PEP: From Ratings to Strategy


By Scott Smith (Central Arkansas)

As members return to campus to begin the fall semester chapters should begin turning attention to their to-do lists. Rosters need to be updated, the first round of fall billings from the General Fraternity will soon be due, candidate classes are being signed, and the chapter’s fall schedule is coming together. A primary focus for all chapters during the month of September should be planning for the remainder of the current academic year.

  • What do we want the chapter to look like at the end of 2014-2015?
  • How many men will we have?
  • What awards will we win?
  • What signature events will we hold?
  • What kind of experiences should be provided for members?
  • How will the chapter impact the local, campus, and Greek community?
  • Where will our pursuit of excellence take us this year?

From Ratings to Strategy

Now that school is back in session, each chapter should have received its Pursuit of Excellence Program (PEP) ratings and feedback. But what’s next? The ratings and feedback each chapter received are not the end but, rather, the beginning of the annual Pursuit of Excellence process. Perhaps the most important exercise for any organization – from fraternity chapter to Fortune 500 Company – is developing a vision and then setting out a deliberate plan for becoming that organization.

The start of school is an ideal time to have an intentional conversation with the chapter membership and either re-committing to the existing plan or charting a new course – where are we going and how are we going to get there? The PEP ratings from 2013-2014 give the chapter an objective look at where they currently stand but it is still up to the chapter to determine where it is going.

A key tool for answering these questions can be found within the Pursuit of Excellence Program, in the form of the Strategy Session. This chapter workshop provides a great start to the year by leading the chapter through a review of the Pursuit of Excellence Program, their performance from last year, and guided group conversations for setting new goals for this year.

By the end of September, each chapter should use their ratings and feedback from the previous year to plan for the upcoming year. The PEP Strategy Session provides a great opportunity to engage chapter members in the strategy and problem solving process to create direction for the chapter’s continued improvement.


PEP Infographic


Getting to Acceptable

For chapters that have less than acceptable ratings in any area, the Strategy Session is a great tool to reach minimum standards. In fact, conducting the Strategy Session and developing plans for improvement is required for those chapters that fail to meet acceptable or better ratings. The Chapter Improvement Plan Guidelines provide details on what to include in an improvement plan, a review of the Fraternity’s minimum standards (acceptable criteria), and resources directed at helping the chapter improve its future operations. Using this resource and conducting the Strategy Session as a chapter or with each of the officers and committee chairman at the start of the school year is the best way to start in a new direction.

PEP Infographic 2

Goal Setting Resources

The Strategy Session will lead your chapter through a review of its performance and achievements from the previous year and direct your membership in the creation of goals and a strategic plan for the upcoming year. For chapters looking to go beyond basic visioning and goal setting, additional goal setting and strategic planning resources can also be found in All Chapter LEAD Module B.

The Evaluation Guidelines and updated Standards and Criteria for Excellence are other great resources for helping your chapter determine any gaps between their current reality and vision for the future.

The start of school is an ideal time to have an intentional conversation with the chapter membership and either re-committing to the existing plan or charting a new course – where are we going and how are we going to get there?

Get Started

Take this opportunity to make the Pursuit of Excellence Program the foundation of your chapter’s operations, planning, and achievement. Get involved by helping to facilitate the chapter’s strategy session, reviewing the Standards and Criteria for Excellence (including available resources for achieving excellence), and setting your chapter on its path to excellence!


Remembering Our Brothers

Editor’s note: Remembering Our Brothers was originally published on September 11, 2013 and has since been updated with photos from the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center. 

On this day twelve years ago, Sigma Nu Fraternity tragically lost four brothers in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Below are links to biographies about each of these brothers and a brief personal anecdote about each of our brothers. Help us keep these brother’s memory alive and let them inspire us to live a life of honor.

Lt. Michael Scott Lamana, US Navy (Louisiana State)

mslamana-usnOne of Lamana’s teachers at St. Aloysius said she remembers his sense of humor and book smarts. But Sister Rosary Arocena said she is most proud of his decisions about what to do with his life.

“I see him as a hero who gave his life for our country, and I really admire him.” she said.

“He could have been something else, and he chose to serve his country.”

“He loved his job. He loved the military,” said his father, Jay. “He was just getting into a good part of his life, everything was just going really well for him.”

Michael Lamana

James Andrew Gadiel (Washington and Lee)

103980portJames was a kindhearted, interesting, and intelligent young man, whom I had the honor and pleasure of knowing both during college and during his brief time in NY.  James had only just moved to NYC to work at Cantor Fitzgerald, when the 9/11 attacks occurred. We had reconnected that prior weekend along with many other (then) recent Lambda chapter graduates, and in fact James was at my apartment the Sunday prior to the attacks to watch the opening weekend of the NFL.  Our last conversation centered around plans to go to a Mets game together.

Looking back on that day 12 years hence, I’m struck by the enormity of the loss of James in ways I don’t think I could’ve imagined when I was 25.  The Lambda chapter alums who gathered thatweekend, unknowingly seeing James for the last time, have moved on with their lives.  Like me, many have gone on to marry and have children, built careers, and hopefully hold to the values of love, honor and truth that were instilled to us by Sigma Nu.  All of that potential that James had, was snuffed out in an instant — which makes the loss even more tragic as time goes on.

