Newest Grand High Alpha Chapter
Featured Article by Jon Williamson (Maryland)
Countdown to Initiation:
This year we will be having our first, of hopefully many, Golf outings with our Alumni. We will be playing at Weaver Ridge Friday and Saturday starting around 10am.
The Kappa-Upsilon chapter at Bradley University was re-colonized in 2006, and four years later they received the 2010 Grand High Alpha Award. With more than 30 new brothers recruited, the chapter is focused on grades and more alumni support.
For those of you who follow these chapter articles on a
regular basis you are used to seeing Lambda Chis who
are identified because they have achieved success in their
chosen occupation. A challenge for the Cross & Crescent,
however, is finding the space to present all the articles.
This month alone, several of our brothers have been associated
with excellence: Joe Philbin (Washington & Jefferson 1984) is
the offensive coordinator of the Super Bowl champion Green
Bay Packers and has been with them since 2003; Charles Kelley
(Georgia 2003) is part of Lady Antebellum, which a couple
of weeks ago won five Grammy Awards including Song of the
Year, “Need You Now”; and L arry Holley (William Jewell
1967) recently won his 800th game as head basketball coach at
William Jewell College. Holley has been named Coach of the
Year on 14 occasions, including NAIA National Coach of the
Year Award in 1996, and he is a member of five Halls of Fame.
There is nothing quite like excellence. I believe it is catching. I
think individuals who have achieved a certain level of success
surround themselves with others who are working in the same
direction and are of the same mindset. And of course, there
is nothing like the taste of victory after an upsetting defeat.
A few months ago we featured our chapter at High Point
University as one of the three chapters that were recognized as
Grand High Alpha Award winners in the summer of 2010.
This article recognizes our chapter at Bradley University,
which also shared the award. The Grand High Alpha Award
is presented to chapters that have maintained superior
operations and fraternal spirit for a minimum of three
consecutive years and are recognized for sustained excellence.
A chapter may receive this award only once every third year.
Theta Kappa Nu Origins
In one form or another, our Fraternity has been on the Bradley
campus since 1916. The first meeting took place in the physics
laboratory of Dr. V. F. Swaim. Twelve young men of similar
interests met to form a club that they called the Sophists Club.
Initially, meetings were held in a college building and
membership grew to 30. As the prestige of the club
grew on the campus it was decided to rent a house.
Two years later the club voted to buy a house and
to petition a national fraternity for a charter.
On May 28, 1927, the Sophists Club became the Illinois
Gamma chapter of the Theta Kappa Nu fraternity. The
installation ceremony was directed by Dr. Winslow S. Anderson,
Dean of Rollins College in Florida, then Theta Kappa Nu’s
Grand Archon; and Leroy A. Wilson, Theta Kappa Nu’s
Grand Scribe, and who would later serve as Grand Archon.
The Eureka College degree team assisted in the installation. One
member was Dr. Burrus Dickinson, who would become president
of Eureka College. More than 1,200 men were initiated prior to
1989 when the chapter became dormant. An effort to revive it
in 1992 proved to be premature and the colony closed in 1993.
In 2006, another attempt at colonization was done...and
this time all of the necessary ingredients were in place.
Current Chapter President
I spoke with Mike Lane, current Bradley High Alpha,
as he was preparing to host the Midwest Conclave.
“This has been an outstanding year for us. In the fall we
associated 24 men and so far this spring we have an additional
seven. Our total membership stands at 56 actives and eight
associate members. Everyone in the chapter is involved with a
campus organization outside the Fraternity. Brett Williams is
the chapter High Beta and started a campus organization called
Invisible Children, which attempts to end the world’s longest
raging civil war and keep Ugandan children from being abducted
and forced to serve in the military. Brett is also the fund-raising
coordinator of Habitat for Humanity and the director of
philanthropy and service for the IFC. Mike Konieczny was the
High Alpha during the time of preparation for the Grand High
Alpha Award and is the current vice president of the IFC. He was
selected as Fraternity Chapter President of the Year in 2010 and
is also the current treasurer of Invisible Children. Aaron Ganson
is a member of the varsity basketball team and Steve Spreenburg
is a varsity cheerleader. Kyle Malinowski is chairman of our
Midwest Conclave and is a former student body president.”
