Undergraduates, alumni and parents celebrated something only three Pi Kappa Phi chapters have done – initiate their 2,000th member.
After 93 years at Purdue, the chapter celebrated that milestone during a banquet attended by more than 130 people on Oct. 24, 2015, in the Memorial Union.
Austin “2K” Schroeder, a sophomore from Carmel, IN, was the focal initiate. Omega became the third Pi Kappa Phi chapter out of nearly 200 nationwide to have achieved that milestone number of initiates – only Florida and Alabama Pi Kapps had done such.
“It is truly an honor to be the 2,000th initiate into the Pi Kappa Phi Omega chapter, however it could have easily been another brother standing in front of you tonight.,” Schroeder said at the banquet. “What I am trying to say is: Tonight is not about me – it is about us. Tonight is about our brotherhood!”
He said that 10 months earlier, he stood in the chapter house and accepted his bid.
“Little did I know, I would be embarking on one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Schroeder said. “One that includes life-long friendships, academic success, and positive contributions to our community. As I stand before you this evening, I can honestly say that becoming a member of Pi Kappa Phi has made me a better man!”
President Tyler Ochs (Omega initiate No. 1906) told the assembled crowd about the many achievements of the chapter. They included a 3.02 average GPA last spring, numerous leadership positions and student organizations represented by the brothers and an ongoing commitment to serve people with disabilities.
“Going forward, the chapter’s potential has never been higher,” Ochs said. “We have established an identity, ‘The Pi Kapp Way’ as (assistant dean of students) Brandon Cutler said recently. We don’t get in trouble, we consistently produce Top 3 in philanthropy dollars raised, service hours, and are above a 3.0 in GPA. We take care of ourselves by running our own philanthropy and doing what we know is best in a very humble way.”
More than 30 alumni attended the event commemorating the historic event, too. The oldest initiate was insurance agency owner Kim Tubergen (Omega No. 852) of Angola, IN.
“I did learn about brotherhood (when in the chapter), which is what the fraternity is all about,” he said. “It was brotherhood in 1968 and it’s brotherhood in 2015.”
He quoted the Jaycee Creed as emblematic of Pi Kappa Phi – “The brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations.”
“I know that most of you don’t know me and I do not know you, but one thing – you are my brothers and I couldn’t be happier and I love you all,” he said.
Another featured speaker was Larry Morton, president of the Hal Leonard Corp., the world’s largest music print publisher. He was an alumnus initiate that day.
“Oh, my goodness, I am so honored to be here tonight,” Morton said. “It was just a beautiful surprise when I got the invitation to be part of this. Sitting here this evening I have been overwhelmed with the quality of the folks gathered under this chapter. It’s truly remarkable and I am deeply honored to be part of it.”
Morton was not Greek as an undergraduate at Eastern Illinois in the early 1980s.
“As I came to learn more about the Greek system, I really regretted that I didn’t have that opportunity,” he said. “It wasn’t until my daughter came to Purdue three years ago and joined a sorority and began her own journey that it opened my eyes to the power of what you all are doing and how it shapes and elevates your lives.”
Pi Kappa Phi national CEO Mark Timmes came from Charlotte, NC, to be part of history and lauded the chapter’s successes.
“We have created a sustainability here – a culture of excellence that has made Omega one of the great chapters in Pi Kappa Phi,” Timmes said. “Across the United States on 183 campuses, Omega is a leading chapter of Pi Kappa Phi. You’ve heard about all the awards the chapter has won at the university and national levels and with your great volunteers, so Omega has been a very impactful part of Pi Kappa Phi.”
Chapter advisor Pat Kuhnle (Omega 1197) reminisced about the all the students and alumni he has met along the way.
“The formula is simple (but the execution is not always that easy),” he said. “Recruit men of character, maintain great programming, develop quality leaders. That’s what we celebrate here tonight.”
Kuhnle said it took the chapter established in 1922, a total of 54 years to get to the 1,000th initiate in 1976. Then it took 39 more to get to No. 2,000 in 2015.
“Today, through the Ritual of Initiation, some recall the real meaning Pi Kappa Phi and others learn it for the first time,” he said. “We all should live it for the rest of our lives.”
Omega initiate No. 1,000, Ken Buchanan, was unable to attend the banquet but was there for the historic initiation afterwards.
Buchanan, who works in Purdue Athletics, did prepare some comments that were shared at the banquet.
“One of the best decisions I’ve made in my life was to rush Pi Kappa Phi and was honored to accept a bid from Omega,” his note read. “The ‘life lessons’ I learned from the other brothers still help me every day on my journey through life. Being pin number 1,000 was a great honor not just for me but, should be shared equally by all of those that preceded me in initiation with all of their hard work and dedication to the organization.”