For too long, many college fraternities have been inward-looking. The bonds of brotherhood too often mean that fraternity men live their academic, social and personal lives almost entirely within the Greek community. But SigEp can’t remain insular—our brothers are made better by active involvement on their campuses. We aim to serve as a valued partner in higher education, an imperative that heavily supports our mission of Building Balanced Men. As partners with our campuses, our brothers are better equipped to utilize campus resources for personal and professional development and to lead the way in positively impacting their communities.
SigEp lives up to its tremendous potential when individual brothers go above and beyond to exem-plify the values of our Fraternity. When a professor discovers that many of the highest-performing students in his or her class belong to SigEp, he or she is more likely to get involved with the chapter as a faculty fellow.
When chapter leaders approach university administrators with a plan to fight sexual assault or substance abuse on their campus, they establish their SigEp chapter as exceptional and enlist the administration as an ally. When a chapter is an integral part of its univer-sity, doors are opened for greater leadership. Professors can become part of the core of our chap-ters as faculty fellows. Chapter houses can become Residential Learning Communities. And univer-sity presidents can become advocates for SigEp.
In the past months, SigEp’s National Board has made a concerted effort to enhance our Fraternity’s partnership with higher education on a broader level. At our meeting last winter, we invited eight university presidents, vice presi-dents and student affairs professionals to provideinsight on how we can best position SigEp to lead on every campus. You can read more about our efforts, and our two new National Directors from the field of higher education, in the Fraternity Report on page 34 of this issue.
In our boardroom and in classrooms all over the country, we have taken the lead among fraternities and signaled to higher education that we are ready and willing to partner with them to accomplish our shared goals for student development. We’re far ahead of the field, because our men aren’t afraid to lead and take action, even when no one else is doing it. We’re partnering through unprecedented efforts such as the Balanced Man Program App and university- integrated new member orientation.
We’re different, and we’re modeling the way for other organizations across the country. I’m working with our National Directors every day to set a vision for the future that keeps SigEp in the lead. Can I count on you to be a leader in your community and on your campus?
Rick Bennet, Central Missouri ’74, is a former SigEp regional director, chapter volunteer and Grand Secretary. He served 10 years on the Fraternity’s National Board of Directors prior to being elected Grand President at the 2015 Conclave. Bennet is a longtime donor and an annual sponsor of Ruck Scholars.
Bennet is co-chief executive officer of CCA Global Partners, a cooperative serving over 2,500 independent retail businesses. Prior to joining CCA, Bennet spent 27 years with the May Department Stores, where he served as president and CEO of Famous Barr Department Stores in St. Louis, president and CEO of Kaufmann’s in Pittsburgh, and vicechairman of May. He is a Sigma Phi Epsilon Citation recipient and resides in St. Louis with his wife, Lavonne. They have three children.