As Grand Prytanis of Tau Kappa Epsilon, it is my pleasure and honor to wish all TEKE Fraters around the world a "Happy Birthday." On this Founders Day, we once again celebrate the birth of our great Fraternity. Once more, we remember the story of five young men who gathered at Illinois Wesleyan on the night of January 10, 1899, to lay the cornerstones for our beloved Fraternity. The names we know well; Joseph L. Settles, Owen I. Truitt, C. Roy Atkinson, Clarence A. Mayer, and James C. McNutt. These were men of obvious intelligence and character, but they possessed much more - they possessed the vision and the passion to see far into the future while dreaming what a world class fraternity might be.
While these men possessed many attributes, one has to wonder if they really envisioned what would grow from their humble beginnings - the growth of an international brotherhood that today claims more than 250,000 men?
Those of you who know me are aware of one of my favorite pastimes. While traveling, I like to purposely wear my TKE letters. I have done this while trekking around the world. I love it when a person walks up to me, whether they are male or female, old or young, Frater or non-Frater, and asks, "are you a TEKE?" After my obvious affirmative answer, they will inevitability strike up a conversation, sharing what kind of connection they have with TKE. It is always a positive relationship. I know that many of you have had this same experience.
This always serves to remind me that I am indeed a member of a worldwide brotherhood; a brotherhood that spans the many artificial differences of mankind; a brotherhood that spans all socio-economic, religious, and ethnic differences. This is a brotherhood that is blind to these differences because "we value men, not for wealth, rank, or honor......but for personal worth and character." We can thank our founders for endowing these concepts into the basic fabric of our foundation.
We proudly declare that "above all else, this fraternity stands for men" and "we consider no man from the standpoint of those qualities and advantages he has not attained by personal effort. We stand for men whose manhood has withstood the test of trying conditions. We deem sterling character and staunch uprightness to be necessary qualifications to membership in this fraternity." These are the basic tenants that the Founders provided for us well more than 110 years ago, and they are just as relevant today.
Many of you learned of the impressive success of your Fraternity the past biennium. On this Founders Day, please allow me to summarize these once again. We experienced a 17.5% increase in initiate growth rate - the highest of any biennium in the past 41 years. Not only did our initial count grow, but it grew in terms of initiates per chapter, expansion, and we saw our average chapter size climb to the highest point since 1983. We ended this past year with 272 chapters (241 chapters and 31 colonies) growing the size of the Grand Chapter in addition to growing the active membership to more than 10,000 men. We have experienced record attendance at the five regional leadership conferences as well as a record number of young men at the Leadership Academy. Please check our web site, tke.org, for the times and locations of these upcoming events.
We are making a better world through the many community and civic actions of our Fraternity. In the past year TKE recorded more than 320,000 service hours and $788,000 dollars for charitable causes. With your help, we look forward to answering the call of service in the future.
In addition, I am happy to say that the first quarterly report going into this new biennium is also looking positive. But we cannot rest on our past laurels because we know that we will certainly face future challenges, as we have over the years since our founding fathers initiated the Fraternity. We have overcome them all with "flying colors" because of our same basic beliefs and concern for our fellow Fraters in the bond and for all of mankind.
We practice the tenets as put forth by our Founders through charity, esteem and love. This is our common purpose, our common passion. Again, my challenge to each and every Teke on this Founders Day is to keep this indomitable spirit burning. Remember your roots, for they are strong and deep.
Fraters I love this Fraternity,
Dr. Herbert L. Songer, Grand Prytanis
Alpha-Upsilon, Fort Hays State University