State College Resident to join Pi House Corp. Board

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Welcome Jon!

“When I first heard the Pi Board was closing the house I contacted Thomas Becker ’69, and thanked him,” said Jon Peters ’81.  “I’d seen firsthand the damage done last year and it made me sick.  And angry.  The same thing had happened at Lock Haven.  The kids ended up losing their charter and the house, which ended up being torched.  I rode over and stood in the empty lot.  It was powerful.  We cannot and will not let that happen here.”

“I joined Pi Chapter because my buddies were pledging at TKE,” said Peters.  “We talked about forming a fraternity or taking one over.  TKE had the best house, and the best parties.  I didn’t know any of the Brothers but I knew they were the only intramural team we couldn’t beat.  So I joined!  That was 40 years ago this Fall.

I pledged at Lock Haven.  As part of my 3-2 program, I’d go to LHU for three years and PSU for two, and get two bachelor degrees.  I knew I’d have to transfer but when it came time to go, I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave.  I was Prytanis at Lock Haven.  We won intramurals every year.  I was the men’s student director of intramurals. My girlfriend was a junior.  I remember not wanting to leave Lock Haven.  But I contacted Pi chapter.  They invited me to rush dinner so they could meet me and decide if I could join.  I remember the first time I drove up to the house.  It was love at first sight!  Daily rush dinner completely blew me away.  The brothers were amazing.  I was sold!  Apparently they were too.  They voted me in, then they voted me Hypophetes.  I got to carry the banner in the homecoming parade.  I was the bathing beauty at the DG Anchor Splash.  And the day I got married the whole house showed up at our reception.  My favorite moment? Far too many to list, or remember…  But the thing I miss most?  Daily rush dinners.  It’s a shame the current actives don’t get that experience.  

I started working at The Hershey Company the day after graduation, and just retired from Hershey last year.  From Industrial Engineering I moved into operations management.  I ran factories in the US, Canada, Africa, China and Malaysia.  My last job for Hershey was to direct the design, construction, startup and hand-off of the Malaysian manufacturing and distribution facility.  The startup was flawless and the facility is now Hershey’s second largest in the world.  As soon as I retired I sold my Hershey house and bought a place in State College.  Our daughter married a guy from here a couple of years ago.  I loved Hershey and I loved getting to work all over the world.  But it’s a dream come true living here with my college sweetheart, and our grandchildren a mile away. 

"For fraternities to remain relevant after the universities get done redefining them, they will probably have to return to what they were in the beginning.  They’ll have to be a safe place for young men to practice being brothers and leaders."

It’s 40 years this Fall since I pledged.  Over the years I’ve stayed in touch with my Theta Gamma brothers.  When my fraternal big brother retired he was thrilled to see 5 generations of his family tree at his surprise party.  His big brother throws a reunion every summer that we don’t miss.  My little brother umpired a PSU softball game here last month.  And one of the guys who sent his daughters here invites 50 or so of the guys back for a football game.  They’ll all be here for Rutgers and I can’t wait! Now that I’m back in the US and here in State College, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with Pi brothers I haven’t seen since 1981

I had the great opportunity to speak to the current Actives last month at a formal house meeting.  Forty years later, it's clear what Fraternities can and should do.  The symbols on the TKE crest represent the same values I looked for when hiring and promoting.  Those rituals that seemed a little goofy at 17 make perfect sense now.  For fraternities to remain relevant after the universities get done redefining them, they will probably have to return to what they were in the beginning.  Before we all turned them into Animal House.  They’ll have to be a safe place for young men to practice being brothers and leaders.  I’d like to believe I’d have pledged anyway if TKE had been offered to me as a place to learn how to run a corporation.  But those simply weren’t my priorities at 18.  They are now.  I can easily connect leading the TKE house at 19 to directing a $250M capital project in a foreign country at 58.  Practicing those skills in the safety of a fraternity house is an invaluable experience.  You get out of it what you put into it. 

When the football team was in trouble, I established a football scholarship for engineers.   I got more involved with the Nittany Lion Club.  Last year I attended my first Endowment dinner and was blown away by the caliber of the scholar athletes.  This was against already high expectations.  Seeing the football program turn around is an unexpected bonus.  

I mentioned that I moved back to State College.  I absolutely love this place and always have - some days more than others.  I remember listening to a football game on Heart radio from Johannesburg airport, while my flight to Blantyre, Malawi was being delayed another 24 hours.  And the worst part of my day was (Sam) Ficken missing another field goal…  Seriously, being here is a blast.   Getting to work with the Pi House Board and the current actives at this particular point in time is a rare opportunity and a real privilege. “

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