20 Years of the Vredenburgh Presidents Academy
Remembering and celebrating two decades of leadership development for undergraduate presidents and emerging leaders.
The year was 1997 and many national fraternities were looking for a new approach to creating great chapters, which remains the foundation for successful national organizations. However, all fraternities were met with similar challenges, which included below average scholarship, declining membership, and increasing risk management incidents. How could Theta Xi meet these challenges head-on in a way that would put our chapters on a better path?
During the 133rd Anniversary convention, held at the Hyatt Regency Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz. the delegates passed a resolution to develop a Leadership conference to be offered every year. The author of this resolution, Brother Stanton P. Cadow, Beta Pi 209, had participated in similar experiences outside of the Fraternity and knew of their value in helping organizations gain new vision. By bringing together chapter presidents and alumni facilitators,
it would be possible to discuss our challenges, envision the possibilities, and celebrate our common bonds of Brotherhood in a place with few distractions.
The Early Years
The first Presidents Academy was held in 1999 at Innsbrook Resort in Innsbrook, Mo., during the first full weekend after New Year’s Day. After five years, the Presidents Academy moved to
Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend to allow more undergraduates to attend when classes were in recess. This extended weekend was filled with leadership programming from Friday morning through Monday afternoon. In 2004, due to a scheduling issue at Innsbrook Resort, the academy was moved to the YMCA of the Ozarks, Trout Lodge. Fortunately, that scheduling issue changed the approach to the Presidents Academy as outdoor activities, better accommodations and a larger attendance became possible.
Leadership programming in the early years were valuable experiences that Brothers like David Mangold, Alpha Zeta 1509 are still using today. David, who operates a Chinese food restaurant and boba shop in Westwood, Los Angeles, reflected, “I learned hard skills like running meetings, managing team assignments, handling a budget, and time management. I gained soft skills like when to push and when to listen, the consideration of those not in the room when making decisions, managing conflict, and finding compromise between people’s hopes verses expectations.”
As the program grew, more and more alumni gave of their time to facilitate and engage in conversation about the promising future of Theta Xi. Even more alumni gave of their treasure to support undergraduate attendance. In these early years, more than 50 alumni became Academy Benefactors by giving $500 or more each year to the program. These valuable gifts allowed chapter and colony presidents to attend at no cost.
Ryan Kight, Mu 1197, a Director of BOA Performance Strategy for Edward Jones, became engaged in the Presidents Academy in 2004 as a facilitator and remained involved through 2015. “In the 11 years that I was involved, I grew as a leader and a facilitator—learning more about my own leadership style, while also appreciating differences in others’ approaches to leadership. That growth, I believe, happened in large part to me teaching— but also learning—from the attending presidents.” Kight continues to be a big supporter of the academy today.
The “Next Academy”
The immense success and impact of the Presidents Academy gave rise to the “next academy” for Theta Xi. Thanks to the work of the newly-formed Leadership Task Force in 2005, the “next academy” was conceived in the form of the Rising Star Academy, first held concurrently with the Presidents Academy in 2006. While there was some shared programming and meals between the academies, the two programs had their own curriculums and methods. Rising Stars Academy focused exclusively on those members who were newly initiated into Theta Xi for one year or less.
With the two academies now side-by-side, Theta Xi needed to find alumni and staff to facilitate the growing numbers and curricula to make it all work. Many volunteered and have seen the value in being involved with the Fraternity on a national level. Some have become Grand Lodge members, others have helped develop local alumni associations and clubs, while others have become advisors, committee members and district directors. All have benefitted by their interaction with undergraduates and alumni from chapters from across the nation.
Taylor Wallace, Gamma Iota 374, gained a better perspective from the Presidents Academy, both as an attendee and a facilitator. The experience, “has opened my eyes to the potential of those around me. Every person has traits that can be used to better help one accomplish their mission. Just like a clock, one cog cannot accomplish its goal,” he said. “President’s Academy equipped me with the tools and methods to find that potential, tap into it, and motivate those to reach their maximum ability. When everyone performs at their absolute best and uses their strengths to ‘cover’ others’ weaknesses, that’s when magic happens and goals become accomplished.” Taylor currently resides in Washington, D.C. and works as a counterterrorism analyst.
