Alumni Spotlights

Mr. Phi Psi Alumni Award
Interview with David W. Frayne ’89

David1. Why did you decide to join Phi Kappa Psi?
As an undergraduate in the engineering school, I was seeking a fun place to live on central campus, and I was seeking a fun, diverse peer group. Phi Psi was the solution!

2. What did your undergraduate experience at Michigan Alpha mean to you?
Psi Psi provided a fantastic social outlet that very much offset the difficult academic grind of the Engineering school.

3. What are some of your favorite memories?
We had great social events at the fraternity house at 1811 Washtenaw (now Sigma Kappa sorority). We had many awesome parties with live bands (Huntunes, Rhythm Corps, Captain Dave and the Psychedelic Lounge Cats, Samaritans), great beach parties in the huge open basement, theme parties (St. Patrick’s Day mini-golf), mud-slides on the front hill, etc.

4. How did the fraternity prepare you for life after college?
Phi Psi has given me awesome life-long friends as well as a network of 1,000 living alumni.

5. Why did you feel it was important to support the capital campaign?
Phi Psi gave me an awesome undergraduate experience, and I simply wish to “pay it forward” so future young men can have the same experience at Michigan.

I would hope all young men also had a great undergraduate experience, like I did. Therefore, I would challenge all alumni to support Michigan Alpha in some way, especially the capital campaign.

6. How do you feel this campaign will positively affect the future of the chapter?
The bricks and mortar of the chapter house facility are key to a prosperous Michigan Alpha chapter. And for decades, Michigan Alpha was did not own our chapter house. That all changed in 2011 when we purchased our house at 600 Oxford.

7. What did being awarded Mr. Phi Psi mean to you?
I am honored to be considered and to receive this award. Thank you, alumni! The Mr. Phi Psi award criterion is based on embracing and living the lofty words of our Creed. At Founders’ Day in March, I challenged to men to live and act these words: generous, compassionate, loyal, moral and spiritual excellence, help and forgive, give aid and sympathy, and practice moderation. I challenged all our men, undergraduates and alumni, to this life-long commitment. I challenged them to act in all aspects of their lives: on campus, with family, in our workplace, in our communities, and in our places of worship.

8. Do you keep in touch with any of your fraternity brothers? If so, who and how?
Brian Gilbert lives in Seattle and in January, we met up in Salt Lake City for an awesome weekend of snowboarding. I also keep in touch with Kevin Banks who lives in St. Louis, but he and his family visit Michigan each year. I also keep in touch with many alumni who reside in SE Michigan: Greg Scott, Tom Wilk, Rick Fanning, Mark Steffanina, Dave Gilbert. I remain actively involved in our Michigan Alpha Housing Corporation, and I enjoy meeting new alumni through this active group.

9. Where do you work now and what do you do specifically?
I’ve been at Ford Motor Company for 22 years, product development engineering. I am currently leading a Powertrain Integration and Program Management team that is delivering commercial truck programs.

10. What are some highlights from your professional career? What do you enjoy most?
• Most rewarding experience:
From 2000-2006, I was part of a cross-functional team that designed the all-new 3.5L and 3.7L V6 engine architecture. My engineering team designed the new engine architecture, tested multiple prototype phases, and launched it at Lima Engine Plant (Ohio) for 2007 model year (the engine went in the 2007 Edge/MKX, 2007 Lincoln MKZ, 2007 Mazda CX-7, 2008 Flex/Taurus). The new engine met all performance, cost and timing targets. And in its first year of production, it had higher quality results than any of our other Ford engines.

• Most challenging experience:
One of my most challenging assignments was in 2013 (May-Jul), I led the prototype vehicle build event for the 2016 Taurus (China) and the 2017 Lincoln Continental sedan. I was the Powertrain lead at the prototype plant (Allen Park) and I was responsible for (500) powertrain parts, (179) illustrations, and resolved (110) issues. The build had (5) different powertrains, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, and we produced (140) prototype vehicles and delivered them to test users on time. This was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked (22 years at Ford), and produced the most results.

• What has contributed to the success you have had in your career?
• Technical success: Being involved with great technical teams and solving technical problems. My mechanical engineering degrees (bachelor from UM-AA, masters from UM-D) gave me great technical background, but applying the knowledge to actual engine and powertrain products has taught me how to solve difficult technical problems.
• People skills: Phi Psi certainly helped me develop my people and social skills. In the workplace, I’ve learned to efficiently communicate with my engineering teams. Sometimes, I’m a “switchboard operator” keeping the proper people talking to one another to deliver a program or solve a problem. Often, I’m a “reporter” who gathers evidence and asks difficult questions, documents agreements and assignments. And lastly, I’m a “coach” who must motivate my engineering team and keep them focused on the major issues and milestones for my programs.

11.     What are some of your hobbies, and what do you do in your free time?
I love spending time with my 3 children: throwing a baseball, bike riding, scouting, swimming, and snowboarding. I also enjoy house-improvement projects.

