5th Biennial Conclave

Undergraduates visiting the Alpha house

Undergraduates visiting the Alpha house

Phi Kappa Tau’s fifth biennial Conclave kicked off this past weekend at Miami University’s Oxford, OH, campus. As the birthplace of Phi Kappa Tau, the return to Miami University represents Phi Tau’s homecoming - an opportunity for undergraduates and alumni to return to Oxford, where it all started. 

Conclave began Friday afternoon with presentations for the Roland Maxwell Award - the trophy given annually to the highest preforming chapter. The “Founders Four” chapters competed in Shideler Hall - named for Founder William H. Shideler, Miami ’06. This year, Upsilon at the University of Nebraska Wesleyan, Gamma at The Ohio State University, Beta Beta at the University of Louisville, and Delta Tau at California Polytechnic University-Pomona competed for the honor of becoming Phi Tau’s best undergraduate chapter. They were given the prompt, “How does your chapter go far?” Each chapter gave their own explanation as to what makes them best, including community service, philanthropy, academics, alumni engagement, and diversity. 

That evening Phi Tau hosted a SeriousFun-A-Thon in one of Oxford’s community parks. A common fundraiser, this SeriousFun-a-Thon brought out dozens of children in the Oxford area for carnival games to raise money for the SeriousFun Children’s Network. In total, the event and fundraising raised $7,600 dollars, enough to send three children and their families to camp. 

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Friday night, members of the Boles Society were invited to a donor-dinner, where alumnus Sam Medley, Transylvania ‘94, and owner of Medley Bros Bourbon sponsored a tasting for all those attending. Sam gave insight on the recipe, the aging process, and the Bourbon industry with experience from his 80-year old family-owned company. 

Saturday morning began with educational seminars hosted by National Recruitment Advisor Barry Mask, Auburn ’78. Undergraduates whose chapters have shown outstanding recruitment ability also presented their best-practice tips, including Jay Johnson, Alabama ’18, Caleb Baum, Florida ’18, Jacob Grow, Mount Union ’17, and Stephen Listinsen, Ohio State ’18

After seminars and breakout sessions had concluded for the morning, attendees gathered in Shriver Hall for the Awards Luncheon. Individuals and chapters alike were presented with awards on their outstanding work in the past calendar year. Some of the award highlights include: 

The Frederick R. Fletemeyer Prize for the most outstanding colony, presented to Chi at North Carolina State University

The George V. Voinovich Award for the highest number of community service hours per man, presented to Lambda at Purdue University

The Paul Newman Award for the most funds raised for SeriousFun Children’s Network, presented to Beta Beta at the University of Louisville

The Outstanding Colony Advisor Award for an advisor who has presented exceptional contributions to a colony, presented to Rick Rice, Southern California ’74, at the University of Southern California

The Jack L. Anson Award for outstanding inter-fraternal service to the community, presented to Luke Williams, Lynchburg ‘17

Phi Award for an alumnus who has made outstanding contributions to his home chapter, presented to Guillermo Flores, Southern Illinois ‘08

A full list of award and scholarship winners to follow 

After awards were distributed the crowd broke up into groups where they began Pride Tours lead by Executive Office staff members. Guests were able to see Shideler Hall, the Phi Tau circle on Miami’s campus, Alpha house, as well as the Executive Offices’ Centennial Garden & Heritage Room. 

The final major event of the weekend was the Brotherhood Banquet, a tradition at all Conclaves and Conventions. Hosted by Charlie Ball, Miami’ 82, Director of Philanthropy, the major award winners were announced amongst a celebration of brotherhood and fraternity. 

Drake Berlin, Bethany ‘16, received the Dwight I. Douglass Presidents Award for excellence in leadership. Drake, the newest member of the Executive Offices staff, was a two-time Phi chapter President and called “the face of Greek life on campus” by his Director of Student Affairs. Under his leadership the chapter maintained the highest all-mens GPA on campus for 5 semesters in a row and received nominations for Order of the Star Awards and the Maxwell Award two years in a row. 

The Shideler Award was presented next. Given annually to Phi Tau’s most outstanding graduating senior, Evan Marshall, Nebraska Wesleyan ’15, served his chapter as President, Treasurer, and Community Service Chair. He helped the chapter earn the 2018 SeriousFun Network’s Appreciation Award and increased the chapter service hours to 25 per man. He was a part of 2018’s Maxwell Award winning group at National Convention in Cleveland, as well as the 2017 presenting group at Conclave.

The only chapter award presented during the Brotherhood Banquet was the Harold E. Angelo Award for most improved chapter. The winners, Beta Xi at the University of Georgia, completely overhauled their recruitment method and new member process after a suspension in 2017. With the “Recruitment 365” method they managed to recruit 35 new members in 2018 with a focus on accountability, core values, and education. They threw themselves into their philanthropic work as well, raising over $6,000 alone in a single evening for their “Summer Nights” event. 

2019 Maxwell Award winners - Gamma chapter at Ohio State University

2019 Maxwell Award winners - Gamma chapter at Ohio State University

The penultimate undergraduate award - the Roland Maxwell Award for Most Outstanding Chapter - was awarded to Gamma at The Ohio State University. Gamma was honored with the distinction based on their service, GPA, and campus leadership. By creating a “culture of leadership,” 66% of Gamma men hold positions of leadership not just within their own chapter, but across campus at large. Their commitment to service is undeniable - every day of the week throughout the school year they send multiple members to the Columbus Boys & Girls club and their annual pumpkin sale raised $11,482 in 2018. By utilizing a “standards based” recruitment process Gamma is able to recruit like-minded men who push one another to be men of distinction. 

Two additional awards were presented before the night ended. Dick Michael, Michigan Tech ‘70, was recognized for his service to the Foundation after stepping down as Chairman. Wes Fugate, Centre ’99, the current Chairman, thanked Dick Michael for his dedication to the Foundation. 

John Green,  Nebraska Wesleyan ‘60 , accepting the NIC Silver Medal

John Green, Nebraska Wesleyan ‘60, accepting the NIC Silver Medal

The final award of the night was presented by special guest Jud Horras, President & CEO of the NIC, to a man who needs little introduction in Phi Tau circles. John M. Green, Nebraska Wesleyan ‘60, was awarded the NIC Silver Medal which recognizes exemplary service or leadership in a role that has advanced the fraternal movement. A Boles Donor and impassionaied supporter of risk prevention, John Green has served as National President, Executive Director of the Fraternity, and Executive Director of the Foundation. 

The NIC website posted a brief excerpt of Jud’s speech: 

John’s long-time volunteer efforts – including a term as national president – came to a head in the 1980s when he was hired as the fraternity’s executive director. In that role he was instrumental in the founding of the Fraternal Risk Management Trust and Fraternal Information and Programming Group. After serving as the fraternity’s top administrator for a decade, he later agreed to become executive director of the Phi Kappa Tau Foundation, in which he guided a successful $6.5 million campaign before he retired in 2007.

“John always replied in the affirmative when his fraternity and the interfraternity community called. His leadership and passion was needed during a variety of historical moments. I continue to be very impressed with John’s vision, compassion, leadership and dedication as a fraternity man.” 

The evening concluded with a candlelight ceremony by Bill Jenkins, Bowling Green '57, past National President and Executive Director. The following morning brothers who did not have to catch an early flight played the John Green Classic Golf Outing, a tradition following all Conclaves. 

Thank you to all our brothers and guests who made the trip to Oxford! While we will not see you again until 2021, we look forward to even more brothers attending the 64th National Convention in Fort Worth, next July! 

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