The Beta Theta Pi - Winter 2020

Page 1

BETA the beta theta pi magazine


p01_Cover_wtr20.indd 1

e h

WINTER 2020 the beta house | betas behind the mask | convention recap

t i s n s e u l i e s

11/21/19 1:35 AM



Adopted as the University of Miami’s official mascot in 1957, Sebastian the Ibis has become a campus rock-star. In modern times, his story cannot be told without also telling that of the Eta Beta Chapter.

p02-03_Contents_wtr20.indd 2

11/18/19 11:47 AM

contents inside this issue DEPARTMENTS 04 | Archives

historical throwback

06 | The Inbox

unfiltered feedback

08 | Newsworthy fraternity updates

Beta House: Oklahoma State

After 80 years in their beloved 1939-built home, Gamma Lambda opens a jaw-dropping new Beta house.

After four brothers took their lives during the 2018-19 school year, Beta must now answer the question: What role can fraternities play in the battle against mental health and suicide?

On the Cover Beta addresses the mental health epidemic while covering the tragic stories of four Betas who took their lives.

The Beta Theta Pi Magazine The oldest continuously published college fraternity magazine, The Beta Theta Pi was founded on December 15, 1872, by Charles Duy Walker, VMI 1869.

p02-03_Contents_wtr20.indd 3

Publication Schedule Issue Winter Spring Summer

Deadline Oct. 15 Jan. 15 April 15


The Biggest Secret to Success and Happiness

After studying the lives of 724 men for 79 years, Harvard reveals the biggest secret to success and happiness.

Mail Date Dec. 15 March 15 June 15

Who Receives the Beta Magazine? All Beta undergraduates and parents, current and former volunteers, Foundation donors, and anyone who requests to receive it in print. Update your subscription and contact info at, 800.800.BETA or

Recapping the 180th General Convention

Every Convention leaves its mark on Beta history, but eight highlights from the Fraternity’s most recent annual reunion in Oxford make clear: There’s no place like home.

How Does One Get Published? Content submissions and high resolution photos can be sent to or the Administrative Office at PO Box 6277, Oxford, OH 45056. While space constraints make it difficult to include all submissions, a fair evaluation process is exercised to publish a variety of unique stories.

Want Instant Access to a Past Issue? All past issues since 1872 can be accessed in Beta’s digital archive:

13 | Cut and Polished

refining men of principle

18 | Alumni News

lifelong brotherhood

40 | Campus Life student highlights

52 | Chapter Eternal in loving memory



The Silent Issue

worldwide tributes




10 | Beta Eponyms

The Beta Theta Pi, (USPS 052-000),

official magazine of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, is owned by the Fraternity, edited and published under the direction and control of its Board of Trustees, published winter, spring and summer for a $30 one-time pre-paid subscription. Standard non-profit class postage paid at Oxford, Ohio, and additional points of entry. Canada Post International Publications Mail (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 0397474. Copyright Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. Produced in the USA.

11/21/19 1:36 AM

archives historical throwback Send your old Beta photos to the Beta magazine:

p04_Archives_wtr20.indd 4

Since its beginning, Beta Theta Pi has been a Fraternity of achievement with a record of “Beta Firsts” unequalled in the Greek world. Counted among them is the 1867 creation of alumni chapters – a first among its peers and a precursor to the modern alumni association. Bordered by the then-recently adopted colors of pink and blue, seen above is the original 1883 charter for the Fraternity’s Boston Alumni Chapter, signed by Beta Greats John W. Herron, Miami 1845 (President), Willis O. Robb, Ohio Wesleyan 1879 (Secretary), and J. Calvin Hanna, Wooster 1881 (General Secretary). Secured by the Fraternity in January 2017 for $51.39 via a New Hampshirebased collector's eBay auction, this historic treasure now resides in the Fraternity’s archives in Oxford. Beta will again make history in Beantown in 2020 when the Board of Trustees holds its spring meeting April 24-26 in conjunction with the Installation Ceremony and Banquet for the newly rechartered Beta Upsilon at MIT.

11/20/19 1:32 PM


his marks the 10th year I've had the honor of serving as Beta's editor and director of communication. While unexpected, especially since it was supposed to be a six-month interim appointment, it has been a role I have thoroughly loved. The vast majority of Beta's communication work has been fulfilling and spent on inspiring projects. But, there is one duty that always takes it out of me: writing student obituaries. I have written almost every single student tribute over the last decade, be it due to accidents, overindulgence, natural causes and everything in between. Heartbreaking each, one scenario is always particularly difficult to get through – suicide.

Without fail, however, I cry. Every single time. I cry.

foreword editor’s note Martin Cobb, Eastern Kentucky ’96

Creative Director

Sarah Shepherd

Managing Editor | Graphic Designer Mike Roupas, Iowa ’10

Director of Media Relations | Senior Writer

Justin Warren, SMU ’10

Director of Digital Media

Jackson Chambers, Utah ’12

Publication Printer

Royle Printing Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

So, given three student suicides we experienced last year, as well as that of a 45-year-old Beta volunteer, it seemed appropriate this first magazine of the new academic year should focus on the mental health epidemic that is clearly affecting our Fraternity. After all, Beta's prior five years had a total of three student suicides. And then, just three weeks before this magazine was to go to print, it happened again. Paul Cichon, Kettering B '21, an avid fisherman, outdoorsman and beloved Beta brother, took his own life.


Editor | Director of Communication

Internalizing the pain they must have felt – now realized by their family and fraternity brothers – is almost unbearable. To know there probably wasn't a person in their world who wouldn't have done everything possible to help had they only known the depth of their despair, well, it only adds to the burden.


Typically, my ritual has been to hunker down at Starbucks and escape into a world of online research, absorbing all I can about the young man. Seeing his personality and interests on social media not only informs the tribute memorializing his Beta Spirit, but it's therapeutic given the task at hand.

"Internalizing the pain they must have felt – now realized by their family and fraternity brothers – is almost unbearable."

Yet again, we are left without answers. Recognizing the now-common assertion that "we are connected more than ever but lonely like never before," research continues to point to society’s growing sense of loneliness as a primary factor. Believing fraternities are uniquely positioned to provide the camaraderie and love men need and crave, we invite you to learn more about mental health – an issue that has long been discounted, maybe even moreso in the rah-rah world of fraternity. Sincerely and yours in ___kai___,

p05_Editors Letter_wtr20.indd 5

11/18/19 2:51 PM

the inbox unfiltered feedback Share your thoughts with Beta’s editorial team at

magazinefeedback “You are doing a great

job [on] our magazine. I particularly liked the current issue where you featured working class Betas who are making a real difference. It is the working class that is the backbone of our country and they seldom get the credit they deserve.” — Robert Healy, Missouri ’64

“Beyond the Boardroom


is an excellent article. I commend the editorial staff for highlighting the lives of men representing the vast numbers of Betas who have lived lives of service and dedication to their families and communities. I suspect that’s most of us; we’re not all Richard Lugars or Dick Gephardts.” — Dave Coppedge, Oklahoma ’58


“You all should see

“Martin, I believe it’s about time for the Beta magazine to be sent out. I enjoy ‘keeping up’ with you brothers. For this reason, please keep me on the mailing list. My email and mailing address are the same as was Joe’s. Thank you in advance.” — Judy Troncale, Beta Sweetheart of Recently Deceased Former Beta Vice President and District Chief Joe Troncale, Alabama ‘64

p06-07_Inbox_wtr20.indd 6

the work welder Brian Grant has done in different mediums with Beta’s coat of arms. Not only a gifted craftsman, but a truly talented artist. Nice to see him recognized by the General Fraternity.” — Corey Coffin, Maine ’02

“I really appreciated

the General Fraternity taking an interest in me and the work I do. Thank you again for recognizing the men who work non-typical careers as Beta alumni.” — Welder Brian Grant, Maine ’00

“I’m humbled and

honored that I was thought of for this. The other four brothers – great guys from reading – are all blue-collar, lunch-pail, getto-work kind of guys. We’re those grab-the-bull-by-thehorns type of guys, which is how we were taught. You want something? Go get it! I learned a lot from Beta – I’ve always felt privileged to be a part of this incredible organization. I’m extremely proud of my fraternity. My brothers are still some of my best friends to this day.” — Chef Scott Pajak, UNLV ’02

“I’m proud of the work I’m getting to do, and I’m grateful to you all for giving it a larger audience.” — Teacher Johno Oberly, Denver’13

“Thanks for another

great issue of The Beta Theta Pi. Please urge our undergrads to acknowledge and follow-up on recommendations!” — Bill Lipscomb, Mississippi ’65, Former District Chief

Slightly Red-Faced

In the summer 2019 article “Forward Thinkers,” Raimond Duy Baird’s name was incorrectly presented as Duy Raimond Baird. In a spring 2019 “Campus Life” highlight, the Swiss Alps being viewed by two Sacred Heart undergraduates were incorrectly associated with Sweden.

11/20/19 1:23 PM

senatorlugar “Saddened to hear

of the passing of Senator Richard Lugar. By reaching across the aisle, even in difficult times, he represented the best of public service.” — Senator Michael Bennet, Wesleyan ’87

“In my opinion,

one of the all-time greats.” — Bassel Korkor, Northwestern ’03

“Sad day.

p06-07_Inbox_wtr20.indd 7


Class act and one of the last few great statesmen in American politics. Appreciate all he did for me, for others, for his fraternity and for his country.” — Donald (Dipper) DiPaolo, Michigan ’78

“Everything I learned

upon becoming a Beta, Senator Lugar lived every day of his life. A gentleman. A scholar. A statesman of the highest caliber. Rest in ___kai___, Brother Lugar.” — Khayree Duckett, Iowa State ’17

a son that became a member of Beta Theta Pi. Even prouder that he is part of a brotherhood that is taking bold steps to be courageous men of principle! Yes, yes, yes!” — Barbara and Larry Bennett, Parents of Kamren McKee, Colorado Mines ’20

A Handwritten Note from Mrs. Lugar . . .

“I have been the House “Jonathan, thank you for Dad/Chef at various fraternities for many years, and your University of Cincinnati chapter converting its basement party room into a workout room is the best thing I have ever seen in a chapter house! BRILLIANT.” (See page 42.) — Terence Edwards, Eugene, Oregon

letting me know of the gift from [General Secretary] Wayne Kay in remembrance of Dick. I have just written to him in thanks.

The choice many years ago of Dick to be a Beta he always felt to have been an important one in his life – his father was a Purdue Beta, “My dad was a Beta at likewise his brother a Purdue Bowdoin, graduating in 1936. Beta, and we have two sons who are IU Betas. I grew up playing records of Beta songs and singing along! He was planning to be at I pledged Sigma Kappa at Gettysburg where I stayed three semesters (1963-65). In the 1990s I served as an advisor to Sigma Kappa’s new chapter at the University of Hartford. Beta was developing men of principle at the University of Connecticut; I visited them and was impressed. I am also impressed by the Beta reaction to Penn State AND the open reporting on each of your chapters in the magazine. Wish Sigma Kappa did that kind of reporting!!! Keep up the good work for our young college men.” — Jane Pallokat, Harwinton, Connecticut

Convention this summer – he loved that interaction with the undergraduate actives.”