James was a valued fraternity brother, a good guy, and a friend.  I think back to the last time I saw him often — as a reminder of the preciousness of life, and the value of living one’s days to their fullest potential.

He is, and always will be, missed. – Doug Hesney (Washington and Lee)

James Gadiel

Peter Christopher Frank (Delaware)

When the planes struck, Peter Frank – who grew up in Great Neck – was emailing his groomsmen to ask them to prepareimagetheir tuxedos for his upcoming wedding to Karen Carlucci, said his mother, Constance Frank, of Great Neck and Rhode Island.

The wedding was to take place Oct. 19 – a date that still can be hard to endure for his family and fiancee, who remains close to Frank’s parents and has never married.

“It’s so hard to lose such a wonderful son, with so much potential to be a happy man,” his mother said. “He was loyal, smart and fun.” The family held a memorial Mass for Frank 10 days after Sept. 11, and buried his remains when they were found.

Peter Frank

Karl Trumbull Smith (Delaware)

Smith_Karl_Photos_Family_013The chores I am relieved of…

I am relieved of picking up my Dad up at the train station.

I am relieved of teaching my Dad to sail.

I am relieved of sharing a car with my Dad.

I am relieved of driving my dad when he’s had a drink.

I am relieved of aiding my Dad after a long run.

I am relieved of telling my Dad where I am.

I am relieved of emptying the trash in my Dad’s bathroom.

I am relieved of calling my Dad for permission.

I am relieved of sending a postcard to my Dad if I am on a trip.

I am relieved of being a son to my father.

That is the chore I miss the most.

Poem written by Brad Smith, Karl Smith’s son

Karl Smith

Every Given Sunday

FOX NFL SUNDAY co-host Curt Menefee

By John Bauernfiend (Indiana)

The first thing you notice about Curt Menefee is his voice. It’s the same voice that’s hosted FOX NFL Sunday since 2006. It’s the voice that has called preseason NFL games, the voice that has called UFC fights. Yes, that voice.

The first time I heard the voice in person I was standing at the security desk in the lobby of the freshly painted FOX Sports 1 studio in Los Angeles, only a few minutes before our meeting to interview the iconic broadcaster.

As I stood, my back facing towards the entrance, Menefee walked in, talking of just having seen “Kobe in the parking lot.” For a moment, I had to focus to shake Mr. Menefee’s hand, which completely engulfed mine. Curt then says he’d meet us in the conference room in a few minutes. The three of us went, and though it turned out that Kobe Bryant was not in the parking garage (it was Cobi Jones, member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, still very cool), reality was not lost on us and where we were.

Menefee grew up in Atlanta, Ga., where he attended Henry McNeal Turner High School. He says he always knew he wanted to be in sports, specifically as a television producer. Menefee, as even he admits, says how he ended up at Coe College is odd.

“It’s one of those decisions you make when you’re seventeen years old that you look back and you go Why did I make that decision? I don’t know. It just kind of felt right.”

As he tells it, as a senior in high school, Menefee and the rest of his AP English classmates were permitted to miss class to meet with college recruiters. A representative from Coe College was there, his booth clearly not as popular as some of the others. Menefee felt bad for the guy, went up to him and struck up a conversation. Eventually he and Menefee exchanged information, and, soon enough, postcards and phone calls started reaching Menefee in Atlanta all the way from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“I knew I wanted to go to a small school away from home, and everything just kind of felt right,” Menefee says. “They had no journalism program, there was no speech department. I mean there was nothing.”

“It makes no logical sense.”

If you live your life with honor, you get opportunities that maybe you wouldn’t. People look at you and will respect you for that.

For two and a half years while he was in school, though, Menefee worked at a local television station. He says his hands-on experiences were more valuable to him than a prestigious journalism school would have been.

“I look back and I would not change a thing,” he says. “I think it helped me become who I am. I got opportunities there that I never would have gotten had I gone to Syracuse or Missouri or one of the big journalism schools.

“I was on air when I was nineteen years old, when I was a sophomore in college. I was reporting for the last two and a half years I was in school. That never would have happened anywhere else.”


Menefee, right, on the Fox NFL Sunday set with Michael Strahan and Terry Bradshaw.

The first semester of freshman year, Menefee joined Sigma Nu, but it didn’t work out and he eventually depledged. Returning to school for his sophomore year, he once again rejoined Sigma Nu, and served as his candidate class’s president. “Like a lot of things in my life,” Menefee observes, “it worked out better than planned.” He also says that Sigma Nu helped establish a set of values that he still lives by.

“When you’re 18, 19 years old and you’re a young guy on a college campus, everyone’s having fun and you’re just living life. You tend to get wrapped up in a world with you and your friends and that’s it,” Menefee says. “When you go to fraternity meetings every Sunday, and when you see that crest and those words on a daily basis, it just kind of reinforces that there’s a certain way to live your life. I think Sigma Nu reinforced in me, at a young age, on a daily basis, of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to be perceived. If I ever wanted to achieve anything in my life, there are certain values you have to understand and adhere to.”

