Recognizing excellence: 2020 NIC award honorees

The North American Interfraternity Conference is proud of its tradition of recognizing excellence in the fraternal experience. The NIC honors individuals, councils, campuses, programs, initiatives and attitudes that promote the positive impact of fraternity. These individuals and groups are shining examples of an inspiring fraternity experience.

Click the plus mark to expand and read more on each recipient from 2020. Many of them have been featured in stories here in myFraternity!

Undergraduates

These students are deeply committed to the advancement of the fraternal experience and lives the highest standards of fraternity.

DELTA SIGMA PHI

This IFC President steered the fraternity community through the backlash of a severe hazing incident and significant operational changes. Grant Zehnder shined through this major leadership challenge, providing stability and advocating for the community with grace and tact. “Grant has poured his heart and soul into the community for his entire collegiate career and especially in the last year” as IFC President, a nominator said. He has created programming to support and facilitated crucial conversations on alcohol, toxic masculinity and peer accountability, while working with other councils to establish mental health initiatives for Greek students. He is equally committed to academic success and mentoring younger students.

SIGMA CHI

This IFC President stepped up to lead his community and council through a period of adversity when fraternity life faced strong opposition from others on campus. The servant leader used his skills to listen, cooperate, support and facilitate change in the aftermath of a major risk management issue, playing a key role in uniting all fraternity/sorority councils to present safer social event policies. “I deeply respect Jason Stone for the way he continually challenges himself to build bridges across difference and go above and beyond what others may expect of him,” his nominators said. He worked to bring about positive, consequential change through Chapter Treasurer and Vice President positions within Sigma Chi. The economics major graduated in May and plans to pursue a master’s degree.

Read more: Jason’s Leadership

PI KAPPA PHI

Taking a rigorous course load in engineering at a nationally top-ranked program, Nathan Longo has been able to achieve a 4.0 GPA, maintain leadership positions in his chapter and nationally with Pi Kappa Phi, take on the role of IFC President for a large fraternity community, and still have time to be involved in other areas across campus. He seems to do all of this with a sense of ease, calm and professionalism rarely found in college students. One nominator from the Purdue staff said Nathan is among the best IFC officers he’s worked with: “I am most impressed with his ethical/moral compass and his ability to lead by example. He is certainly on my ‘Mount Rushmore’ of student leaders.”

Read more: Nathan’s Success

SIGMA NU

“Words cannot do his efforts justice,” nominators said of Justin Jacobs. “He’s widely respected for his work ethic and honesty.” The 2019 Sigma Nu Chapter President of the Year not only brings integrity and commitment to his role in his fraternity; he is deeply rooted in the Southeast Missouri State campus. He has leadership roles in student government, he advises the administration as a student advocate in several key areas, he received a prestigious international internship last summer and he embodies school spirit in his role as homecoming festivities chair. The accounting major with a 3.84 GPA has served the Interfraternity Council on committees and is a national student leader through the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute. “He is a truly exceptional student leader,” another nominator added. “He is a young man of rare ability and achievement.”

ZETA BETA TAU

This “mature, dedicated and responsible“ Chapter and IFC President personally steered crucial change on one of the largest campuses in the country. As an interfraternal leader, Max Harberg organized the first official summer recruitment orientation for the fraternity community and authored an amendment of the IFC Constitution with stricter alcohol polices. He put his entertainment promotion and marketing major to good use when he implemented safety and risk prevention techniques over a major high-risk party weekend through charismatic, on-the-ground leadership – and even facilitated a serious philanthropic success in conjunction with the weekend, raising $120,000 for local Austin charities. “He reminds me how powerful the impact of one individual can be on an entire organization,” a nominator said. “He was not afraid to do the hard, yet right thing.”

Read more: Max’s Leadership

SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON

As a scholar, Fred Dauphin is one of the few students in the country studying and contributing to the science of astrophysics. As Chapter President, he ushered in his Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter’s 100th year with a successful alumni and family gathering and a philanthropic effort that raised over $80,000 for a local children’s charity. As the captain of university track team, he broke records on the field and off the field led conversations on stress and time management, nutrition, alcohol, drug use and other health-related topics. His nominators are impressed by the ways he brings out the best in others around him: “Fred is an excellent example of a quiet leader who motivates from the behind the scenes. He is conscientious, strong-willed, resilient.”

