Founders' Day 2018 - Christopher T. Hanson, Grand Prytanis
January 10, 2018
My Fellow Fraters,
As we celebrate the 119th anniversary of Tau Kappa Epsilon’s founding, we once again have an opportunity to recall our origins and use them as inspiration for continued excellence in our lives.
Our founding fathers had a vision that was progressive and revolutionary back in 1899, creating an organization that would consider personal worth and character to be principle qualifications for membership. Not having an exclusionary clause for membership was groundbreaking and forward thinking. As we know, scores of other organizations had to amend their membership criteria and adapt to changing societal and federal laws as the years passed. However, from day one, TKE has lead the way as an organization focused on the benefits of diversity and inclusion.
With 275,000-plus lifetime members, TKE makes a difference in the lives of thousands of men, from all across the world, each and every day. Our philanthropic work has raised millions of dollars for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital along with other charitable organizations. Our service and outreach efforts have benefitted numerous communities in desperate need of help. Through these experiences and our educational programming, we are creating and fostering next generation leadership.
As we look forward in the new year, what does 2018 have in store for us? What challenges will we face and how will we rise up to meet them? Our membership is strong, our staff is top notch, and our volunteers give their heart and soul for the betterment of others. We are truly blessed. However, there is much more to do and the time has come for us to once again lead the way via important organizational changes.
The headlines in the news when fraternity life goes wrong have a negative, adverse effect on all of us. In the age of digital media, nothing is forgotten and no fraternity is immune from these societal pressures. State governments, university administrators, and our insurance carriers are all moving to impose significant changes upon us, or even seek to eliminate us, as these issues continue to persist.
I’d like to share a story of a chance encounter I had while travelling home from a Grand Council meeting this past fall semester. While waiting to board my flight, another person in line noticed my TKE polo shirt and initiated a conversation. In my tenure on the Grand Council, this has happened frequently. However, this time it was a mom mentioning her son had just joined TKE at a school in Ohio. She went on to explain how worried she was about his decision to join a fraternity and after not hearing from him for a period of time, she had thought he might be dead. She had read all the recent headlines in the news and had feared the worst.
Upon hearing this, I extended my hand, introduced myself, and commented that as the TKE International Board Chairman, I was equally concerned about her son as I am about all of our 11,000 collegiate members. I want them all to be safe from harm and to benefit from their TKE experiences. We had a nice discussion that continued while we waited for our bags after the conclusion of the flight. She thanked me for explaining all the positive opportunities awaiting her son and for taking the time to ease her fears. As a parent myself, I empathize with her and I know other parents must be feeling the same way too.
Fraters, perception is reality. The future of our great Fraternity is at a cross roads and we must act now to improve, to evolve, and to define our existence for a successful future. What will the next great chapter in our history entail? How are we going to rally together to ensure we become stronger? How are we going to prove that we are Better Men for a Better World?
The Grand Council and I are engaged with numerous stakeholders in strategic conversations about changes we can champion together to safeguard our future. Over the next few months, collegiates, alumni, volunteers, and our university partners will have the chance for continued input. Change, both significant and vital, will require concerted efforts and meaningful plans for implementation. Topics under review include new member education, substance-free housing, and alumni engagement opportunities. With utmost respect to our founders, we owe it to ourselves to be critical and thorough with our plans for improvements.
Fraters, grit and determination have been the cornerstones of TKE successes throughout our history. This remains true today, but innovation and accountability will determine how successful we can be moving forward. In order to fortify our existence and build a championship culture, we need to control our destiny through bold initiatives and progressive actions.
On this Founders’ Day, help me strengthen our Fraternity for the benefit of all current and future generations of TKE Fraters. And, stand with me as one TKE Nation to show the world that we truly are the Fraternity for Life!
Fraters, I believe our greatest days are within our reach if we choose to embrace our values and fulfill our desire to be Better Men for a Better World.
Happy Founders’ Day. I love the Fraternity!
Yours in the Bond,
Christopher T. Hanson