The Legacy of Jim Vredenburgh
Most of Theta Xi’s success since the late 1970s can be attributed to long-time executive director James E. Vredenburgh, Beta Omega 11. Jim’s passion and love for our Fraternity was contagious to all who met him. His commitment to the idea of fraternity, and to our cardinal Principles, was unwavering. One of his great passions was the Presidents Academy program. Jim knew that the programming at this leadership experience was the premiere vehicle upon which Theta Xi could implement positive change for the betterment of our Brotherhood. The academy weekend remained a highlight of Jim’s year, until his untimely passing in 2012. It was no surprise, then, when the Theta Xi Foundation named the Presidents Academy for Jim in 2013. Thus, the Vredenburgh Presidents Academy was born.
Reflecting on the First 20 years
So, has the academy met its objectives? Definitely! Bryan Shaver, Sigma 1261, one of the chapter leaders who attended the inaugural Presidents Academy, says the guidance he received as been invaluable in his career. “It was the first time that I had taken one of the personality tests,” explained Bryan. “It was interesting to see what quadrant I fell into and to see how that has remained fairly constant 20 years later as I take those tests again. It was an important lesson to learn the various styles and personalities of other people and how to interact with them. I still use this today in a personal and professional capacity.”
Blaine Warden, Alpha Iota 919, had a similar experience. “I regularly reflect back on my time as president for the Alpha Iota chapter and how it has positively affected my life. My ability to deal with adversity, problem solve, and take on leadership roles has been forever affected in a positive way.” Blaine is a licensed professional engineer working as a project manager for Telios corporation out of Dallas, Texas.
From the time of the original resolution penned by Brother Cadow in 1997, to 20 years later, Theta Xi has changed from a loose confederation of local chapters and alumni into a much stronger national fraternity. This has happened in a very organic way that came out of the vision of those alumni who not only conceived the possibilities, but also worked tirelessly to develop and deliver perhaps one of the more unique approaches to instilling the purposes of Theta Xi in our membership, chapter presidents, Rising Stars, and soon-to-be alumni.
When we think of the Seven Purposes of Theta Xi and remember the words of our Sacred Oath, it becomes obvious that this annual gathering of fellowship seals the bonds of Brotherhood between us.
As Brian Coleman, Theta 1114, recalls, “Whenever I have been blessed to attend these Academies, I always look up to the stars and think about the intent of our Founders. They would be proud of our efforts to keep their vision of 1864 alive and well in 2018.”
When past attendees were asked what advice they would give to up-and-coming leaders, they overwhelming said they would encourage Brothers to attend because of the lifelong skills they will develop. Nick Mason, Alpha Epsilon 1460, shared that his Academy experience has helped him make an impact on others’ intellectual curiosity and encourages college Brothers with the opportunity to grow their leadership skills. “If you’re a leader, you have the ability to positively influence every individual you interact with.”
Brother Kight wants Brothers who will be attending academies to know that it will be one of the single greatest opportunities, not only to learn how to be a fraternity chapter president, but also to really work on who you can become as a leader. “See the Presidents Academy as your first training into leading a group of people,” he advised. “And, then never cease to learn how to be even better. Your time as president will give you more learning opportunities as a leader than most all of your other activities. See each opportunity as a chance to become an even better version of you. Enjoy it!”
Contributing writers: Brian Coleman, Theta 1114, Bernard Lemoine, Alpha Omicron 1053, and Tanner Marcantel, Alpha Alpha 1675.
Theta Xi Foundation names Marcantel as Executive Director
February 15, 2018
ST. LOUIS, MO. – In partnership with the Grand Lodge of the Fraternity, Theta Xi Foundation is excited to announce that J. Tanner Marcantel, Alpha Alpha 1675, will assume the role as executive director. Brother Marcantel will serve in this capacity for both the foundation and the fraternity. In this position, Tanner will be responsible for the Foundation’s administrative operations and will provide support to the board of trustees.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Tanner to this additional role at Theta Xi Headquarters,” says Ken Miller, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “His past Theta Xi experience working with our undergraduates and alumni will help strengthen Foundation initiatives and enhance our future goals and programs.”
Brother Marcantel brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of Theta Xi and the fraternity industry. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from LSU in International Trade and Finance, and a master’s degree in Higher Education from the University of Arizona. Prior to his employment at Theta Xi Headquarters, Tanner worked in higher education at the University of Arizona, Vanderbilt University and Georgia Tech.
Grand Lodge Names Roachford as Undergraduate Director
June 22, 2017
ST. LOUIS, MO. – The Grand Lodge of Theta Xi Fraternity is excited to announce the addition of David Roachford, Alpha Nu 1078, to the board as undergraduate director. In this position, Brother Roachford will assume the responsibilities afforded to a member of the Grand Lodge for the current term, ending at the 154th Anniversary Convention in 2018.
