NEWS FROM THE KNOLL

ALPHA TAU CHAPTER OF PHI KAPPA TAU AT CORNELL 

 ALUMNIRECORDS@CORNELLPKT.ORG 

 FALL 2015

Dear Alumni,

Thank you for reading the newest edition 

of News From The Knoll. Our chapter has been 

very busy this semester and we are very excited 

to update you on the current state of the house. 

Most recently, the Alpha Tau Chapter hosted 

its annual Homecoming event. We were very 

pleased to welcome back alumni from different 

generations to join us for a day of tailgating and 

other festivities. The undergraduates love see-

ing alumni back on campus and we are more 

than willing to host anyone who decides to 

come back! 

In this edition, our president, Brian 

McGovern ’13, discusses the current state 

of our chapter. Akshay Jain ’15 describes the 

chapter’s continued philanthropy efforts and 

our new event, Spike Tau, while we look back 

at Phi Tug. Paul Orshansky ’14 discusses 

the chapter’s recruitment efforts, and Sam 

McDermott ’12 introduces our newly initiated 

brothers. Jack Schnog ’14 shares some stories 

from our chapter’s annual Brotherhood Trip to 

Montreal, and Graham Sabo ’15 speaks on the 

current state of The Knoll.

This issue of News From The Knoll is my last 

as vice president of alumni relations. However, 

I will be actively involved in transitioning my 

successor into this position and am confident 

he will be able to effectively continue our 

alumni outreach and foster strong ties to our 

chapter.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions 

or concerns via email at vpar@cornellpkt.com. If 

you are not receiving updates from the chap-

ter, please let me know and I will update our 

chapter alumni database. Additionally, if you 

have any comments or suggestions about past 

or future events, please take a moment to let 

us know how we are doing by filling out this 

survey: 

http://www.cornellpkt.com/survey.

 

In Phi,

Alexander Gomez ’14 

Vice President of Alumni Relations

VP ROUND-UP: AN ISSUE 

PACKED WITH CHAPTER NEWS

Paul Orshansky ’14, Akshay Jain ’15, Eric Oberman ’14, Alex Gomez ’14.

Top photo: Members who went on the fall 

brotherhood trip to Montreal in October gather 

as a group.

LETTER FROM 

THE CHAPTER 

PRESIDENT

Hello alumni, family, and friends of Phi 

Kappa Tau. The chapter is alive and well 

this semester, and I am quite proud of the 

efforts and strides made by the officers on 

the executive board. 

One of the main challenges we encoun-

tered this semester was how to improve 

attendance at our many events. Instead of 

resorting to disciplinary methods, I decided 

to revamp what was previously called the 

President’s Challenge. Under a new initia-

tive—the President’s Cup—brothers compete 

as part of a team-based incentive system, 

with greater prizes corresponding to each 

finishing place. 

Every brother in the house was ran-

domly placed on a team evenly composed 

of executive board members as captains, 

along with the remaining brothers of each 

associate class. This new system allots points 

for meeting/event attendance (e.g. chapter, 

social, brotherhood, philanthropy), com-

munity service hours, and ritual attendance. 

The President’s Cup has fostered more inter-

action and teamwork between the younger 

and older brothers in the house. I hope this 

practice will continue and grow in the future 

as a way for the executive board and other 

active members of the fraternity to chal-

lenge other brothers to attend and partici-

pate in the range of events the house offers.

As for our standing at Cornell University, 

Phi Kappa Tau continues to be at the frontier 

of the 21st-century fraternity experience. 

(CONTINUED ON PAGE FOUR)

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NEW-MEMBER PROGRAM SHORT BUT SOLID

This fall, after an outstanding fall recruiting effort by chapter Recruitment Chair 

Paul Orshansky ’14, Phi Tau associated and initiated nine men into the Alpha Tau 

Chapter. Historically, fall class sizes have been anywhere from two to five men, but 

due to interest from both brothers and rushees alike, a larger class was chosen. With 

open minds and an urge to learn, the eight sophomores and one junior embarked on 

the four-week process toward full membership.

Associates attended lessons, including national Phi Tau history, fraternity organi-

zation and leadership, and local Alpha 

Tau history, taught very courteously by 

domain director Scott Conroe ’01. To 

ensure that the process was as enjoyable 

as it was informative, many brothers 

stepped up to give lessons that would 

either develop them professionally or 

teach them a skill they may not yet have 

developed in their time at Cornell. These included introduction to acting, networking and professional-

ism, the basics of golf, a crash course in longboarding, and social responsibility. The lessons gave the 

associates a glimpse into the breadth of our brotherhood’s interests and talents. 

Together, they raised $602 for our national philanthropic partner, SeriousFun Children’s Network, 

by setting up a variety of events to raise both awareness and funds. 

In mid-October, brothers voted the associates into the chapter to gain full membership through 

the initiation ceremony. It is with great honor that we welcome Benedict HarveyAlec DeanAdrian 

AlepuzConnor DuncanMarvin RodriguezMax SenkovskyCam CurtinCameron Boroumand

and Jack Press into the brotherhood of Phi Kappa Tau.

