Pictured above: Class of 1973

The University City Sheraton Hotel was the perfect facility for Founders Day. On April 1, 2023, alumni brothers came from far away locations, such as Tennessee, Florida, Massachusetts, Canada, Ohio, District of Columbia, and California, to attend. 

A lively cocktail hour began the evening in a large event room replete with chairs, tables, and an open bar. All agreed it was a more comfortable setting than the hallway the Inn at Penn formerly provided us for our Founders Day cocktail hours. After the cocktail hour, approximately 60 undergraduates and alumni found their way to a different ballroom to continue the evening activities. 

Jack Kollmar ’20

The agenda started with Ross Weiner ’80, Beta Pi Alumni Association (Beta Pi AA) President, providing opening remarks and a brief update on the status of Beta Pi AA. Thanks to the generosity of many alumni donors, the Beta Pi AA has been able to enhance alumni connections through ten eLetters and two printed newsletters, Slices of Beta Pi, each year. 

Jack Kollmar ’20, current President of the undergraduate members, brought everyone up to date on the status of the fraternity on campus. Due to COVID-19 and restrictions placed on all fraternities at Penn, the active brothers face challenges that Beta Pi has previously never had to face. Though the active brotherhood lost focus, with the help of Pi Kappa Alpha Inter/National (PiKA Memphis) and the Beta Pi Alumni Advisory Board, there is a strong commitment to making sure Beta Pi will successfully remain on campus despite the obstacles placed on all fraternities at Penn. 

A buffet dinner followed. The Sheraton supplied brisket, chicken, fish, and an array of salads, vegetables, and desserts, to satisfy even the hungriest of PiKA brothers.

After dinner, Bruce Wolfson ’71 provided an update on PiKA Memphis. Bruce mentioned that the hazing death of a Pi Kappa Alpha new member at Bowling Green State University in Ohio has been appropriately addressed by PiKA Memphis leaders. PiKA, that has an absolute zero tolerance for hazing, has sued the perpetrators at Bowling Green. Bruce reminded everyone, that for several years, PiKA Memphis employs Kim Novak, the foremost hazing expert in the country who oversees PiKA’s educational programs against hazing.  

Bruce Wolfson ’71

Jonah Charlton ’20 then introduced the four latest initiates into Beta Pi: Ernesto Baci from Albania, Kai Mai from Philadelphia, Vishakh Arora from California, and Daniel Hwang from Maryland. 

Jonathan Kim ’21 and Jose Garza ’22 presented the SLAG Awards to: 

Scholar: David Todaro ‘20 

Leader: Protik Nandy ‘20 

Athlete: James Champion ‘20 

Gentleman: Jonah Charlton ‘20 

Justin Wang ’22 presented the Alumni Appreciation Award to Bruce Wolfson ’71. This award was particularly deserving as Bruce was able to convince the PiKA Memphis leaders to allow, as a pilot program, a substantial amount of the donations made, through PiKA Memphis by Beta Pi brothers, to be set aside for travel and housing expenses of our undergraduate members to attend PIKE University and other annual educational programs sponsored by PiKA Memphis. For years, Beta Pi has lobbied for these changes. Hopefully, this program will be extended beyond this year. Kudos to Bruce as Beta Pi is the only chapter in all of Pi Kappa Alpha permitted to help their undergraduates in this manner.  

Everyone was pleased to spend time with Jerry Herman ’72, a lifelong friend of so many brothers and long-time leader at Beta Pi and PiKA Memphis, who made the difficult journey from his home to attend. Jerry asked Bruce Wolfson to present the Dave Herman Award, given in honor of Jerry’s father who was the oldest initiate into Beta Pi. The winner of the $500 award was Alex Sun ’20. 

Harvey Mackler ’72

Harvey Mackler ’72 then presented the Scott Mackler True Grit Award, named for his brother and our fraternity brother who fought a valiant battle against ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Scott’s achievements received national attention when he was featured on the 60 Minutes television show. The winner of this $750 award was Jonah Charlton ’20.  

Chef Julia Wellons’ memorial plaque

On behalf of the Beta Pi AA, Morty Cohen ’65 made a special presentation to Jack Kollmar ’20 of a plaque honoring Julia Wellons. Julia was the first chef in the new chapter house at 3916 Spruce Street. She prepared meals for generations of PiKAs from 1969 to 1989. Over that time, she formed a special bond with the brothers of PiKA, whom she fondly referred to as “her boys”. The plaque will be placed outside the entrance to the kitchen and reads, “In memory of Julia Wellons who served her boys the finest meals on campus 1969 to 1989”.   

Alumni Loyalty Awards were handed out by Joel Catania’71 to Dave Edman, Paul Newman, and Tom Neesen, all ‘73 initiates for 50 years of devotion to Beta Pi. Recipients of 55-year certificates went to Mark Perna and Peter Vogt, both ’68 initiates. Peter and Mark were first year residents of the new chapter house at 3916 Spruce Street. The former chapter house at 3900 Locust Street had already been demolished. Mark and Peter gave impromptu speeches detailing how the new house was not yet ready and for three months they had to live in a condemned building at 30th and Walnut Street that was owned by Penn. This building had boarded-up windows and all the doors inside the building had been removed. They affectionately named the temporary dwelling as “the slum”. 

Following the singing of traditional Pi Kappa Alpha songs, Jack Kollmar ’20 thanked everyone for coming and asked that all return next year for another Founders Day to renew old friendships and to honor our fraternity.   

Class of 1968