— Handwritten note to Beta Foundation Director Jonathan Brant, Miami ’75, from Char Lugar, Alpha Phi, Beta Sweetheart of Recently Deceased Men of Principle Spokesman and Senator Richard G. Lugar, Denison ’54


service for Senator Lugar today [July 24] in D.C. It was a very nice and fitting event at Arlington National Cemetery. The Navy performed the full ceremony: 21-gun salute, Taps, the flag. You can see the Washington Monument from his final resting place. As with any funeral, people say nice things about the person, of course. But, I observed each speaker tended to use the same few words over and over when describing Lugar: integrity, principled, humble. Above all, the personal stories reflected a person who found the greatest purpose in helping those who crossed his path rise up to achieve more for the good of the world.” — Ben Swartz, Connecticut ’05, General Treasurer (Photo: Sam Pavel, George Mason ’17)

“So proud to have raised


“I attended the burial

I was able to meet Senator Lugar a few times through my volunteer work for Beta in D.C. Loved his story telling and ability to capture a room. He was a great man and all the Betas I know should be proud. RIP Senator Lugar.” — Dominic Greene, Delta Upsilon


11/20/19 10:37 AM

newsworthy inter/fraternity updates SigEp Resigns NIC Membership Becomes Fifth Large Fraternity to Depart 110-Year-Old Caucus Since 2002

Citing philosophical differences on the direction of the NIC as it relates to health and safety initiatives and an “increasingly antagonistic approach” toward campuses, Sigma Phi Epsilon resigned its membership November 7. Its departure was preceded by Phi Delta Theta and Kappa Sigma in 2002 (reasons: “lack of advocacy” and “business decision”), Lambda Chi Alpha in 2015 (“de-emphasizing campus partnerships”) and Tau Kappa Epsilon in 2016 (“perceived value”). The NIC responded swiftly, asserting SigEp had voted unanimously with its peers on the measures it is now criticizing, affirming the conference’s health and safety commitment.

NIC Formalizes SEC Coalition

On October 14, senior student affairs officers of the 14 SEC schools and executive officers of the NIC member organizations on SEC campuses announced a formal partnership to collaborate on local issues through an annual SEC Fraternity & Sorority Student Leader Best Practice Summit.

Four Die in Fraternity-Reported Events; Alcohol Cited

In fall 2019, four young men died in fraternity-reported incidents: • Chi Phi – Jack Schoenig, 17 year old at Penn State • Phi Kappa Psi – Antonio Tsialas, 18 year old at Cornell • FIJI – Dylan Hernandez, 19 year old at San Diego State • Alpha Tau Omega – Sam Martinez, 19 year old at Washington State

p08-09_Newsworthy_wtr20.indd 8

Beta Convention Sustains Substance-Free Housing Policy

Marking the second year in a row, delegates to the 180th General Convention affirmed the 179th General Convention’s overwhelming decision to add the substance-free housing policy to Beta’s Risk Management Policy and The Code of Beta Theta Pi. A complete list of legislative results are included in the Convention recap, pages 46-50.

Beta Recognized Interfraternally

In spring and summer 2019, Beta received a heap of interfraternal praise: • Fraternity Executives Association’s Distinguished Service Award was presented to Jonathan Brant, Miami ’75. • Foundation for Fraternal Excellence awarded the Beta Foundation with Best Stewardship Program of the Year. • Fraternity Communications Association honored Beta with six awards for the magazine and related digital media.

11/20/19 1:37 PM

greekheadlines betaevents

Penn State Update

Federal Judge Denies Harvard’s Motion to Dismiss

UPenn Requires Sophomore Residency

Beginning in 2021, sophomores will join freshmen in being required to live in on-campus housing at the University of Pennsylvania. Fraternity and sorority houses will not qualify, resulting in occupancy being determined solely by juniors and seniors.

Family of 4 Year Old Killed in DUI Sues UK Fraternity

The family of Marco Shemwell, a 4-year-old boy who was struck and killed in 2018 by the vehicle of an underage pledge of Alpha Tau Omega at the University of Kentucky, has sued the national fraternity and local chapter. The suit claims members pooled funds for the purchase and distribution of alcohol at the chapter’s tailgate.

p08-09_Newsworthy_wtr20.indd 9

— Judge Brian Marshall

April 2020

UGA Employee Steals $1.3 Million From Greek Accounts

According to a University of Georgia Police Department investigation, a now-deceased Greek Life Office administrative assistant stole over $1.3 million from Greek Life Office student-run accounts between 2009 and 2019, including Panhellenic and IFC.

Sorority Donates 17,000 Meals to Hurricane Victims

With Hurricane Barry on the horizon in mid-July, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., concluded its 16,000-person Convention early – but not before donating 17,000 uneaten meals from two canceled functions to a local foodbank for citizens in need in the wake of the storm.

LSU Student Guilty: Negligent Homicide in Hazing Death On July 17, a Baton Rouge jury found Matthew Naquin guilty of negligent homicide in the 2017 forced-consumption hazing death of LSU Phi Delta Theta new member Max Gruver. Sentencing is pending.

31 Year-End Deadline for Tax Deductible Gifts to Beta Leadership Fund

January 2020

16 Naples Alumni Assoc. Lunch Naples, Fla. 24-26 Joint Board Meetings: Trustees, Foundation, General Fraternity House Corp Dallas, Texas 4 Villanova 25th Anniversary Villanova, Pa. 24-26 Board of Trustees Meeting & MIT Installation Boston, Mass.

June 2020

12-14 DePauw 175th Anniversary Greencastle, Ind.

August 2020

6-9 181st General Convention Phoenix, Ariz.


On August 9, a Federal District Court judge denied Harvard’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its new policy prohibiting students from joining single-sex organizations.

December 2019


Given the May 30 guilty verdict issued by a jury for hindering the prosecution in an attempt to conceal or destroy evidence in the death of Penn State new member Tim Piazza, former House Manager Braxton Becker ’18, received two years probation, a $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. President Brendan Young ’18, and Pledge Educator Daniel Casey ’19, await trial.

”[I] imposed the maximum fine allowed by law because of the necessary expenditure of public resources to overcome the actions that Mr. Becker took in committing this crime.”

13-15 Washington State 100th Anniv. Pullman, Wash. 29 Truman State 25th Anniversary Columbia, Mo.

October 2020

16-17 Missouri 150th Anniversary Columbia, Mo.

November 2020

6-8 Board of Trustees Meeting Cincinnati, Ohio

Upcoming alumni event? Email specifics to!

11/20/19 1:37 PM



beta eponyms worldwide tributes Know of an entity that pays homage to a Beta? Send the story to

p10_Beta Eponyms_wtr20.indd 10

Established in 1989 by Dan Cross, Colorado College ’89, Wooglin’s Deli has gained a “cult following” in Colorado Springs. Described by current owner Kelvin Thorne as “Dan’s way for his chapter to live on given its disappointing closure around that same time,” Wooglin’s is as diversified in its made-from-scratch menu as it is in its appeal to the masses. Believing “no matter your diet, you’re welcome at Wooglin’s,” its customer base ranges from students, faculty hippies and the homeless, to firemen, judges and business types. Opening its second location this year across town as a new hockey arena is built on the current site (to which it will return post-construction), Thorne remarks confidently,“Wooglin’s will always have a diverse mix of people and a warm, homey feel to it. And the dragon logo is here to stay.” Sound familiar?

11/20/19 10:50 AM

DISCLAIMER | GEICO contracts with various membership entities and other organizations, but these entities do not underwrite the offered insurance products. Some car insurance discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states or all GEICO companies. Discount amount varies in some states. One group discount applicable per policy. Coverage is individual. In New York a premium reduction may be available. GEICO may not be involved in a formal relationship with each organization; however, you still may qualify for a special discount based on your membership, employment or affiliation with those organizations. Property insurance is written through non-affiliated insurance companies and is secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, One GEICO Plaza, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. GEICO Gecko image Š 1999-2019.

p11_GEICO Ad_wtr20.indd 11

11/18/19 1:37 PM

p12_Herff Jones Ad_wtr20.indd 12

11/18/19 2:03 PM

SUITING 101 Want to look like James Bond in your off-the-rack suit? Finding the right fit will get you 90% there . . .

Pro tip: Getting the look of a custom-fit, bespoke suit doesn’t have to set you back $1,000. If there’s not yet much bang to your buck, consider the Thompson suit from J. Crew Factory for a modern fit from a trusted brand at just $300. Even if you drop a Benjamin at a tailor to ensure it fits just right (we recommend you do), you’ve still scored quite a deal.

SHOULDERS: It’s called a shoulder seam for a reason: It should sit at the very top of your shoulder. If it extends down your arm, size down. If it creeps toward your neck, size up. TIE: It should end at the waistband of your trousers. End of discussion. PANTS: If you’re tripping over your pant legs or they’re bunching near your shoes, you’re wearing them wrong. Regardless of body type, pants should sit close to the leg from the waist to the top of your shoes. We recommend a “half-break” where your pants hit your shoes, but the vertically challenged Betas among us may prefer a “no break” trouser to add some visual height.


Before hitting the streets, take a few minutes to remove the labels and threads that come affixed to your fancy new purchase. Look for them on the shoulder, back (vent) and cuff. Pockets may also be stitched to maintain a tailored look – open or keep closed to preference. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Threads should be cut, not ripped.

SHIRT: Your shirt should be visible from three places: the front (duh), collar and cuffs. A half-inch peek for the collar and cuffs should do just fine, while two fingers shouldn’t be able to fit between your neck and the shirt. Sleeves should stop between the base of your thumb and the break of your wrist. If the art of ironing isn’t in your repertoire, avoid 100% cotton shirts to minimize wrinkles.


JACKET: Suit jackets are sized by chest width and sleeve length (short, regular and long). Embrace the old ad slogan “love the skin you’re in” and aim for a trim-but-not-tootight fit. A jacket that hugs your body, curves in at the sides and, with your arms down in natural posture, ends even with your knuckles will “suit” you best. See what we did there?

cut and polished refining men of principle

“Suits are expensive,” you say? We get it. But even the budget-conscious Beta should consider, at minimum, adding two suits to his wardrobe. Here are your best bets: CHARCOAL GRAY: Suitable for work, church, weddings, funerals, formals and everything in between, a charcoal suit is as versatile as they come. A neutral in every sense of the word, it allows the most adventurous Beta to pair with shirts and ties in a wide range of colors. A bonus for our younger brothers: A charcoal suit adds a sense of age and maturity.

p13_Cut and Polished_wtr20.indd 13

NAVY BLUE: Another all-around gem that can be worn almost anywhere, the navy blue suit matches most shades of complexion and conveys trust, success and intelligence. Plus, this suit is a lifetime investment — it will always be in style. Ready to kick it up a notch? Try navy pinstripes for a classic gentleman’s look.