After Menefee graduated from Coe, the station where he had been working for two and a half years offered him a full-time job to work in the news department. But Menefee turned it down. Instead of sports, they wanted him to work in the news department. “I don’t want to have to knock on someone’s door and tell them that their kid passed away,” he remembers thinking.

Menefee kept working at the station as a freelancer. Then an opportunity came in Des Moines, Iowa, where Menefee worked as a sports reporter for a year.

Everywhere I’ve ever been, my whole goal has been to be the best guy in that market at the time. The rest of it takes care of itself.

Menefee then moved on to Madison, Wisc., and worked there for two years as a weekend sports anchor.

From there, he went to Sports News Network (SNN), a D.C. based company that was trying to become a 24/7 sports network. But the fledgling network soon went bankrupt and Menefee would spend the next eight months unemployed until a chance encounter with a man running for the U.S. Senate.

That person was Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin politician on his first campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Menefee worked on the campaign for several months before leaving in July to accept a weekend sports anchor position in Jacksonville, Fla. (Feingold won the campaign and became a U.S. senator that November.)

Menefee remained in Jacksonville for a year before moving to work as the weekday sports anchor in Dallas.

After his three-year stint in Dallas, Menefee went to work for the FOX affiliate in New York City where he worked for seven years before leaving to work for the Knicks and Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Things were humming along for Menefee’s career. He worked hard wherever he was and took new opportunities as they came up. His career thus far would be considered a great success by any measure.

In 2006, FOX asked Menefee to be the host of FOX NFL Sunday, the network’s flagship NFL pregame show. “You give yourself more opportunities working hard at the place you are now,” Menefee says, reflecting on his career thus far. “Everywhere I’ve ever been, my whole goal has been to be the best guy in that market at the time. The rest of it takes care of itself.”

The first NFL game Menefee ever attended was an Atlanta Falcons preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The quarterback for the Steelers at the time was four-time Super Bowl champion Terry Bradshaw, who is now Menefee’s broadcast partner along with other NFL legends Jimmie Johnson, Howie Long and Michael Strahan.


In 2006, FOX asked Menefee to be the host of FOX NFL Sunday, the network’s flagship NFL pregame show.

The planning for FOX NFL Sunday begins each Thursday with a morning conference call between the on-screen subjects and the show producers. As Menefee explains, everyone but him is in L.A. during the week; Strahan is in New York, Johnson is in the Florida Keys, Long is in Charlottesville and Bradshaw is in Oklahoma. The call serves as a preliminary hearing, to map out what topics should be broached and what the crew is leaning towards discussing.

Menefee will usually write from about 8:00 to 11:00 on Saturday mornings to prepare for Sunday’s show. After that, he and the other cast members check in to a nearby hotel. They watch the college games while doing final preparations for their own show, breaking up around 5:00 p.m. From there, he goes to bed early, trying for eight, to wake up at the brisk hour of 4:30 Sunday morning.

Menefee and the others are in the FOX Sports studio by 5:30 a.m. They have a meeting at 7 a.m. that serves as a full dress rehearsal – suits, ties, make-up and all. Then they go live on air at 9 a.m. pacific time.

We ask Menefee if he gets nervous talking in front of 20+ million viewers (Fox NFL Sunday is the most-watched NFL pregame show). “I honestly don’t get nervous,” he says. “I can remember as a kid, my mom saying that I don’t get too high or too low on anything. I don’t think about how there are millions of people watching me. We’re just having a conversation and there happens to be cameras there. I’m fortunate.”

The show lasts for an hour, with the first set of NFL games beginning at 10 a.m. PT. Menefee narrates periodic highlights during gamebreaks throughout the day, as well as the halftime highlights. The show ends once the second set of games conclude, which is typically around 5 p.m. PT. “It’s basically a twelve hour day. We finish up with a little meeting then get out of here.”

In addition to his job hosting FOX NFL Sunday, Menefee also hosts FOX Football Daily, which airs Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. ET on the new Fox Sports 1 network.


When FOX Sports launched its new network in August 2013, network president Eric Shanks asked Menefee if he wanted to deliver the network’s mission statement, which he gladly accepted.

“I was honored by it,” Menefee said. “There are hundreds of employees that they could have chosen, and they chose me. It meant a lot.

“FOX has been very good to me,” Menefee says. “As the saying goes, ‘how often do you get to go to work and do something you love?’ Between the NFL, soccer (Menefee has announced UEFA Champions League games before) and UFC, it’s rare that you have just as much fun at work as you do at home.”

In the offseason, when he’s not focused on football, Menefee likes to travel. He’s been to every continent and over eighty countries. He golfs, sometimes with his wife and sometimes with Bradshaw in Hawaii. He’s rung the NASDAQ opening bell in Times Square. Yes, Curt Menefee is a man who is enjoying life.

But Menefee has also found himself in the anchor’s chair during critical times in our history. In 2001 he was living less than a mile from the World Trade Center. Menefee remembers having to walk home the 60 blocks from work that night. Everything was quiet, he said, except every now and then you’d hear a siren and that was it.

“You wake up the next morning and ask yourself ‘was it a dream?’ September 11, because I was there and because I was so close to it, has a different connotation than just a date on the calendar, and I don’t think anybody takes it for granted.” (Curt’s reflections on living in Manhattan during the attacks were especially meaningful as we happened to be meeting on the 12th anniversary.)