Read more: Fred’s success

PI KAPPA PHI

This exceptional leader makes the most of every opportunity and always puts service before self. “He balanced academics, leadership, and fraternity, while still managing to always keep a smile on his face,” one nominator said. Chandler Crean promotes successful student life as an orientation leader and campus tour guide. He served as President of his Pi Kappa Phi chapter for two terms before becoming Student Government President. Tragically, during his term, the campus suffered a shooting, but Crean provided a powerful voice of leadership through the incident and its aftermath. The first-generation college student graduated in May and has joined the Pi Kappa Phi international staff with a long-term goal of pursuing a career in higher education.

Read more: Chandler’s Success

DELTA SIGMA PHI

One nominator said Andrew Binder makes them hopeful for the future of fraternity. This Delta Sigma Phi Chapter President guided his 100-plus brothers to earning chapter of the year honors in the large Ohio State IFC community. He spearheaded diversity and inclusion initiatives in the chapter, retooled the officer training program and created a recruitment scholarship for new members. “Andrew has a unique ability to facilitate brotherhood, strengthen relationships, and to help members find joy in the work of fraternity,” another nominator said. Also a high achieving student in the classroom, he succeeded in prestigious internships, other student organizations and volunteer roles.

SIGMA TAU GAMMA

High personal standards of leadership helped Elliot Beck create and sustain positive change on campus. As IFC Vice President of Programming, he partnered with a local nonprofit to bring domestic and sexual abuse prevention education to fraternity members, and he also created a new program for students going through IFC recruitment that promotes healthy, respectful manhood. Serving as Chapter President for Sigma Tau Gamma, this future mathematics teacher emphasized academics, operational proficiency, recruitment, health and wellness and individual member development within his brotherhood. As a 2020 graduate achieving a 3.6 GPA, he is known for his energy for every task he’s given and his compassion for others. His enthusiasm for fraternity is contagious. “Elliot is a passionate and invigorating undergraduate leader,” one nominator wrote. “We need men like Elliot to make other men better.”

Chapters

These groups thrive with excellence in all aspects of chapter operations, academics, service and interfraternalism.

EPSILON CHAPTER

This principled group of brothers are leaders on campus and internationally in Beta Theta Pi. These men are highly engaged in other student organizations and committed to philanthropy and service. The 74-man chapter requires a 3.0 minimum grade-point average for all members, resulting in a best-of-IFC groups 3.38 overall GPA. That success metric wasn’t enough for this motivated group – the chapter created a new leadership role dedicated to facilitating academic and professional development programs. The Epsilon Chapter also responded strongly to the COVID-19 pandemic, seamlessly transitioning operations to online and hosting regular virtual brotherhood events. As a whole, the members of this chapter are dedicated to the ideals of fraternity and strive to improve themselves and their community.

Read more: Epsilon’s success

ALPHA PHI DELTA (Chapter)

This chapter has earned a reputation for excellence by encouraging humble leadership in individuals that radiates outward. Chi Psi is a smaller group on the large campus, but brothers have made their mark as leaders in areas such as chapter growth, member development, new member integration and individual health and well-being. Phi Delta hosts weekly life skills workshops and has a consistent grade-point average above the IFC median. Brothers give hundreds of hours of community service across the Lexington community. Their efforts to support a local young girl with medical issues created an inspiring bond of genuine care with the family that resonated across the fraternity/sorority community.

Read more: Phi Delta gives back

DELTA LAMBDA CHAPTER

This chapter is a powerhouse, excelling in all areas and earning repeated campus and national awards from Pi Kappa Phi. This is a chapter of men who shine individually and collectively, put service before self and truly make the world around them a better place. This 60-man chapter has consistently raised over $12,000 in annual philanthropy. Brothers are highly engaged with disability awareness programs and philanthropies, including Pi Kappa Phi’s national The Ability Experience. Delta Lambda is high-functioning in all operational areas and leadership opportunities. Holistically, the chapter consistently puts brotherhood at the forefront and cares about every member, active and alumnus.

