Dr. William S. Spears Pledges $1.5 Million for Leadership Training Facilities
The Sigma Nu Educational Foundation (SNEF) received a pledge of $1.5 million last December from Dr. William S. Spears (Oklahoma State) to build new leadership training facilities on the Sigma Nu Headquarters property. The Spears Family Epsilon Epsilon Center of Excellence will house classrooms, a climate-controlled archives room, and lodging for up to 75 for visiting chapters from around the country.
Dr. Spears became inspired to make this gift after reflecting on the experiences he gained in his own chapter. “I feel indebted to Sigma Nu for the leadership capabilities I developed during my time with the chapter,” he said. “I believe my time with Epsilon Epsilon Chapter shaped me in ways that are still bearing fruit to this day.”
“The fraternity experience is important for our nation’s future,” he added.
In June of 2014, Dr. Spears challenged his fellow brothers of Epsilon Epsilon Chapter to match his gift of $1.5 million by November of this year. His Oklahoma State chapter brothers answered the call and raised the matching funds by the deadline. Nearly 300 brothers of Epsilon Epsilon Chapter stepped forward to contribute.
“It is our expectation that this challenge – this collaborative effort to support Sigma Nu – will be the spark that prompts brothers from other chapters to join what has become a growing coalition of alumni dedicated to making Sigma Nu the most formidable men’s fraternal organization in North America,” he said.
For Brother Bill, Sigma Nu was the bridge to adulthood. “It took me from the adolescent years to early manhood,” he says, “and the leadership skills I learned and developed through my fraternity experience have served me for more decades than I want to count.”
Dr. Spears also cited the important role his father and uncle played in encouraging him to join the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter at Oklahoma State. “They were exceptional role models for me,” he said. “This gift honors their memories and the Spears family overall.”
The founding principles of Sigma Nu are of particular importance to Brother Bill, as they align closely with the values his family taught him. “As the first Honor fraternity, Sigma Nu has a set of values that I embraced,” he continued. “They were the same values I was taught in my early years. So the gift honors both the fraternity and my family.”
Past Regent and SNEF chairman Joe Gilman (Morehead State/Georgia) is among the many longtime alumni volunteers to understand the significance of this pledged gift. “I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Brother Spears for his transformational gift supporting the ideal of ethical leadership,” said Gilman. “We are proud to have one of the most visited headquarters of all national fraternities,” Gilman continued. “This gift will enhance the experience of tens of thousands of collegiate and alumni brothers who will visit the Headquarters Shrine for decades to come.”
“In recent years we have witnessed a positive trend of local chapters forging stronger partnerships with the General Fraternity,” Gilman observed. This relationship with Lexington has long been a priority for Brother Bill and the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter, as illustrated by the chapter’s annual bus trip to visit VMI and the Headquarters Shrine. “Knowing the ties our chapter has to Lexington,” Brother Bill said, “the annual trip serves to ensure that Epsilon Epsilon is always tightly connected to its Sigma Nu roots.”
Neil Gilpin, longtime advisor for the Epsilon Epsilon chapter, was also quick to recognize the impact this investment will have on the fraternity’s budding leaders. “This will be a place where brothers will learn and develop the skills to become ethical leaders and embrace the ideals of Sigma Nu while at the birthplace of our great fraternity,” he said. Gilpin also reiterated Dr. Spears’ goal for this matching gift to spur other chapters to host similar fundraising competitions that support programs and scholarships coordinated through the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation.
“This kind of engagement simply confirms what I believe about the lasting positive influence that a fraternity provides,” Dr. Spears added. “Our members are truly part of a brotherhood: these gifts are tangible evidence that brotherhood lasts.”
Association Recognizes Fraternity’s LEAD Program
Sigma Nu Fraternity was presented with the 2014 Power of A Silver Award for its LEAD Program, the organization’s comprehensive ethical leadership development program.
The Power of A Silver Award is presented by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). ASAE honored Sigma Nu Fraternity’s commitment to instilling in its members the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective ethical leader in life.
“Congratulations to Sigma Nu Fraternity for benefitting not just their own industry, but society at large,” said Paul Pomerantz, CAE, CEO of the American Society of Anesthesiologists and chair of the Power of A Awards Judging Committee.
Over the years, the LEAD Program has adapted to meet the changing demographics of Sigma Nu’s collegiate membership. This effort to make the LEAD Program even better led to the determination that scientific evaluations conducted by a third-party research institution were needed.
Sigma Nu Fraternity subsequently partnered with George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Public Health to develop and implement the evaluative component. The conclusions from the evaluation speak to the benefits of the LEAD Program, but also help the fraternity identify the changing needs of today’s student leaders. The fraternity has used these findings to let the program evolve to provide relevant training to prepare ethical leaders for society.
“Recognizing how important it is for students to develop useful skills before entering the job market, Sigma Nu Fraternity has vowed to be a pioneer in providing relevant leadership programs for the fraternal movement,” said Scott Smith, Sigma Nu Fraternity’s director of leadership development.
ASAE’s Power of A (association) Awards, the industry’s highest honor, recognize the association community’s valuable contributions on the local, national, and global level. The Power of A Awards reward outstanding accomplishments of associations and industry professionals for their efforts to enrich lives, create a competitive workforce, prepare society for the future, drive innovation and make a better world.
After 13 years of dedicated service, Justin Wenger (William Jewell) has concluded his tenure with the Sigma Nu Headquarters staff team. Wenger held a variety of roles with the Fraternity including Leadership Consultant, Director of Education, and Director of Financial Operations. Specifically, Wenger’s contributions to Sigma Nu included management of the Fraternity’s consultant program and development of the Helping Hand Initiative.
In October, Wenger became the business director of O’s Ark Printing, a custom print shop based in Buena Vista, Va. Wenger is also the head baseball coach at Rockbridge County High School.
Tyler Young (Florida) joined the Headquarters staff in September 2014 as Director of Development for the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation. Prior to joining the staff, Tyler served as director to numerous metro Atlanta counties for the Boy Scouts of America. In addition, he has helped coordinate volunteer efforts at 11 Super Bowls.
During his time at University of Florida, Tyler served as Commander, Alumni Relations Chair, and was integral in the recolonization of the Epsilon Zeta Chapter. His father, James Young, is a brother from Gamma Chapter (Duke). Tyler holds a bachelor’s degree in sport management and a master’s degree in management; both from the University of Florida. Tyler lives in Atlanta and enjoys golf, traveling, and live music.