“It goes back to realizing the power of this medium,” Menefee says, referring to the impact of journalism in this day and age. “People are watching and they understand, and if you’ve got a chance to connect people to an event that has happened, that’s what I am. I am the conduit for that, rather than just giving out statistics.”

Sigma Nu reinforced in me, at a young age, on a daily basis, of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to be perceived. If I ever wanted to achieve anything in my life, there are certain values you have to understand and adhere to.

“99.99 percent of the time, that’s all it is, nothing serious,” Menefee continued. “But when it is something serious, I think you have to remember they’re human beings we’re talking about. I think too often it’s easy to say, ‘my job is to just get facts.’ Your job is to make a human connection.”

But it’s more than that. Sure, the playful banter he shares on the set is fun, but for Menefee it all goes back to honor as your personal reputation. Through it all, through his time at Coe College to FOX Sports 1 to trips to Afghanistan to support American troops, Menefee has lived a life filled with honor.

“Love, honor, truth, I always go back to those three words,” Menefee says. “Love and truth are valuable, but honor is the key, because if you do everything in your life with honor, I think you tend to go the right way. This business that I’m in, if you do it right it’s supposed to be about honor and truth. But I also believe that if you live your life with honor, you get opportunities that maybe you wouldn’t. People look at you and will respect you for that.”

“It’s about you, it’s about your name, it’s about your reputation, it’s about your family name, and I think that is where it comes back to, that word ‘honor.’ Honor is the key to everything I’ve ever done in my whole life.”

All photos courtesy of Fox Sports.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Nashville

The Nashville skyline. Image courtesy of Kaldari via the Wikimedia Commons.

The Nashville skyline. Image courtesy of Kaldari via the Wikimedia Commons.

Editor’s note: As a resident of Nashville, Associate Director of Risk Reduction Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky) has a unique perspective on the city. For further information about Sigma Nu’s Grand Chapter held in Nashville, visit for a complete itinerary.   

By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)

Incorporated in 1806, Nashville is the capital and largest metropolitan area in Tennessee. Known as “Music City” for its prominent role in the music industry, the city is home to 17 different colleges, universities, and vocational colleges. These are just a few of the reasons Nashville is well known as a regional hub and tourist destination. The following facts are some of the less well known but equally compelling attributes of Nashville.

Country’s First Metro Government

Faced with the growth of suburbs following World War II and a tax base struggling to accommodate residents with appropriate services, talks began about consolidating Nashville city government with Davidson county government into a single entity. In 1962 a referendum was passed that fully consolidated Nashville’s city government with Davidson county’s government. In 1963 this was put into practice with the birth of the Nashville Metro Government. While many other metro areas by this time had partial consolidation, Nashville was the first location to have a full and complete consolidated city and county government.

Nashville Civil Rights

Three years before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the Civil Rights Movement was in full force in Nashville. In 1960, civil rights and non-violent protest advocate James Lawson organized a group of African-American students from Fisk University and Tennessee A&I (later Tennessee State University) to begin non-violent protests of the segregated lunch counters in downtown Nashville. The initial effort was met with backlash that sometimes resulted in physical violence against the protesters. However, following several successful and attention grabbing lunch counter sit-ins secret negotiations with business owners and protestors began. The final settlement resulted in business owners serving African-Americans at designated times and locations with the media encouraged to report but not sensationalize the event. After a few weeks, businesses began compete desegregation of lunch counters. By May of 1960 the lunch counters had been completely desegregated and Nashville became the first major city in the South to fully desegregate some of its services.

Fisk University

Fisk University was founded in 1866 and is one of the nation's oldest historically black colleges. Image courtesy of Historic American Buildings Survey

Fisk University was founded in 1866 and is one of the nation’s oldest historically black colleges. Image courtesy of Historic American Buildings Survey via the Wikimedia Commons.

Most people know about Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities in Nashville, however Nashville is also home to one of the oldest historically black universities in the nation. Fisk University was founded in 1866 and was the first African-American institution to gain accreditation by the Southern Associate of Colleges and Schools in 1930. Fisk University has been home to many notable alumni including W.E.B. Du Bois, Ben Jobe, Dr. Charles Jeter (Father of Derek Jeter), Matthew Knowles (Father of Beyonce Knowles), John Lewis, and Arthur Cunningham.

Frist Museum

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is Nashville’s most significant and unique art museum: the building itself is considered a work of art. The Frist (as it is known locally) was built in the 1930’s as the city’s main post office and is an excellent example of Art Deco, the popular architectural style of the time. It is located next to Union Station which was necessary as most mail arrived via train. After a new post office location was built near the airport, the downtown location became less and less busy until Philanthropist Thomas Frist coordinated with the city to purchase the building from the US Post Office in the 1990’s and converted it into its current state. Great lengths were taken to ensure that much of the building’s original style and aesthetic remained the same. Today visitors to the Frist can see visible remnants of the building’s tenure as a major post office. The Frist has also hosted major traveling exhibits including most recently an exhibit covering Norman Rockwell’s body of work.

Nashville during the 2010 Cumberland River flood. Photo courtesy of Kaldari via the Wikimedia Commons.

