Making Resolutions?

Plan for your Role as Chapter Leader!

by Dan Bureau, PhD
University of New Hampshire, ‘95
Board of Trustees
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Memphis

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Resolutions are often made the end of one year and the beginning of the next because people are scientifically proven to be ready for change. There is a mindset that comes with making resolutions: I have not achieved my goals in the past year (or years) but now I feel ready to make that change. When considering what changes you need to make, also give pause to how those changes will ultimately impact those around you and what strategies you need to enact in order to achieve those goals.

As you consider some of your resolutions for 2019, think about what you need to do relative to your role in Phi Kappa Theta. Leaders can always turn things around even with really difficult situations, but you have to be ready. Here are three resolutions you might adopt in your role as a leader in your chapter, your alumni association, or as part of any other committee/board on which you serve that is connected to Phi Kappa Theta.

1. I will be more focused on listening to others than only asserting my opinion. You have been elected/selected based on qualifications. Therefore, you have a right to give your opinion and it is likely one that has been considered in depth at some point. However, good leaders listen as much as they talk (if not more).

Ask questions even if you think you know the answers.

- Dan Bureau, PhD

Talking at people does not really work unless they are clear on your rationale and also how it will impact them. Moving forward, ask questions even if you think you know the answers. For example, rather than share with a brother that you wish he would pay his dues, ask “what can we do to make this experience worthwhile for you so that you invest in it by paying dues” or “what can we do to help you make the payments towards your dues” rather than assume it is just how he chooses to prioritize. Paying dues is one example, but this resolution can be applied to all aspects of leadership.

For more information check out this article from Inc. magazine.

2. I will seek to engage others rather than doing everything myself or letting the elite few who do work tackle these tasks. It is easy just to get something done the way you want it, but as you and your fellow leaders conduct themselves this way it lets many others all around you just opt out. This is a challenge particularly for those who are concerned with their legacy of leadership versus the overall effectiveness of their organization. The truth is that your greatest legacy of what you achieve as a leader will come long after you are gone: the test is whether those after you can carry on in a way that is making the organization successful.

What you achieve as a leader will come long after you are gone: the test is whether those after you can carry on in a way that is making the organization successful.

- Dan Bureau, PhD

As a leader, make the resolution that you are going to seek out brothers (recall the ritual here) and ask them what could help them become more involved. In what are they interested in helping? What are their ideas? Leadership needs to be shared in order to be impactful. Engage others and while the initial work may seem harder, you will empower others, including those who “follow you” to step up and make the difference.

For more information on leading toward results AND relationships, check out this blog post.

3. I resolve to be focused on leadership as acts versus position. This is a reality for any leader. The way it impacts our Fraternity though is that the act of leadership can feel more positional than relational. Anyone can lead and they may lead differently or the same as you but we often default to those in positions of leadership versus all the leadership potential around us. There is a body of research focused on countering this view of leadership. While leadership needs to have “leaders” and “followers” it is important to be clear that anyone may need to step up to lead in a given situation. If you are a positional leader in your chapter/alumni association/other PKT context, then you may or may not be the right person to demonstrate leadership in other ways. For example, if a brother is struggling with something, sometimes the best way to demonstrate leadership is to make sure someone who he is most closely connected to is prepared to connect with him in a way that feels helpful.

Central Michigan University hosts a leadership camp annually. Check out their overview of what’s called the social change model of leadership. This focuses on many things, most notably that leadership is not just position.

These three resolutions connect powerfully around any sort of change management efforts. If you identify change is needed then once you listen to learn, you may feel better informed to implement change that people will buy into. If you engage others in change, they will feel invested more or at least that their voice was heard. Finally, if you focus on leadership as a function versus position, and a function that anyone at anytime can step into, then you will empower people to new heights.

Resolutions often fall apart, so if you start one of these (or all of them) and something goes wrong, then consider what needs to change for you to successfully complete. Also, there may be a need for you to apply these resolutions differently depending on the context of the situation (for example, at some point there are issues within Phi Kappa Theta that simply are driven by the policies of the Fraternity), but keeping these resolutions in mind will help you reflect as a leader on what you can do, what you can do with others, and how you all can work together to make your Phi Kappa Theta experience one that is positive, educational, fun, and impactful to you, your campus and society.


Are you interested in starting your year off right? We’d like to hear from you! Complete our quick Take Action form below:

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About Dan:

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Dan Bureau joined Phi Kappa Theta at the University of New Hampshire, and graduated in 1995. He later earned a PhD. in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Indiana University. Dan works for the University of Memphis as the assistant vice president for student affairs. He also volunteers for the Council for the Advancement of Standards through the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. Dan enjoys spending time with his family, playing tennis and staying fit.

The Long Road Home

Remains of Phi Kap Fighter Pilot Laid To Rest After Fifty Years

by Gene Ney
Slippery Rock University, ‘90

U.S. Air Force pilot David T. Dinan III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘65).

U.S. Air Force pilot David T. Dinan III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘65).

