Serving as your Eminent Supreme Archon over the past year and a half has been both enlightening and rewarding. Your ‘Supreme Council set forth an aggressive agenda focused on enhanced education, moving the organization ever forward and meeting challenges head-on. I have had the opportunity to meet many great men, our youngest and our oldest, and I am constantly inspired by the spirit, enthusiasm, and, often times, hard work that our Brothers, regardless of age, display as they build on the proud legacy of SAE.
During the biennium, the professional staff, with guidance from the Supreme Council, has embarked on a number of initiatives to enrich the SAE experience for our members and particularly our undergraduates. Eighty-three years have passed since John O. Moseley envisioned an educational experience for our Brothers, the first of its kind in the country.
While the spirit of the John O. Moseley Leadership School will continue, we are building on that legacy with a vision of reaching more men, more often and in more places. Starting in March 2019, we begin the evolution of the traditional once-a-year school with plans to deliver four District Academies each year by 2020. In 2019, we’ll host the inaugural event at the Levere Memorial Temple and the other dates and location will be announced this spring. These new geographically distributed programs will focus on emerging leaders and advisors and will allow us to connect with and mentor far more men throughout the Realm. We have spent countless hours in focus groups, town halls, and surveys to learn what our men seek. This process has identified the need for greater personal and professional development, in conjunction with the chapter leadership and operations programming that have been part of the Leadership School for decades.
This past January, we convened our first Executives Academy, another program built on the foundation of the original Leadership School model. This program focused on leadership training for our chapter presidents, recruitment chairmen, health and safety officers, and chapter advisors. The inaugural program had more than 350 Brothers in attendance. Next year, we will invite more officers to join us, increasing the impact on all chapters across the Realm.
I am very proud of the success that we have had with the DeVotie Ritual Institute. In seven short years, this has become our most in-demand program. The impact has been far-reaching and in order to expand the program, it will be held in July 2019, rather than November. This shift will allow us to move beyond the interior walls of the Temple and utilize the outdoor areas as well. It is so very fulfilling to see our members coming to the Levere Memorial Temple and discovering the beauty and meaning of our home. They arrive with a hunger for knowledge about the ritual and eager to learn how to use its lessons and meanings to enhance their value system and guide them in reaching their greatest potential Understanding our ritual, history, and creed is what truly separates us from other fraternities.
Our programs are vital, yet our education model extends far beyond our events. Also in development are new programs and services designed to create individual and chapter incentives to encourage men to excel and, in return, to be rewarded. We have new online curriculum being developed to better prepare our men for the responsibilities of membership and new experiential programs being designed to enhance the bid-to-initiate (96 hours) experience for every chapter.
Communicating all that we are doing is still being featured in our longstanding magazine, “The Record,” and a new model is also taking hold. If you have not taken the time to access “The Record Online,” I urge you to do so at www.therecordonline.net. For many years, we’ve been told you wanted more “good news” about the Fraternity and wanted it more frequently. The Record Online makes that a reality and it’s quickly becoming, as intended, your SAE good news channel.
Along with the many good things going on, we have also heard your concerns. We have faced challenges and worked diligently to address them. We are not perfect, but the passion and desire to be all we can be, drives us every day. To that end, we created the True Gentleman Task Force in the fall of 2017. We asked that they explore our key messages and brand identity. Armed with that information, and with the support of a professional agency, we met with several focus groups in the summer of 2018, comprised of students, volunteers, staff, and external constituents. We learned a lot about ourselves, our mission, our history, and our passion for the future. That led to an increased understanding and commitment to how we present SAE, define ourselves and our brand. Our strengthened identify will infuse our communication and our visual presence and over the next few months, you will begin to see a new look built on a familiar and meaningful story, so that together we can rise about our challenges, seize opportunities, and reach new heights.
I am also very excited for our upcoming 163rd Anniversary Convention to be held in Louisville, Kentucky in June. This will be a great opportunity for our members to come together to elect our new Leadership and to guide the organization into the future. Many have spoken to us about the purpose and opportunities presented by the gathering of Brothers at the Convention. We are excited to offer a slightly varied approach from the past. This year we will be having one business session devoted to breakouts centered on education. These discussions will be facilitated, open dialogue groups intended to expand understanding around key issues and priorities facing the Fraternity and Greek-life community. In addition to these educational programs, and coupled with the more traditional components of the Convention, I expect we will have a little fun as well.
This will be my last opportunity to speak to you as the voice of the ESA within the pages of this magazine. It has been my honor to serve you and I appreciate the support and contribution of so very many of you. I look forward to continuing to serve the Fraternity following my service on the Supreme Council. SAE really is about more than one man, one chapter, or one campus. The Fraternity reaches deep into the communities where we live and serve. I believe that together we can achieve when we strive ever higher in the spirit of Phi Alpha!
Thomas J. Dement II
Eminent Supreme Archo