BLACK: Some say owning a black suit is a staple. Unless you’re specifically dressing for a black tie event, however, we disagree. Beyond the most formal of evening occasions, black suits are really only your best bet for funerals (but a more versatile charcoal gray works just as well).

11/20/19 10:56 AM


14 THE BETA THETA PI p14-17_Beta House Oklahoma State_wtr20.indd 14

11/20/19 10:58 AM

thea lookbeta house inside oklahoma state by Martin Cobb, Eastern Kentucky ’96 Designed by Mike Roupas, Iowa ’10 Photography by Carter Link, Oklahoma State ’18, Jake Meyer ’17, and Seth Nall ’21

“Make no mistake about it, Beta is embedded everywhere among the top echelon of leaders throughout campus.” So remarked University President Burns Hargis as he kicked off the Grand Opening Banquet for Beta’s newest treasure at Oklahoma State.


A member of Sigma Nu and staunch advocate for Greek life, Hargis wasn’t heaping such praise out of a sense of duty, nor to patronize the hometown crowd of 350 Betas and guests. His words reflect deep sentiments of respect that are pervasive throughout the state: Beta is wired toward leadership and, in Stillwater, that DNA has existed about as long as the chapter itself.


A DNA of Leadership

Born out of the 1907 founding of Delta Sigma local fraternity at Oklahoma A&M College whose band of brothers were determined to become a part of Beta Theta Pi, the campus’ first Greekletter organization was eventually installed in 1923 as Beta’s Gamma Lambda Chapter. Marked by high point upon high point in its nearly 100 years on campus, on October 5, 2019, another milestone in this storied chapter was written for the history books – dedication of the newest and largest fraternity house at OSU.

p14-17_Beta House Oklahoma State_wtr20.indd 15

11/20/19 10:58 AM

Chapter Reset

While Gamma Lambda boasts a strong reputation at all levels of the Fraternity, it experienced a significant stumble in 1998, resulting in the chapter’s closure due to hazing and substance abuse, as well as subpar academics and financial performance. Thankfully, the Beta Stars would shine again in Stillwater as Tim Wright ’73, stepped forward in 2001 to guide the refounding fathers as chapter counselor in conjunction with the General Fraternityled recolonization. Operating under Beta’s acclaimed Men of Principle initiative, the chapter skyrocketed to the top and a culture of determination was quickly restored, balanced with the humility and kindness one would expect in a state like Oklahoma.

p14-17_Beta House Oklahoma State_wtr20.indd 16

Asked how the chapter has remained successful year after year, Wright’s assessment is convincing and without hesitation: “Self-governance. Our guys don’t give anyone a pass. They hold everyone to the same standard and mean business when it comes to a non-hazing pledge program and keeping the house substance-free.”

are a ‘show powerhouse.’” (Referencing the chapter’s consistent sweep of OSU’s jawdropping annual talent competitions.)

That culture of drive and accountability was emphasized on stage by President Ashton Conner ’21: “We run all aspects of this university: 3.4 GPA, ranking first or second virtually every semester; a chapter size of 176 compared to the all-campus average of 78; 14 out of the last 15 years we’ve swept intramurals; the current IFC president is our brother Nathan Moore ’20; and we

“It is time.”

Emcee Bert Belanger ’79, reinforced Conner’s assertion, proclaiming, “I’m so proud of Beta’s Men of Principle program and brand and what it has done for our Fraternity.” The chapter’s consistent success is certainly why, by 2013, it was determined the nearly 75-year-old house – originally built in 1939 for $80,000 and used as “Victory House One,” a women’s dormitory from 1942-45 during World War II – had outlived its usefulness and was not viewed competitive by today’s standard. Spending more and more

11/18/19 2:29 PM




B | A warm and inviting Heritage Room features inlaid gold Beta Stars and an impressive built-in trophy case.


C | The formal living room showcases a prized piece: a new watercolor of the original house at 1207 University Ave.

D annually on infrastructure upkeep, House Corporation Treasurer Greg Colpitts ’88, presented to fellow alumni board members a picture of a new fraternity house with an accompanying card that read: “It is time.” Joined by longtime House Corporation President Brad Black ’77, and two dozen other alumni, a campaign was launched with Mike Wright ’71, and Chuck Hensley ’67, tapped as co-chairs. Resulting in nearly $3.6 million raised to date, the $7 million facility is certainly a beacon of pride for the chapter’s 1,600 living members. As Colpitts and Black were honored for their 25-plus years of house corporation leadership, Black remarked emotionally:

p14-17_Beta House Oklahoma State_wtr20.indd 17

“Seniors of many houses often move out their senior year. But I say to the seniors of Beta Theta Pi, you will soon have adult responsibilities and the burdens and joys that come with them. Be aware of where you are and the opportunity you have to live with your brothers that you can never do again. Do not give these years away.” At Oklahoma State University, a new Beta house stands as tall and proud as it does wide in both warmth and character. And the conviction and passion for the honor of being a Beta remains. Just what should be expected from one of the greatest fraternity traditions in all of North America. 


A | Called “Little Beta” for the 16 years it served as additional housing, Acacia fraternity’s house next door was purchased by the house corporation in 2002. It was razed in favor of a collegiate-sized basketball court that is emblazoned with “Wooglin Court” and Beta’s hallmark dragon. The 29,000 sq. ft. Beta house sleeps 125 students and a housemother, and boasts 103 parking spaces.



D | The dining room seats 110 just outside its commercial-grade kitchen. E | Upon entering the home through an inspiring front porch colonnade, visitors are greeted by coffered ceilings, dramatic lighting and an inspiring two-story foyer with a Beta-badge anchored chandelier. The house includes a chapter room, media room for hanging out, multipurpose room for construction/painting projects and a storm shelter. Ron Ward ’71, served as general contractor. Onhand for the October 5, 2019, dedication were General Fraternity President Bob Schnese, Wisconsin ’83, Vice President Robert Beall, Oklahoma ’80, and Editor Martin Cobb, Eastern Kentucky ’96.

11/20/19 10:58 AM

Photo: Julian Castro

alumni news lifelong brotherhood Second Fittest Man on Earth

An athletic phenom of epic proportions, Noah Ohlsen, Miami (Fla.) ’13, achieved his highest finish yet by placing second in the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin, in early September. Edged out barely by now four-time champion Matt Fraser, this marks Ohlsen’s first time on the platform following last year’s fourth place finish. The 28-year-old Miami native took home a $115,000 purse. Known as “a bit of an outlier for CrossFit athletes,” opined a recent sports journalist, “it’s when you pry a bit deeper that you realize his laid back personality is quite deep and philosophical. He has a master’s degree ... but it’s his philosophical nuggets, sprinkled with endless charm and an almost ‘Aw shucks, did I actually just win that event?’ mentality which make him extra endearing.” A fan favorite, Ohlsen is quick to remind everyone interested, including his 581,000 social media followers, “I love love and I love people.” When approached recently by Beta’s editorial staff, he didn’t hold back: “I appreciate the love from my brothers!”

p18-23_Alumni News_wtr20.indd 18

11/20/19 11:00 AM

“I discovered that the power of God isn’t confined to stories we can just read about in the Bible from millennia ago. The simple truth is that our humanity transcends cultural, ethnical, geographical and technological boundaries. We all laugh the same, we all cry the same, we all love our kids the same.

— Kappes Chatfield, Miami (Fla.) ’13


I got to fall in love with the people of this village in Kenya, and see very little difference between them and myself."


A crowd-funded project focused on a recently discovered tribe in Kenya, “It shows how God is still in the business of inviting us on adventures with Him as long as we’re willing to say ‘yes,’” shared Chatfield, the film’s director. “It also raises awareness for Bread of Life Mission which serves the village with food, medical care and education.” ACTS premieres New Year’s Eve and will be distributed free via YouTube New Year’s Day.


ACTS, The Documentary



Judge and Jury In an extensive June 2019 Golf Digest feature, PGA Tour Vice President of Rules and Competition Carlton “Slugger” White III, Ohio ’71, opined on “never being late for work, knowing when to say ‘I’m sorry,’ and the pain of discovering a 15th club.”

Photo: Spencer Heyfron/Redux

p18-23_Alumni News_wtr20.indd 20

11/20/19 11:02 AM

alumninews D | Subject Matter Expert

Southwest Holdings’ Teodros Ashenafi, Columbia ’91, was recently featured on CNBC given his business acumen in Ethiopia, Africa’s fastest-growing economy.

E | Beta Veterinarian Honored

Oklahoma State’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences recently named Dr. Paul Welch, Oklahoma State ’77, its 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Photo: CBS

F | Deep in the Heart of Texas

First Financial Bankshares Chairman and CEO Scott Dueser, Texas Tech ’75, was recently named Texas Tech’s 2019 Distinguished Alumnus.

G | A Lifetime of Service


A | UVA Alumnus on Survivor: “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast”

A castaway on the 39th season of CBS’s “Survivor,” Jack Nichting, Virginia ’17, made it to the halfway point before being voted off in a wild Tribal Council that saw him caught in the crossfire of two competing factions. The first to make it onto the jury, Nichting is a public administration graduate student at James Madison University. The 23 year old hailes from Newport News and is self-described as a “determined, social dreamer” and lover of “all-you-can-eat sushi, CrossFit and exploring the world.” Asked why he joined Beta, Nichting remarked, “The history and tradition. And the guys in the Fraternity seemed to focus more on friendship as opposed to partying.”

p18-23_Alumni News_wtr20.indd 21

H | Keys to the Bank


In September, KeyCorp Bank named Chris Gorman, Miami ’83, incoming CEO. America’s 13th largest bank, it boasts $145 billion in assets.

B | Sports and Entertainment CEO Receives 86th Oxford Cup

Executive for Walt Disney World, Grand Ole Opry, Madison Square Garden, New York Knicks and Rangers, Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins and Panthers, Dick Evans, Denver ’66, received Beta’s 86th Oxford Cup at an April 27 reception in Denver. He remains the only individual to have served as CEO of a franchise in the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB.

I | Recognized by Alma Mater Retired CEO of Kentucky Housing Corporation, Rick McQuady ’77, was named to EKU’s 2019 Hall of Distinguished Alumni in October.


C | Governor Appoints Lewis

Appointed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Sean Lewis, Texas Tech ’19, was named in May to the Texas Tech Board of Regents. First-year law student and recent student body president, Lewis is the second Delta Mu to earn this honor.


With scores of Betas on hand, George Mills, Puget Sound ’68, retired in October following 50 years in his alma mater’s admissions department.








