On Saturday evening, brothers and friends gathered to mark the conclusion of another successful Conclave and celebrate the best in our Fraternity. Four longtime volunteers were presented with the Order of the Golden Heart, SigEp’s highest alumni honor, in recognition of their many contributions over 30 or more years of service to the Fraternity.
Mike Duggan, Missouri State ’74
Duggan’s promise as a leader was evident early on when he was elected to serve on the Interfraternity Council as a freshman. That promise was further realized when he became a student member of SigEp’s National Board of Directors.
He embarked on his journey as a volunteer immediately after graduating and has been actively engaged with his home chapter for more than 40 years. Intent on bringing the chapter back after losing its charter, Duggan took on the role of alumni and volunteer corporation president. His passion soon had other alumni believing the chapter could return stronger than ever. When it did return, he recruited additional volunteers to support the chapter.
An early proponent of the Balanced Man Program, he served as balanced man steward for several years before leading a campaign to build a new chapter home. That effort has resulted in a top-notch facility that supports brothers’ academic, personal and professional growth.
“You live out SigEp ideals every day of your life,” said Past Grand President Chris Bittman, Colorado ’85. “Brother, today we say thank you for your 50 years of service to Sigma Phi Epsilon. We consider it an honor and a privilege to call you our brother. We will strive to be worthy of your dedication.”
Scott Carr, California-Santa Barbara ’86
Since 2006, Carr has served as alumni and volunteer corporation president for his home chapter. Although the distance between his home and campus has made volunteering a challenge, it’s never deterred Carr. Even when he was just getting his career started and beginning his family, he faithfully made the three-hour drive often and without complaint — and still continues to do so.
The opportunity to impact a young brother’s life the way his was as an undergraduate makes it all worth it. Through his patient and heartfelt guidance, California Gamma has consistently won Buchanan Cups for chapter excellence and produced high-quality young men who lead in their communities.
A longtime Board of Governors member, Carr has also shared his talents with SigEp on a national level. He’s facilitated at Carlson Leadership Academy and served as a Tragos Quest to Greece mentor. As a member of the SigEp National Advancement Council, Carr has played a vital role in the Fraternity’s fundraising efforts.
“You have spent a lifetime repaying a debt of gratitude to Sigma Phi Epsilon,” said Past Grand President and Order of the Golden Heart recipient Garry Kief, Southern California ’70. “But, tonight, dear brother, we hope you see that we are the ones who are indebted to you.”
“Your diligence, love and leadership have not merely changed one life … but thousands.”
Ray Ackerman, Oklahoma ’77
Rev. Ray Ackerman has dutifully served as SigEp’s moral compass for more than 40 years, especially in his role as National Chaplain since 1996. Impressed by his character, brothers elected him president of his undergraduate chapter. He inspired the recently reorganized group to focus and set goals, and in the process, becoming campus leaders in philanthropy and earning several Buc Cups.
This early leadership set the tone for his alumni journey. After graduation, Ackerman served as a regional director on the Fraternity’s Headquarters staff, further solidifying his reputation as a wise and empathetic advisor.
He later began volunteering with his home chapter and has served on the AVC for more than 30 years. A longtime chapter counselor, Ackerman is a model of integrity and brotherly love, sharing life lessons and providing a listening ear to anyone who needs him.
“For the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon, you have been a faithful shepherd,” Bittman said. “Your voice has been loving and inspiring. Firm and dedicated. It’s been a source of joy and of consolation. And through it all, you have pointed us toward the pursuit of life’s highest ideals.”
Chris Bittman, Colorado ’85
As an undergrad, Bittman served as a chapter officer and joined SigEp’s Headquarters staff as a regional director following graduation. He went on to start 21 new chapters as expansion director and manage the traveling staff as the director of chapter services before launching a career in financial services.
For the past decade, Bittman has shared his financial skills with SigEp, working to manage and grow the Fraternity’s assets as a member of the Investment Committee.
He has also served on the National Board of Directors and Educational Foundation Board of Trustees for the past 20 years. He was elected Grand Treasurer for eight consecutive terms before serving as Grand President from 2017 to 2019. As the fraternity movement has evolved, his skills as a consensus builder have helped facilitate some of the most revolutionary changes in Greek life, including the adoption of the Balanced Man Program across all our chapters and establishing substance-free chapter homes.
Kief surprised his co-presenter with SigEp’s highest honor. “Tonight I get to tell you that you’ve been a SigEp hero to me … and to all of us … for a long, long time,” Kief said. “Tonight we get to place your name where it belongs. Next to Dubach, Freeark and Zollinger … Wheeler, Hasenkamp, Kerr and Doud,” Kief said. “And yes, next to Shawn McKenna and Phil Cox.”
“You’ve been there through wins…and losses. Personal triumphs and the depths of despair. You eased those times with your humor. Helped us lighten the burdens. Always knowing that your humor comes from your heart. And your heart beats pure SigEp.”