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Beta Theta DATA

Spring 2017 Volume 65 Number 2


News & information by the
alumni association of the
Beta Theta Chapter of
Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at Cornell University

SMC Report

We approach the end of the Spring 2017 semester and overall very positive year. Unfortunately, the many successes of the Chapter were overshadowed by a two-month interim suspension that resulted in a year of probationary status by the University. Thankfully, the chapter is back to focusing on maintaining our ideals of excellence and resuming our path to excellence.

Even with our suspension, the Chapter is proud to report that we initiated our most diverse new member class. We are grateful to have initiated a total of 24 upstanding new members this academic year. The active members were also very successful in being involved with both community service and philanthropy. They completed total of 1,055 service hours and raised a total of $4110.37 from our first ever large scale philanthropy event.

Furthermore, the reported GPA was a 3.53. This continues our steady increase in GPA since re-chartering. Also, every one of our members is involved in an organization on campus. There are members in organizations like Order of Omega, IFC development committees, along with multiple club and varsity sports teams.

Finally, this has been a year of peaks and valleys, but nonetheless a great year for our fraternity. I have the utmost confidence in our ability to continue excelling. I would also like to thank all of our graduating seniors who have helped this fraternity get off the ground. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors as alumni of our Chapter. Finally, I would like to thank all of the alumni members as well as the actives for their support and involvement during this tough year.

Centennial 2017

We’re looking forward to an extra-special memorable time at this year’s Homecoming (October 20th-22nd) to celebrate the past 100 years and to ring in the next hundred! Despite the ups and downs of a tough semester (for the Pike house, and for all Greek organizations), we’re on and planning a wild weekend.

The details are still in the firm-it-up stage, but we have confirmed so many of the activities: Friday Night Wine and Cheese, Saturday Morning Tailgating (for the football game!), and a very special Saturday Night Banquet formally celebrating this memorable milestone. As usual, we’ll wrap it all up with a Sunday brunch. More details to come, but be sure make your travel plans now!

RSVP on Evite.com

Advisor's Corner

Hello Brothers, this has been quite a semester. First, let’s start with the positives, and I will steal some words from our resident advisor, Andrew Salamida. "It brings me great joy to announce that the active members have initiated 22 new members into the Beta Theta chapter." SMC Harrison Johnson and his e-board did a great job honoring our ritual. I am proud to say that these newly initiated men are comprised of a diverse group of Cornell's best men. This new class has members from the university's Varsity Sprint Football team, Club Rugby team, Mock Trial, Army ROTC, Club Baseball team, Club Swim team, Sports Business Society, Cornell Hedgefund, Residential Student Congress, Mutual Investment Club, Actuarial Society, and the Transfer Student Organization.” After initiation, we had over 80 members with a house GPA over 3.5 from Fall 2016. If you have not been to the house recently, please consider coming back for the centennial celebration to meet these fine men – they will make you proud of the house.

But we did have some trouble recently. On March 3, the University was given a report that alleged some pretty serious hazing violations and put our chapter on interim suspension. A team of actives and alumni started our own internal fact finding and compiled a response to the allegations. While most of what was reported was false, we did find some issues that were valid and gave us opportunities to improve our new member education process. A summary report was written and a little more than one month after the initial report, the process was completed with a judicial review. In short, the university agreed with our fact finding and our plan to make improvements. While this was not a pleasant experience, I must say I was impressed with the way it was handled. It just increases my confidence in the future of the fraternity.

And lastly, this will be my last report as the alumni advisor. I took this position formally in 2012 when our chapter made plans for an advisory board to regain recognition. We spent three years to get back on the hill and enjoyed an incredible celebration for re-chartering in 2013. But after 5 years in the position, it is time for a change. Like any organization, new leadership is required occasionally to revitalize energy and ideas. We need some new blood to continue the journey. So please send me an email for those interested.

5 Questions with...Ken Canfield, BS '62, MBA '66

Ken started at Cornell as a freshman in the fall of 1958, entering the College of Agriculture and eventually majoring in Economics. In the mid-term period of winter 1959, he pledged Pi Kappa Alpha and in the spring of 1959 was initiated. Ken lived at 17 South Avenue sophomore through senior years and graduated in the spring of 1962.

  • Ken, you had a long career of 38½ years with Raytheon Company in Massachusetts, encompassing a variety of challenging assignments and positions. To what do you attribute your longevity with one company? Do you see any return to such employer/employee loyalty for future generations?
  • [KC] First, a little history. In my senior year at Cornell, I applied to the Cornell graduate business school and was accepted. I decided, however, that before committing to two years of business school, I wanted to gain actual experience in the business world. So I accepted a job offer working for a commercial bank and planned that after two years I would make the final decision as to whether to return to Cornell. Two years later, in 1964, it was now or never, so I returned to Cornell for my MBA degree. On graduating in spring 1966, I married Anne (now married 51 years with three wonderful children and four grandchildren), and we made our home in Massachusetts where Anne taught third grade and I began my career with Raytheon Company.

