the former dormitory portion and renovations, opened the Norman Fain Hillel Center.
A new group came on campus in 2009 and re-colonized Rho. The first initiation for the new group was held with Alpha Chapter at NYU. As the colony grew, the chapter was re-chartered at a ceremony at the Raddison Hotel in Warwick on April 19, 2014 attended by undergraduates, parents, alumni and members of the International Fraternity staff. Although not as large as Rho Chapter had been in the 50s and 60s, the chapter is vibrant and undergraduates are involved in many university activities including The Good Five Cent Cigar, URI TV, Hillel, IFC activities and much more. Rho Chapter is back and sees a bright future at URI.