alpha tau chapter of phi kappa tau at cornell ✩ email@example.com ✩ spring 2015
neWs from the knoll
From the President’s desk
Hello, alumni, family, and friends of Phi
Kappa Tau. My name is Brian McGovern, and I
am the chapter president for 2015. I am a junior
from Eastchester, New York, majoring in policy
analysis and management.
Having spent the past year as philanthropy
chair for the house, I sought to immerse myself
in a role where I could spread the principles a
brother embodies while serving the community
to all other areas of the house. As president, I
will strive to ensure that the brothers of Phi
Kappa Tau continue to act as leaders in the Cor-
nell community and to shine positive light on
the Greek system in a time when many popular
news stories focus on fraternity problems.
Interfraternity Council is continuing many
initiatives this semester, both to boost public
perception of the Greek system and to work with
Cornell to extend the new-member education pe-
riod from its current length of four weeks. These
committees are the Public Relations Committee,
Greek Week Committee, and the New Member
Education Committee. Greek Week is largely a
recruitment event that celebrates Greek life while
concurrently exposing freshmen to Greek mem-
bers in “dry” settings. The week aims to increase
the knowledge freshmen have of the Greek sys-
tem in the fall semester, before the single, formal-
ized rush week in January. With many younger
men applying to these com-
mittees, we hope to see
a return in IFC involve-
ment for Phi Kappa Tau.
As for the Alpha Tau
Chapter’s relations with
National, I have attended
two national programs:
Presidents’ Academy in
Houston in January, and
the New England Region-
al Conference in Troy,
New York, in February.
We continue to value a strong relationship with Na-
tional and to remain a top-level chapter in their eyes.
In terms of more local logistical news, we have
a new chapter advisor on board: Benjamin Tudor,
a Phi Kappa Tau alumnus from Centre College
(Delta Chapter). Ben is a graduate student in the
College of Human Ecology’s Sloan Program in
Phi Tau seniors, all 2012 initiates (l to r): Marcus Wetlaufer, Matt Coster, Ankith Harathi,
Javi Ortiz, Nitin Rajinikanth, LT Nault,
AlPhA tAu ChAPter, in review
First and foremost, thank you for reading
this new edition of News from The Knoll. We are
very excited to share our experiences from this
past semester with you and have included a host
of articles written by both undergraduates and
alumni for your reading pleasure.
My name is Alexander Gomez, and I am the
Alpha Tau Chapter’s new vice president of alum-
ni relations. I am a current sophomore from
Teaneck, New Jersey, and am studying policy
analysis and management in the College of Hu-
man Ecology. I am very excited to get to know
you all and to help you keep in touch with the
chapter and its activities.
This edition features messages from our
chapter president, Brian McGovern ’13, and
from Timon Amirani ’14 about the chapter’s
continued philanthropy efforts, Daniel Masetti
’14 about house improvement, Jack Schog ’14
on our brotherhood activities, and Paul Orshan-
sky ’14 on the chapter’s January rush week. Our
membership orientation officers, Tom Flagiellp
’12 and Javi Ortiz ’12, will also introduce our
new class of brothers. Finally, we have an alumni
spotlight on Dr. Barry Diener ’01.
In terms of events, we held our annual New
York City networking and social dinner at Scha-
piro’s NYC on the Lower East Side on March
14. There was a great turnout, with 45 alumni
gathering for a delicious meal with the current
undergraduates and a night out in the big city.
It was a great time, filled with reminiscing and
reunions between brothers. If you were unable
to make it, I highly recommend that you try to
next year, because it is a lot of fun, and I know
the undergraduates love meeting alumni and
hearing about their escapades while at Cornell.
We are now in the process of planning a
summer reunion. More details on that to come,
but it will take place on Saturday, June 6, so save
the date! We are very excited to host you all at
the house and look forward to seeing you.
If you have any questions or concerns, please
contact me by phone at 201-560-7555 or by
email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not
receiving updates from the chapter, please let
me know so that I can update your informa-
tion accordingly. Additionally, if you have any
comments or suggestions about past or future
events, please let me know! We are in the pro-
cess of exploring new events and initiatives and
would love any input that you may have.
Alexander Gomez ’14
Vice President of Alumni Relations
New England Regional Conference in Troy, New York, on February 7.
