Five Minutes With Kelley A. Bergstrom

A few months later Durward W. Owen approached Kelley and asked him to serve on the Pi Kappa Phi Properties Board of Directors. Below is his account of Pi Kappa Phi Properties and fraternity housing as a whole.

What was Pi Kappa Phi Properties like when you joined the Board of Directors?
Kelley A. Bergstrom: It was in “start-up mode” and we needed to start the process of organizing the information. We started as a small operation which has grown into an area of the fraternity that is a very important aspect of the fraternity life.

What did you know we needed to do or start doing what we weren’t already doing?
KAB: The first thing we did was create the Big 10 Report. It was a report that listed the 10 most important pieces of information that the board would need to make a decision on purchasing a property. We just needed to professionalize the information. We also standardized the systems and procedures for acquiring a house along with planning one to two years in advance for future acquisitions.

How did Properties change during your time with the Properties Board of Directors?
KAB: The biggest change was philosophical. We realized we needed to take advantage of certain marketplaces to utilize equity that a local house corporation couldn’t. We established ourselves by recruiting smart, hardworking people.

Was there one key moment or event that characterizes your time with Properties?
KAB: No, there isn’t really one thing I would say that characterizes my time with Properties, but the purchase of a house at the University of Oklahoma always sticks out in my mind as a favorite of mine. The house was in a great location and we worked with some great people on that transaction. But overall, we just, day after day, week after week, kept doing our due diligence, getting our job done, just like a business.

Looking back, why do you think fraternity house are still relevant?
KAB: College environments always lead to competitive [real estate] markets. Fraternity houses give the groups a place. There always needs to be a base of operations; this will be true years from now.

What do you think the future of fraternity housing looks like?
KAB: It faces some real issues. Fraternity houses are under a large scrutiny. We need to learn how to manage it in such a way it doesn’t lead to conduct issues. Systems and controls for that management need to be created and I think Pi Kappa Phi Properties is in a position to act as a facilitator. I would also say that priorities have shifted. Before, fraternity houses were mainly worried about how many guys we can put in here. Now, they’re housing fewer people and focusing on providing more educational and meeting space. Managing a fraternity house isn’t just about real estate any more, you are a conduct manager now too.