Inaugural Address of Venerable Grand Prytanis Christopher T. Hanson
Fraters, guests, here in New Orleans and back home in TKE Nation, I am truly honored and humbled by your support and this opportunity to serve as your Grand Prytanis for 2017-2019!
Over the past 10 years on the Grand Council, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of working with some of the finest Tekes the Fraternity has to offer. Staff, volunteers, fellow Grand Council members, and TEF Board members. It takes all of us to grow stronger and successfully deliver on our mission and our desire to build Better Men for a Better World.
Frater Rod Talbot was an exceptional Grand Prytanis this biennium, as were the Fraters I had the distinct privilege to serve with before him. I aim to lead our Fraternity with the same level of passion and energy as they have. And maybe even a bit more.
I have the benefit of a stellar new Grand Council for this next biennium. Together, we will work to continue strengthening our beloved Fraternity for the benefit of all current and future generations of TKE Fraters.
There are some folks with us tonight that I must acknowledge for I am the man that stands here before you because of their influence.
My amazing wife and soul-mate Annie, whom I was blessed to meet at GWU at the same time that I joined TKE. Essentially, day one on the foggy bottom campus. She has seen my growth and development as a Teke firsthand. Her love and support enable me to serve TKE and to pay forward all the benefits that I have been fortunate enough to receive from the Fraternity. Annie, I love you and thank you.
My mom Jeanne, who has always wanted the best for me, and who pushed me to make a difference in the world. Growing up, her love and guidance helped me to learn and grow toward the future. She pushed me to go away to college and become my own man. That’s what led me to GWU, where I found TKE, and delivered on that intention. Mom, I love you and thank you.
There are two Fraters here tonight that have been a big part of my early development as a Teke. They have known me my entire 20 years as an initiated Frater. Fraters Jim Totten and Herb Huser were advisors and mentors, then colleagues as fellow volunteers in the DC area. They exemplified the power that volunteering and mentorship can have on young Fraters. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for countless other Tekes for so many years.
Over the past several months, I’ve taken time to reflect on my personal journey through life and TKE. What do we do successfully? What can we improve? And, what are the future challenges ahead of us? I kept a rolling list of these thoughts and I would like to mention a few key points that I believe are vital to the future success of our beloved Fraternity.
"We need to develop a way to connect young aspiring members with older and more established Fraters for career, TKE, and personal development opportunities."
In my own growth as a Teke, I’ve benefitted from interactions with volunteers and fellow Fraters in numerous mentorship capacities. I greatly enjoy serving in that capacity for others as well. As I look forward, TKE needs to do more in this area. I’ve asked the Grand Council and the staff to support a new initiative to fill this gap in our programming. We need to develop a way to connect young aspiring members with older and more established Fraters for career, TKE, and personal development opportunities.
As we heard last night in the video of Frater Ed Pohl, mentoring and networking with alumni Fraters can provide avenues for truly amazing careers.
Along similar lines, alumni engagement can be our greatest resource with some 200,000 living alumni Fraters. However, that resource remains largely untapped and will be one of the largest obstacles to our future successes.
Moving forward, this must be addressed. We must create more opportunities for general alumni to reconnect with TKE. When we talk about the Fraternity for Life, we know there is massive potential to improve here, and we will.
I’d like to announce two new committees that will help us address our alumni engagement needs. As approved earlier today in our legislative session, the rebranded Alumni Advisory Committee will take form this biennium.
And, in an attempt to capitalize on our amazing brain trust of Past Grand Prytani, the Grand Council has formed a new Past Grand Prytanis Advisory Committee that will also take form this biennium. They will be chaired by our immediate Past Grand Prytanis, Frater Rod Talbot.
These two initiatives will combine with a continued push to create more alumni associations as ways to enhance our levels of alumni engagement.
For all the current collegiate members with us tonight as well as back home, I ask you to remember you will soon become an alumnus member with us in the near future. Your experiences are truly just beginning and can be so much more, for so many more years, after you obtain your degrees. While TKE does not offer diplomas, we do enhance your education and development in order to be more successful in life.
On the topic of success, with the many rising challenges that confront fraternities today, we have the power and the ability to control one aspect in particular, with far-reaching benefits. We need to exemplify our values day in and day out. We need to continue increasing our expectations and accountability for the impact we all have on the Fraternity. As Buckwheat said yesterday, we need to be our brothers' keepers.
"Fraters, grit and determination have been the cornerstones of TKE success throughout our history. Innovation and accountability will be vital to how successful we can be in the days ahead."
With increasing media attention, university scrutiny, and changing case law, we must control our destiny or suffer the fate of stories written about us, and not for us. We can and we must be Better Men for a Better World.
Fraters, grit and determination have been the cornerstones of TKE success throughout our history. Innovation and accountability will be vital to how successful we can be in the days ahead.
We must challenge the status quo, step beyond our comfort zones, and challenge ourselves to do more. We need to be stronger. It starts with me, the rest of the Grand Council members, and includes the TEF and our staff. Truly all of us here tonight and across TKE Nation. Many men as one man.
We need to fortify our championship culture and I know we will. In the words of the great Jedi Master Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.” If we want to be elite, we must strive for excellence together. And we know Tekes prevail when faced with challenges.
As a scientist at heart, I know the power of challenges and bold initiatives. These drive scientific discovery and innovation. Consider the efforts of NASA and Elon Musk to colonize Mars. Truly unthinkable ambitions until recently. Well, does anyone like the sound of Tau Kappa Epsilon Intergalactic Fraternity?
What would it take for us to capitalize on that future expansion opportunity? We have to dream big and we have to position ourselves for that level of success. How might our current mindset need to change? What evolutionary steps are needed to attain that level of growth?
My challenges thus far for TKE Nation include strengthening alumni engagement, accountability, and innovation. I’d like to issue two more.
Can we fulfill our existing St. Jude fundraising pledge of $2.6 million dollars by our next Conclave? I believe this is within our reach if our momentum continues. We could then explore additional commitments and continue having a positive effect on pediatric cancers. I was deeply moved by Emily’s personal story yesterday. Having visited St. Jude twice as a member of the Grand Council, I’ve witnessed the positive environment they speak of and the miracles that happen there every day. Our fundraising efforts truly save lives there.
My final challenge tonight for all of TKE Nation is to generate enough support to fully fund our existing RLC and TKE LA educational programming within two years. Let’s utilize the Elmer Smith TKE LA match and secure the final RLC naming rights with the TEF. Accomplishing this would greatly help us offset costs of membership for current and future generations of collegiate Fraters. It would be a monumental step forward for our Fraternity and position us for the successful future we all desire.
In closing, the Fraternity has made me a better father, husband, colleague, and friend. I pledge my all to deliver these same opportunities for future generations of Fraters. Including the sons of current Fraters and maybe even those that may one day win the affection of my young daughters back home.
Fraters, I am absolutely fired up about the future of Tau Kappa Epsilon. We are making a difference in the lives of thousands of young men every day.
Your help is greatly needed. Building a championship culture takes time and commitment. The Grand Council and I want to deliver on these challenges. And so I ask you tonight to stand with us as one TKE Nation in order to achieve our full potential as Better Men for a Better World!
The Grand Council starts our work tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to hit the ground running for all of you.
Fraters and guests, I love the Fraternity!
As delivered on August 5th, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans, LA.