In its first trip to the Theta Chi National Convention, the Towson University’s Iota Sigma chapter walked away with its highest honor: The Howard R. Alter, Jr., Award for Chapter Excellence.
Presented this year in Minneapolis to only three chapters out of 140 nationally, the Alter Award represents excellence in areas of scholarship, recruitment, new member and member education, community service and philanthropy, alumni programming, chapter financial management, the Ritual, chapter operations, internal cooperation, campus involvement, risk management practices, and social programming.
Towson’s Theta Chi chapter had a somewhat unconventional start. A small group of students attempted to join an existing fraternity on campus that was subsequently suspended in 2012. Not to be deterred, these young men then pushed to launch a Theta Chi chapter at Towson. The end result was pretty impressive for a group of former pledges who had to secretly meet in the College of Liberal Arts building.
“These guys took lemons and made lemonade,” said Matt Lenno, Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Towson University. “This is just an outstanding group of young men. We could not ask for a better chapter than Theta Chi, and we can’t wait for them to put out better work and lead our university for years to come.”
Taylor Sevik, vice president of external affairs for the chapter, said when their name was called at the convention, he had his brothers shared a surreal moment.
“We were all sitting next to each other when they announced it and then it was just a big bolt of energy,” Sevik said. “I can’t express how proud I am of our chapter and my guys. I would never have expected this in a million years. I’ve been given some of my greatest accomplishments and memories and I just appreciate everyone who supported us and helped us along the way.”
Jack Dunlop, president of the Towson chapter, was unable to attend the event with his brothers in Minneapolis. But when he heard the news, he was elated to find out where he and his brothers stood nationally.
“This fraternity has been the center of my life and the source of all my memorable experiences in college and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else,” Dunlop said. “It is an amazing feeling to know we are truly the top one percent.”
The Towson University chapter has more than 100 members. The campus average for other fraternities is 59 members. But what treasurer Kevin Kutner likes to point out is that many of Theta Chi’s members are leaders in other organizations on campus. This includes Kutner, who will enter the upcoming fall term as Towson’s Student Government Association (SGA) President.
“I think this award just shows the quality of men we have in our chapter,” Kutner said. “We have guys who don’t take just 15 credits and stay in all day. We have guys that want to make a difference in our Towson community and show Towson students what it is to be a leader. That’s everything Theta Chi is about: being a better man, being a leader and being part of a business organization.”
Starting out with a group of around 15 members, the Towson University Iota Sigma chapter didn’t receive their charter until Apr. 27, 2012. A little over a year later, through hard work and perseverance, the group is in triple digits and continues to grow. Kutner said while there is pressure to continue its success, the pressure is coming from inside the group.
“Winning the award didn’t add pressure, we put the pressure on ourselves every day,” Kutner noted. “If we win it every time, it doesn’t mean anything because we just want to continue to put in hard work.”