Nashville during the 2010 Cumberland River flood. Photo courtesy of Kaldari via the Wikimedia Commons.

2010 Cumberland River Floods

In May 2010, the city of Nashville saw some of the worst flooding in the city’s history. The Cumberland River, which runs through downtown Nashville, crested at an unprecedented 51.86 feet, the highest level that the river had reached since being dammed in the early 1960’s.  A record-breaking 13.57 inchesfell over May 1-2 and caused the Cumberland and surrounding tributaries to swell far beyond their normal levels. The city was devastated by the floods, which damaged the Grand Ole Opry House, Bridgestone Arena, and LP Field, among other noted landmarks. The flood claimed 22 lives in the state of Tennessee, with ten in Davidson County.

Centennial Park & the Parthenon

The Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park. Image courtesy of Dave Pape of the Wikimedia Commons.

The Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park. Image courtesy of Dave Pape of the Wikimedia Commons.

In 1897 Nashville hosted the Tennessee Centennial and International Exhibition to celebrate Tennessee’s centennial. A large plot of land was assigned as the site for the event and work was begun to prepare it. Some of these features included a man-made lake and island that included a restaurant. However, the key centerpiece of the area was the Parthenon. Nashville’s city leaders were well aware that their rival city of Memphis had plans to embrace their namesake by erecting a large pyramid. Not to be outdone by their neighbors to the west, Nashville chose to embrace their own nickname of “Athens of the South” (given for the amount of schools, colleges, universities, and seminaries in town) by building a life size replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Following the Centennial Exhibition, all of the displays and pavilions were taken down except for the Parthenon. Today the Parthenon still stands and the site of the exhibition is called Centennial Park which has become the city’s premier outdoor recreation and event site. Visitors can still visit the Parthenon and even walk inside to the see the life size replica of the statue of Athena.

Printer’s Alley

Printer’s Alley started as a hub for publishing in Nashville with several newspapers, publishers, and print houses located there. By the time Prohibition came, most of the printing businesses had closed down and local residents took to creating home brewing and distilling businesses. Once Prohibition ended, these residents decided to turn their ventures into actual bars and nightclubs. The sale of alcohol for on-premise consumption remained illegal in Nashville but law enforcement turned a blind eye to the antics of Printer’s Alley. Today the area remains a key location for nightlife and is still a slice of the wild side of Nashville.

GooGoo Cluster


The Goo Goo Cluster. Image courtesy of Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1901 Standard Candy Company was founded in Nashville and soon brought forth a delicious treat that remains a local favorite. In 1912, The Standard Candy Company created the GooGoo Cluster, which is a combination of peanuts, chocolate, marshmallow, and caramel. It is considered by some to be the nation’s first combination candy. The recipe has not changed since its inception and the ingredients were specifically chosen for the lingering taste sensations. If presented with the opportunity to try one, be sure to take advantage and beware of the ensuing addiction to a true Southern delicacy.

Acklen’s Ruse

During the Civil War, Adelicia Acklen found herself as the head mistress of Belmont Mansion and in a precarious position. The Confederate Army was threatening to burn her entire cotton crop to prevent it from falling into the hands of the invading Union Army. Even if the Confederates were unsuccessful, the Union Army would have surely requisitioned her property. In light of these two looming outcomes, Acklen absconded to Louisiana where she negotiated the sale of the entire crop to Rothschilds of London for over $900,000 in gold. The sale of her property, along with her family’s property and other assets, made her one of the richest women in the country for the duration of her life. In her later life she sold Belmont Mansion to what would eventually be known as Belmont University.

Grand Ole Opry Founding

In the 1920’s the National Life & Accident Insurance Company founded the radio program “WSM Barn Dance.” One night the Saturday night program was preceded by a program from New York that featured classical and opera music. Announcer George “Judge” Hay joked before his program began, “For the last hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from grand opera and the classics. We now present our own Grand Ole Opry.” The name stuck and has survived to this day. The very first performer for the “Barn Dance” was 77-year old fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson. The Grand Ole Opry bounced around from Belcourt Theatre to War Memorial Auditorium until it found its long-time home at the Ryman Theatre. All venues still exist today.

Bonus Fact: In 1954 a teenage Elvis Presley performed his first and only performance for the Grand Ole Opry and was advised after his show by Opry manager Jim Denny that he should return to Memphis and continue being a truck driver.

Easy Company Soldier: Brother Malarkey Tells His Story

Editor’s note: Easy Company Soldier originally appeared in the fall 2009 issue of The Delta.

World War II Band of Brothers meets Operation Iraqi Freedom Band of Brothers

Don Malarkey with members of 4th Sustainment Brigade during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008. Image courtesy of Maj. Carol McClelland.

By Merritt Onsa

Don Malarkey first learned about paratroopers from an article in the November 1941 issue of Reader’s Digest. It said they were the “…hardest, toughest, and best-dressed soldiers in the Army…” and they got to wear silver wings, designating them as such. He saw photos of their uniforms and knew this was the place for him.

malarkeyIn the summer of 1942, Malarkey received his draft notification. He quit his job at a defense plant in Portland, Oregon, and returned home to Astoria where he ran into a friend who was on leave from Fort Lewis. He told Malarkey that the first thing they asked for was volunteers to join the paratroopers. “Whatever you do, don’t say yes, Malarkey. It’s a death sentence. You’re jumpin’ out of a friggin’ airplane going a couple hundred miles an hour—and right into enemy territory. The odds stink.” But Malarkey’s mind was made up. When he arrived at Fort Lewis with a hundred other new recruits, the paratrooper question came, and he was one of only two in the group who said yes. “I knew where I needed to be,” he says.