It was on St. Patrick’s Day of 1969 that David Thomas Dinan, III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘65) lost his life serving our country in the Vietnam war. A native of Nutley, New Jersey, David was born in January of 1944. He was educated and graduated from Seton Hall Prep in 1961. According to his brother Charles, who currently resides in McMurray, Pennsylvania, “he was both athletic and intelligent.” David excelled in science, and, following his graduation from Seton Hall Prep, he applied and was accepted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at M.I.T., he majored in Physics.

As a young student at M.I.T., David attended a rush event at the Phi Kappa Theta chapter on his campus which was chartered in 1919. According to one of his brothers, Frank Russo ‘64, “Dave was a quiet, thoughtful, solid, sober, devout young Catholic man, perhaps more so than the rest of us.” An outstanding student, and a loyal brother, David graduated from M.I.T. and enlisted in the Air Force in 1966.

Just as he had excelled in school, athletics and the fraternity, David quickly rose within the ranks of the Air Force. He became a First Lieutenant and was awarded two medals. Those medals were the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered serving our country. He was a member of the 34th Tactical Fighting Squadron.

On that very fateful day, March 17, 1969, David and another pilot were on a mission flying over northern Laos. His F-105 had been hit by an enemy attack, and he radioed in a distress message. To avoid a crash, he ejected himself from the plane with his parachute which landed in trees in a remote area. Unfortunately, the parachute tore on tree limbs and David tragically dropped to his death on the jungle floor. His plane subsequently crashed and burned.

A search and rescue team arrived, found the wreckage, the parachute and David’s remains, but had to evacuate given enemy fire. Unfortunately, neither David’s body, or any of the debris from the wreckage were ever recovered. As a man of 25, who was engaged to be married, this was an extremely tragic way to die. According to his brother Charles, “We anticipated his remains to be returned a week or two after he went down,” but that never happened.

Retired Col. Ed Sykes, one of David’s roommates at the Korat Royal Air Force Base in Thailand, and David’s biological brothers began lobbying for his remains to be located and returned for proper burial. Through their efforts and those of Leland Sorenson, who was a member of the original search and rescue mission who had identified the remains back in 1969, the group returned to Laos in March of 2014, 45 years after David’s plane crashed and burned. On the third day of their mission near Ban Khap in the Xiangkoang Province, they discovered David’s plastic identification card. In June of 2016, an excavating crew was sent to the area where they collected his remains which were positively identified on August 7, 2017.

David’s remains were flown from Laos to Hawaii, and then to Washington, D.C., where he was interred in Arlington National Cemetery on April 25th of this year. David was one of 600 Americans who disappeared or were lost during the Vietnam War in Laos. A total of 1,597 Americans are still unaccounted for from that war.

According to Frank Russo ’64, “When I heard that David had been killed over there, my initial reaction was of great sadness, that such a good and gentle soul, with so many gifts, should have been lost in such a place.” David now rests in peace at Arlington National Cemetery with many other Phi Kaps including our late President, John F. Kennedy.

Main Image: Above: The remains of U.S. Air Force pilot David T. Dinan III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘65), of Nutley, killed in the Vietnam War, proceed through Arlington National Cemetery on April 25, 2018.

Making Our Move

Phi Kappa Theta Teams Up With DMB Coaching To Strengthen Fraternity Curriculum

by Shawn Cramer
Western Theological Seminary, ‘A

Brothers working together at the Austin, TX BBLA this past November.

Phi Kappa Theta runs at the front of the pack in terms of personal development and servant leadership. A large piece of this engine driving that forward is the partnership between Phi Kappa Theta and DMB coaching.

At the core of this partnership lies a story of two men who started as strangers, then moved to acquaintances, then colleagues, now business partners and good friends.

We conducted an interview between Dr. Michael S. Brown of DMB coaching and Robert Riggs, CAE (RPI, ‘02), Executive Vice President of Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity.

Rob, how and when did you meet Michael? What were your first impressions?

Michael and I met at a conference called Connect Marketplace in 2015. Connect Marketplace is a meeting space for those who hold and host conferences. Initially, my first impressions were, “Whoa, this guy has a ton of energy.”

Michael, what were your first impressions of Rob?

My first impression of Rob was he was incredibly thoughtful and inquisitive. He asked some really good questions not only about our campus, but about my personal interests and passions as well.

How and when did the Phi Kappa Theta/DMB Coaching partnership actually transpire and become official?

Rob: We continued to meet at Connect Marketplace over the next few years. I mentioned how much anxiety I would get having to think about writing curriculum and workshops. He told me about DMB Coaching and his specialty in designing curriculum and educational conferences for college-aged men. I was like, “Tell me more!”

Michael: We began talking more about our common interests in the development of college men and began to realize quite quickly that these passions were very similar. Rob asked to view some of my past developmental content and create unique content for Phi Kappa Theta. The rest is history!

Michael, why did you decide to accept Rob’s invitation to partner with Phi Kappa Theta?

Dr. Michael Brown of DMB Coaching speaking at a BBLA.

Dr. Michael Brown of DMB Coaching speaking at a BBLA.