From left: Treasurer Binian Gared ’13,
Recruitment Chair Paul Orshansky ’14,
Philanthropy Chair Timon Amirani ’14.
From left: President Brian McGov
ern ’13, Risk Manager Alex Pom
erenk ’14, VPAR Alex Gomez ’14.
(continued on next page)
(continued from previous page)
dinner & Brotherhood exPerienCe
The spring of 2015 has proved to be a chal-
lenging season for The Knoll. But despite the
dense snowfall, intermittently functional boil-
ers, and subzero temperatures, our brotherhood
remain as close-knit and warm as ever. On any
given night, one will find a cluster of Phi Taus
huddled around the dinner table, enjoying the
latest culinary exploit of our chef, Matt Lea, and
sharing stories of whimsy and revelry. The marks
and divots in the tables speak of a home well-
worn with the friction of all-too irresponsible
Tuesday nights, while ancient yearbooks, char-
ters from our fraternity’s birth, and last decade’s
scrapbooks share the same stories of years past.
Our cozy home on The Knoll has experi-
enced its fair share of fraternal escapades over
the years, the results of which mean some of our
chairs, mirrors, remote controls, chandeliers,
and tables have ended up the worse for wear.
Thankfully, the board of directors has purchased
four new tables for the home, and a few handy
members have contributed to repairing the fre-
quent minor breakages.
In addition, some real improvements have
been made. The fledgling Omicron Class, for
example, is leaving its mark by removing the de-
caying storage shed out back and constructing a
new enclosure for the trash dumpster. Ladders
have been created for custom bed lofts, and a
few of our precious charters have been water-
proofed and reframed.
Now The Knoll continues, with new and re-
paired armor, to weather the storms of both Itha-
ca and rambunctious young adults, its scraped
walls a documentary and its fresh new tables a
canvas: a canvas on which we eat hot meals in
subzero weather, a canvas around which we tell
absurd stories against the backdrop of a reason-
able world, and a canvas in which we leave the
memory-infused markings of a fraternal life, a
life in which we take just pride.
Daniel Masetti ’14
nYC triP & BroomBAll
highlight Brother events
I joined the Alpha Tau Chapter of Phi Kappa
Tau because I meshed so well with all brothers
of the fraternity. As soon as I stepped foot in our
house, I felt that Phi Kappa Tau would give me
a place where I could feel at home in this large
university setting. Now, as brotherhood chair, it
is my duty to instill a sense of brotherhood by
creating opportunities for brothers to grow even
stronger bonds and lifetime friendships.
The spring semester started off with a fun-
filled night before rush week, where the brother-
hood went to an ice hockey rink in downtown
Ithaca to play an annual game of broomball. With
only minor bumps and bruises, this event will be
something everyone looks forward to next year.
Shortly after that, Phi Kappa Tau welcomed
the addition of 15 new brothers of the Omicron
Class, eager to partake in any opportunity to
form strong ties to the older members. The as-
sociate class brotherhood chair, Logan Allen ’15,
brought the brotherhood together for an after-
noon full of pizza and all sorts of outdoor snow
activities, including snow football and a massive
snowball fight. Our chapter has been looking
forward to meeting alumni on our annual New
York City trip and to many outdoor activities
once the harsh Ithaca winter starts to disappear.
This position has given me the opportu-
nity to help facilitate bonds, forming a stronger
brotherhood, and has taught me the importance
of brotherhood within the chapter. I am looking
forward to planning events for brothers to en-
joy in their three and a half short years as active
brothers of the Alpha Tau Chapter, even after my
term as brotherhood chair comes to a close.
Jack Schnog ’14
FAll rush Brings
two new men
Last October, the Alpha Tau Chapter initiat-
ed two new brothers as members of the Omicron
Class: Michael Merrill and Michael Truhlar.
Merrill, a sophomore from Buffalo, New
York, is studying information science and cur-
rently plans to attend medical school after grad-
uating. Aside from serving as Phi Tau’s steward,
he works in a computational population genetics
lab and writes for the Cornell Daily Sun’s science
section. As he watched his fellow Omicron Class
from this spring discover the house, he further
appreciated the brotherhood he has built here.
