2020 Founders' Day Address - James Hickey, Ph.D., Grand Prytanis
January 10, 2020
My Fellow Fraters,
When Joseph Settles, James McNutt, Clarence Mayer, Owen Truitt, and C. Roy Atkinson gathered at 504 Locust Street in Bloomington, Illinois on January 10, 1899, and formed the Knights of Classic Lore they created a society whose avowed purpose was to “aid men in their mental, moral and social development.” Our mission – “to aid men in their moral, mental and social development for life” – has been present since our founding and has prevailed for 121 years.
Since 1899, Tau Kappa Epsilon has been on an enduring journey that has appealed to the nearly 290,000 men who have joined our ranks. On the day each of us knelt at the triangle and recited the Bond, we joined Tau Kappa Epsilon. It takes a lifetime, however, to become Tau Kappa Epsilon, the Fraternity for Life.
Our Founders wanted an organization that would be different from other fraternities. They wanted to establish a fraternity of men whose primary requirement for membership would be based on “personal worth and character,” not the wealth he possessed, or the connections he had, or the lineage from which he came. That fundamental membership requirement of “personal worth and character” has withstood the test of time, and it’s as relevant today as ever.
While social norms and social mores continue to evolve at a rapid pace, our timeless values have been a steadfast mooring for those nearly 290,000 Fraters who have joined our Bond. And what inspires confidence in our brotherhood and emboldens strong leadership is the mission of Tau Kappa Epsilon and the values it promulgates. The mission of Tau Kappa Epsilon is not another thing on the plate. It is the plate. It’s not another thing written on paper. It is the very fiber of the paper upon which we write our history.
Mission will always illuminate the pathway of excellence. It’s the only pathway forward for Tau Kappa Epsilon as we continue to prepare leaders for the ever-changing educational, professional, ethical and social landscape of the 21st century and beyond.
Mission is the beacon that lights the way in our unrelenting pursuit of excellence. The mission of Tau Kappa Epsilon must be paramount in all we do. It must be the compass by which we chart our course.
If we truly live our mission, if we light ourselves on fire with passion for what we value, if we truly exemplify “personal worth and character” in the tenor of our daily lives, we will continue to inspire men and leave a trail they will follow.
On this anniversary of TKE’s founding, I ask you to join me in bringing to life more fully the mission of Tau Kappa Epsilon, to renew your commitment to the Fraternity for Life, and to honor our Founders by exemplifying “sterling character and staunch uprightness.”
Men of wisdom and faith, Joseph Settles, James McNutt, Clarence Mayer, Owen Truitt, and C. Roy Atkinson had great confidence in the future of Tau Kappa Epsilon. All of us who have entered the Bond over the last 121 years is their legacy and, thanks to the vision of our Founders, we are well-positioned for continued success. With faith in our heritage, with confidence in our future, with unswerving commitment to the “magnificent obsession" and with fidelity to mission, the best days of Tau Kappa Epsilon are ahead. Fraters, on this Founders’ Day and all days, I love the Fraternity!
Yours in the Bond,
James Hickey, Ph.D.