Read more: Delta Lambda’s success

INDIANA EPSILON CHAPTER

This chapter builds leaders from the moment they join. A deep peer support system is at the root of Indiana Epsilon’s comprehensive integrity and positive attitude. 100% of brothers are engaged with another campus organization and 100% of brothers graduate, due in part to a meticulous academic program and a required 3.0 grade-point average. Brothers are known for a giving spirit and community engagement, racking up 2,300 service hours through a minimum individual expectation of 15 service hours per semester, and raising $9,000 for local cancer charities. This group was given the highest honor in Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 2019.

Read more: Indiana Epsilon gives back

ZETA XI CHAPTER

The Zeta Xi Chapter continually performs at the highest levels and serves as a model for Sigma Nu and other fraternity chapters. Members excel academically – posting average chapter GPAs in the 3.10 range, well above the IFC and all-male averages – while maintaining a chapter size almost double the IFC average. These students place the highest emphasis on the development of individual members and have built a reputation in Sigma Nu as the best at implementing the fraternity’s multi-year leadership development program. The chapter averaged over 40 hours of community service per member and donated more than $6,000 to charity last year. This group was awarded Sigma Nu’s highest chapter distinction.

KAPPA ZETA CHAPTER

This chapter is a vocal advocate and leader for the movement on the University of Arkansas campus in addressing issues surrounding alcohol, drugs, sexual assault and hazing across the fraternity/sorority community, not just inside their own organization. They show their commitment to doing good through enthusiastic service, campus engagement and leadership in a variety of student organizations and initiatives. The chapter has the highest fraternity grade-point average on campus with a 3.33. In an impressive accomplishment for a newer group, the Kappa Zeta Chapter earned Theta Chi’s top chapter honor, while also displaying forward momentum toward more success.

Advisors

Collaborative leadership and a commitment to the personal development of all students mark success in an outstanding advisor.

ASSOCIATE DEAN OF STUDENTS/DIRECTOR OF FRATERNITY, SORORITY AND COOPERATIVE LIFE

This professional reaches to achieve every metric for success, and the strength of the fraternity and sorority community at Purdue can directly be attributed to his guidance. In seven years on campus, Brandon Cutler has prioritized data tracking and analysis, established a system of peer governance, ushered in industry-leading health and safety policies, improved financial operations and grown the overall size of the community. Equally powerfully, though, he has established a culture of active engagement by empowering students to make the decisions for the entire community. “He serves as an incredible advocate for the fraternity experience, while challenging others and empowering them to reach their full potential. He decisively believes in our students and is not afraid to push them to do what is right,” a nominator said.

Read more: Brandon’s leadership

DIRECTOR, FRATERNITY & SORORITY LIFE

In two years on campus, Dr. Arthur Doctor has radically transformed the fraternity community at Ole Miss through strategy and structure, adding new leadership education opportunities and creating avenues for student engagement that ultimately led to fraternity/sorority community growth. He is a student-facing director with a unique ability to connect with the student population, fraternity affiliated and not. He champions diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives on campus and seeks to ensure all councils and students are represented equally. “He pours himself into mentoring the next generation of leaders. He works to build genuine connections with every member of the fraternity and sorority community,” his nominators said.

Read more: Arthur’s leadership

PHI GAMMA DELTA, CHAPTER ADVISOR

As a 30-year chapter advisor and international volunteer, “Bill Miller exemplifies the mission and purpose of lifelong membership in fraternity,” his nominators said. He cares deeply about the individual brothers and overall well-being of the Lambda Iota Chapter and all of Phi Gamma Delta. From smaller acts like driving a brother to doctors’ appointments to larger commitments like buying the chapter a van, Bill is available 24/7 and cares deeply about the good of the fraternal experience. He’s “famous” within Phi Gamma Delta, too, helping found chapters around the country, attending the 20 consecutive national conventions and visiting more chapters than any other volunteer.