11/18/19 2:35 PM

alumninews J | Governor Appointed

Former Beta Foundation Director Michael Williams, Missouri ’95, becomes the newest governorappointed member of the nine-person Board of Curators, the governing body of the University of Missouri system.

K | Spreading Some Kai J

Voice of the Reds Thom Brennaman, Ohio ’86 (left), and Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, Ohio ’71 (right), were caught catching up by Phillies videoman Mike Vechesky, Villanova ’94, during a Reds-Phillies game in June.



L | Khan Majority Investor in First Black News Channel

Billionaire CEO and Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, Illinois ’70 (left), recently became majority investor in the new 24-hour Black News Channel. Former Oklahoma football star and Republican Congressman J.C. Watts (right) has been appointed BNC network chairman.


M | New Washington State Rep. Past Chapter President Jeremie Dufault, Pennsylvania ’00, was sworn into office in January 2019 as the newly elected representative for the 15th district of Washington State.


N | St. Louis Blues Bet Pays Big


Photo: Darren Rovell

Scott Berry, Missouri ’10, bet $400 in January on a 20-19-5 St. Louis Blues hockey record. That longshot wager paid off big by Stanley Cup time. Berry walked away with a cool $100,000.

O | Cho Joins State Department


p18-23_Alumni News_wtr20.indd 22


Completing his Fulbright Scholarship teaching English to high school students in South Korea, past Student Body President Patrick Cho, Centre ’13, was recently sworn in as a foreign service officer by the U.S. State Department.

11/18/19 2:36 PM

An Indiana First Past chapter president, IFC president and all-around big man on campus, Josh Owens, Wabash ’07 (right), becomes the state of Indiana’s first out gay man to run for the office of governor.

p18-23_Alumni News_wtr20.indd 23


Having also served as an economics professor at Butler University, Owens lives in Indianapolis with his husband, Andy.


A 34-year-old CEO of SupplyKick, an Indianapolisbased tech company named one of the fastest growing companies in America by Inc. 500 in 2017, Owens was appointed by then-Governor and now U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, FIJI, as chair of the Indiana Charter School Board.

11/18/19 2:36 PM

BETAS BEHIND THE MASK by Martin Cobb, Eastern Kentucky ’96 designed by Sarah Shepherd

Charging through the smoke with the American flag raised proudly, Sebastian the Ibis leads the Miami Hurricanes onto the field to the roar of thousands. With music bumping and the cheers of loyal fans deafening, the energy in Hard Rock Stadium is electric. In a message to the masses, Sebastian’s arrival signals, “Let the games begin.” According to local folklore, the ibis is known for its bravery and leadership and is the last wildlife to retreat for shelter in the face of an approaching hurricane. Giving warning throughout the habitat that danger is imminent, it is also the first to emerge once the storm has passed indicating it’s safe for others to reappear. Adopted as Miami’s official mascot in 1957, Sebastian has become the icon of a university known for its passionate alumni and student body. In modern times, his story cannot be told without also telling that of the Eta Beta Chapter and the Betas behind the mask.

| 24 | The Beta Theta Pi, Winter 2020

p24-27_Mascots_wtr20.indd 24

11/18/19 3:12 PM

Photo: University of Miami Athletic Department | 25 |

p24-27_Mascots_wtr20.indd 25

11/20/19 11:05 AM

He’s clever and lovable with a touch of swag.” “He’s a bad-ass bird.” — Matt Moskowitz, Miami (Fla.) ’14, and Kavan Kirk, Miami (Fla.) ’17

| 26 | The Beta Theta Pi, Winter 2020

Photo: Munoz Photography

p24-27_Mascots_wtr20.indd 26

11/20/19 11:05 AM

Left: Costing $5,000, Sebastian’s costume is manufactured by Scollon Mascots in Columbia, S.C. Center: Alejandro Rengifo, Miami (Fla.) ’12, Miami Athletic Department Associate Director of Marketing. Right: Bronze statue of Sebastian in front of Miami’s Newman Alumni Center.


eta’s involvement in the mascot program at “The U” began with Philly native Matt Moskowitz, Miami (Fla.) ’14, who pledged the Fraternity as a freshman. Staunchly opposed to Greek life, he eventually gave it a chance. “I rushed all the fraternities, but the Betas made me feel welcomed,” he shared genuinely. “I just connected with them.” That sense of family encouraged him and his 100plus Beta brothers to be highly involved on campus. A member of the Jewish student organization Hillel and self-described sports junky, Moskowitz got the idea that being Sebastian would help him stay connected to the athletic culture he so loved. He tried out his sophomore year and landed the gig, a feat that led to the most defining aspect of his college career. “Having the power to influence 65,000 people when in costume is pretty cool. And you meet so many people across campus – famous people, too. Helping sick children escape their reality by showing up at the hospital was very rewarding,” he remarked reverently. “One of my favorite Sebastian memories was when I had the honor of suiting up and walking a bride-to-be down the aisle after her father passed before the wedding,” he reflected with pride. “It was such an honor.” Moskowitz eventually developed a friendship with Jacksonville-area native Kavan Kirk, Miami (Fla.) ’17, who was tapped to be Sebastian as a freshman. Their close relationship and common bond of wearing the Sebastian suit led Kirk to join Beta as a sophomore. “I wasn’t planning on joining a fraternity,” said Kirk, the former risk management chairman and now New Jersey physics teacher. “But if I hadn’t gone out for Sebastian, I never would’ve developed the relationships or gotten to do the things I did with Beta because I wouldn’t have met Matt.”

The sense of duty in carrying on Miami’s mascot tradition runs deep. “Sebastian embodies The U,” said Kirk. “You can’t do anything that would project badly on the school, nor would you want to.” With two overlapping Sebastians in the Beta family, in 2014 Alejandro Rengifo, Miami (Fla.) ’12, returned to Miami after working for Boston College. Recruited away to serve as assistant director of marketing for Miami’s athletic department, his first assignment was management of The U’s cherished mascot program. Time consuming given Sebastian’s 300 appearances each semester, Rengifo understands the significance of bringing the campus rock-star to life. “We select individuals based on their creativity, animation and ability to communicate without speaking,” he levied without hesitation. “Yet, ‘Seb’ is the face of the university; the mascots are held to strict standards of conduct.” Of course, one shouldn’t be surprised by the personal responsibility felt by a young man who loves the institutions that have given him so much. “I joined Beta as a way to finally have brothers since I grew up with three older sisters,” he shared. “But, if it wasn’t for Beta, I also wouldn’t have experienced the variety of leadership opportunities I got across campus. It’s the reason I continue to give back as chapter counselor.” On his desk sits Miami’s 2019 Fraternity Advisor of the Year Award. In the culturally vibrant city of Miami, Florida, three young Betas have quickly built a tradition that underscores an important component of Francis W. Shepardson’s 1916 essay, “What is a Good Chapter”: “It manifests loyalty to the institution in which it is located.” In so doing, the flag of Beta Spirit is also carried on.

Sebastian Fun Facts 1. Sebastian ap-

pears at more than 300 special events each semester.

2. Tradition dictates that students selected to bring Sebastian to life do so anonymously. Their identities are highly guarded and not revealed until they walk across the stage at graduation. Donning a cap, gown and Sebastian feet, they officiate the end of the ceremony with the fan-favorite C-A-N-E-S cheer.

3. Sebastian has been nominated as one of 10 contenders for the 2020 National Mascot Hall of Fame. Results to be announced Dec. 11.

Opposite: (Left) Sebastian 2010-14 – Matt Moskowitz, Miami (Fla.) ’14; (Right) Sebastian 2013-17 – Kavan Kirk, Miami (Fla.) ’17

p24-27_Mascots_wtr20.indd 27 | 27 |

11/18/19 3:12 PM



u s e s i t n e l is

J by


p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 28



rre n

, SM

U ’10;

designed by Mike Roupas, Iow

a’ 10

11/21/19 1:39 AM

here was a time in the not-so-distant past when the word ‘cancer’ wasn’t said out loud, only whispered in the recesses. To be sure, the disease was and continues to be a frightening diagnosis, but for much of human history patients battling the “Big C” (as it was often called) were forced to endure not only the physiological effects ravaging their bodies, but public and embarrassment that left them suffering in silence. Thankfully, times have changed. A kaleidoscope of colors now boost awareness of cancer in all its forms and grace everything from the ribbons on our shirts to the cleats on our sports fields, billions of dollars supporting cancer research are donated each year on Facebook and in grocery store checkout lines, and patients are rightfully celebrated for their bravery and will to survive. The same can’t be said for many other illnesses. A stigma continues to silence those suffering from many diseases of the body and of the mind. For Beta Theta Pi, it’s this second subset of mental illness that currently weighs heavily on the brotherhood. The Fraternity was heartbroken that at least four brothers took their own lives during the 201819 school year alone. With concern escalating, delegates to Beta’s 180th General Convention initiated a call to action, urging the Fraternity’s Board and staff to study this trend and offer new ways of providing the mutual aid and assistance brothers of all ages so desperately need. How these efforts fully manifest in the coming years is yet to be seen, but many of Beta’s chapters are already bringing the conversation to the forefront. Now, the Fraternity at-large must do the same for the sake of those it has lost and the countless others who still need help. In the 20th century, it became clear that when society talked about cancer, it normalized it. In the 21st century, Beta Theta Pi can do the same for mental illness. It’s time to raise the volume on

the silent issue.


continued on page 3

p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 29

11/21/19 1:39 AM

e pag from continued

hen negative attitudes and beliefs form about one’s distinguishing traits and characteristics, that individual can become stigmatized. As these perceptions are cemented, this often gives rise to discrimination. In turn, those who may be the most in need of help and support are written off.


Diabetics are undisciplined and “should just stop eating.” Lung cancer patients “brought it on themselves.” The stereotypes are vast and numerous. Unfortunately, those with a mental health condition experience several of their own. This discrimination can be direct, like a negative comment aimed at one’s condition or treatment, or more subtle like avoiding someone seen as unstable, unpredictable or dangerous. Mental health patients are stigmatized as being less intelligent or less capable, and in some countries have limitations placed on their rights or opportunities based on their diagnosis.

Of the 124 Americans who die by suicide each day, on average 79% of them are men.

It’s not altogether surprising, then, that those with poor mental health internalize these behaviors, creating a kind of self-stigma that affects how they think about themselves and their relationships with others, their willingness to seek treatment, and their motivation to recover. This cycle of discrimination and selfdoubt repeats on and on with potentially tragic consequences. Tackling the mental health epidemic, then, means first tackling stigma. And because stigma is typically rooted in ignorance and fear, knowledge is power.

the silent epidemic

Mental disorders exist frequently throughout North America. About 20% of adults suffer from some diagnosable mental illness in a given year, in fact, and with proper treatment those patients can lead full, healthy lives.