12.     Spouse’s name and names of your children:
Spouse: Kari, Lizzie 13, Julia 11, Andrew 9

You may contact David by emailing him at dwfrayne@gmail.com.

Philanthropy Alumni Award
Interview with Arthur R. Di Blassio ’59

arthur1. Why did you decide to join Phi Kappa Psi?
They struck me as a middle of the road group of guys, with right balance of academic, athletic, and social interests—in a very comfortable physical house setting of ‘almost like home’ rooms, meals and study accommodations.

2. What did your undergraduate experience at Michigan Alpha mean to you?
It presented a solid ‘growing up’ step from leaving home, and turns out it presented my first opportunity to actually lead any kind of organized effort

3. What are some of your favorite memories?
Being with completely new set of people, learning about them, seeing how THEY operated, learning about THEIR perspectives on various life views.

4. Why did you feel it was important to support the capital campaign?
It is an enabling effort to provide the same kinds of ‘grounding’ opportunities for folks moving through today’s society. Their challenges are quite different from those of my days in college; but seems to me, if there is one thing they could use, it is the opportunity to go through their next stage of learning, maturing in a relatively stable, and a values-based environment that Phi Psi can provide.

5. How do you feel this campaign will positively affect the future of the chapter?
Its primary thrust is to provide and ensure the physical environment that can foster growth of the other elements of the Phi Psi Creed

6. Do you keep in touch with any of your fraternity brothers? If so, who and how?
Yes, covering an age spread of plus/minus 3-5 years around my initiation year—some local, others far-flung via phone, e-mail, social gatherings around UoM football.

Recent activity with House Corporation has introduced completely new set of brothers.

7. Where do you work now and what do you do specifically?
Sort of ‘re-entering’ after 5 years of ‘retirement’ via consulting, and with effort to establish a web-offering centered on direction management that is  based on those few years of business experience

8. What are some highlights from your professional career? What do you enjoy most?
Believe this pretty much covered in my Founders’ Day remarks per #8 above, with great satisfaction in helping organizations get better in their Operations

9. What are some of your hobbies, and what do you do in your free time?
Enjoy family activity, exercise (in-doors and out), investing

10. Spouse’s name and names of your children:
Julie, Alan, Brian

Below is Arthur’s acceptance speech for the philanthropy award. You may congratulate him at arturo@diblassio.com.

“Thank you Michigan Alpha nominating committee and all voting members (whomever you may be)—not exactly sure how this all came about, but am personally honored and thankful—also must confess, quite STARTLED!

Here’s the thing—when I think of philanthropy, the first image that comes to mind is BIG bucks (not the kind that come from OHIO—even if I was born and raised there [no fooling])—and a quick check shows that my contributions to our Fraternity are at the low end of the scale for sure. So I accept this recognition with pleasure, and with a nod to those who have contributed real dollars in that very significant manner.

But speaking of OHIO—as a matter of background—before UoM, before high school, back around 8th grade, I had an encounter with a bus while on a bicycle. Ended up unconscious in the hospital for couple of weeks, finally got out after a month, so what you see is what you get here—blaming any weird reactions to Jack’s e-mail, miss-steps up here, or screwy delivery tonight on THAT previous experience.  Was probably my first REAL instruction on what “Direction” meant and it’s stuck with me . . .

So after receiving Jack’s informing e-mail, thought it best to check HIS direction and the common definition of “philanthropy”, coming up with these Wikipedia phrases:

Along with the doing good and helping others themes, there is a strong component of ‘education’ as Cultures have developed; and then there’s “the private giving of time or valuables (money, security, property) for public purposes”

The element of ‘education’ with those four key words of ‘private giving of time’ had me be more comfortable with Jack’s message of award; where my ‘gifting of time’ could often have been viewed as “pushing” rather than ‘giving’—as members of our House Corporation will likely confirm.

But that word search also caused introspection on my part as to how I’ve actually behaved, operated, and functioned on the philanthropic front since first days of joining FKY.  It’s not a very pretty picture, but it might be informative on some level . . . and being one of the older (if not the oldest) guys in the room thought it might be constructive to say a few words (not to exceed 1550) that lays out a brief profile to help others avoid the slow learning that’s occurred on my part re: “philanthropy”; and just plain ‘helping mankind’.

Sort of recalls the ‘slow but not dumb’ line—and distills down to 3 observations:
* Self-centered behavior is NOT a good thing
* Giving back IS a good thing—my Mom & Dad told me that (likely yours too), and
* What a shame it is that it’s taken me so long to grow-up – STILL not done with that one for sure (as my wife [and others] will likely confirm)

On BEING SELF-CENTERED
After five UoM years, including two summers and two Phi Psi presidencies, I graduated in May, got married in June, and moved to Chicago in July setting a relatively quick pattern for the ensuing seven physical moves in first nine years of marriage (while contributing two children); movement thru four startup situations, a couple of lay-offs, and two Fortune 500 company experiences. All of which provided nine different corporate perspectives on what works and what doesn’t (speaking of Direction).

