By STEVEN NALLEY
Mississippi State University’s chapter of Phi Delta Theta has received recognition as the most outstanding chapter on any participating large campus for the second year in a row.
Phi Delta Theta, an international fraternity organization, awarded its Harvard Trophy to MSU’s Mississippi Beta chapter in July during the organization’s 79th biennial convention in Washington, D.C. John Genin, alumni advisor for Mississippi Beta, said about 35 chapters around the world apply for the Harvard Trophy each year.
“A lot of chapters that have been around for much longer than we have are also competing for this award,” Genin said. “Compared to the other large chapters in that category, we’re on the shorter end of the time frame. This chapter has been around 20 years, and this is the second time recently that they’ve won this award. Our alumni base is extremely proud of the chapter.”
Genin said Mississippi Beta earned the award with a strong academic record, extensive community involvement and plentiful community service. The chapter earned the highest collective GPA of any fraternity on campus in 2011-2012, he said, and this is not the first time it has achieved this feat.
“They have placed No. 1 several times, and they’ve placed in the top three on campus here very regularly,” Genin said. “They’re just really ingrained in the fabric of Mississippi State. We’ve tried to remain pretty selective in our membership and really stick to the root principles of the fraternity to remain a size (large enough) to be a force here on campus but small enough that our members know each other and work with each other on a daily basis.”
Will Ford, Mississippi Beta president, said the chapter stresses academic achievement from each student’s first semester until his last.
“All of our new members participate in biweekly study halls at the library, where grades are checked and advice is rendered by our committed scholarship chairman,” Ford said. “Once members become initiated, a higher degree of personal responsibility is given, but if members have academic struggles, the scholarship chairman consults with the member and a plan of action is taken.”
Mississippi Beta’s community service projects include trips in January 2011 and 2012 to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help with continual Hurricane Katrina cleanup, Ford said.
The chapter has also been involved in The Big Event, a one-day, student-run service project, since the Student Association and Freshman Council first began holding it, he said. Mississippi Beta also stresses the importance of giving back to the university, he said, through such avenues as the Student Association, the Interfraternity Council, Roadrunners, Music Makers and more.
“To raise awareness about domestic violence against women, a large group of our members participated in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes in both 2012 and 2011,” Ford said. “We have also hosted events to raise both money and awareness for our international philanthropy, the ALS Association. Through our Volleyball Tournament and Crawfish Boil and our Phish Fry, we have raised thousands of dollars for this worthy cause.”
Ford said it felt incredible for Mississippi Beta to win the Harvard Trophy two years in a row, and the win signifies the chapter’s continued tradition of excellence in scholarship, leadership and community service. He said it was more than a desire for excellence that led him to join Mississippi Beta.
“I joined Phi Delta Theta because I saw a fraternal organization that was large enough to make an impact, but small enough to avoid factions or cliques,” Ford said. “As an active senior member of this chapter, I have friendships that have no bounds of age, major, heritage, or high school, and that is something that makes Phi Delta Theta stand strong above all other fraternities.”