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Sigma Nu's 66th Regent, John Hearn (Georgia), sat down with us to share his vision for the biennium, advice for today's collegiate brother, and how Sigma Nu can look forward to another 150 years.

At the 68th Grand Chapter you spoke to your theme for this biennium being a “Return to the Rock.” What does this mean for collegians and alumni?

All Sigma Nus are familiar with the story of our founding by Hopkins, Quarles, and Riley during a meeting on “a Rock,” specifically a limestone outcropping near the VMI parade grounds. The symbolism of our founding on a Rock — a permanent, unmoving, and unchanging meeting place — represents the permanence of our principles of Love, Honor, and Truth.

Virtually any inquiry regarding the best path forward for Sigma Nu’s future can be answered through adherence to our principles. A “Return to the Rock” is my charge to Sigma Nu collegians and alumni to live out our values. When we live out the principles of Love, Honor and Truth in each decision we make, we achieve our mission to develop ethical leaders and perpetuate lifelong friendships.

It’s those same ethical leaders, men who govern each act by a high sense of honor, for whom our society is yearning.

You also spoke about the importance of Truth as one of Sigma Nu’s values. How important is Truth for today’s collegiate brother?

In 2016, Webster’s Dictionary reported its word of the year was “Post Truth.” Think about that. We are being told through this pronouncement that society is no longer acknowledging one of our three principles — THE Principle that gives Love and Honor secure footing.

Truth undergirds Love and Honor. Honor can only exist with Love and Truth, and Love can only exist within a foundation of Truth. Thus, Love and Honor requires there to be Truth — a universally true foundation of what is right and wrong.

We grow closer to the truth through the freedom of open and civil dialogue. Truth is at risk when ignorant hatred and name calling replace cordial conversation.

Polarization is leading to people no longer listening to each other as they drift further and further apart. It’s fine to respectfully debate topics. In fact, it’s welcome because that is how we make sense of the world through our own filter. But when we attack the person, facts, or actual topic, we grow the divide between us and our fellow man.

Sigma Nu is a great incubator for truth seeking. Sigma Nu teaches the right approach within a brotherhood by fostering civil discourse through relationships, trust, and environments for open dialogue.

Your role as an alumni volunteer for the Fraternity begins with your tenure as Mu Chapter’s (Georgia) Chapter Advisor in 2006. What inspired/ motivated you to get involved then and stay involved?

Next to faith and family, Sigma Nu is next on the list of what’s import- ant to me. There are decisions in everyone’s life you can look back on and realize, without them, your entire life would be different. For me, Sigma Nu was one of those decisions.

It’s where my dearest friends have come. Marrying my wife, Amy, can be traced back to a job at a hospital I secured through a fellow Sigma Nu. My career traces back to a company I was introduced to by a fellow Sigma Nu. Sigma Nu taught me much of what I know about leadership and people.

My involvement in Sigma Nu as a volunteer at the chapter level was inspired by wanting to pay it forward so that future young men will receive a similar impact.

Being involved at a national level had a different genesis. During my collegiate years, and for many years thereafter, my engagement in Sigma Nu was generally limited only to my local chapter, and understandably so because it’s from where my friends and experiences came.

In 2006, I grew to realize no chapter exists without our national organization. Three of my Sigma Nu heroes, Sigma Nu staff members Russ Hammond (James Madison), Jon Sprenger (Drury) and Chris Healy (Fresno State), were sent to my home chapter to help revitalize the place I loved. It was this experience that expanded my vision to understand that Headquarters is crucial to the viability of any and all chapters.

Regent John Hearn and his wife Amy at the 68th Grand Chapter in Washington, D.C.

What would be your advice to a young alumnus who is unsure of how to support the Fraternity after graduation?

A young alumnus has an opportunity to be among the most impactful volunteers to a local chapter. They tend to quickly develop followership as a closer peer to collegians, and they are in tune with the needs of the individual collegiate members.

The most successful engagement of young alumni I’ve witnessed is to come back to facilitate LEAD sessions. It is powerful for a collegian to hear a successful young alumnus provide feedback on what they would have done differently in college knowing what they know now.

I’ve also watched young alumni be particularly adept at helping collegians navigate the internship and career interview processes. Assistance with a job search does not have to come from a CEO, CFO or other Executive. Organizations rely heavily on the feedback of recently graduated employees when hiring the next class of recruits.

Brotherhood in Sigma Nu is for life, and post-graduation engagement makes a difference whether you’ve been an alumnus for 1, 5, 25, or 50 years. Our most successful chapters usually have highly engaged alumni from many generations.

On several campuses, the concept of fraternity is being questioned. What role does a fraternity serve on the modern campus?

Sigma Nu Fraternity's service to a modern campus is to help academic institutions develop ethical leaders. Our society and its institutions have all too often failed in the development of emerging leaders.

As a result, we are witnessing a failure of leadership in virtually all segments of our country — in our families, all political parties, our business, and in our local communities.

We are in a unique time of incivility, chaos, and confusion in our country. The same type of leader- ship that caused Hopkins, Quarles and Riley to rise above the fray and establish the Legion of Honor is the same type of leadership needed today.

Sigma Nu is uniquely qualified to develop ethical leaders. Our Fraternity complements the academic efforts of Universities by creating environments for leadership to be learned — through practice and even through trial and error. Sigma Nu helps build the types of unguarded relationships, within a local chapter, where leadership skills can best be developed.

This biennium includes the celebration of the Fraternity’s 150th Anniversary. Why do you think Sigma Nu has remained strong for 150 years? What will it take to remain for another 150 years?

When a group of men (or for sororities, women) gather together through freedom of association and truly bound themselves around timeless principles, a sustained brotherhood/sisterhood will exist.

To remain relevant for another 150 years, we simply need to live our values. Notwithstanding the fact we all make mistakes, if we have members who consistently and blatantly fail to do so, I submit they are Sigma Nus in name only and serve only as a risk or distraction to our organization.

Within our self-governance model, local chapters should recruit to our values, and leverage provisions in The LAW that promote ethical living.

What would your advice be to a Commander who is trying to turn a “good” chapter into a “great” chapter?

Gather your officers, and any other nucleus of leaders, and be intentional about developing your vision collectively. What do you want your chapter to be known for on campus? While important, if the answer only revolves around the brotherhood and social aspects of fraternity, go back to work. What in your vision will set you apart? Is leadership development important? Alumni mentoring? Philanthropy? Academics? Whatever your desired reputation, write it down.

Once you have your vision, build a strategic plan around it with an eye on at least a three-year time- line. Every chapter is never more than four years away from success or failure, and a vision and strategic plan will help a chapter focus beyond the annual term of an Executive Board.

Once the vision and strategic plan are established, ensure the officers and other chapter leaders are on the same page. Thereafter, communicate the plan consistently and hold each other accountable for results and execution, remembering all people respect what you inspect.

Ultimately, you have to lead with vision and courage as you strive to be respected more than being liked!

© 2015-2022 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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