“We’re excited to have David step up and fill this vacancy on the Grand Lodge,” says James O. Pike, National President. “His service to Theta Xi will be valuable to the brotherhood, as he represents the voice of our undergraduate members.”
Brother Roachford fills the vacancy created by Brother Benjamin Fick, Kappa Sigma 1377. Brother Fick resigned his position on the Grand Lodge after accepting employment at Theta Xi Headquarters as a leadership consultant earlier this summer.
According to the National Constitution and Bylaws, a vacant undergraduate director position is to be filled with the brother who obtained the next highest number of votes at the prior Anniversary Convention.
Theta Xi Names Lemoine as Director of Fraternity Education
April 28, 2017
J. Tanner Marcantel, Executive Director
ST. LOUIS, MO. – Theta Xi Fraternity is excited toannounce the addition of Bernard “Bernie” Lemoine, Alpha Omicron 1053, to the headquarters staff as the Director of Fraternity Education. In this position, Brother Lemoine will be responsible for the Fraternity’s leadership development programs, educational resources, and other member development curricula. This will include the Vredenburgh Presidents Academy, Rising Stars Academy, and Newell District Leadership Academies.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Bernie to his new role at Fraternity Headquarters,” says Tanner Marcantel, Theta Xi Executive Director. “His past Theta Xi experience working with our undergraduates and alumni will help strengthen our current programs and enhance the next phase of member education in the Fraternity.”
Brother Lemoine brings with him extensive professional knowledge of over 7 years in the sales industry managing and leading dynamic teams worldwide. He also put his entrepreneurial talents to use when he created a firm that provides executive leadership coaching to small business owners in southwest Louisiana. Bernie has served Theta Xi in a variety of roles including chapter president, Undergraduate Director on the Grand Lodge, Bayou Hill District Director and lead facilitator for the Vredenburgh Presidents Academy. Bernie holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Brother Lemoine will begin his new role on July 1, 2017.
Dr. B Announces Plan to Retire from HQ
December 15, 2016
J. Tanner Marcantel, Executive Director
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – Director of Leadership Development and Education Dr. Phil Barrineau, of Greensboro, North Carolina announced his retirement after more than ten years of service to Theta Xi Fraternity. His last day on staff will be July 31, 2017.
Dr. B accrued considerable distinction as the Director of Leadership and Education at Fraternity Headquarters since his hiring on March 1, 2006. Under the guidance of Dr. B, Theta Xi implemented the Leadership Initiative, including the All True Men program, Vredenburgh Presidents Academy, Rising Stars Academy, and Newell District Leadership Academies. Additionally, he served as Director of Expansion, leading the efforts to start chapters at Georgia Southern University, Shippensburg University, and Western Carolina University.
His relentless pursuit of improving the personal and leadership development of undergraduates will be his legacy for the Fraternity. Upon reflection, Dr. B noted that he is proudest of two things: the creation of the peer facilitator program for the Vredenburgh Presidents Academy; and the enhancement of the facilitation teams for all leadership programs to include alumni brothers, campus partners, and friends of the Fraternity. “It’s been a highlight of my time on Headquarters staff to see nearly 50 young alumni and 75 volunteers engage in our pursuit of the highest quality leadership development programming for college men. I will cherish the relationships built with these brothers and volunteers for a lifetime.”
Theta Xi is also pleased to announce that Dr. B will remain engaged on a contract basis, and will coordinate the engagement and leadership development of alumni, especially advisors and advisory teams.
About Theta Xi Fraternity:
Theta Xi was founded in 1864 by eight students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY during the Civil War. Founded as the first professional social fraternity with limited membership to undergraduate men majoring in engineering. The Fraternity Headquarters, located today in St. Louis, MO, provides leadership programs and personal development education to more than 50 chapters and colonies across the United States, and has initiated over 70,000 brothers.
Theta Xi Enhances Partnership, Chooses Compass
For More Information Contact:
Theta Xi Fraternity
In 2011, Theta Xi began a chapter financial management relationship with OmegaFi to improve collections, accountability, officer training and transition. Last year, Theta Xi sought to streamline the collection of national dues and fees while making it easier for chapter leaders to view their statement and billing history.
