President’s Annual Message
A Year in Review
Educational Foundation Sees New Success in 2018
As we look back on 2018 and celebrate the end of our 11th, I am pleased to report the progress and impact the Educational Foundation has had on leadership and educational programs within the Sigma Pi community and the greater Ithaca area. This letter will review some of the highlights of the past year; however, we end the year deeply saddened by the death of one of our great leaders and visionaries, Jim Keene ’57, and concerned about the health of our founding patron, Bert Harrop, as he recovers from a serious health issue near his home in Texas. We all wish Bert the best as he continues to improve.
The board remained committed to fulfilling the vision that both Bert and Jim believed when they established the Foundation in 2007. This past year continued to show progress with programs and educationally oriented infrastructure becoming an important and integrated part of undergraduate life at the chapter house. The building blocks are in place, and brothers recognize the benefits. Events in the Learning Commons occur on a frequent basis, and Mu Chapter brothers’ commitment to participation in College Mentors for Kids remains strong. Brothers continue to participate in leadership conferences and programs sponsored by the Foundation. We could not do any of this without the generous contributions of the alumni community, and we are forever grateful. The focus on education has helped to generate a cumulative GPA of 3.43 for the spring 2018 semester––among the highest of all fraternities at Cornell.
Learning Commons Update
The Learning Commons has become a state-of-the-art location for collaborative study for brothers throughout the semester. At virtually any time, brothers can be seen utilizing the high-speed Wi-Fi and flat-screen televisions and conducting small group meetings. In addition to the daily impact, the Learning Commons has hosted a variety of events. We hosted prominent Cornell alumni including Greek University CEO Michael Ayalon, who spoke about leadership and the state of the Greek system, and Dr. Kurt Rasmussen ’80, who shared his perspectives as the Director of the Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The brothers also used the Learning Commons to host an Open Mic night, a new and unique way for the chapter to support philanthropic activity, which raised more than $500 for the Ithaca Community School of Music and Arts.
College Mentors for Kids Update
The Foundation’s signature program, College Mentor for Kids, went through a period of transition during the past 12 months. Sigma Pi did not retain the leadership positions it once enjoyed; however, our commitment to the program remains strong as a record 10 new brothers joined the team, two of whom became transportation directors. We look forward to rebuilding our large leadership presence in the program during the coming years.
Board Member Activities and Changes
As we mentioned earlier this year, Kurt and Sandy True ’78 were recognized for their outstanding work in their professional and volunteer lives respectively. I have assumed a new role with an early stage technology company that helps companies and individuals maximize their philanthropic activity and participation. Additionally, the board voted to add Connor Riser ’16 as treasurer, replacing Aaron Klein ’12, who remains on the board.
As a result of transitions and departures, we are actively looking to fill open board seats with individuals who can help take the Foundation to the next level. Please contact me or anyone else on the board if you are interested to learn more.
Thankful for Continued Support
We thank all of you have supported the Foundation with generous donations during the past year. 2018 was a very successful year, as 52 alumni and friends of Mu Chapter contributed $33,420. We look forward to continuing to build the Foundation and its impact within the brotherhood as well as the Ithaca community.
Tom Silver ’81