Happy 118th Founders' Day!
In 1899, a group of men living together in Bloomington, IL and attending Illinois Wesleyan University got together to form a study group. They called themselves the Knights of Classic Lore. They created the name because our founders studied classic literature at their weekly meetings. As their membership size grew, they felt that they needed to affiliate with a larger fraternity. They applied to Phi Delta Theta and were rejected because they were not a conventional group of men. They were mostly men raised on farms in country towns in Central Illinois. Phi Delta Theta not only rejected them for not being conventional, but frowned on the name “Knights of Classic Lore” and suggested we start a new fraternity.
Joseph Settles took their advice and ran with it. Frater Settles wanted a fraternity that developed men to cope with the world when their school days were over and as he put it, “be forced against the stern realities of life.”
Today, there may be no other time in our history where fraternities may be more relevant. In Frater Settle’s vision of TKE, and the “stern realities of life,” there were no safe spaces or anything else developed from our over politically correct world.
Our Declaration of Principles outlines that our purpose is to aid our men in their mental, moral, and social development. What better place can an undergraduate Frater learn life’s lessons than in our fraternity? In our fraternity, we get real life learning opportunities not found in the classroom. In our world, you become leaders. In our world, you don’t only learn but you live diversity and inclusion. In our world, you learn service above self. In our world, we live by high standards and exceptional values.
As I travel TKE Nation, I consistently see the positive impact of our chapters, our alumni, our headquarters staff and our Foundation. There is a commitment to make our Fraternity great. Even though we were founded as an undergraduate organization, our fraternity lives long beyond the undergraduate years. If TKE is truly the “Fraternity for Life”, then the undergraduate years are merely a launching pad for life. Lessons you learn from the Fraternity can make us better fathers, neighbors, community leaders and influence how we excel in our careers. Frater Settles and I shared another bond besides TKE. He was, as am I, a member of Rotary and it’s amazing how many civic leaders are members of a fraternity or sorority. Being a TKE for Life means acting on our values to make a better life for you and those around you.
Today, we celebrate our birthday. We were born a small fraternity at a small school in Illinois and have grown into a great international organization. As our creed highlights: TKE’s have always been a Brotherhood of gentlemen in perpetual quest of excellence as a way of life. Let’s expand on that quest and chart an even greater future.
Happy Founders' Day Fraters. I love the Fraternity.
Yours in the Bond,