Sam McDermott ’13

Membership Orientation Officer

CHAPTER’S FALL CLASS LARGEST SINCE RE-FOUNDING

I am proud to announce that nine out-

standing gentlemen have been initiated into 

the Alpha Tau Chapter of Phi Kappa Tau. This 

is very exciting, as it is the largest fall class since 

the refounding era. We are very happy with the 

direction we are headed in as a chapter and 

look forward to having as cohesive a brother-

hood as ever. We feel the shortened four-week 

association process has not limited how much 

these men can learn and grow before becom-

ing brothers of Phi Kappa Tau. The Pi class is 

currently working on installing a new serving 

station for dinners as its house improvement 

project. 

Though fall rush at Cornell is a very relaxed 

procedure, the number of rushees this 

semester was as large as ever, with the 

limited time not affecting the number 

of people interested in learning more 

about Phi Kappa Tau. Given its infor-

mal nature, fall rush normally does 

not bring many potential recruits to 

each house, but we were astounded 

when more than 30 men showed 

interest in our fraternity. Ultimately, 

11 bids were given out this semester, 

and two associates accepted bids given 

to them in previous semesters, result-

ing in the nine associates. The brothers 

remained enthusiastic throughout the period, 

growing more acclimated to the strict restric-

tions that have now been imposed 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 the university.

As this fall semester goes on, recruitment 

will continue to be a central focus for our chap-

ter. It is always essential to recruit extraordi-

nary gentlemen and scholars so as to preserve 

our ideals and endeavors as a house internally 

as well as at Cornell as a whole. Phi Kappa Tau 

will continue its history of recruiting outstand-

ing men through the brothers’ numerous on-

campus activities and continue its emphasis on 

meeting new recruits. The energy and person-

ality of our brotherhood will help us through 

any new restrictions placed on recruitment of 

new members, and each of us looks forward to 

many more successful years and memories here 

at 106 The Knoll.

Paul Orshansky ’14

Recruitment Chair

The fall associate class hard at work in the library.

Paul Orshansky ’14, second from left.

Tyler Neace ’13, center, with the associates

3

is published by the Alpha Tau Chapter of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity at Cornell for its members & friends. News should be sent to alumnirecords@cornellpkt.org or 

Alumni Records Office, Alpha Tau of Phi Kappa Tau, P.O. Box 876, Ithaca, NY 19851-0876.

NEWS FROM THE KNOLL

  

SPIKE TAU BECOMES NEW  

CHAPTER FUNDRAISER

Every semester, Phi Tau shows its over-

whelming enthusiasm for both service and 

philanthropy. This semester, we found a new 

way to show our commitment to both. 

We held an event we had never attempted 

before in the hope of reinvigorating our philan-

thropic spirits: Spike Tau, a 32-team spike ball 

tournament, was held on the Arts Quad to ben-

efit SeriousFun Children’s Network, Phi Tau’s 

national philanthropic partner since 1995. The 

event far surpassed our initial monetary pro-

jections, raising $710, and we happily plan to 

continue it in the future. Spike Tau replaced Phi 

Tug, the chapter event held since 2001. 

We also partnered with the Cornell busi-

ness fraternity Phi Gamma Nu to host an 

event at a restaurant, raising another $405 for 

SeriousFun. Our fall pledge class will also be 

hosting its own philanthropic event this semes-

ter, which I will help guide them through. 

As a chapter, we have placed great emphasis 

on serving the community this semester. We 

attend the Ithaca branch of Loaves and Fishes 

every Thursday to prepare and serve meals to 

local underprivileged families. We have also 

planned a service trip in November to Double 

H Ranch in the Adirondacks, the SeriousFun 

camp closest to Cornell. The interest in attend-

ing the event has been remarkable. We hope to 

further expand our philanthropic and service 

related efforts in the coming semester.

Akshay Jain ’15

Philanthropy Chair

PHI TUG SAYS FAREWELL

Phi Tug, the tug of war tournament that 

served as the chapter’s major annual fundraiser 

since 2001, was replaced this fall by a spike ball 

tournament. But it had a great run. It will be 

remembered by many alumni and raised thou-

sands of dollars during its time.

In the spring of 2001, the colony of Alpha 

Tau was trying to regain its charter, increase 

visibility on campus, and hone its service 

mission. The men created a tug of war event 

with divisions for men’s, women’s, and co-ed 

teams. Every chapter tried to raise money for 

the national philanthropy, the Hole in the 

Wall Gang Camp, which later evolved into the 

SeriousFun Children’s Network.

The event took place on the Arts Quad and 

involved teams from sororities, fraternities, 

lightweight crew, and clubs.  Cornell Univer-

sity’s concern about damage to the quad caused 

the chapter to move Phi Tug to North Campus, 

where the spacious lawns could host multiple 

tug battles at a time and freshmen could see 

a fraternity in action. Some years the event 

had open and Greek divisions, and sometimes 

sororities sent two or three teams. The Big Red 

wrestling team dominated, winning 10 times 

even when challenged occasionally by Alpha 

Gamma Rho Fraternity and the rugby club.

