The Founder I Relate to Most – Sam Bessey

For this year’s Founders’ Day blog series, we asked each member of the staff to go back to their days as a pledge class remember and learn about Chi Psi’s founders to tell us which one they most relate to. The results are sometimes funny, sometimes inspiring and always educational (about the founders and the staff). Next up, is Sam Bessey:

Happy Founders’ Day!

Today marks 173 years since ten young men decided join together in an idea larger than themselves.  Did they know how big their idea would become?


It has been fun to see how the staff has chosen to talk about the founders and which of their stories resonated with them the most. In many ways every Alpha and individual Brother has their own Chi Psi story that goes well beyond what we could write down in a book.  Many Alphas have been celebrating this spring.  Each of these events has its own local flavor, combining Chi Psi’s rich national tradition with elements of local spirit. I had the privilege of attending two such celebrations last week:  Aside from celebrating Chi Psi’s founding at Union College, Alpha Nu celebrated 140 years at Minnesota with a dinner at the Minneapolis Club where we received an outstanding report from the #1 (and I got to thank Dr. Dan for ten wonderful years of service as our #7), and Alpha Eta Delta marked 93 years at University of Oregon by serving as witness to the Fraternity’s 149th Distinguished Service Award being conferred upon Steve M. Earl, HD `68.

Me congratulating the newest DSA recipient Steve Earl at the Eta Delta Birthday Banquet

Me congratulating the newest DSA recipient Steve Earl at the Eta Delta Birthday Banquet

The Founders as a group stretched from Phillip Spencer’s reckless abandon to Samuel Taber’s stoic intellectualism to James Witherspoon’s southern charm, and I do not play favorites. These were men who came together because their common values would be challenged and strengthened by their differences. When we celebrate Founders’ Day, we enjoy refreshment and even better fellowship.  But both of those are not the selling point of Fraternity, though they are featured quite often. What pulls everyone together is the same thing that caused those ten men to come together and create the first fraternity founded on the principles of social Brotherhood, simple acts performed on a daily basis that define who we are today.  If you study our founders it becomes quickly apparent that gentlemen come in all varieties. Today I raise a metaphorical toast to the founders of Chi Psi and for all that they set in motion 173 years ago today and for all the work our Brothers have accomplished across the centuries to honor and cultivate it.  Tomorrow, I’ll do it for real at a luncheon in New York!


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