Malarkey made it through the intense physical challenges commanded by Easy Company’s Captain Sobel who orchestrated the most demanding training regime in the Army. “We hated him, but he instilled a very strong bond among the men and a spirit of ‘do not quit, no matter what’ that helped us greatly in combat,” recalls Malarkey.


Malarkey speaking at College of Chapters in 2009.

Their first day in combat was D-Day. Eighty-one planes took off from England in the middle of the night, headed for Normandy. Under fire, Easy Company dropped in behind enemy lines, several miles from their scheduled drop zone. Once on the ground, their first battle was the now-famous assault on the German battery at Brecourt Manor, the events of which are depicted in the second episode of the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, called “Day of Days”. This German artillery position, three miles southwest of Utah Beach, was firing onto one of the causeway exits and disrupting the advance of the Allied landing forces. Several other units had stumbled onto this position earlier and been repelled.

Malarkey recounted, “Easy Company had been specially trained to attack fortified positions, so despite having only 12 men assembled we got the call.” They had almost no information, and the orders were brief and pointed,‘There’s fire along that hedgerow there. Take care of it!’ They discovered that the position was comprised of four 105mm Howitzers, two MG42 machine gun emplacements, and an interconnected trench system, all defended by a force of about 60 Germans.

[Malarky and Vance] also examined the way leaders who drive negative emotions cultivate dissonance within the group, sharing that management by intimidation is counter productive.

“When we reached the position, Lieutenant Winters told us to line up along a hedgerow and fire full clips in the direction of the guns for covering fire. Then he gave the order to begin the assault. Lieutenant Compton charged the guns first. He fell into a trench system and immediately found himself face to face with a German soldier. Compton tried to fire, but his rifle jammed and the soldier ran off. Compton then signaled the rest of us, and we all ran to the trenches. I ran straight up the pasture to the first gun, taking the Germans by surprise. We knocked out the first gun rather quickly,” Malarkey explains.

Malarkey with Oregon chapter members

Malarky with his Oregon chapter brothers.

It was then that he spotted a dead German soldier in the field. Malarkey decided to run out and grab the German’s Luger pistol as a souvenir. “At first, the Germans must have thought I was a medic because they didn’t fire at me, but that quickly changed. Winters yelled at me to get back into the trench. The Germans started shooting, and I ran back under heavy fire. The dead German did not have a Luger, but thankfully, I wasn’t hit. Unfortunately, our machine gunner Cleveland Petty was hit, and Lieutenant Winters ordered me to man his machine gun along with Joe Liebgott. Winters was worried that the Germans would work in behind us so he ordered us to guard the rear. Liebgott and I covered that position for several hours until we finally pulled out.”

Malarkey with Vice Regent Tony Marable

Don Malarkey (left) with Vice Regent Tony Marable.

Don Malarkey was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions in the assault on Brecourt Manor. He was one of 14 Easy Company soldiers to receive medals for their bravery and extraordinary service on D-Day.

By the end of the war, Malarkey’s service had included combat operations in France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. He has the distinction of having spent more time on the front lines (170 days) than any other member of Easy Company. He was discharged on November 29, 1945.

In his book, Malarkey talks about his attempts to deal with the severity and pain resulting from all that he witnessed during the War, including the deaths and injury of many close friends. “I stuffed it deep inside, thinking it would somehow just go away. It didn’t. It just builds up, like carrying one more brick on your back, and one more, and more, and more. And finally you say, Enough, I can’t walk another step.” It wasn’t until a few years ago, when Malarkey went to the VA Hospital to speak with someone, that he learned he’d been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


Malarkey signs copies of his book outside the VMI auditorium.

Many of his fraternity brothers were surprised after seeing the “Band of Brothers” series because Malarkey had never spoken to them of his experiences in combat. “When I returned from the war, I was not comfortable talking about what happened unless I was talking with someone who had had a similar experience. I just felt that they would not understand,” he shares. Most of his fraternity brothers who had joined the service had not seen combat.

“But I can say, had it not been for the support of Sigma Nu, and specifically Al Gray, I would not have lasted in school. The discipline and rules did a lot to create a special bond that was very much like what I experienced in the military. It’s something very special and rare,” he shares. Gray was the one who talked Malarkey into enrolling at the University of Oregon in the fall of 1941 and suggested he join Sigma Nu. Although, Malarkey didn’t need convincing to join the Fraternity, since his father, Leo (Oregon) and Uncle Robert (Oregon) had been in the chapter as well as his cousin, Huntington (Oregon). “I had every intention of joining Sigma Nu when I enrolled at the University of Oregon,” he says. In fact, it was the only fraternity he was willing to consider.

