August 25, 2014: Washington, D.C.—For the fourth time in as many years, Epsilon chapter at Mount Union found itself in the coveted Founders Four, which is the top four Phi Kappa Tau chapters from across the nation. Brothers sat in anticipation during the Brotherhood Banquet at the 61st National Convention in Washington, D.C.
Three consecutive Brotherhood Banquets. Three consecutive times another chapter won the Roland Maxwell Trophy, which is given to the top chapter in the nation. Three consecutive times another set of brothers got to take the stage to celebrate in front of the entire Fraternity.
Time and time again, Epsilon strived to be better and worthy of the award only to fall short of its goal.
This time was different.
“When newly elected President [Rick] Keltner began to announce our statistics, we all exchanged glances as to if it was really happening because it sounded too good to be true,” said Ryan Smith, Mount Union ’11.
This was their time.
Epsilon chapter best exemplified the Fraternity’s values in all aspects of programming and operation during the 2013 calendar year. National President Rick Keltner, Sacramento ’73, welcomed them to the stage to receive the trophy.
All eyes were on the men from Mount Union.
“Hearing Epsilon called at the Brotherhood Banquet honestly made my heart stop,” said Chapter President Greg Koman, Mount Union ’11. “Winning the Maxwell Trophy is something that my chapter has been trying to accomplish since before I was initiated in 2011 and for that goal to have been accomplished is truly incredible. It left me with this incredible sense of fulfillment.”
From being within arm’s reach of the trophy for so long, Epsilon members now knew what it was like to lift it up.
“After four years in the hunt, two of which I was not a part of, it seemed as if a weight was lifted from our chapter’s shoulders,” said Chapter Vice President Michael Gates, Mount Union ’12.
Koman, Gates, Smith and Marcus Zappa, Mount Union ’12, presented Mount Union’s Maxwell application to the Awards Committee on July 3. The four spoke about their chapter’s dedication to learning, leading and serving.
The chapter’s commitment to learning was not only evident in the classroom, but outside it. Epsilon sent participants to FuturesQuest, Presidents Academy, IFC Academy, Leaders Regional Conference, Leadership Academy and UIFI in 2013.
“To Epsilon chapter the tenant of learning goes beyond just academic learning and incorporates the experiential learning gained as a result of their fraternity membership,” according to Epsilon’s Maxwell application.
Utilizing what they learned at the various programs, brothers were involved with a wide array of organizations ranging from athletics, such as the swimming and diving team, to honorary societies, such as Order of Omega, to professional-development clubs, such as the Pre-Law Society. Nearly 70 percent of Epsilon members held a leadership role in an outside organization.
The chapter remained focused on service and philanthropy throughout the year by performing 3,934.5 hours of community service and raising more than $12,000 for philanthropic endeavors. Members continued to develop the chapter’s relationship with SeriousFun Children’s Network by making a total of six trips to Flying Horse Farms in Mt. Gilead, Ohio.
Mount Union Director for the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership Kate Carnell said the chapter’s success is a testament to what it stands for.
“This is the fourth year the [chapter] has achieved Founders Four status, which signifies their ability to demonstrate excellence over a sustained period of time,” Carnell said. “I believe that the men, under the advisement of BOG Chairman Roy Clunk and President Greg Koman, are a definite representation of learning, leading and serving.”
Koman said what changed in 2013 from the past three years was the way Epsilon thought about achieving Maxwell status.
“I would stress to chapters struggling to break through and achieve Maxwell status is that they need to take the opportunity to have fun and enjoy the tasks that earn them Maxwell status,” Koman said. “We had a lot more fun completing the tasks that made us Maxwell level. My chapter being more true to ourselves and not solely focusing on making sure we had all the right numbers is what made Epsilon deserving of the Maxwell Trophy.”
Although this is the first time in its history Epsilon has brought the Maxwell Trophy back to Alliance, Ohio, it is just in time. The chapter’s Centennial Celebration will be April 17-19, 2015.
This is their time.
Epsilon chapter brothers with National President Rick Keltner after the Brotherhood Banquet.