His proudest accomplishment is winning a trip
to Las Vegas to compete in an entrepreneurship
competition with brother Dan Masetti.
Truhlar is a sophomore from Stony Brook,
New York, studying operations research and in-
formation engineering with an interest in indus-
trial data analysis. As an associate, he held four
leadership positions in his class and built a new
table for the house. Besides his contributions to
Phi Tau, Truhlar works with Cornell Informa-
tion Technologies as a service-desk consultant.
Since joining Phi Tau, he has been present at our
weekly Tau Tuesday events, claiming that our
strong sense of brotherhood is what makes him
most “proud to be.” One of his proudest accom-
plishments is running a mile in 4:47 during his
senior year of high school.
Tom Flagiello ’12
Fall Membership Orientation Officer
From left: Eric Bellin ’11, Sam Nelson ’12, Charlie Schwartz ’11, Alex Pomerenk ’14, Mike Truhlar ’14.
Health Administration. Having served as treasur-
er of his chapter for two years as an undergradu-
ate, Ben has faced a multitude of challenging cir-
cumstances. Ben, a native Kentuckian, born and
raised about an hour away from his alma mater,
will be able to provide fresh insights on how to
approach difficult chapter tasks and problems.
Over the course of the semester, I hope to meet
with Ben frequently and to make sure that his
transition from involvement in Delta Chapter to
our beloved Alpha Tau Chapter is seamless.
Ben replaces B.J. Siasoco ’03, who has advised
us over the years and is a valuable alumnus.
Lastly, I am very thrilled with the current state
of our executive board. With motivated brothers
in positions that they enjoy and thrive in, I am
certain that 2015 will have good things in store
for the Alpha Tau Chapter of Phi Kappa Tau.
In phi, Brian McGovern ’13
From the President’s desk
reCruitment remAins strong
I’m proud to announce that 15 new and out-
standing gentlemen have been initiated into
our Alpha Tau Chapter of Phi Kappa Tau. Fol-
lowing another successful rush week, our new
Omicron Class has completed the association
process diligently, and each man looks forward
to assuming his role as an active member of our
brotherhood. With the second year of the short-
ened four-week process in the books, I can con-
fidently say that Alpha Tau has skillfully adapted
to Cornell’s new regulations governing Greeks
during the rush process while also providing a
fulfilling new-member process for our newly
Phi Kappa Tau’s rush week traditions remained
intact under the leadership of Alex Crooker, as
the brotherhood still participated in events such
as broomball, paintball, hibachi night, and the bid
dinner. We’ve also made new traditions under the
university’s new rush policies, like a day of winter
sports prior to night smokers.
The pool of recruits this semester was as
strong as ever, with the limited time not affect-
ing the amount of people interested in learning
more about Phi Kappa Tau. A staggering number
of potential recruits walked through our doors
this rush week; just over 200 candidates had the
opportunity to speak to some of our brothers. We
gave out 23 bids, and the brothers remained en-
thusiastic throughout the period, growing more
acclimated to the new regulation, which have
now been in place for several semesters. Risk
has been reduced significantly, and our chapter
continues to infuse a lot of fun activities into the
short amount of time given to us by Cornell.
This spring semester, recruitment barbecues
will again soon become a regular activity as the
weather gets warmer and our newly initiated
members begin to assist with the beginning of
next semester’s fall recruitment.
Phi Kappa Tau will continue its history of
recruiting outstanding men through the broth-
ers’ numerous on-campus activities and con-
tinued emphasis on meeting new recruits. The
energy and personality of our brotherhood will
help us through any new restrictions placed on
our recruitment of new members, and each of
us looks forward to many more successful years
and memories here at 106 The Knoll.
Alex Crooker ’13
Tom Flagiello majors in human biology,
health, and society, with a minor in health
policy. He studied abroad in Florence, Italy,
for a semester and is very involved in Phi Tau
(MOO, risk manager, secretary). Tom is a
biochemistry teaching assistant, has been an
employee of Fine Arts Library for three years,
and is involved with Cornell Catholic Com-
munity and Cornell Italian Society. His post-
grad plans: working as a research technician at
Weill Cornell Medical College in NYC before
continuing to medical school. He will be with a
subset of the Department of Genetic Medicine
that conducts research utilizing gene-transfer
techniques for disease treatment.