Today, regular speaking engagements have given Malarkey the opportunity to talk about his recently published book and communicate a message he hopes will influence future generations. “Not everyone has the chance to make the same type of contribution to the country that we made, nor should they. But it’s my hope that everyone would do something, anything, to benefit the country,” he shares.

“A bully is never a respected leader,” says Malarkey. “Fear and intimidation get results, but never those intended.”

Malarkey presented this message in June at the Fraternity’s undergraduate leadership conference “College of Chapters” in Lexington, Va. More than 350 collegiate members attended the keynote entitled “Frontline Leadership”. Alongside stories of his personal experiences in the War, Malarkey challenged the undergraduates to demonstrate their ability and character by taking on tough assignments and meeting challenges head-on as soon as they are aware of them.

L to R Don Malarkey and Vance Day

Vance Day (right) uses the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers to discuss leadership styles.

Malarkey and his close friend Vance Day, Esq. also spoke to the group about a leader’s responsibility as the emotional guide for the group. “When leaders drive emotions positively – when there is resonance within the group – they bring out everyone’s best,” Malarkey explained during the session. They also examined the way leaders who drive negative emotions cultivate dissonance within the group, sharing that management by intimidation is counter productive. “A bully is never a respected leader,” says Malarkey. “Fear and intimidation get results, but never those intended.”

It was a fitting message for collegiate leaders attending Sigma Nu’s four-day program as it directly related to the Fraternity’s founding values opposed to hazing. “Our mission is to develop ethical leaders for society, and we are deeply honored that Don would travel across the country to be here to share his inspiring story with today’s collegiate leaders,” said the Fraternity’s Executive Director, Brad Beacham.

Find Malarkey’s book online: Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from World War II’s “Band of Brothers” (St. Martin’s Press).

The Delta of Sigma Nu – Spring 2014

Table of Contents

The Delta_spring 2014_cover_final


College of Chapters

A photo essay captures the College of Chapters experience.

Finding the Scoop in Sochi
Drew Bogs (Ball State) earned the opportunity of a lifetime covering the Winter Olympics in Sochi with his Ball State journalism program.

The Olympic Fangelist’s Dream Job
As BP’s director of Olympic strategy, sponsorship and marketing, George Bauernfeind (Indiana) helps top athletes achieve their dreams to compete on the world stage.

Splitting Lanes
The inside story of how Don Jeanes (Texas State) landed the lead role in a Super Bowl commercial that became an instant classic.

Back Down South
Mark Walsh (College of Charleston) and his journey to the “bottom of the world.”

Letting His Lights Shine
Mike Justak (Ball State) is on a mission to get Parkinson’s patients up and moving.


From the Editor
Behind the scenes.

More at
The latest resources and information available at the fraternity’s website.

Readers respond to the fall 2013 issue featuring Bill Courtney (Mississippi) and the Undefeated documentary.

Updates from Lexington
News from the General Fraternity.

Chapter Eternal
Remembering a former congressman and a talented musician.

Chapter News
Dispatches from around the country.

Alumni News

Michael Kimmel’s Guyland tells the [delayed] coming of age story of young men in America. Plus the latest titles by Sigma Nu authors.

Higher Education
MOOCs: legitimate disruptor or passing fad?

Perspectives on Our Past
Grand Historian Bob McCully (San Diego State) chronicles the history, tradition, and heroes that make the Legion of Honor unique.

Division Commander of the Year Jamison Keller (Cal State San Bernardino) reflects on his Sigma Nu story and offers best practices for working with fellow alumni.

To opt in to start receiving the print copy in  your mailbox, complete the short web form available here. Click here to read the print version as a pdf.


A Fraternity of Men, Not Boys

By Scott Smith (Central Arkansas)

Michael Kimmel’s Guyland tells the (delayed) coming of age story of men in America.

Guyland cover_high resIn his book author Michael Kimmel takes the reader deep into the world he calls “Guyland,” mapping out the geography, influences, and behaviors of “guys” in what can be described as a new phase of life. Guyland has firmly rooted itself between the dependency of boyhood and the autonomy, sacrifice, and responsibility that characterizes manhood. It’s not a state of arrested development but more of a new stage where guys, not quite boys or men, hang onto the Peter Pan notion that it’s not quite time to grow up just yet. Guyland is characterized as both the time between adolescence and adulthood and those places where guys gather absent the demands of serious responsibility and outsiders like jobs, parents, kids, and girlfriends.

Stories of guys engaging in extreme behavior just before, during, and immediately following the college years are ubiquitous as are the media and personal accounts of psychological, alcohol-induced, and violent pseudo rites-of-passage. A fraternity-related hazing death has occurred nearly every year since 2000, Kimmel says. Hospital transports for alcohol overdose are a common occurrence Thursday through Saturday nights on college campuses across the country. One in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college, according to Kimmel’s research. He adds that high school students are bombarded with anti-gay comments, with teachers rarely intervening. More than half of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing, and nearly half experienced it prior to coming to college, according to a University of Maine study by Elizabeth Allan and Mary Madden.

While Guyland is everywhere that males between the ages of 16 and 26 gather, it best describes the population of mostly white, middle-class, college bound/going/recently graduated males living together in groups and working entry-level jobs or not at all. Fraternity houses, dorms, and shared apartments are the predominant domiciles of Guyland’s inhabitants, Kimmel says in his book. This new social space is defined and ruled by The Guy Code – a set of attitudes, values, and traits that describe (inaccurately) what it means to be a man.

