The chapter received the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an individual fraternity on May 31, when it was announced as one of five Award of Distinction recipients.
The annual awards are presented by the North American Interfraternity Conference for up to five chapters “demonstrating excellence in operations, involvement in their fraternity/sorority and campus community and a commitment to a positive fraternity experience.” The NIC itself exists “to promote the shared interests and values of our member fraternities: Leadership, service, brotherhood and scholarship,” according to its website.
Pi Kappa Phi at Purdue, along with four other chapters nationally, was among the 6,000 fraternities eligible for the Award of Distinction from 800 campuses.
It means that the chapter is among the Top 1 percent of fraternity chapters in the nation.
In his nomination letter, Brandon Cutler, Purdue associate dean of students for fraternity, sorority and cooperative life, lauded the chapter’s commitment to service while maintaining high academic standards. Cutler has advised the campus Greek community for six years and wrote, “During that time, the Pi Kappa Phi chapter has consistently stood above its peers … This recognition is due to Pi Kappa Phi’s outstanding commitment to humble leadership, stakeholder engagement and dedication to service and philanthropy.”
Cutler cited Pi Kappa Phi’s being named the top fraternity at Purdue the last two consecutive years and nine of the last 12. Furthermore, he pointed out that chapter members have contributed more than $290,000 toward philanthropic organizations and has ranked No. 1 in fund raising and community service hours. Furthermore, the chapter has consistently earned an average 3.1 GPA or higher and individual members hold a variety of leadership positions on campus.
“For at least 12 years, this chapter has performed at a level few Purdue fraternities ever reach,” he wrote in the nomination letter. “The chapter consistently boasts data, statistics and chapter performance that sets it apart from its peers, but that is only part of the story.
“The Purdue Pi Kapps are one of the most engaged fraternities I have ever worked with … They are invested in the lives of young people and generally care about the right things … While we hope most chapters are playing checkers, they are playing chess at a high level.”
Cutler also wrote, “They have sustained a level of performance that challenges every norm and trend in the fraternal industry and have done so with a sense of humility.”
Statistics bear out the accolades Cutler cites.
In Purdue’s most recent statistics, Pi Kappa Phi was No. 1 in service hours – nearly three times the runners-up, No. 1 in philanthropic dollars raised – more than 2.5 times the second best, No. 3 in membership and No. 4 in GPA. Purdue has 41 fraternities.
Academically, 10 members had 4.0 GPAs, 58 were on the dean’s list or earned semester honors and 101 had at least a 3.0. That’s from a chapter boasting 152 members in the Fall 2018 semester.
In his letter supporting the chapter’s nomination, Pi Kappa Phi CEO Mark Timmes cited three specific areas in which the chapter excels. They include: Campus & national leadership, commitment to service and campus & national recognition.
“Both collectively and individually, the student members of the chapter continue to distinguish themselves at the local and national level by providing an uncommon fraternity experience grounded in community involvement and servant leadership,” Timmes wrote.
He noted that 2018 archon (president) Nathan Longo is the 2019 Purdue Interfraternity Council president and serves on the Council of Archons for Pi Kappa Phi, a group of 12 undergraduate members from across the country who advise the national council and national staff. He also cited chapter member leadership in the freshmen orientation program, dance marathon and Old Masters’ programs.
In terms of service, Timmes wrote that the chapter excels in fund-raising and service including volunteering in a local high school’s special needs classes and high-level participation in national events. Those national events include the Journey of Hope, a national cross-county cycling trip that has included more than 80 chapter members over the years including eight in 2019. And Timmes listed the litany of awards the chapter has won locally and nationally in the last several years.
“While statistics and accolades never tell the full story of any organization, I hope these highlights begin to depict just how exceptional our men at Purdue truly are,” Timmes wrote. “This is a chapter of students who understand fraternity and what it means to live the values we all espouse on a daily basis.”
Chapter advisor Pat Kuhnle gave a more personal perspective as to why the chapter should have been considered for the NIC award.
“Nearly every Greek organization does some sort of philanthropic outreach, but I doubt none as earnestly as this chapter,” he wrote. He said every chapter member participates regularly in service events – “that’s correct, 100 percent participate consistently and regularly.”
Furthermore, he boasts that all chapter events during the academic year were created by chapter members as undergraduates. That includes the David Feltner 72-Hour Memorial Bike a Thon, Arctoberfest, War of Roses, Pi Kapp 100, Special Needs Prom and Lafayette Jefferson High School volunteering. And then there is the chapter’s commitment to service on the national level, including 82 riders or crew all-time in Journey of Hope, 10 all-time on Gear Up Florida and 15 in the spring semester who assisted at a regional special needs camp.
Kuhnle wrote that the chapter members are quite selective during the fall and spring recruitment periods that typically see nearly half all those going through the process visiting Pi Kappa Phi during the process.
He said the Top 3 priorities chapter members seek during recruitment are academics, service and campus involvement. That set of priorities when looking for new members helps Pi Kappa Phi sustain its superiority year after year.
• The Purdue Interfraternity Council was given the 2019 Council of Distinction Award, too. That recognition comes from a campus where the IFC operates in full compliance with NIC standards and works to maintain an environment conducive to success of the member chapters on their campus. Pi Kappa Phi’s Nathan Longo is the 2019 Purdue IFC president.