In my volunteer travels around the United States on behalf of Phi Kappa Tau, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a gavel pass with a group of undergraduate members. The chapter designation isn’t relevant to the story (and I didn’t share the experience on social media, so there’s no point in guessing!), but I suspect the experience is widely applicable. The group, which is navigating some choppy waters caused in large measure by the natural hubris and ego incumbent in young men, includes several members who observed the Fraternity is merely a collegiate social organization.
Many graduate members share this view, which is evidenced by their lack of volunteer involvement after graduation, the relatively low percentage of alumni who donate to our educational Foundation, and perhaps most tellingly an observation I hear with troubling frequency even from those who have remained involved: “I was a Phi Tau.” Whether that phrase – and the revealing past tense of its verb – is uttered absentmindedly or intentionally is something I have been trying to figure out for a long time. A predecessor in my current volunteer role and a mentor to many of us, our late Past National President Jay McCann, Spring Hill ’74, would’ve chalked up such a viewpoint as so many empty words coming from those who just didn’t “get it.”
But then there is another version of Phi Kappa Tau. As an undergraduate in the 1990s, I often heard from alumni advisors that the brothers in our chapter would be the men who would stand up with us at our weddings, serve as godfathers to our children, and even carry us to our graves. Over the nearly quarter century since my initiation, I’ve seen those and countless other instances of intimate friendship – spurred only by our common fraternal bond as Phi Taus. Past National Vice President Jack Anson, Colgate ’47, noted the intangibles that make such fealty to one another possible are “brotherhood, fellowship, and fraternity.”
And so, we want to hear from you. If, at some point in your membership in our great Fraternity, you have had an experience that conveys the true meaning of fellowship – perhaps, a brother who has carried you through a time of health challenges, taken care of your family while you served on a military deployment, or helped you identify a life-changing career opportunity – we’d love to hear about it.
Please share your story. These common illustrations of uncommon compassion – taking care of each other, loving one another, and being our brother’s keeper – are the surest signs that Phi Kappa Tau is more than just another club.
It is my distinct honor and privilege to serve you.
Best fraternal regards,
Michael D. Dovilla
Baldwin Wallace ’94