A deejay provided music, people could 

donate, and businesses provided food and 

prizes. Every year, hundreds of dollars were 

raised for SeriousFun.

But recruiting teams became more difficult, 

there were more conflicts with other service 

events, and the chapter decided to try some-

thing different. Of course we hope Spike Tau 

will keep the money flowing.

Scott Conroe ’01

Alumni Communications

Javi Ortiz ’12 at Loaves and Fishes.

Spike Tau gets a promo from (left to right) Jeff Witz ’14, James Cheung ’14, 

Jack Schnog ’14, and Akshay Jain ’15.

Dan Masetti ’14, left, competes in the final match of Spike Tau. Dan and his partner 

finished second to a team of two freshmen.

FKT ALUMNI NEWS

CHAPTER ETERNAL

We regret to announce the death 

of the following alumnus:

John E. Owens ’48

June 27, 2015

ALPHA TAU CHAPTER OF PHI KAPPA TAU AT CORNELL 

 ALUMNIRECORDS@CORNELLPKT.ORG 

 FALL 2015

We received awards this past semester for Most 

Outstanding Chapter and Outstanding Social 

Responsibility and are continually highlighted 

by the university as a model organization. 

In addition, individual awards were given 

to  Javier Ortiz ’12 for Outstanding Chapter 

Officer and Chris Cox for Outstanding New 

Member. 

In spite of these accolades, our chapter 

consistently works to improve its educational 

programming and increase its commitment to 

the Ithaca community and SeriousFun Chil-

dren’s Network. Whether it’s having multiple 

representatives from organizations come in to 

talk about issues related to sexual assault and 

bystander intervention or setting up partner-

ships with Loaves and Fishes and the Double H 

Ranch, Phi Kappa Tau always aims to improve.

The end of this semester brings the end of 

my time serving as chapter president. It has 

been a privilege to hold this position for an 

organization that has truly shaped my college 

career and helped me develop as a leader. With 

many younger brothers stepping into signifi-

cant positions of leadership in the past year, I 

am confident that the 2016 executive board will 

be just as successful. I wish the chapter the best 

of luck in the coming year.

In Phi,

Brian McGovern ’13

Chapter President

HOUSE MANAGER 

RISES TO THE TASKS OF 

UPKEEP, REPAIR 

Living on 

The Knoll has 

been a great 

e x p e r i e n c e . 

The history in 

a facility that 

is more than 

100 years old and has housed professors and 

multiple student organizations is incredible. 

Each day when I wake up, I am amazed by the 

view out of my third-floor window, which over-

looks Ithaca in the valley below. It inspires a 

real appreciation for how incredible this house 

must have been when Professor Tanner built it 

in 1902.

But living in such an old house lends itself 

to some issues. This semester there have been a 

few problems but also a lot of fixes and improve-

ments. To start off, issues with the new hot 

water system caused radiators to come on early 

in August when outside temperatures were in 

the 80s. This problem was fixed promptly, and 

the house was no longer a sauna. 

This semester, the large associate class has 

been tasked with creating a new food serving 

station in the annex to replace the station that 

has greatly deteriorated in the past couple of 

years. Last spring’s associate class added a new 

enclosure for the trash bin and tore down and 

discarded the dilapidated shed that was behind 

it. This project has greatly improved the look 

of the back yard and created a better space for 

parties.

We are looking into purchasing more chairs 

for the dining room and renovating the serving 

station.

This fall there were a few cleaning projects 

in problem areas of the house. The storage 

room was thoroughly cleaned to make room 

for the extra bedframes from a relatively small 

number of brothers living in the house. Also, 

the laundry room and alumni archive room 

were given a much needed tidying. 

All in all, the house continues to serve as 

a wonderful meeting space for the brother-

hood and friends. If we keep improving it each 

semester and taking care of what we have, 106 

The Knoll should remain a sound home for 

many future classes. 

Graham Sabo ’15

House Manager

MONTREAL: THE TRADITION CONTINUES

I joined Phi Kappa Tau for the brotherhood 

and the friendships I knew it would offer. Now, 

my role as brotherhood chair is to provide 

brothers with chances to build the everlasting 

friendships that this fraternity fosters. It is part 

of my responsibility to plan events that allow 

the brothers to remember their college expe-

rience and the friendships they made. People 

should be able to tell stories of the events the 

brotherhood chair planned.

This semester I have organized a range of 

gatherings—from supporting a brother’s small 

on-campus event to larger get-togethers. This 

semester’s annual trip to Montreal, a tradition 

that started in 2001, went off without a hitch. 

Forty brothers went on the trip, 17 more than 

last year. It was a weekend full of adventure and 

bonding. Brothers spent the weekend exploring 

old Montreal, seeing the sights, and enjoying the 

people and energy of the city.

With the addition of nine new fall Pi class 

associates the brotherhood is quickly growing. 

The addition of new brothers has everyone 

excited to get involved and continue to forge 

bonds with one another. 

Jack Schnog ’14

Brotherhood Chair

PRESIDENT’S LETTER

(CONTINUED FROM PAGE ONE)

Brian McGovern ’13 competes in  

Spike Tau.

Graham Sabo ’15 addresses a 

house gathering.