At our 2016 Province 5 Convocation held at Lyrecrest on September 9-11, chapter officers from all six chapters in the Province came together to share experiences, learn firsthand from the National Staff about the new resources available to chapters, and grow together in Fraternity and in leadership.
As the start of the event, newly-installed CPR Will Koch led the group in a discussion that would serve as a framework for the entire weekend: a consideration of the five elements that make up our fraternity: music, brotherhood, service, sociability, and business. With conversation on each, a foundation was laid that brothers were encouraged to base the trajectories of their chapters off of.
As an alumni member, I think back to the times when I was most in tune with the Fraternity during my undergraduate years, and each of these five things is present there. Yes, some play a larger role than others, but the organization would either crumble or not be Sinfonia without all of them. We are who we are as Sinfonians because of our commitment to these elements.
This week, when you have a moment, take a brief opportunity to reflect on your fondest memory as a collegiate brother. What was it about those times that resonates strongly today? Can you reconnect with the people that made it possible, or reinforce the principles that led it to be? Cling to those things – the people and the elements. They truly are what make this Fraternity worth being in, and what drive us to strive for success and growth.
I would like to introduce myself, I am Cameron Thomas, your current Province Alumni Coordinator. I was initiated into the Epsilon Kappa chapter at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in Fall of 2010. While I was in Carbondale I majored in mathematics and accounting. I ended up with a master’s degree in accounting and by the end of this year I will be a CPA in St. Louis. All of that said, my time as an alumni has been brief, and not very stereotypical. I have only been out of college since May 2015 and I have served as CPR and as PAC for most of that time. I am still in contact with the chapters several times a semester, and I feel much closer to the chapter experience than the “alumni experience.” From what I have seen, there really is no prototype alumni experience, and as PAC it is my responsibility to help engage and stay in contact with Sinfonia’s alumni.
So I would like to ask you all, as a collective, what do you want out of the Sinfonian alumni experience? I doubt any of you want to go to weekly business meetings, but what are you looking for? One thing that I know some of you may be interested in is a nationwide initiative to try to do a Mills Music Mission and sing in hospitals and nursing homes all on the same day around Christmas. Please let me know what you would like more of and I will do my best to accommodate.
Despite the heat and rain, the academic year is a sign that the Fall season is here. Students at chapters across the country and in Province 5 are grinding through band camps, or finishing up their move in and getting their textbooks finalized. Across the midwest, alumni brothers who now teach at the elementary, high school or collegiate levels are also beginning a new year with new students and colleagues, and fathers are sending their children off to an education.
Through all of it, the things that we have in common as brothers of Phi Mu Alpha are stronger than ever, and music and fraternity are as strong in us as they have ever been. The fraternity is truly experiencing a national renaissance in size and in scope. This year marks another chance for Sinfonians of all ages and experiences to come together to make Illinois, Indiana and Missouri better places through the power of music.
Collegiate brothers – as you move in and get re-acclimated to residence hall and college house life, and as you arrange lessons and classes and textbooks, please take some time to think about your goals for this semester for yourself as a brother and your chapter. The first meeting is going to be a great reunion, but it is also the opportunity to set the tone for the entire year.
Alumni brothers – as the academic year starts up, this is a great time to reflect on how Sinfonia has helped you become the man you are now, and the role your Alma Mater played in shaping you. A new generation of brothers is rising up, and your inspiration and support will only help them grow stronger and better.
All of us are brothers in Phi Mu Alpha, and all of us are Sinfonia. Our fraternity is each and every one of us, both together and as individuals, and we rely on each other to live up to our Object and live by our values and ideals.
Welcome back and here’s to a phenomenal year, brothers. So let it be for Sinfonia!
Every three years, the Midwest region hosts a Fireside Conference to bring Sinfonians from across the region together for fraternal education, the betterment of our Brotherhood and to meet and hear with our National Leadership. This triennium, I am thrilled to announce Beta Theta has been offered the privilege to host the proceedings on April 29-31 at Millikin University.
National President Mark Lichtenberg, National Past-President John Mongiovi and Executive Director Ed Klint will all be present to present on the Fraternity’s history and ritual, as well as lead the attendees in discussions on topics of depth to broaden our horizons and expand Sinfonia. The weekend will include a Ritual and a banquet.
Early registration is open through April 15, and the cost is $32 ($22 if you wish to not eat at the banquet). Fees increase by $10 after April 15. All brothers in good standing are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please note that registration does not cover housing, and each brother is to arrange his own housing for the weekend.
I sincerely encourage all of you to consider attending Fireside Midwest – it is a rare opportunity to network and learn from some of our wisest and most experienced brothers, and a true honor for both the men of Beta Theta and the brothers of Province 5!
Of all of the things brothers could have taken away from the Province Workshop held in Evansville on February 19-21, the one I would most want them to hold on to is the feeling they had during the Mills Music Mission. We had 35 brothers come together and sing for the residents of the Evansville Protestant Home, and each of them had the chance to make a lasting impression through song.
As I told the audience, we knew we weren’t the Boston Pops, but it was our music, and we were happy and privileged to bring it to them. From the messages our brothers and I received, the music we brought was greatly appreciated.
Outside of the Mills Music Mission, the dominant theme of the workshop was “Tough Decisions Made Well.” Thanks to the diligent work of our CPR, the brothers were split into equal size groups and given a scenario to approach as an executive board would. They had a large amount of time to meet, discuss the scenario, and come to a consensus decision.
On Saturday night, each group presented their scenario, their decision, the pros and cons of their decision and the ramifications of their decision. They were all able to explain their rationale on prompts that ranged from risk management issues to chapter culture crises and probationary member debates.
As a whole, the chapters all had a chance to work with each other in new and engaging ways, and all came away with a renewed sense of the need for civility and structure in decision making, as well as an appreciation for diversity in the executive setting.
Other items of note from Province Workshop:
Will Koch (Epsilon Upsilon ’15), Yusef Carr (Xi Upsilon ’11), and Chad Brown (Iota Psi ’12) were elected Collegiate Province Representative, Assistant Collegiate Representative and Province Webmaster, respectively, for the 2016-2017 school year. Congratulations!
The delegates of Province 5 voted to partner with Province 37 (Northern and Central Illinois) to sponsor a booth at the 2017 ILMEA Conference in Peoria. Exact commitments will be determined at a Province Council Meeting later this semester.
Congratulations to Adam Schroeder (Xi Tau ’14), the 2016 recipient of the Mark R. Lichtenberg Province Leadership Scholarship!
Ben Hutchison, National Collegiate Representative, visited the Workshop on Friday night and presented on national topics and offered to video conference with chapters going forward.
Many thanks to the brothers of Epsilon Upsilon and the University of Evansville for playing gracious hosts, and to Immanuel Lutheran Church for providing housing for our traveling brothers.