Read more: Bill’s service

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF SORORITY AND FRATERNITY LIFE

Jennifer Pierce Thomas is a dedicated fraternity/sorority life professional who inspires those around her to rise to challenges through passionate leadership and hard work. As assistant director for the community, she created an OFSL prevention team that has had a direct impact in hazing prevention and risk reduction on the Knoxville campus. A skilled communicator, she makes it a priority to share the highs and lows of chapters with campus partners, advisors and inter/national organizations. Specifically, she coaches the campus’ Delta Tau Delta chapter, helping the student leaders navigate conduct issues in a framework for change, praising the chapter’s accomplishments and achievements and also challenging them to think how they can continue their growth and improvement. “Jennifer has created a space that values student input, thrives in collaboration, and focuses in health and safety, leadership training, and data-driven work,” her nominators said.

Read more: Jennifer’s leadership

SIGMA NU, CHAPTER ADVISOR

Described by nominators as one of Sigma Nu’s most dedicated local volunteers, von Nirschl exemplifies leadership through the Gamma Mu Chapter. Despite being a resident of Washington, D.C., he advises his home chapter at the University of Illinois remotely but also makes extended stays near Champaign. In the 10 years he has served as Chapter Advisor, he has grown the local advisory board, played a key role in housing including leading a capital campaign to care for chapter’s 88-year-old historic mansion and established a scholarship for area high-schoolers in the Sigma Nu name. The chapter has grown from 15 to 100 members under his leadership. “He is one of the most dedicated and passionate volunteers that I have ever worked with. David truly embodies the Sigma Nu vision of Excelling with Honor,” one nominator said. 

Alumni

Though they have graduated, these fraternity members offer exceptional and sustained service positive change that advances the fraternal movement.

PI KAPPA ALPHA

An integral part of the University of Washington for 60 years, his contribution to the fraternity and sorority community is simply unmatched. As an undergraduate, Gary Ausman served as president of Pi Kappa Alpha and the IFC executive board. He went on to serve a long career with the University of Washington, which included advising the IFC for 23 years. In 2017, he made a sizable donation to endow the creation of the Gary Ausman Fraternal Leadership Academy, a one-day leadership development experience for emerging fraternity leaders. Beyond providing funding, he has been actively involved in the curriculum development and academy logistics. “With the challenges facing fraternity and sorority life and the sometimes insular perspective alumni and volunteers can have, Gary’s focus of providing opportunities to groom self-aware, compassionate and effective interfraternal leaders is something to be celebrated by all,” his nominators said.

Read more: Gary’s leadership

ALPHA TAU OMEGA

Eric Burwell, along with his wife Karin (Alpha Gamma Delta), has been instrumental in helping the sorority and fraternity life community at Illinois State achieve greatness. By endowing a Greek leadership fund, students from all councils benefit from initiatives that help them develop leadership skills and work together to build a more robust sorority and fraternity experience across campus. He is a vocal proponent for the Greek experience among alumni, undergraduates and prospective students with an unwavering vision. He ensures the department of student affairs has resources to support student success. The Burwells privately funded more than 70 students to attend AFLV Central this year. “Eric’s long-time support of the larger Greek community at ISU is an excellent example of the impact one volunteer can have on an entire community and its students,” a nominator said.

Read: The Burwells’ strong support

PI KAPPA PHI

Jeremy Inabinet is known for saying that the oath he swore when he became a Pi Kappa Phi brother means he is expected to be engaged for life. His nominators say he goes a step beyond that vow, working tirelessly to make the organization stronger. He has served as a facilitator for the fraternity’s emerging leaders program since it debuted a decade ago. He shares the knowledge from his career in student conduct and Title IX affairs at the University of Chicago to the fraternity’s national conduct policy committee and is a frequent educator and consultant on risk management areas. “Jeremy truly exemplifies what lifelong commitment and service to fraternity looks like,” nominators said. “our programs and students are better because of his involvement.”

Learn: Holmes Murphy Insurance hosted Jeremy as an expert presenter on a Title IX webinar from 2017