Over the past two decades, however, suicide rates in the United States have increased dramatically, giving rise to what’s become known as “The Silent Epidemic.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was a 30% increase in the suicide death rate in the United States between 2000-2016, and an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts in 2017 alone – over 47,000 of them successful. These figures make suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the United States overall, the second leading among people ages 10 to 34 and the fourth leading among those ages 35 to 54. Chilling as these data points are, one rightfully wonders why it’s so important for an organization like Beta Theta Pi to act as a leader amidst this public health crisis. The answer is simple: Of the 124 Americans who die by suicide each day, on average 79% of them are men.

men at risk

Reading about the fallen Betas from this last year (profiled throughout this piece) leaves no doubt that mental health-related issues like suicide are complex and multi-pronged. No two stories are the same. Still, common risk factors for suicide include: • • • • • • • • •

Substance abuse Social isolation Lack of meaningful relationships Divorce or relationship breakdowns A history of physical or sexual abuse Being a victim of bullying Unemployment Loss of a loved one Depression or debilitating illnesses/conditions

More generally, a leading theory from Dr. Thomas Joiner, the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behavior, posits that, in addition to having the acquired ability to inflict



ed in u

on p

a g e 33

the silent issue | the beta theta pi | winter 2020 30

p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 30

11/21/19 1:39 AM

Evan Hansen January 7, 1997 - September 10, 2018

, Wabash ’19

Answers provided by Evan’s parents, Chuck and Mary Hansen.

What was Evan like?

In fall 2018, Evan was beginning his senior year on the Little Giants football team as a captain and four-year starting linebacker. Brave and fearless on the field, he was otherwise kind, thoughtful and humble – chivalrous in every way. He was coming off of a summer spent serving others as a Spanish translator at a clinic, as well as coordinating a program providing meals to underprivileged children. We jokingly referred to him as “Mother Teresa in a linebacker’s body.”

How did it feel in the moments immediately after Evan’s death?

It had been a seemingly normal weekend for Evan. He had helped lead his football team to a win, went to a party at the Beta house and had dinner with our family. All very normal. On Monday morning, he was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The feeling was like stepping on a landmine: pain, shock, despair, confusion and horror all rolled into one.

Had he ever sought help for a mental disorder?

Evan sought professional help during the last year of his life, but we’re not aware of anyone who thought he was contemplating suicide. He had been prescribed several medications, but they only seemed to make things worse for him. We now believe his mental illness and related difficulties stemmed from sub-concussive impacts and concussions sustained during his 14 years of tackle football.

p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 31

How is Evan’s legacy living on today?

We held a golf tournament in Evan’s memory last summer, which raised $40,000 for a charitable fund. There’s also a page that has been set up both as a tribute to Evan and to raise suicide awareness at

Has your perspective on mental health changed?

Mental illness and suicide are a growing problem throughout our society, including for young Beta men, and must be addressed and treated like other health issues. Just because you can’t see obvious symptoms for mental health (like a broken bone) doesn’t mean it isn’t just as real. Finally, there are no simple answers, since the underlying causes seem to vary from person to person. Thankfully, Evan’s story will move forward the research and understanding of contact sports on the brains of young athletes.

How can Beta play a more active role in helping struggling members?

One way is to consider training brothers in QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer). This is a class similar to CPR for heart attacks, offering a way to help keep someone in crisis alive until professionals can help. If there is a heartbeat, there is hope.

11/21/19 1:39 AM

Ethan LoCigno

, Saint Louis ’21

January 21, 1999 - February 12, 2019

Answers provided by Ethan’s parents, Mark and Kymberly LoCigno.

How do you most remember Ethan?

When Ethan walked into a room, he could evoke a feeling of joy before he even said a word. He was passionate about his family, his tight-knit groups of friends, music, hockey, skiing … the list goes on and on. He was good-natured and happy, and always put others before himself. Listening to others and making them feel special was a true gift Ethan gave to his friends and family daily. His genuine love was conveyed with every handshake, hug and smile – he cared for you, was happy to see you and was always trying to connect with your soul. We remember him by a quote from Walt Whitman: “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

distracted, irritable or closed off, but we thought Ethan was behaving as a young adult trying to make his way through college on his own. His death was a devastating shock to everyone that knew and fiercely loved him.

How has this tragedy affected your family?

Ethan didn’t realize the ripple effect of his choice to leave us. The impact was much greater than he could have known. Immediately after, we were left paralyzed with grief, heartbreak and guilt. It was a wrecking ball to our family and core foundation. Going on a year later, we’re still searching for emotional wellness and asking the same questions over and over. We’re working to appreciate what we have while acknowledging what we lost. Grief is a process; a lifelong journey.

Did Ethan have a history with mental illness? Did you have He was never formally diagnosed with a contact with Betas mental health condition, but although full of life on the outside, we believe he after Ethan’s passing? felt alone on the inside and struggled severely with destructive self-judgment and the ups and downs of depression. He believed he could not reach out for support to anyone in his life.

Did he noticeably change in the time leading up to his suicide?

Yes, many of his brothers joined our family and friends for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk in September 2019. Additionally, the men wrote more than 125 individual notes to Ethan or us remembering their favorite stories and thanking him for his thoughtful listening, unconditional acceptance and unwavering attitude of understanding.

What can be learned from Ethan’s story? Check on your strong friends. Check on your quiet friends. Check on your happy friends. Check on your creative friends. Check on each other.

How can the Fraternity begin addressing mental illness and suicide?

The Beta tradition is about lifelong connection with strong-valued men, so the Fraternity must reevaluate how being connected to one another today is vastly different than what it was just 10 years ago. Reestablishing REAL connections with one another and a responsibility FOR one another are important steps to stopping this epidemic.

How is Ethan being remembered?

A foundation has been established in Ethan’s memory supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and a memorial scholarship for his high school in St. Louis. For more information, visit

Ethan always focused on bringing joy to others and mentoring underclassmen that were struggling with belonging as a distraction from his own feelings and true self. He would sometimes become

p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 32

11/21/19 1:39 AM

e pag from continued


lethal self-injury, suicide victims must also possess the desire to die. According to the theory, this desire arises when two psychological states are held simultaneously: A perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness. But additional factors put men, specifically, at risk for suicidal behavior. First, North American economies have seen a recent decline in historically male-dominated professional industries such as manufacturing. In addition to leaving many men unemployed or underemployed, further changes to the workforce have seen men falling outside of the traditional breadwinner role and leaving some feeling without a sense of pride, purpose and meaning. Second, emotional expression is foundational to addressing mental health problems. Unfortunately, this does not fall in line with traditional male gender roles in which men are expected to be tough, stoic, independent and “gritty.” These rigid norms make it difficult for men to reach out and ask for support when they need it. This, for example, is said to be partly to blame for an underdiagnosis of men with depression – an ailment often closely tied to suicide risk. Men do not often disclose feelings of depression to their doctors at all, and when they do it is often described as “stress” rather than sadness or hopelessness. It is ingrained in men not to appear weak, which may lead them to deny illness, to self-monitor symptoms and to self-treat. Essentially, these societal pressures push men to confront their inner demons in silence. But maybe fraternities are uniquely situated to help.

a focus on fraternity

In an article published by Delta Upsilon, Ross Szabo, CEO of the Human Power Project and author of the book “Behind Happy Faces; Taking Charge of Your

Mental Health,” calls fraternities and sororities an extension of family and points to three reasons why Greek life has potential to be a great place to focus on mental health: • Support. Fundamental concerns for students who are dealing with mental health issues are isolation, not having consistent contact with anyone and no one being there to help them. Members of fraternities have built-in support. They have someone to check in on them, encourage them to go to classes and help them work through whatever difficulty they may be experiencing. Each chapter also has an adult advisor, and they are developing a protocol to follow when a member is showing signs of distress. • Connection. Being connected to something larger than yourself as you deal with any mental health challenge is really helpful. Greek life offers chances to volunteer and feel like you’re part of a community. That type of connection can make a huge difference when someone is in the depths of depression or working on other problems in their lives. • Shared Values. Students become members in individual fraternities because they like what that chapter offers. They want to enter into an organization with brothers who have shared interests and perspectives. The common ties of brotherhood or sisterhood should also matter when someone in the chapter isn’t doing well. Caring about members with mental health challenges should be an extension of what led someone to join his or her organization. Making this topic a priority in Greek life will save lives and enhance emotional development. By creating a support network for its members, fraternities stand to ease the perception of burdensomeness the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory suggests

Men are expected to be tough, stoic, independent and “gritty.” These rigid norms make it difficult for men to reach out and ask for support when they need it.



ed in u

on p

ag e 3 4

the silent issue | the beta theta pi | winter 2020 33

p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 33

11/21/19 1:39 AM

e pag from continued


is weighing on those contemplating taking their own life. By reinforcing a strong sense of community grounded in a common set of core beliefs, Greek organizations are also positioned to promote the sense of belonging suicide victims may be missing.

mutual aid and assistance

Lest any brother still not be convinced that Beta is suited to assume the mantle on this crucial issue, look no further than the Ritual – specifically to a member’s obligation to mutually assist and promote one another’s welfare. The text is clear: “We endeavor to urge upon their thoughts the great idea that men are mutually dependent upon each other for what there is of happiness during the short span of this present life.”

It’s incumbent on Betas everywhere to remember that members pledge to mutual aid and assistance upon initiation.

It’s a striking passage when viewed through the lens of mental health. But this core tenant of Beta Theta Pi goes even further, hearkening back to the legend of Wooglin, who sought seclusion and a life alone when the world did not reciprocate his love and confidence. It’s the warm and everlasting friendships promoted within the Fraternity that lightens his burdens and ushers him back from the darkness, re-instilling his optimism and faith in humanity and giving him hope for the future. It’s incumbent on Betas everywhere to remember that members pledge to mutual aid and assistance upon initiation. Most often, this is seen as our duty to help others – brothers and beyond. But it’s also about accepting help in one’s own time of need. Beta’s brotherhood is, after all, best suited to do good in the world when its brothers are healthy and cared for.

betas take action

Many of the Fraternity’s members and chapters are quickly becoming advocates, vocally calling for attention and action on this important issue.