Ankith Harathi graduated from Cornell
summa cum laude in December, majoring in
mechanical engineering with a minor in ap-
plied economics and management. He held the
roles of the cooling-team leader and flow-team
engineer on the Formula Racing (FSAE) Proj-
ect Team, participated in Cornell Running Club
and Model United Nations, and served as schol-
arship chair in Phi Kappa Tau. Post-grad plans:
he will be working at Stroud International Con-
sulting, a firm specializing in engineering opera-
tions and capital projects management.
serviCe remAins CruCiAl to Phi tAu
Philanthropy and service are a key part of being
a Phi Tau, especially here at Cornell. This past year,
brothers spent countless hours both on and off
Cornell’s campus to improve the local community.
During the fall semester, we held our annual
tug-of-war competition, Phi Tug, raising funds
and awareness for SeriousFun Network, Phi
Tau’s national philanthropy, founded by the late
Paul Newman. This semester, we are partnering
with other organizations on campus to do joint
philanthropy events to help SeriousFun. We
have an event scheduled with the Phi Sigma Sig-
ma sorority, with the help of Loco Cantina and
Connections Pizza, as well as our annual seesaw
marathon with Kappa Delta.
In addition, our newest brothers participated
in fundraising efforts to aid SeriousFun by sell-
ing baked goods and cider in Collegetown.
During the first weekend of our spring break
(March 27–29), more than ten brothers planned
to go to Camp Boggy Creek, a SeriousFun camp
in Eustis, Florida. We are also planning trips to
local charitable organizations, such as the near-
by Loaves & Fishes, to support its efforts in feed-
ing the community.
We hope to be even more involved in the lo-
cal community in future semesters.
Timon Amirani ’14
sPring ClAss shows its strength
For the four weeks of February, I had the
pleasure of guiding 15 fine men through
membership process. Even with
the process only lasting four weeks, the Omi-
cron Class proved its drive and character. Led
by their class president and vice president, Joe
Antonakakis ’15 and Brendan Coyle ’15, the new
members completed the association process
through hard work. In keeping with the duties
of associates of Phi Kappa Tau they made sure
none of them fell behind in the process. I can
proudly say that each and every one of them has
earned his place in this brotherhood.
As always, each associate class must complete
a house improvement and philanthropy project.
Given the brevity of the process and the impor-
tance we place on academics, they are still work-
ing on both of them as I write this. They have
raised about half their philanthropy goal solely
by selling hot cider in Collegetown. This year’s
house-improvement project is the construction
of a wood enclosure for our trash dumpster, as
well as tearing down the deteriorating shed in
the backyard. The project will reach completion
once the ground thaws out and they can sink the
posts of the enclosure.
Perhaps the best thing about this new class is
its variety. Each member brings a completely dif-
ferent and great perspective. Some are engineers
on project teams, one makes his own music, one
is involved in an improv comedy group, another is
treasurer for one of the larger organizations on our
campus that supports the LGBT community. No
matter what they do as individuals, what resonates
among everyone is that they are passionate about
what they do. That passion is what brings them
together. A group that might not seem to mesh
together is actually a perfect fit for each of them.
They all bring something unique to the table, and
they’ve formed strong brotherhood bonds.
In Phi, Javier Ortiz ’12
Spring Member Orientation Officer
alpha tau chapter of phi kappa tau at cornell
i kt alumni neWs
“Retired and enjoying life,” exclaims John Bab-
bitt ’66! Get in touch with him to find out what
he’s up to: email@example.com; 908
Collier Ct., #501, Marco Island, FL 34145.
“Thanks for all the great alumni communica-
tions,” says Joel Zackin ’80. “It is really great
how you all seem to have your act together!
Keep the newsletters rolling. Good luck with
school, and have fun with the house.” Joel signs
his note, giving himself the title “House a--hole
numerous times in the early ’80s.” He then goes
on to explain: “Not sure if you have continued
this house leadership position. In the ’80s, elec-
tions for this post of honor would be held at din-
ner whenever a nomination was brought up and
seconded. Of course, bringing a nomination to
the membership could cause the nominator to
be immediately nominated. The merits of the
candidates were discussed, and an election was
held. The new officer was presented with a tube
of Preparation H by the previous a--hole. Some-
times, words or actions called for multiple elec-
tions in a single night, although many folks held
the office for months. It required special skills to
hold the office for months.” Get back in touch
with Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 103
Everit St., New Haven, CT 06511.