Before we talk about the Grand High Alpha Award,
how active has the chapter been in philanthropy/
service events and in scholarship?
“In the spring of 2010 we finished with a 3.26 GPA which was
the highest of the 14 fraternities. We hope to duplicate that
this spring. Our philanthropy events begin in the fall during
Homecoming Week with our watermelon bash. At the same time
we hold our Crescent Girl Pageant in which every sorority has
one nominee. This is a serious event with members of the school
administration acting as judges. The event takes place in the
middle of the quad and it is based on personality and character.
The first year that we held the event it won the award for best
philanthropy on campus. The winner this year was Victoria
Leuker, a member of Kappa Delta. We also do canning for food
and additionally we have a Subway Night where the chapter gets
10% of the amount of profits above the normal for that night.
All of these monies are donated to the Peoria Area Food Bank.”
The big question is how did you go from a standing start in
2007 to being selected as a Grand High Alpha chapter in 2010?
“Good question. It began with the men we selected
when the colony got started in 2007 and culminated
in Mike Konieczny’s leadership as High Alpha.”
How does the chapter handle recruitment
of such high quality men?
“It begins when we move back to campus a week before the
freshmen show up in the fall. This gives the brothers time to
bond with each other and get back in the swing of things. Our
High Delta, Adam Currier, gave ‘how to’ presentations and
made a list of people we wanted to recruit (upper classmen) and
talked to the brothers about values-based recruiting. We have
recruitment practice with role-play among brothers. We also
obtained a list of men going through recruitment as freshmen.
Then the brothers got on Facebook and we paired them up
with a potential recruits according to their similar interests,
making it more comfortable for the potential member during
the recruitment process. We only accept the finest during both
formal and informal recruitment. Although we initiated 25 men
in November, we aren’t looking for numbers. There is no limit
to the best men on campus so we continue to recruit, always
seeking the best.” Does not having a chapter house handicap
you during recruitment? “No. Our former chapter house has
been turned into a girls’ dorm so we use multiple buildings on
campus in which to meet. Presently, our chapter meetings are in
Garrett Center. We utilize classrooms and other campus buildings
for Kappa Sessions and even at times in a dorm basement.
Our Ritual is held at a local church. We have found that not
having a house doesn’t keep us from attracting the best men.”
What is the biggest challenge facing the chapter?
“The lack of alumni support. The chapter closed down in the
late ‘80s and then the attempt as a colony failed. It is difficult
getting the word out that we are back on campus and that we are
an organization of which all alumni can be proud. Our younger
alumni are beginning to get involved and I am working that as a
priority. I want to single out Andy McKillip who has been very
helpful, as well as Gail Hartmann, our High Pi. Even though
Gail lives in St. Louis, he has been very helpful, going out of
his way to answer questions and provide sound guidance.”
What were your thoughts when Bradley was called during
the Grand High Alpha Award announcement?
“The four of us were speechless. We were totally excited
and proud, and we couldn’t take our eyes off the award.
We talked about it and reflected back on the time leading
up to the Convention. We didn’t realize how much we had
accomplished in just three years. Looking back on the process,
the National Headquarters’ staff was extremely helpful and
they introduced the True Brother Initiative to the chapter. At
first we were going to keep it a secret from the chapter until
school started, but we just couldn’t. We wanted to share the
happiness with everyone since it was a total team effort.”
How have you avoided the biggest pitfalls a chapter
faces, alcohol, hazing and dysfunctional behavior?
“As a chapter, the older brothers instill the idea you are a
Lambda Chi because you are a leader and one of the best on
campus and we simply won’t accept anything less. As such all
of the brothers are held accountable. Every brother knows he
must uphold his duty as a brother and we don’t want to slip
and have what we have accomplished taken away. The mindset
is that once you join, you join a group of amazing men and
you will measure up to a higher standard. We have gotten to
this point through strategic planning by the brothers, through
Kappa Sessions, as well as ZAX Sessions. We will never settle
for where we are currently at. Everything we do builds a bond
that can always be better and on which we can always improve.
We continue to grow and we will never settle for less.”