In October, brothers at Florida State held a Mental Health Awareness Gala to break down stigma, raising $15,000 to help fund resources provided by the university counseling center. Zeta Nu Chapter at George Washington hosted its annual Dragon Week philanthropy last spring supporting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and fundraising for a campus bench in memory of their brother, Ben Asma ’17, who took his life five years ago. A bench memorial was also installed for Chris Roark, Cincinnati ’17, by his home chapter, which also hosted its first Mental Health Awareness Week last April featuring a guest speaker from NAMI. Since the passing of their brother and Wabash football team captain Evan Hansen, Wabash ’19, in September 2018, Tau Chapter Betas have worked tirelessly with the mental health-focused Building a Refuge – an organization founded by Beta alumnus Erik Robinson, Ball State ’97 – and have successfully lobbied to hold a American Foundation for Suicide Prevention walk on its campus in 2020. Individual members are leading the charge, as well. Roshan Naravulu, George Mason ’20, started his own clothing line, Never Felt Better, with 5% of profits going to Mental Health America. And Josh Ruminski, John Carroll ’22, a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, founded the Happy Thoughts Candle Company, which donates 20% of its sales to suicide prevention programs.

starting the conversation

For those members and chapters wondering where to start in protecting their own brothers, family and friends, it’s important first and foremost to know the classic signs associated with suicidality, never dismiss or make light of suicidal comments and be ready to offer support. con



on p

ag e 37

the silent issue | the beta theta pi | winter 2020 34

p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 34

11/21/19 1:39 AM

Wes Wilson

October 10, 1973 - March 11, 2019

, Georgia Tech ’98

Answers provided by Beta Sweetheart Kim Wilson, Wes’ wife of 15 years.

Who was Wes?

Wes was a massive presence everywhere he went. He was 6 foot 5 inches and 250 pounds yet the most fun, outgoing, gregarious person you ever met. The life of the party, but also incredibly smart. He was an eight-year veteran at the Atlanta Braves Fantasy Camp and even there he was the star of the show. They named him a Hall of Fame Camper.

Did he have a history with mental illness?

I never associated my husband with the words “mental health” or heard him utter the word “depression” in our 15-year marriage. I do recall him saying the word “suicide” five or six times over the years during his more heated moments. I always thought it rolled off his tongue a little too easily, but he was adamant that he wasn’t serious and never sought help.

How did you feel after his suicide?

I couldn’t believe it. He seemed to have it all – a million friends, an incredible career, a happy marriage and a loving family. It didn’t remind me of any suicide case I had heard of before.

Looking back, were there other signs something was wrong?

Wes, like his father, was a big drinker. He drank socially at first then more as time went on. He had been drinking the night he died. A 6-foot-5-inch man can handle his alcohol, but I don’t know, I guess I feel maybe that could have influenced his decision to take his life. I’ll never know for sure.

What should we learn from Wes’ story?

If anyone ever uses the word “suicide,” or shows any other signs of suicidal behavior, take them seriously. Some people may think about suicide passingly, but they can become serious in the right situation.

p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 35

11/21/19 1:40 AM

Max Fulfer

, Idaho ’21

July 6, 1999 - March 25, 2019

Answers provided by Max’s father, Clay Fulfer ’87, and mother, Erika.

What made Max special? Max wasn’t just a special kid, he was exceptional. He was an old soul with wisdom far beyond his years. After Max’s passing, one of his school friends sent us a story about a junior high dance. When she asked Max who he wanted to take, he pointed at a girl no one was likely to ask. Explaining why, he said, “Because everyone deserves to get asked to the dance.” That was Max, so loving and caring.

How was he different than his peers?

Max loved taking risks, but not in the partying sense like other kids his age. He often used his climbing gear to repel off the fire escape at Lowell Elementary and, unbeknownst to us, climb and repel from high-voltage towers. He was an avid rock climber and wanted to base jump. He idolized extreme skiers such as Shane McConkey – a dangerous sport where many athletes die. None of that seemed to bother Max. Unfortunately, he didn’t have that good, natural fear inside that actually helps keep you alive.

When did things start going wrong for Max? He excelled in school as a kid without really needing to study (or develop good study habits), but that changed in the first few weeks of college when he found himself “under water.” Max ultimately finished with good grades his freshman year but became increasingly disenchanted with the idea of working hard in school only to end up “in a cubicle for 40 years.” He dropped out

p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 36

mid-year as a sophomore and moved back home. We never took him for a depressed kid, but it’s possible Max had an underlying medical issue. He was always so happy and full of life and love. At some point during college, Max experimented with recreational drugs. With marijuana legal only eight miles away in Washington, society has said drug use is safe. We don’t think that could be further from the truth. Drugs and mental illness are often intertwined. Was he self-medicating because he was becoming unraveled, or was he becoming unraveled because he was selfmedicating? It’s impossible to know, but some of his choices clearly didn’t help.

What would you say to someone contemplating suicide? You are NOT a burden and the people in your life would certainly NOT be better off without you. You can’t possibly realize how many people you touch in your life and how much pain you will put them through by leaving. Max was great at offering advice or support to anyone that needed it. Unfortunately, he didn’t ask for the help he himself so clearly needed. You have to be willing to raise your hand, admit you’re struggling and accept help before it’s too late. Max wasn’t the only suicide victim. Every person that knew and loved him were also victims.

Did you think Max would How did Max’s Beta ever consider suicide? In so many of our minds, a suicidal brothers remember him? person looks like the “goth” kid dressed in black. Max didn’t fit that stereotype. Looking back, we believe he may have perceived himself as a burden because of the way he left school. His innate fearlessness, combined with losing his sense of belongingness and moving home without a clear vision for his future, was a recipe for disaster.

Any advice for brothers who know someone struggling?

Many in the Gamma Gamma Chapter considered Max not just a brother, but a best friend. Undergraduates and alumni even concluded his memorial service with the “Beta Doxology,” which was incredibly moving. Last spring, Clay attended a chapter meeting and passed a recorder around the room. There won’t be any new Max stories, so we wanted to make sure we memorialized the old ones.

Outside observers don’t want to talk about suicide because we don’t know what to say. Call the suicide hotline and say, “Hey, I’m concerned about a buddy. Please help me.” We don’t know why we didn’t think of doing that ourselves.

11/21/19 1:40 AM

e pag from continued


Those who feel suicidal often report a sort of tunnel vision – an inability to see the forest through the trees – and it may rest on a friend or loved one to offer encouragement and reinforce their abilities and worth to society. Chapters can begin by appointing a mental health chairman who works to make support options readily available to members and teaches coping and problem-solving skills to help men manage stress and challenges with school, work or relationships. Older Betas may find it useful to know that reinforcing the traditionally masculine role of “provider” has emerged as a protective factor in suicidal men. The innate feelings of obligation toward loved ones, particularly children, is fundamental in interrupting a suicide attempt. Regardless of age, any efforts to tackle mental health in men must also reframe help-seeking as masculine. Asking for help cannot be perceived as an act of weakness, but one of bravery.

build the bridge

Brothers facing mental illness have suffered in silence long enough, and Betas are taking notice and bringing this important issue out of the shadows. Assistant District Chief Dave Kobel, Central Michigan ’16, for example, underscored the matter with General Secretary Wayne Kay, Virginia Tech ’73, this fall: “I believe it is time for the Fraternity to take proactive steps against the poor mental health of our undergraduates. Of college students, 39% experience a mental health issue, and 67% of students with anxiety or depression do not seek treatment. I am not a psychiatrist nor a mental health professional. I know just enough about mental health to know that a fraternity can have a positive effect. Beta Theta Pi has an opportunity to lead the way, helping chapters to connect to their campuses and community mental health resourc-

es, and provide strategies and training for identifying warning signs in peers and coping with stress and adversity. This will not be easy, but Beta Theta Pi has never made history for doing easy things.” Brother Kobel’s words about connection should strike a chord with Betas everywhere who, from their earliest days as pledges, learn about the importance of building bridges from Miss Will Allen Dromgoole’s poem “The Bridge Builder.” Literally, bridges connect places, providing passage oftentimes across treacherous terrain. Symbolically, they connect people, spanning the chasms and personal difficulties every man must face. They represent hope – that if one can just “get over the bridge,” he may find himself in a better place on the other side. For the close to 800,000 people worldwide who commit suicide each year, staring down these life challenges can be too much to bear. That was the case for at least four loyal Betas last year alone: Max Fulfer, Idaho ’21; Evan Hansen, Wabash ’19; Ethan LoCigno, Saint Louis ’21; and Wes Wilson, Georgia Tech ’98. Somewhere right now there is another man whose chasm may a pitfall be. He, too, must cross in the twilight dim. Betas must now build that bridge for him. A special thanks to the families of Max Fulfer, Idaho ’21; Evan Hansen, Wabash ’19; Ethan LoCigno, Saint Louis ’21; and Wes Wilson, Georgia Tech ’98. Their help with this article and in bringing their loved ones’ stories to life proved both inspirational and invaluable.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the free and confidential National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1.800.273.TALK, or message the Crisis Text Line at 741741 (U.S.) or 686868 (Canada).

“The Silent Issue” was produced prior to the passing of Paul Cichon, Kettering B ’21, who committed suicide on October 22, 2019. Paul’s untimely death further reinforces the importance of this topic. His family and brothers have the Fraternity’s deepest condolences. Learn more about Paul on page 54.

the silent issue | the beta theta pi | winter 2020 37

p28-37_Mental Health_wtr20.indd 37

11/21/19 1:40 AM

After Studying the Lives of 724 Men for 79 Years, Harvard Reveals

THE BIGGEST SECRET TO SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS Want to improve your success in life and business? The results of this study will show you how. By Dana Severson, Co-founder, StartupsAnonymous | November 9, 2017

Photo: Justin Sharer, Cal Poly ’20

Pictured left to right: Cal Poly Brothers Josh Gumacal ’22, Jake Downing ’22, and Seth Anderson ’22

p38-39_Happiness Study_wtr20.indd 38

11/20/19 1:47 PM

ave you ever wondered what it takes to live the good life? Have you ever wondered what the secret to success and happiness is? Harvard researchers seem to have an answer in a 79-year-old study. After poring through a mountain-load of data, obtained from in-person interviews, questionnaires, medical records, etc., researchers concluded that close relationships are what make men happy, and that social ties shield people from life challenges while improving mental and physical health. This is surprising in a culture that recognizes hard work as the ticket to the good life. In a rare kind of ongoing research, the Harvard Study of Adult Development has managed to track the lives of 724 men for 79 years. The men were divided into two classes. The first group were sophomores at Harvard College while the second was a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. They were investigated from the time they were teenagers all the way into old age to determine what keeps men healthy and happy. Year after year (since 1938), researchers asked about their work, their lives, their health, without knowing how their stories were going to pan out. It turns out that flourishing in life is a function of close ties with family, friends, and community. It had nothing to do with fame, wealth, social class, IQ, genes, etc. The fourth director of the study, Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said the study revealed that our relationships impact powerfully on our health.

He also said the study uncovered these lessons about relationships:

And living in the midst of warm, wholehearted relationships is protective.


Waldinger said they could tell which of their men was going to grow into a healthy, happy octogenarian by looking back at them in midlife:

While calling loneliness toxic, Waldinger said social connections made people happier and physically healthier. It made them live longer too. On the other hand, he also said: “People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And the sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely.” As companies become more distributed, allowing employees to work remotely, it seems important to ensure that teams stay connected. Collaboration tools, such as Slack (and all of its competitors) and Cisco Spark can be essential in minimizing isolation.

