Above: 50-year loyalty award recipients.

The University City Sheraton Hotel was the perfect facility for Founders Day on March 23, 2024. Alumni brothers came from faraway locations, such as Tennessee, Florida, Canada, District of Columbia, California, West Virginia, Switzerland, and New Hampshire, to attend.

A lively cocktail hour began the evening in a large foyer, meeting room, and an extra wide corridor, with numerous tables and chairs. An open bar was up and running. The tight accommodations for the cocktail hours at the Inn at Penn were now a distant memory. After the cocktail hour, more than 50 undergraduates and alumni found their way to a nearby event space to continue the evening activities.

55-year loyalty award recipients.

The agenda began with Ross Weiner ’80, Beta Pi Alumni Association (Beta Pi AA) President, providing opening remarks and a brief update on the status of the Beta Pi AA. During his brief address, he emphasized the importance of being a PiKA is the establishment of lifelong friendships.

Ross Weiner ’80 makes welcoming remarks.

Justin Wang ’22, current President of the undergraduate members, brought everyone up to date on the status of the fraternity on campus. Due to the restrictions placed on all fraternities at Penn, the active brothers face challenges that Beta Pi has not previously had to face. Following a year that brought a very small class of new initiates, the remaining brothers forged ahead with vigor and persistence to establish stability within the fraternity. There is a positive attitude amongst the members. They had a successful Spring Rush and are looking forward to bringing PiKA back to its previous prominence and stature as a top fraternity on campus.

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

After dinner, Bruce Wolfson ’71, Beta Pi AA Vice President, provided an update on Pi Kappa Alpha Inter/National (PiKA Memphis). He mentioned that PiKA has had a tremendous change in the last 40 years. The fraternity is now focused on the personal and professional development of its members to be better persons and leaders in the communities they reside. Hazing, sexual harassment, and use of illegal drugs are not tolerated. In addition, despite the anti-fraternity postures by college administrations, membership in Pi Kappa Alpha is increasing.

Justin Wang ’22 discusses chapter status.

Luke Baber ’22 and Ryan Patino ’21 then introduced the three initiates of the Alpha Eta class in the fall and the 14 new initiates of the Alpha Theta class this past spring. That PiKA Memphis refers to itself as an international fraternity is apparent by the hometowns of our latest initiates. There are members of the Alpha Eta and Alpha Theta classes from Macedonia, Slovakia, China, Germany, Kosovo, Poland, and Syria.

Phillip Trieu ’22 and Jose Garza ’22 presented the SLAG Awards to:

               Scholar: Jaume Pujadas ‘22

               Leader: Ryan Patino ‘21

               Athlete: Dimitri Kallins ‘22

               Gentleman: Hayden Siesel ‘22

Daniel Hwang ’23 handed out the Alumni Appreciation Award to Jerry Herman ’72. Jerry sponsors the Dave Herman Award every year in honor of his father, the oldest initiate into Beta Pi. This year, he deservedly received the award for all he has done for Pi Kappa Alpha at Beta Pi as well as PiKA Memphis. In his brief acceptance speech, Jerry emphasized the need for everyone who has benefited in life to “give back.”

Morty Cohen ’65 presents 5-year loyalty award to Kaden Stenger ’19.

Bruce Wolfson ’71 bestowed the Dave Herman Award of $500 to Hayden Siesel ’22.

Harvey Mackler ’72 then presented the Scott Mackler True Grit Award, named for his biological brother and our fraternity brother who fought a valiant battle against ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Scott’s achievements, in the development and use of technological equipment, received national attention when he was featured on the 60 Minutes television show. The winner of this $750 award is Justin Wang ’22.

Alumni Loyalty Awards were handed out by Morty Cohen ’65, Beta Pi AA Secretary. Kaden Stenger’19, a leader at Beta Pi and a former student member to the PiKA Memphis Supreme Council, received a five-year certificate.

Ed Shamy, Gary Sachs, Stephen Robinson, and Michael Yost, all 1974 initiates, received 50-year certificates for their devotion to Beta Pi. When they were students at Penn, Beta Pi earned multiple Smythe trophies designating our chapter as one of the most exceptional of all Pi Kappa Alpha.

With a brand-new Chapter House at 3916 Spruce Street, they set a standard of fraternal living for years to come. Receiving certificates for 55 years of devotion to Beta Pi, were Rich Myers, Rich Sussman, Paul Zaentz, and Mark Mancini, all 1969 initiates.

After the new initiates regaled us in song by singing Down in Old Virginny and How’d You Like to be a PiKA, Justin Wang ’22 provided closing remarks and offered an invitation to return to the Chapter House for fun and games.