My personal mission statement is clear in that my work and the investment of my life is primarily about helping young men discover a positive and progressive masculinity that will shape every area of their life. It was immediately clear that Rob’s invitation to partner was exactly in line with my passions.

Rob, what has been the most enjoyable aspect of working with DMB Coaching?

For me I really enjoy the collaboration and the full trust that we have in each other with regards to our roles. Michael and I are able to discuss what we’re envisioning for the organization, then collaborate about it, and he comes back with some excellent curriculum that really resonates with our target audience, and that’s the most important thing.

Michael, what has been the most enjoyable aspect of working with Phi Kappa Theta?

Honestly, the question should be, “What has not been enjoyable?”

Every individual I meet - every volunteer, every board member, every alumnus, every collegiate member of Phi Kappa Theta, they are just extraordinary human beings. I absolutely love being immersed in the culture of this fraternity.

Rob & Michael, what do you envision for this partnership and relationship in the years ahead?

Rob: I’m very excited for what the future may hold between us. I am envisioning that we create a situation in which our fraternity brothers are able to work seamlessly with DMB Coaching and Phi Kappa Theta to strengthen themselves as individual men.

Michael: It is my hope that my organization and my coaching team and the fraternity would be connected, quite honestly, for decades to come. We have a common mission, common core values and a common commitment that we share in helping young fraternity leaders become the best version of themselves both now and after graduation.

Rob & Michael, are there additional opportunities for individual chapters, collegiates, alumni, volunteers and/or board members in regards to working with DMB Coaching?

Rob: I would highly encourage other chapters to utilize their chapter endowments to bring in a member of the DMB coaching team to work directly with their chapter.

Michael: The sky’s the limit! Our team is prepared to visit every individual chapter across the country! I would personally prioritize any work that would come through the Phi Kappa Theta brotherhood because of the powerful friendship we have established.

The best days of Phi Kappa Theta are still yet to come. For more information on how you can personally or as a chapter tap into these opportunities, please contact executiveoffices@phikaps.org

Main Image: Dr. Michael S. Brown of DMB Coaching speaks with brothers at IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL this past August where he and his team facilitated.

SEEK 2019

Phi Kap College Students Develop Spirituality

by Kathy Jonas
Indiana University, ‘78

“It was formative for me because I learned how to pray and have a relationship with God.”

– Aaron Siehr, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thousands of college students, including Phi Kappa Theta brothers, will head to Indianapolis during Christmas break to follow the teachings of Matthew 7:7: Ask and it will be given to you: seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

SEEK is an every-other-year conference organized by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) to provide outreach to college students looking for answers to life’s big questions.

“It was formative for me because I learned how to pray and have a relationship with God,” says Chapter President, Aaron Siehr (University of Wisconsin-Madison), who attended SEEK 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.

“Everybody gets something different from it,” according to TJ Kessler (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Vice President of Spiritual Development. “It makes you more confident to grow in your faith on campus.” Kessler attended his first SEEK conference in Nashville, Tennessee, as a freshman and went back to San Antonio, Texas, two years ago. He plans to travel to Indianapolis in January.

“My personal opinion is that every good relationship has a spiritual component.” Kessler adds that this philosophy coincides with the Phi Kappa Theta pillar of Spiritual Development. The conference, attended by approximately 17,000 two years ago, provides an opportunity for Phi Kaps in attendance to explore and develop the spirituality aspect of the fraternity’s mission. Kessler says that in 2017 about half of the brothers in the house attended the conference.

This year’s gathering in Indianapolis features well-known speakers and entertainers. It builds in free time for socialization and opportunities for attendees to explore the city’s attractions. Indianapolis, for example, is home to 11 professional sports teams, is the “Racing Capital of the World” and is home to the Executive Office of Phi Kappa Theta. Indianapolis successfully hosted the 2011 Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium and is well equipped with hotels rooms, museums and restaurants – all in walking distance.

“Today’s culture tells us we need power, we need to feel good and we need to be happy,” says Siehr. “Those are not always bad things, but they are not an end in themselves. Faith allows us to get outside of ourselves and believe in something bigger. It is not easy. But it is a way to better understand ourselves rather than just blending in and following.”

Main Image: Colorado State University, University of Nebraska and Bridgewater State University Brothers at SLS 2018 in Chicago, IL.


FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) will have three main events for Greek students throughout the conference as listed below. The lunch events will feature a short talk followed by time for fellowship. The FOCUS Greek Bid Day is an opportunity to welcome all Greek students in attendance to the FOCUS Greek community and allow them to meet brothers and sisters from their respective chapters all over the country.

Friday, January 4

FOCUS Greek Lunch #1
“FOCUS Greek Lunch with Fr. Victor”
Hall IJK
12:15 pm – 1:15 pm

Friday, January 4

FOCUS Greek Bid Day
9:00 pm – 10:30 pm

Sunday, January 6

FOCUS Greek Lunch #2
“FOCUS Greek Lunch with Mallory Smyth”
Hall IJK
12:15 pm – 1:15 pm