THE QUALITY OF OUR CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS MATTER. Instead of focusing on the quantity, it’s vital to focus on the quality of our friendships. Living in the midst of conflict affects our health. High-conflict marriages, for instance, affect our health negatively, perhaps more than getting a divorce.

“When we gathered together everything we knew about them at age 50, it wasn’t their middle-age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old, it was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.” Tension in the workplace between teammates or managers and subordinates can cause an unhealthy level of stress amongst employees. It’s important to create an environment that encourages open dialog and playful banter, allowing friendships to emerge.

GOOD RELATIONSHIPS PROTECT OUR BRAINS, NOT JUST OUR BODIES. The study found that being attached to a relationship in your 80s is protective. Such people had sharper memories while people who were in relationships where they couldn’t really count on the other person experienced gradual memory decline. Arguments, Waldinger said, didn’t affect the memories. They didn’t matter as long as the octogenarian couples knew they could count on the other when the going got tough. “The good life,” Waldinger concluded, “is built with good relationships.” The same can be said in regards to the relationship between a manager and her employee. While a friendship outside the office isn’t necessary, the happiest employees feel secure, knowing their superior always has their back and vice versa.

the beta theta pi | winter 2020 | page 39

p38-39_Happiness Study_wtr20.indd 21

11/18/19 3:19 PM

campus life student highlights Creighton Invokes Inner Freddie to Win Epic Lip-Sync Battle

Each fall, the ebb of summer is shuttered with a flowing hustle and bustle that can only be found within a college atmosphere. Dormant campuses across North America are jolted with a resurgence of life as new faces take on the traditions of old. Lip sync competitions have become a time-honored staple for many Greek communities. Showcasing creativity and paying tribute to icons and decades of the past, these epic battles are a great way for Greek life to engage and entertain the masses. Jake Russett, Creighton '20, and the Betas of Eta Iota Chapter were no exception as they channeled their best Freddie Mercury and lip synced their hearts out to what was surely a momentous occasion. With Bohemian Rhapsody pulsing through their veins and Aviator shades on their eyes, the men left donning the grand prize and no doubt humming "We Are the Champions."

p40-45_Campus Life_wtr20.indd 40

11/20/19 1:51 PM

campuslife A | Pioneer Spirit

Sacred Heart's Mario Cimino '21, Gianni DiSanto'22, and Anthony Cimino '22, suited up as part of the university's club sports football team. A key activity of multiple members of the young colony, all three brothers played an integral role as part of the team's defensive unit throughout the season.

B | A Royal Lineage

C | Fire Up Chips


During the homecoming game half-time show, the Epsilon Gamma Chapter at Central Michigan was once again presented the Homecoming Greek Cup for winning the Greek Games. The chapter's dynamic school spirit has lead them to receiving the cup four out of the past seven years!



"I want my legacy at Florida State to remind people to never forget about the importance of relationships. Period." So remarked Caleb Dawkins ’20, who was chosen as the university's 2019 Homecoming Chief. Dawkins is the sixth consecutive Delta Lambda brother to receive the homecoming court honor.

D | Grand Slam B



p40-45_Campus Life_wtr20.indd 41

Along with the Club Baseball team, Northeastern Betas raised over $3,300 for Camp Sunshine through their Husky Homerun Derby Wiffle ball event. This marks the 10th year the chapter has partnered with Camp Sunshine. The nonprofit organization hosts a week-long retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Each year, hundreds of children are able to enroll in camp for free and enjoy recreation, camping and lasting friendship with fellow campers.

11/20/19 1:50 PM

campuslife E | The Intern


Many Betas spend their summer developing new talents and sharpening their skills through unique internships. Matt Matternas, Creighton '20, is no exception, as he immersed himself this summer in the political heartbeat of Washington, D.C., while interning for Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa.

F | The King of the Panthers


The Betas at Florida International were sure to make their mark during homecoming. In addition to the chapter placing second in the Panthers Got Talent competition, Nelson Barahona ’19, was named Homecoming King.


G | Repurposed

As part of the chapter’s efforts to transition to the Fraternity’s substance-free housing policy, Beta Nu brothers, under the leadership of Brady Kiplinger, Cincinnati '21, combined their energy to update the chapter house. By replacing the party room in the basement with a new state-of-the-art gym, they've also whipped the house into peak condition for intramural season.



H | Peace Is Their Motto G


On World Peace Day, President and Co-Founder of Washington & Jefferson's Interfaith Leadership Trent Somes '20, (right) along with brother Hamzah Massaquoi '20, (left) erected a peace pole on campus while holding the groups' first interfaith worship service — bringing to life the Gamma Chapter Motto, "Peace."

I | Dual Celebration


p40-45_Campus Life_wtr20.indd 42

Proud and loyal General Fraternity Officer and District Chief of the Year Kal Pipo, Case Western Reserve ’86, hosted a joint celebration barbecue for the men and advisors of the newly chartered Eta Psi Chapter at New Jersey and Theta Alpha Chapter at Delaware.

11/20/19 1:50 PM



Forest Retreat Amidst the business that accompanies everyday collegiate life, a reprieve in the woods can be just the ticket to settling in and clearing one's mind. The brothers of Beta Upsilon took to the forest of Bear Brook Park for their fall retreat. Fishing, camping and a fire-pit were a perfect escape to recharge before hitting the library.

p40-45_Campus Life_wtr20.indd 43

11/20/19 1:50 PM

Time in Togo


44 THE BETA THETA PI p40-45_Campus Life_wtr20.indd 44

It was a summer of service and learning for Ignacio Videla, George Washington ’21. As an international student volunteer, Iggy traveled to Atchanve, a rural village in the West African country of Togo, and served as a translator for the group of 15 American college students during their 18-day stay. Fostering relations between local Togolese tribes, village elders and residents, the students also completed several humanitarian projects, including hospital renovations and updating water and electricity services. Not surprisingly, Iggy was the one thanking the people of Togo for an experience that changed his life.

11/18/19 2:57 PM

campuslife Planet Protector

Abhishek Gupta, Connecticut ’20, addressed a crowd gathered during a Walk-Out for Climate Change Awareness event. The protest was part of the larger international Fridays for Future climate strikes that took place during the month of September.

Living the Ritual

$22,000 Raised


Utah's Blue Tie Gala

K | Opening of the Doors

The Fraternity undertook five expansion projects this fall, including recolonizing four of Beta’s historic chapters at Bowling Green State University (pictured above at Beta's Administrative Office for their refounding father initiation on November 10), the University of Oregon, the University of South Florida and the University of Toledo, while also starting a new colony at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The re/founding fathers at each campus, along with their local advisory teams, have hit the ground running to lay a solid foundation of building men of principle for a principled life. BOWLING GREEN Delta Delta Colony Bowling Green, Ohio Refounding Fathers: 11 GPA: 3.4 Advisors: 8

EMBRY-RIDDLE New Colony Daytona Beach, Florida Founding Fathers: 32 GPA: 3.15 Advisors: 8

SOUTH FLORIDA Zeta Beta Colony Tampa, Florida Refounding Fathers: 28 GPA: 3.43 Advisors: 10

p40-45_Campus Life_wtr20.indd 45

OREGON Beta Rho Colony Eugene, Oregon Refounding Fathers: 37 GPA: 3.38 Advisors: 7

TOLEDO Epsilon Tau Colony Toledo, Ohio Refounding Fathers: 18 GPA: 3.56 Advisors: 5

With over 200 in attendance, the men of Gamma Beta raised nearly $40,000 for the Rape Recovery Center through the annual Blue Tie Gala. “Prevention is key, and I think a partnership like the one with Beta Theta Pi is going to be transformative,” shared Mara Haight, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center.


With their inaugural gala event, the Betas at Ole Miss collected a whopping $22,000 in donations to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The men have already begun preparations for the event to recur in 2020.


One of two students invited, Jack Palen, Loyola Marymount ’21, spoke to a group of select student affairs professionals about restorative practices and share his account of what an accountable chapter experience looks like.

Alpha's Return

During the 180th General Convention, the legislative body voted to grant the Alpha Chapter at Miami University their official charter. The 70-man chapter boasts a 3.3 GPA and is supported by 10 dedicated advisors and 20 house corporation volunteers. The installation proceedings were conducted October 26.

11/18/19 2:57 PM

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME By Justin Warren, SMU ’10 /// Designed by Sarah Shepherd

As more than 600 Betas and guests filled the streets of Oxford for the 180th General Convention, it became clear that, when it comes to the Fraternity’s annual reunion, nothing quite compares to coming home. Here are eight of the weekend’s most unforgettable highlights that “Ever Honored” our founders and this Fraternity we all know and love …


p46-49_Convention Recap_wtr20.indd 46

11/20/19 3:15 PM


p46-49_Convention Recap_wtr20.indd 47

11/20/19 3:15 PM




A number of awards were presented throughout the Convention weekend, including 10 Knox Awards, 17 Sisson Awards and an appearance by NIC President & CEO Jud Horras, Iowa State ’97, to present the esteemed Undergraduate Award of Distinction to David Navadeh, Cornell ’19. For a complete list of award winners, see page 50.

Tom Lipton, Western Reserve ’63, was honored during Thursday’s Convention Kickoff for reaching a rare Beta milestone – attending 50 General Conventions. As he’s done many years before, Lipton made the 4,300-mile journey from his home in Munich, Germany, to mark the occasion. Brother Lipton is now tied for the record of most Conventions attended and is one of only seven Betas to attend 45 or more annual reunions. Lipton joins two Beta Greats who have also attended 50 General Conventions: Seth R. Brooks, St. Lawrence 1922, and J. Harold Ryan, Yale 1908.


The recently renovated Alpha chapter house was an ideal setting for the annual Cornerstone Housing Summit, which saw a record-setting 20 house corporations from across North America in attendance. There, participants were educated on managing 21st-century fraternity homes and keeping our treasured Beta properties safe, competitive, attractive, and centered on academics and brotherhood.


The docket was full for the 156 chapter and alumni delegates in attendance. In addition to considering a flurry of legislative proposals, chartering petitions for new chapters were debated. After committee presentations and multiple floor votes, seven groups of young men who walked in to Convention belonging to a colony, walked out belonging to a chapter. For an overview of all legislation considered at the 180th General Convention, see page 50.


p46-49_Convention Recap_wtr20_ss.indd 48

11/18/19 3:15 PM


The 26th Francis W. Shepardson Award was presented at Saturday evening’s Recognition Ceremony to former Fraternity Trustee and Foundation Board Chairman Robert (Bob) Grand, Wabash ’78. Considered among the Fraternity’s top honors, the Board of Trustees developed the Shepardson Award in 2001 to recognize brothers who embody the spirit and dedication of Brother Shepardson and epitomize the concept of lifelong service to the General Fraternity. Brother Grand was recognized for his contributions to the Fraternity and Foundation Boards, as well as his co-chairmanship of the successful $20 million Promises to Keep Campaign. His long-time Beta Sweetheart, Melody, sons Ryan ’08, and Kyle ’11, and daughter-in-law and granddaughter were all in attendance to witness Bob accept the full-lead crystal cup from Fraternity President Bob Schnese, Wisconsin ’83.