    I consider myself to have been fortunate. Each time I began thinking that it was time to move on, a new attractive opportunity presented itself. I started out working for the controller. Then I had the opportunity to work as business manager on international production contracts for Japan and subsequently for Greece. Next I made a major shift to marketing, in support of the Patriot program, which was completing development and moving into production for the U.S. government.

    The corporation / employee relationship changed dramatically over the years of my experience. Loyalty is a two-way street and in my opinion, the long-term benefits of staying with a particular employer have been reduced or eliminated. Employers’ practices, such as elimination of pension plans, cuts in sick / vacation policies, increasing workloads, wage freezes, and use of contractors, have certainly led to reduced employee loyalty -- especially in terms of employee service longevity. Often, the road to promotion and increased compensation is through switching employer.
  • You are very active politically, having been Chairman of the Boxborough Democratic Town Committee for nine years and Treasurer since. You've worked over the years for U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy and Elizabeth Warren, for U.S. Representative Niki Tongas and for Governor Deval Patrick. Give us an interesting anecdote from your political experience?
  • [KC] I’m thinking about the case of Elizabeth Warren here in Massachusetts. Four days after announcing her decision to run for the U.S. Senate, she attended our Democratic Town Committee’s annual picnic. After meeting her and hearing her speak, we all knew that she was a straight shooter and a force to be reckoned with. You probably know the rest of the story. She won that U.S. Senate seat and has been extremely vocal nationally about her political positions. Many people are now encouraging her to run for President in 2020.
  • Your hobby is collecting and working on antique and vintage U.S. manufactured pocket watches. How did you get interested in this, and how did you learn the skills to refurbish / repair pocket watches?
  • [KC] About thirty years ago, my interest was sparked in pocket watches when my mother gave me watches that had belonged to my grandfather and to my great uncle. I joined the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, which has local chapters in every state, including two chapters in Massachusetts. Chapter meetings offer members watch and clock sales marts, as well as instruction and demonstration of all phases of the hobby. Additionally, you might be surprised at the frequency and magnitude of local auctions devoted to vintage watches, clocks, parts, and tools. Also, there are many instruction CD’s and texts available -- eBay is a practically unlimited resource. So, over time I learned, purchased necessary tools and a cleaning machine, and delved deeper into the complexities of pocket watches.
  • What Pikes have you managed to stay in touch with personally? Who have you lost touch with and would be interested in seeing?
  • [KC] Chris Barbieri, who was my roommate at 17 South Avenue for three years, has remained a very close friend. I’ve also stayed in touch with Bob Myers and more recently with Will Anderson, until his passing a few years ago. When I returned to Cornell for my 50th reunion in 2012, PiKA held a great luncheon. I was the only Fraternity returnee from my class. However, there were a number of younger returnees that I had gotten to know from my Cornell graduate school experience, and it was wonderful to renew those acquaintances.
  • What's your fondest memory of 17 South Avenue?
  • [KC] There are so many fond memories, but one in particular stands out. Hugh Gibbs, our houseman, was a wonderful friend to all. I remember Hugh at homecomings, greeting brothers by their first names -- brothers who hadn’t been back to Cornell for decades. I returned for Hugh’s celebration banquet when he was initiated into Pi Kappa Alpha.

If you'd like to participate in Five Questions, or have a suggestion for someone you like to hear from, finger him to Tom Sporney '75

Alumni Notes

John Peterson '83 reports "2016 was a year of great changes for me as I saw the end of my 27-year marriage to Daisy and I took a new job at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento after 19 years at University of Wisconsin in Madison. I'm still in ophthalmic imaging, except now I have a team of my own to boss around. I hope to reconnect with CA Pikes once the dust settles."

Chuck Hastings '72 says that "It's now almost two years since I retired from Central Michigan University. My wife and I still spend summers in the Great Lakes state, but winters we're happily settled into New Hampshire's White Mountains, XC skiing and snowshoeing. This year I'm going to put those long-ago Tuesday night lessons at Greek Peak to a test and try to get back to downhill skiing - if my knees can take it!"

Chapter Eternal

The brothers of Beta Theta Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha extend their sympathy to the families and friends of the following brothers:

  • Dennis A. Arnsdorf, ‘75, March 24, 2017, obit
  • E. John deBeer Jr., ‘60
  • Ryan Lupo, ‘05, June 6, 2014


term Alpha Theta Director office
2017 Tim Cole '83 President
2018 Steve Amador '84 Treasurer
2019 Jeff Reinders '14 Alumni Relations
2020 Andrew Salamida '15 Vice President
2021 Tom Sporney '75
Dave Miles '66 Secretary