SigEp would not be able to make a difference for so many young men without our dedicated volunteers. These men and women make a difference in our chapters and campus communities every day. But they don’t do it for the recognition. They do it because they love SigEp and believe in SigEp’s ability to bring out the best in young men.
Among that special group of dedicated volunteers, a select few stand out as truly exemplary. This year, there were five recipients of the Exemplary Service Award, chosen from those who have served SigEp for at least 20 years. These brothers received their awards as the culmination of our Carlson Leadership Academies around the country in February and March.
Fr. Ray Ackerman, Oklahoma ’77
Father Ray Ackerman has played a key role in furthering SigEp’s mission to develop values-based leaders. Since his days as a chapter officer, he’s exhibited a commitment to acting with honor and respecting others — values he modeled for countless brothers while serving as chapter counselor at Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. On the national level, his leadership of SigEp’s Ritual and Values Task Force has yielded invaluable insight on remaining true to the ideals we were founded upon while keeping pace with cultural shifts. Since 1997, Ray has also served as national chaplain, creating moving tributes to brothers who have passed away and presiding over the Grand Chapter Conclave Necrology.
Mike Ellis, Purdue ’84
Over the course of his volunteer career, Mike Ellis has served on at least five AVCs and advised several others. As chair of the Fraternity’s national Technology Task Force, he took the lead in advancing the “virtual AVC” concept. Thanks to his trainings, alumni who don’t live near a chapter can now serve as mentors and participate in meetings remotely using videoconferencing, shared documents and other technology. Mike knows the value of virtual volunteering firsthand: He currently serves as AVC secretary for his Purdue Chapter, as well as California-Berkeley, and mentors the chaplain of the New York University SEC, all while traveling around the world as a technology consultant.
Steve Shewbrooks, Florida ’66
As chair of Florida Alpha’s recolonization committee, Steve Shewbrooks laid the groundwork for the chapter’s successful return. He also served as director of the AVC’s recent multimillion-dollar capital campaign. As part of the team that oversaw construction of Florida Alpha’s new substance-free home, he has also been an integral part of the chapter’s development as an RLC. An officer of both the AVC and the Florida Alpha Educational Foundation, his involvement proved vital in coordinating the fundraising activities of the two groups. Fellow volunteers say he’s so effective because he gives his all to every project and is a firm believer that leadership is defined by a person’s actions, not his title.
Rick Slimmer, Muhlenberg ’75
Rick Slimmer has been the heart and soul of Pennsylvania Iota since becoming an alumnus. He’s often credited with continuing the SigEp tradition at Muhlenberg, a college of just over 2,000 students. His dedication is apparent in everything he does, from stopping by to check on the chapter house during the summer and holidays to his more than 40 years as AVC treasurer. Chapter volunteers consider him a mentor and say one of the reasons they serve is for the opportunity to work with and learn from him. Rick is a Distinguished Alumnus recipient, and a chapter scholarship was named after him at the chapter’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2013.
Ron Smith, San Diego State ’69
Ron Smith has provided his chapter with the visionary leadership that helped it become one of the top organizations on campus. During his 15 years as AVC president, Ron was the guiding force behind many of San Diego State’s most significant achievements: rechartering, earning accreditation as a Residential Learning Community, completing a $500,000 capital campaign and renovating the chapter home. A Distinguished Alumnus recipient, Ron’s focus on academic achievement inspired members to set a 3.0 GPA requirement for the chapter. Now serving as chapter counselor, he continues to be sought out as a mentor by fellow volunteers as well as undergraduates.