Making an impact in college can be a challenge, but for one Pi Kappa Phi member that opportunity will be as the leader of the Purdue fraternity system in 2019.
Nathan Longo, chapter president in 2018, will take the reins of the 42-fraternity, 3,500-member system at Purdue in January. He will become the Pi Kappa Phi chapter’s first Interfraternity Council President since 2007.
Longo worked with IFC in 2017 and wanted to serve in an executive assistant role in 2019. However, he was encouraged by his chapter brothers, fellow fraternity presidents, outgoing IFC officers and Purdue Greek advisers to be president. He was drafted and elected thereafter.
“Nathan has had tremendous leadership experiences within Purdue’s fraternity, sorority and cooperative life community that have prepared him to succeed in the role of IFC president,” said Brandon Cutler, associate dean of students. “He understands the system, processes, community and the importance of building collaborative relationships.”
Leading such a substantial Greek community does not intimidate him.
“I think managing and navigating the larger administrative infrastructure that IFC and Purdue both have will be a unique experience that will more directly relate to something like running a business,” he said.
IFC has five executive board members, six directors, five associate board members and the Presidents Council, which is made up of all of the chapters’ top leaders. The group works on new member recruitment as well as chapter development, scholarship, philanthropy, community service, member education, risk management and public relations, according to its website.
Longo has a vision for building upon a Greek system richly entrenched into the Purdue community.
“My goals for IFC as president are encompassed by three aspects: Improving implementation of health and safety policy, improving the way Purdue fraternities approach recruitment and fostering a culture of leadership in several areas within our community,” he said.
The health and safety issues – aka risk management – are at the forefront of nationwide discussions about the roles Greek play in university communities. Challenges range from binge drinking to mental health as well as hazing to even life and death issues.
“The areas I want to focus on with this are building a culture of leadership and understanding among our general population,” Longo said. Furthermore, he wants to work with the other Greek councils to implement health and safety policies.
As far as improving new member recruitment, Longo said he’s in favor of providing prospective new members an overview of the Greek community and explain that not all chapters focus on the same things. For example, there are fraternities that recruit men with specific academic majors, some that are religious-based, and others that focus on athletics, social, philanthropy or academics. Still others do not recruit for a specific emphasis at all. Accordingly, he wants to expand upon the traditional “Meet the Greeks” event, where all chapters man booths in a large open forum.
“I think giving an opportunity for potential new members to quickly see every chapter will benefit both the chapters and the new members,” he said.
His final major goal involves building a community of leaders across the Greek system.
He hopes to do this by “promoting collaboration among chapter presidents as well as with the Council,” he said. “This can be accomplished through more conversations and events in non-formal settings” that will foster “a culture of trust.”
Furthermore, he hopes to push organizations to be true to their foundings. “If we make even just a small change building ‘grassroots’ leadership, our community will be much better off,” he said.
After his term is over, he wants to be cognizant of where Greek organizations stand with administrators and university communities alike.
“Fraternity life and culture are changing rapidly,” he said, “and I hope to make Purdue fraternities prepared to move into the future with a solid foundation of excellence.”
Longo, a Columbus, Ohio, area native majoring in electrical engineering, will become Pi Kappa Phi’s first IFC president in more than a decade.
Steve Holtsclaw held the position in 2007.
His work with the US Department of Education on strategies to reduce risk issues for incoming freshmen as they encountered the Greek system brought him significant recognition.
He received multiple honors including the Greek Man of the Year at Purdue and the Pi Kappa Phi Student of the Year nationally.
Early in his chapter experience, he developed mentors who helped push him.
“It’s difficult to put into words just how much Pi Kappa Phi and IFC prepared me for my professional career, as so much stems from my experience in these groups,” Holtsclaw said. “As an example, I was terrified of public speaking when I became IFC president and that fear disappeared pretty quickly given how many times I was asked to be the face and spokesman.”
While on campus, he sought to learn what made other the top chapters successful and make that relevant to Pi Kappa Phi.
“One of the non-obvious things I learned was to consider creative sources for solutions,” he said. “Another lesson was simply to listen, ask questions and observe before developing strategies and executing on them.”
As IFC president he thought his biggest accomplishments were “creating a sense of community across all Greek organizations and improving chapter safety and risk management.”
Holtsclaw has used his finance undergraduate degree, alongside a Northwestern University MBA, to assist clinical drug trials for Eli Lilly, an Indianapolis-based international pharmaceutical company. As such, he oversees data analysis to inform future domestic and international drug trials.
Longo has a very supporting family, too.
His dad, Greg, was a fraternity member in college and was very supportive of his son joining a fraternity. His mom, Michelle, not so much.
“As a mom, I was more hesitant,” she said. “The qualities of personal responsibility and caring for others that were enhanced through my husband’s fraternity bond were his most attractive qualities. However, the news headlines seem to be skewed toward the negative and a mom’s radar is always on full alert.”
Mom eventually warmed to the idea, but she didn’t know anything about Pi Kappa Phi.
“Nathan shared all the statistics regarding its esteemed position on campus, but more importantly his gut feeling he was sensing about the men he had met during the recruitment and indoctrination process,” she said. “We trusted his judgment.
“We later learned of many people in our lives that are Pi Kappa Phi alumni. Each year we have learned so much more and continue to be impressed with the philanthropy, brotherhood and leadership experiences.”
Now, she’s overwhelmingly proud of him being IFC president.
“Fraternities are competitive with one another,” said Greg Longo, Nathan’s dad. “This role requires someone who is respected across those lines and this speaks to the type of person Nathan is. He thrives to find common ground and help everyone find win-win alternatives.”