  1. “Boys Don’t Cry”
  2. “It’s Better to be Mad than Sad”
  3. “Don’t Get Mad – Get Even”
  4. “Take It Like a Man”
  5. “He Who has the Most Toys When he Dies, Wins”
  6. “Just Do It” or “Ride or Die”
  7. “Size Matters”
  8. “I Don’t Stop to Ask for Directions”
  9. “Nice Guys Finish Last”
  10. “It’s All Good”

Never show emotion, winning is imperative, compassion is taboo. These axioms govern behavior and are used to evaluate whether guys measure up. Guys inform their views of masculinity in light of the voices of the men in their lives. In the absence of men, they take their cues from other guys. Masculinity is essentially boiled down to performing for and being judged by other men, with the goal of being a “man among men.” The problem is that guys have a skewed internal sense of social norms, assuming that excessive behavior is average when it comes to things like sex, alcohol, and violence. College students regularly overestimate the amount their peers drink and then proceed to increase their own consumption in order to keep up. These misperceptions coupled with the lack of a playbook for becoming an adult leave guys to figure it out as they go along, typically with too much room for error.

Kimmel traces the sociology of Guyland across several spheres, filling out his observations from a four-year survey of over 400 males with a series of national studies, insights from over 30 years of his own research, and telling examples from the inhabitants of Guyland. Guyland covers high school, binge drinking, hazing, sports, media, pornography, the hook up culture, predatory sex and rape, the role of girls in Guyland, and a final chapter of recommendations for turning “just guys” into just guys. Perhaps the best summary of Guyland’s effects is in the rites of passage and initiation rituals guys put each other through. Whether it’s for a fraternity, sports team, club, or some other selective group, guys put up with ceremonial degradation in order to be accepted, liked, and aligned with the in crowd.

Such rituals provide ample evidence that hazing is less about younger males trying to impress their elders, and far more about the sense of entitlement that the older males have to exact such gratuitously violent and degrading behaviors from those more vulnerable than they.

While blaming the media is a poor strategy and lazy scapegoat, the constant barrage of sex, violence, and drugs being pumped from stereos, TV, magazines, and video games cannot be completely ignored. The hyper-masculinity of college and professional athletics, pornography, and virtual outlets guys fill their time with certainly have an impact on the version of manhood they are trying to live up to. Retreating to a fantasyland where they can adopt an avatar – an idealized version of themselves – and employ a skill and control not found in their everyday lives has become less entertainment and more of a daily priority. While many may not agree with Kimmel’s portrayal of the escapist nature of political and sports talk radio, video games, pornography, anonymous message boards, and online gambling, the fact remains that guys spend an inordinate amount of time in these spaces. Certainly there is a reverberating effect of this type of retreat into a “no girls allowed” and no consequences environment.

The typical transition to adulthood is marked by five life-stage events: leaving home, completing one’s education, starting work, getting married, and becoming a parent. Only 31 percent of men under 30 had reached those markers in 2000, compared to 65 percent just forty years earlier, providing further evidence that the transitional moment between adolescence and adulthood has become its own life stage, with adolescence beginning earlier and earlier for each generation and adulthood later and later. Adulthood is no longer marked by a series of experiences but rather a set of attitudes, Kimmel contends. When they are ready to “accept responsibility for their actions,” decide on personal beliefs and values independently of parents or other influences,” and become “less self-oriented, developing greater consideration for others” they then, in essence, feel like adults.

Not all of Guyland is bad, though. The advancing age of marriage, for example, benefits both men and women, giving them additional time to advance their careers and establish their identities before committing to a family. The reality is that most men do not commit rape or sexual assault, drink daily or to excess, think bullying and hazing are acceptable, or feel comfortable treating women as property or objects.

The problem remains that an uncomfortable individual, when faced with a silent majority led by outspoken extremists, has a tendency to go along for fear of being singled out or having his manhood and loyalty to the brotherhood questioned. Most guys do not participate in extreme behavior most of the time, but they know people who do, and most do not say anything about it. Edmund Burke’s famous line, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” perfectly summarizes the result of the bystander role most guys play. Kimmel explains,

[B]eing a real man isn’t going along with what you know in your heart to be cruel, inhumane, stupid, humiliating, and dangerous. Being a real man means doing the right thing, standing up to immorality and injustice when you see it, and expressing compassion, not contempt, for those who are less fortunate (p. 287).

Being a man is about being courageous, honorable, and ethical. Something that fraternity, when done right, is all about. Sigma Nu chapters are ideally positioned to advance this conversation among their membership; whether through LEAD sessions and other intentional conversations on topics like sexual assault, alcohol misuse prevention, values, and ethics, or in developing true mentoring relationships with “big brothers” and local advisor-mentors. Fraternity men and chapters should promote true masculinity – acting as beacons of love, honor, and truth – not a promotion of excessive behavior and delayed development. Guyland is a wake-up call to the realities and effects of the college experience and surrounding years on males. Advisors, fathers, and brothers can benefit from the perspective, analysis, and advice provided by Kimmel.

[Return to Table of Contents.]


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