“Not much new here,” writes Christopher
Mager ’84. “Still working at BNY Mellon,
where I currently serve as managing director,
head of market segments for the treasury ser-
vices business. Most of my non-working hours
are spent at soccer, basketball, cross-country,
and now track events for my sons (14 and 11),
some of which I coach. I run when I can, but
nothing like Phil Scinto ’84 and Brenda Scinto
(Phi Tau little sister)! I see them a few times a
year; they sometimes come to see my boys run
or play, or we visit them in Cleveland. My wife,
Jennifer, is doing fine too. We just had a great
ski/board trip to Gore Mountain in the Adiron-
dacks a few weeks ago.” Reconnect with Chris
at email@example.com or at 214 Lakevue Dr.,
Cranberry Township, PA 16066.
Derek Paxton ’11 is in Boston, working on his
master’s degree in aerospace engineering at MIT.
Write him a note to find out how he’s doing: 50
Plymouth St., #2, Cambridge, MA 02141.
is published by the Alpha Tau Chapter of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity at Cor
nell for its members & friends. News should be sent to Alumni Records Of
fice, Alpha Tau of Phi Kappa Tau, P.O. Box 876, Ithaca, NY 148510876.
We regret to announce the deaths
of the following alumni:
John Everett Dodge ’48
January 31, 2015
John C. Britting ’48
September 8, 2014
John H. Schuerger Jr. ’54
February 17, 2015
Gilbert I. Smith ’41
November 5, 2014
diener ’01 hAPPY with mediCAl CAreer
Barry Diener ’01 stood before the chapter
one day in the spring of 2002, giving an election
speech, and said he planned to become a pe-
diatrician. The brothers might not realize it, he
said, but during the summer,
he handled medical aid for a
town camp on Long Island.
All these years later, Barry
is, in fact, a pediatrician, along
with having served on the
chapter’s board of governors
since he graduated from Cor-
nell in 2004. Now, he is a fam-
ily man as well.
Barry has a practice in pe-
diatric pulmonology at Stony
Brook Children’s Hospital,
focusing on children with
acute and chronic respiratory
illnesses. He also is an assistant clinical profes-
sor at Stony Brook University, where he teaches
medical students who are on their pediatrics ro-
tation, as well as residents and fellows.
“I’m happy with my decision in my career
and the effect I have on the people I work
with,” he said. Pediatric pulmonology is based
on building relationships, he said, because he
works with children with
complex medical problems
and chronic care. Lately, he
has branched out into study-
ing how health care is man-
aged in a changing society
through quality improve-
ment, looking for more ef-
ficiency and the need to re-
interpret how things are done
in our changing landscape of
That follows a theme from
his days in Phi Tau as the
chapter re-founded and set
about establishing its recruitment, new mem-
ber, alumni, and social programs. He served as
alumni relations chair (VPAR) and membership
orientation officer (MOO).
“It was a community, a place you could go,
but a place where we were really pushing each
other to see what this thing was and if it would
last,” Barry said. “We didn’t think it would last.”
Barry graduated from Cornell with a bach-
elor’s in biology, with a molecular and cellular
concentration. He studied medicine at New
York Medical College in Westchester County
and did his residency there. He next worked
through a fellowship at Children’s Hospital of
“I wanted a very hands-on education and was
lucky enough to have a small hospital in a metro
area,” Barry said. “I got a really good picture of
what I could do in my practice.” This experience
allowed Barry to obtain a fellowship to study pe-
diatric pulmonology at one of the top children’s
hospitals in the world.
He married Ilana Sarfati, who was from his
hometown of Plainview, New York, in 2011. In
January, they welcomed Addison Grace. They
live in Commack, New York, near Stony Brook.
Barry likes being on the board of governors be-
cause it brings his fraternity experience full circle.
“It’s a way to reflect on what we did and to see
how this thing has grown, how the chapter has
taken off,” he said.
Scott Conroe ’01
Barry with his wife, Ilana, and
daughter Addison Grace.