2016 Founders' Day Address
Founders Day is always a significant day and I join you in paying tribute to those persons who through their own dedication and their tireless efforts brought this fraternity into being. In a real sense, you and I are the legacy of goodwill and sacrifice on the part of the founders of Tau Kappa Epsilon.
So who better than to convey these efforts than the words of our Founders themselves? In 1924, at the Silver Jubilee Conclave, our founders addressed the Grand Chapter and clearly set forth the inspiration which led to their founding of our fraternity. It was the first Conclave since our founding that all five of them had been able to attend. In their address to the Grand Chapter, they wanted to reiterate the original ideas and purposes that brought our fraternity into existence. This is what they said:
First, we remember the bond of sympathy and cooperation which made it possible for us to organize. Common ambitions and ideals were necessary. We were not in harmony with many of the popular ideals of that time. But as men of courage we insisted in remaining true to our best convictions. It was easier for us to do this by effecting an organization of a brotherly character for mutual helpfulness. Such an organization is none other than a fraternity in its truest sense. We would urge, therefore, as a fraternity dealing with up-to-date problems, that we should never forget the principles of true fraternalism as involved in the mutual helpfulness and the common ambition that are necessary in carrying this out. Hence the importance that each chapter take the greatest care in selecting men who are entirely in sympathy with the original high moral, social, and scholastic standing in which Tau Kappa Epsilon had its beginning.
Second, snobbiness was a thing which we, the Founders, disdained. We looked beyond mere outward appearances that we might see the man; and finding one of real quality and sterling worth, we regarded him as fit material to be associated with us in a fraternal way regardless of outward appearance. Knowing full well that the mission of college training is to develop such traits, we were fully convinced that in the end-developing character, enriched life and enlarged personality-would justify any risk that might be taken in selecting such a man. Our fraternity has been made by the early initiates and this in itself was sufficient vindication of the policy we made use of in securing our first new members. We fear that the loss of scholastic achievement may be traced to the artificial tendency of making social qualities the only test of membership-rather than the essentials of a strong, vigorous, aggressive manhood that stands for the highest and best things in life.
Third, we desire especially to emphasize the fact that, as a fraternity, we cannot afford to depart from the original plan of electing men of small means to membership whenever otherwise they have Teke qualifications. They need us and as a fraternity we have a need of them. Undoubtedly, Abraham Lincoln would not have met some of the modern fraternity tests in polished appearance, bank and bond holdings, but he did possess what is better still, that wealth of character which has ever been the standard of Tau Kappa Epsilon. We are bound to recognize that such qualities are often found in men of wealth also, and we are happy when it’s possible to secure such members. Yet the expense of membership should be kept sufficiently within the means of the average man that he may not be denied the prestige of belonging to a great national fraternity because of his limited means, nor Tau Kappa Epsilon deprived of the splendid assets that members of strong character, sterling worth and high scholastic standing will become to our fraternity, however they may be in material wealth.
Fraters, those were the words of Fraters Settles, Mayer, Atkinson, Truitt, and McNutt about why our fraternity was founded. They are as true today as they were in 1899 or in 1924. To know where we are going, we need to remember where we have been.
Happy Founders Day, Fraters. I love the Fraternity.
Yours in the Bond,