“Within months of partnering with OmegaFi to collect national dues and fees we saw an increase in cash-flow,” said Theta Xi Executive Director Tanner Marcantel. “Our chapters were already working with OmegaFi to manage their local finances, it was a natural fit for us to partner with OmegaFi and make one more process easier for our undergraduates. Our partnership also freed up valuable headquarters staff time; allowing us to focus on our priorities of leadership development, chapter services, and fraternity growth rather than worrying about collections. These are real resources that we could turn around and invest back in our members.”
Theta Xi Fraternity to Colonize at Arizona State University
September 14, 2016
The Grand Lodge of Theta Xi Fraternity is pleased to announce that the Fraternity will be rejoining the Arizona State University Greek community this Fall. After nine years away from campus, a group of men will be hand-selected to revitalize and create an exceptional Theta Xi experience with the assistance of volunteers, LaunchPoint, and Headquarters staff.
Arizona State is home to a large fraternity and sorority life system. Joining a community of over 60 fraternities and sororities, the colony will offer an unhoused experience focused on unity, flexibility and values-based development. This effort will be augmented with the support of Arizona States highly engaged staff of student development professionals.
Theta Xi Fraternity returns to West Liberty University in 2017
August 28th, 2016
WHEELING, WV. – The Grand Lodge of Theta Xi Fraternity is pleased to announce, in partnership with the West Liberty Office of Campus Activities, that Theta Xi Fraternity will return to West Liberty University in the Spring of 2017. This will mark the return of Theta Xi to West Liberty since the initial establishment of the Beta Phi Chapter in November of 1966.
Beginning in January, a select group of men will have the opportunity to create an exceptional fraternal experience with the assistance of both alumni volunteers and Headquarters personnel. West Liberty University is home to a growing fraternity community with a supportive and highly engaged staff.
Weldon to join staff as Consultant
May 16, 2016
Fraternity Headquarters will welcome our second consultant, Lukas Weldon, Kappa 1064, to the staff this summer. Brother Weldon recently graduated from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with a degree in electrical engineering and minors in robotics and Spanish. During his time at Rose, he has been highly involved in Theta Xi serving as chapter president, 4 terms as senior house manager, and 4 terms on the Interfraternity Council.
Theta Xi Announces Two Staff Hires
Senior staff expanded to support fraternity growth initiatives and increase chapter services
May 2, 2016
ST. LOUIS, MO. – Theta Xi Fraternity is excited to announce the addition of two staff members to the headquarters to meet the needs of the current chapters and to support the growth in membership and the chapter roll. Ian Pellerin, Kappa Tau 794, will transition to the role of Director of Fraternity Growth and Emilee Danielson-Burke will fill the position of Director of Chapter Services.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Ian to his new role on our staff and Emilee to the Headquarters family,” says Tanner Marcantel, Theta Xi Executive Director. “Their respective experience working with undergraduates, alumni, and partners will help strengthen Theta Xi’s existing chapters and enhance the overall member experience.”
Thibodeaux to join staff as Consultant
March 30, 2016
Fraternity Headquarters is excited to announce that Alek Thibodeaux, Alpha Omicron 1096, will join the staff as a leadership consultant for the 2016-17 year. Brother Thibodeaux will graduate this May from University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in political science. During his time at ULL, he has been highly involved in Theta Xi serving as chapter president for two terms, vice president, parliamentarian, and philanthropy chairman. Alek also works with many charities and fundraisers in the Lafayette area benefiting Habitat for Humanity, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Relay for Life.
Theta Xi Fraternity recolonizing Theta Chapter at Purdue University
March 29, 2016
Contact: Ian Pellerin, Director of Fraternity Growth
The Grand Lodge of Theta Xi Fraternity is pleased to announce, in partnership with the Theta Alumni Association, the Purdue IFC, and the Dean of Students staff, that Theta Xi Fraternity will return to Purdue University in the fall 2016.
Marcantel Named Executive Director
J. Tanner Marcantel appointed 11th Executive Director of Theta Xi Fraternity
July 2, 2015
Theta Xi Fraternity is pleased to announce that J. Tanner Marcantel, Alpha Alpha 1675 and current Vice President for Chapter Operations on the Grand Lodge, has been offered and has accepted the position of Executive Director. Tanner will serve as the 11th Executive Director in Theta Xi’s storied history, assuming the role after a lengthy and productive selection process. Tanner will assume his duties on August 3 after a transition from Interim Executive Director, Charlie Hiemenz.