It is a unique honor and pleasure to address each of you on this, our 110th Birthday.
Thinking back over my Teke experience, I have had the pleasure to meet many Fraters who exhibit a deep understanding of what makes us different. We are not "just another "frat". We are an organization founded during a time when exclusivity, money, and power ruled the day. The five Founders developed TKE from a revolutionary concept - acceptance. Never, in our 110 years of existence, have we had an exclusionary clause or any language remotely supportive of such behavior and practice in our great Fraternity.
This spirit of inclusiveness and the belief in our ability to assist members in reaching their highest potential is manifested most compellingly in our unrivalled record of public service and in giving back to our Bond.
TKE has consistently shown communities around the world what can happen when a group of men with a common vision combine their efforts. In 2007-08, TKE recorded more than 122,000 hours of community service valued at more than $2.3 million dollars and raised almost a half million dollars for philanthropic causes. Hour by hour and dollar by dollar, TKE is helping build better men to build a better world.
At the Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. TKE Leadership Academy this year, I had the privilege of experiencing one of my proudest moments as a Frater. One of the key presenters, Paul Wineman, now my counterpart who serves as the National President of Phi Kappa Psi, asked me if I knew how fortunate we are to have the culture of giving back that we do in TKE. I couldn't help smiling from ear to ear thinking about how hard my fellow Fraters have worked to keep this ideal alive. What a spectacular way to honor our Founders' memory.
Last August I witnessed more than 800 Tekes giving back to the Las Vegas community at Conclave. With watering eyes, I watched our men at George Mason (Mu-Omega) present a $5,000 check to a family with a special needs child who now walks instead of crawls thanks to the therapy this money provided. This group of Fraters witnessed this family's challenges in a public park and simply chose to do something about it. Fraters, this is the essence of our Bond and is a story repeated in many similar ways by the 272 active chapters and colonies throughout the TKE Nation.
We have a wonderful heritage of giving to each other and to quality young men entering our college campuses. Seventy five years ago, a young man of modest means was the recipient of a scholarship to a small, Midwestern liberal arts college. While excited about this opportunity, he still faced the daunting prospect of how to pay for room and board. The Fraters of TKE provided free room and board in exchange for some kitchen duties and the young man, Ronald Reagan, went on to honor TKE and the United States with his legendary talent and ability to serve all of mankind.
Many of you have heard me speak of my own similar situation at the University of Utah and of the tremendous kindness of the Chapter Prytanis, Alan Oliver, who ensured I had a place to live. Of course, I received much more than just a place to live. I received the love, charity and esteem of Tau Kappa Epsilon, a gift that has continued to bless me for more than 34 years.
So, I must conclude by going back to Paul Wineman. I've previously noted many of the fine things that I'm aware of that TKE has done and continues to do every day for our own Fraters and for the global community.
My proudest moment as a Teke occurred last June when Paul said to me that he had presented similar programs to his own Brothers as well as to other fraternal organizations and that in all of his presentations, he'd never encountered a group that, to the last man, indicated their heartfelt intent to give back to the Fraternity. Fraters, this wasn't a coached response. This response is a reflection of TKE and of each and every man who has entered into our Bond.
It's a humbling honor to serve such fine men. I thank each and every one of you for the many opportunities you've given me to give back to TKE and to all of society.
Fraters, I love this Fraternity!
Yours in the Bond,
Mark K. Johnson