A Convention staple, this year the Peter F. Greiner Leadership College welcomed more than 250 undergraduate leaders with the opportunity to participate in one of two featured tracks on either career preparation or brotherhood and belonging.



Among General Convention traditions, few have more lasting impact than the delegates’ charge to elect members to the Fraternity Board of Trustees. This year’s newly elected Trustees comprise over a third of the Board’s 12-man total membership, in effect allowing the180th Convention’s legislative body to influence Beta’s path forward for years to come. S. Wayne Kay, Virginia Tech ’73 | General Secretary Robert S. Beall, Oklahoma ’80 | Fraternity Vice President Steven G. Cruz, Florida International ’12 | Fraternity Vice President Justin Foster, West Chester ’11 | Fraternity Vice President Bill Haywood, Miami ’74 | Fraternity Vice President

The absence of Senator Richard Lugar, Denison ’54, was noticeably felt by attendees throughout the weekend. A 23-year Convention veteran, the Men of Principle initiative spokesman was recognized on Saturday evening by top Fraternity and Foundation leaders, as well as with kind words by representatives from his home chapter of Denison and adopted chapter at George Washington. Lugar had been honorarily initiated into Zeta Nu Chapter before his death on April 28, but never received his badge. In his memory, the chapter donated the artifact for display in the Administrative Office museum. See Lugar and other Beta and interfraternal brothers and sisters honored in this year’s Chapter Eternal video at


p46-49_Convention Recap_wtr20_ss.indd 49

11/18/19 3:15 PM



Dr. Edward B. Taylor Advisor of the Year Jason Blake, Georgia Tech ’92 (Georgia Tech) Emily Cunningham, Friend of Beta (MIT) House Corporation Volunteer of the Year L. Martin Cobb, Eastern Kentucky ’96 (Kentucky) House Director of the Year Gail Behrens, Friend of Beta (Miami) Fraternity and Sorority Advisor of the Year Susan West, Friend of Beta (Kentucky) Interfraternalism Recognition Award Fraternal Law Partners Rookie District Chief of the Year Nathan Balkenbusch, Kansas State ’14 Nick Sexton, Eastern Kentucky ’11 District Chief of the Year Ethan Fritch, NC State ’16 Kal Pipo, Case Western Reserve ’86 Regional Chief of the Year Martin Lewison, Columbia ’88 Jerry Blesch Gen. Secretary Leadership Award Colin Dunning, Texas ’20 Shepardson Award Recipient Robert (Bob) Grand, Wabash ’78 Former Foundation Board Chairman


Advisory Team of the Year Award Willamette Charles H. Hardin Leadership Development Awards Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida Gulf Coast, Kettering A, Kettering B, Knox, Loyola Chicago, MIT, New Mexico, Oregon State, Rochester, Rockhurst, South Dakota, Wisconsin-Oshkosh Excellence in Risk Management Award Northeastern, Ohio State North Dakota Award for Chapter Publications Auburn, Florida State, Washington State H.H. Stephenson Jr. Award for Historical Preservation and Research Colorado Mines, Georgia Tech John Holt Duncan Service Awards Loyola Chicago, Oklahoma State Outstanding Recruitment Award Centre, Northeastern Outstanding New Member Education Award Miami Outstanding Campus Involvement Award Florida State, Kettering A, Nebraska, Puget Sound Outstanding Alumni Relations Award Auburn, Nebraska


p46-49_Convention Recap_wtr20_ss.indd 50

Most Improved Chapter Award Loyola Chicago, Northeastern New Song Competition Award Missouri (submitted by Carl Bolte ’51) Shelby L. Molter Song Competition Award Kettering B Whitman Choral Cup Colorado Mines Virginia Tech Award for Scholastic Achievement American (Most Improved GPA | 0.19 Improvement), British Columbia, Columbia (Highest GPA | 3.73), Connecticut, High Point, Kentucky, Kettering B, Nebraska, San Diego, TCU, Virginia, Wittenberg Sons of the Dragon Club Award Arkansas, Cornell, Denver, Idaho, Kettering A, New Mexico, Pacific, Rochester, Rockhurst, Southern Illinois, Westminster Sisson Award Winners Bethany (6), Centre (12), Colorado Mines (18), Creighton (3), Delaware (1), Denver (4), Kansas State (29), Kettering B (10), Loyola Chicago (1), Nebraska (22), New Jersey (1), San Diego (12), SMU (10), TCU (6), Truman State (19), Washington (14), WisconsinOshkosh (10) Knox Award Winners Centre (6), Creighton (2), Delaware (1), Denver (3), Kansas State (11), Kettering B (8), Nebraska (16), New Jersey (1), San Diego (10), Washington (7)


Fraternity Board of Trustees S. Wayne Kay, Virginia Tech ’73; General Secretary Robert Beall, Oklahoma ’80; Vice President Steven Cruz, Florida International ’12; Vice President Justin Foster, West Chester ’11; Vice President Bill Haywood, Miami ’74; Vice President Foundation Board of Directors Randy Groves, Kansas State ’78 Fred Pierce, San Diego State ’84 John Rothwell, Southern California ’78 Steve Wilson, Cincinnati ’66


President Jared Thompson, Centre ’17 Secretary Nick Sexton, Eastern Kentucky ’11 Parliamentarian Reece Quesnel, Minnesota ’13 Marshal Mike Okenquist, Villanova ’94

Committee of the Whole Chairman Tom Hoover, Purdue ’82


CONVENTION KICKOFF Willie Romero, UNLV ’95 RECOGNITION CEREMONY Bob Schnese, Wisconsin ’83


Platinum Level Greek House Chefs Gold Level Billhighway, Fraternal Law Partners, Holmes Murphy Bronze Level Gill Grilling, Herff Jones, Lessonly Other CSL Management (Staff Polo Sponsor)


Proposal to change Risk Management Policy of Beta Theta Pi to eliminate hard alcohol at BYOB events — Passed Proposal to restore voting rights of Kai Committee members in a Trial by Chapter proceeding — Passed Proposal to extend voting rights to colonies — Failed Proposal to raise insurance rates for chapters that violate Risk Management Policy — Withdrawn Proposal to host leadership programming remotely/online — Failed Proposal to remove legislative voting rights of alumni associations — Failed Proposal for all chapters to host alumni events with alcohol — Failed Proposal to increase the number of alumni-hosted events with alcohol from six to seven per year — Passed Beta Theta Pi Constitutional Amendment regarding the Canadian Exchange Rate — Passed Resolution for the Fraternity to begin studying mental health — Passed Resolution for the Fraternity to begin studying sexual assault prevention — Passed Charters Granted Miami (Alpha) MIT (Beta Upsilon) Rockhurst (Eta Phi) Rochester (Eta Chi) New Jersey (Eta Psi) Loyola Chicago (Eta Omega) Delaware (Theta Alpha)

For a full recap of legislation before the 180th General Convention delegates, visit

11/18/19 3:15 PM

181 st G e n e r a l C o n v e n t i o n

PW ihl od eH onr isxe ,P Aa srs i zR eos no rat

Save the date

August 6-9, 2020 Photo: Travoh

p51_Convention Ad_wtr20.indd 51

11/20/19 2:59 PM

chapterineternal loving memory Forever Remembered Notices of Beta brothers and Beta Sweethearts who passed were reported to the Administrative Office between May 1, 2019 and November 4, 2019. CHAPTER ETERNAL


Report a Beta’s Death Please contact Receptionist Phyllis Bowie at 800.800. BETA or phyllis.bowie@ to report a death.


Donate to the Archives Ask loved ones to donate your Beta badge and important Beta artifacts to the Fraternity’s archives and museum in Oxford. Memorial Gifts The Fraternity is often asked how to memorialize a dearly departed Beta. Memorial gifts can be made at or with Director of Development Laura Lednik at 800.800. BETA. In lieu of flowers, consider naming the Beta Leadership Fund in your own obituary.

General Fraternity President Bob Schnese, Wisconsin ’83, and District Chief Joe Troncale, Alabama ’63, participating on-stage in the “Convention Countdown” during Beta’s 180th General Convention in Oxford, Ohio. Troncale passed unexpectedly on August 9 upon returning home to Atlanta following the Convention.

Flags indicate Betas who served in the United States or Canadian armed forces.

p52-54_Chapter Eternal_wtr20.indd 52

11/20/19 3:08 PM



p52-54_Chapter Eternal_wtr20.indd 53

11/21/19 10:11 AM


54 THE BETA THETA PI Marcel Bonnewit Michigan ’90 July 7

Earning his MBA from NYU and building a thriving financial and real estate consultancy, Bonnewit was an avid Wolverine football fan and devoted house corporation treasurer. Waging a six-year battle with melanoma, he is survived by his wife and three young daughters.

p52-54_Chapter Eternal_wtr20.indd 54

Dr. Aaron Rapport Northwestern ’03 June 27

Past chapter president, Rapport died after a fouryear battle with colon cancer. Characterized by Bassel Korkor ’03, and Murali Krishnan ’03, as “frighteningly smart and irreverently hilarious” and with “legendary humor,” his 38-yearold bride, Joyce, died from breast cancer four weeks later.

Kyle Anderson William & Mary ’14 May 22

A foodie, world traveler and gentle giant at 6’10”, Anderson succumbed to a battle with leukemia. Characterized by his family as having “loved being a Beta,” best friend and brother Dixon Muller ’14, performed the Beta Burial Service at his memorial. He is survived by his parents, sister and fiance.

11/21/19 10:11 AM

“Nor pass a brother by.” Photo: Nathaniel Bouchard, Maine ’20

Refer a man to Beta at

p55_Recruitment Ad_wtr20_relinked.indd 36

11/18/19 3:18 PM

Dedicated to all Beta brothers lost to suicide and the current mental health epidemic. Read four of their stories in “The Silent Issue,” pages 28-37.

Evan Hansen,Wab ash ’19 (1997 - 2018)

Max Fulfer, Idah o (1999 - 2019)


Ethan LoCigno, Saint Louis ’21 (1999 - 2019)

The Beta Foundation supports initiatives like the new Beta Brotherhood Assessment, an annual survey designed to influence healthy chapter cultures and gain a clearer understanding of the Fraternity’s youngest brothers. By gaining insights into the attitudes and well-being of Beta undergraduates, chapters are better prepared to care for those struggling with mental health and suicide. To help further these efforts, visit

p56_BLF_wtr20.indd 56

Wes Wilson, Georgi a

(1973 - 2019)Tech ’98

11/21/19 2:03 AM