Key point here is that while riding that technology-based wave of excitement, there were REAL compromises made to my family relationships, work-friend-social associates, and myself personally that got me VERY far away from thinking ANYTHING philanthropic—not a good role model for a balanced lifestyle. Even got away from thinking anything Phi Psi—including loss of our beautiful Chapter House at 1550.

Take-away on this one?
Wherever YOU might be in that kind of profile, suggest the old “stop and smell the roses” line is worth introspective review—even if you can’t FIND roses here at the UoM (joke).

On GIVING BACK
Another one of my Mom’s reminders was: “No man is an island”, so after an afternoon’s activity she’d comment that she’d done something for someone in some way or another and called it ‘giving herself away’.  Also recall my Dad making some level of contribution to various aid-organizations, but he never made a big deal of it.  So I DID HAVE reasonable role models prior to that very self-centered profile above.  It’s just that I wasn’t paying much (if any) attention. Which leads to the last point . . .

IT’S A SHAME
A few years back, after coming off that ninth company, helping out on some health issues and ultimate death of my wife’s mom, attending various “household duties” that had been pushed back for YEARS, we sold our home, moved to a smaller place and then came this question:

So NOW—what are you going to do with the REST of your life?

I’m working on that one, but a definite element is inclusion of activities that help others. Have a good deal of catching up in this regard, so the take-away from this one is (If you’re so inclined, or perhaps some time in a more sober moment):

Stop and THINK sooner—MUCH sooner
Check your OWN personal Profile
Helpful here is going back to that “Direction” thing to decide:
Who AM I (as a person)?, Where am I going?, and HOW am I going to GET there?

Hoping you’re faster at that than I’ve been—and recalling we were (are) all here at UoM / PKP as “beneficiaries” of SOMEONE- – guessing our parents, or whomever, could have all used THOSE $$$s in some other way . . .

Go Blue, Go Green (Phi Psi Green & ‘philanthropically’ MSU green) & think Direction!

Thank you all . . . and FYI, that was ~ 1015 words (just under 2/3’s of the way to ‘1550’)”


Mr. Phi Psi Undergraduate Award
Speech given by Chapter President Max Baker ’13 in honor of Hayden Schenker ’11

Hayden“The undergraduate Mr. Phi Psi award is new and was an opportunity for myself and the Chapter Advisory Committee to acknowledge an undergraduate who truly embodies what it means to be a Phi Psi. The process for the award is important. The undergraduate brothers nominate their fellow brothers they believe best embody what it means to be a Phi Psi and from that list the Chapter Advisory Committee chooses the brother who we believe most exemplifies being a Phi Psi.

The brothers nominated a good number of men for the award, so thank you. After reviewing all the nominated brothers it became clear that we have some folks that are selfless, courteous and cultured, caring and who take the idea of brotherhood and representing Phi Psi seriously.

The winner of the Mr. Phi Psi award is someone I was able to get to know quite well. I have seen all sides of this person—the good, the bad, and in some instances the ugly. It is important to know this award isn’t about perfection but rather growth, sincerity and above all else being a good brother.

The first interaction I had with this brother was his freshmen year when he was caught throwing eggs at FIJI. Not the best start to his career in Phi Psi but it started him on a journey of growth and discovery. I was pleased to be alongside him during that journey. I saw him dedicated to his studies, to his friends and to his brothers. He was always there to challenge and support his brothers and was an advocate for change and growth. His sincerity and warmth, along with his personal drive made him a natural leader within the chapter. Because of that he took on several leadership roles including vice president and pledge educator—sometimes reluctantly. That never stopped him from making his mark and leaving a lasting impression. In fact recently he answered my call for him to take on another leadership role in his final semester of college. He stepped up and took on the role of pledge educator, for the third time, when it appeared others were unwilling or unable to fulfill the role. He was always willing to give his all for the fraternity.

It has been a pleasure to see him grow over the past four years into a man that will undoubtedly make an impact in the medical field and on all those he meets along the way. I was fortunate to be able to call him a friend, but what I am most pleased about is that I can call him a brother. I am pleased that this interaction right now, and possibly my last before he graduates, will be slightly different than the first. We aren’t here to throw eggs but rather to honor this young man for his many accomplishments and his growth and maturity.

Please join me in recognizing Hayden Schenker as the 2015, and inaugural, Mr. Phi Psi. In addition to your award the Chapter Advisory Team and House Corporation would like to award you $1,000 to help make your transition from college into your next journey a little easier.”

Congratulate Hayden by emailing him at hschenks@gmail.com.

 

Keep Michigan Alpha a Top-Tier Fraternity
Why Brian D. May ’99 Gives and Volunteers

Pkp photoBrian D. May ’99 immediately felt welcomed by the down-to-earth men of Michigan Alpha, and made a strong connection with the brothers of Phi Kappa Psi during recruitment. Since graduating from the University of Michigan and leaving the Phi Psi house, Brian still cherishes his time in the fraternity with his brothers and remembering those experiences. When asked what impact Phi Psi had on him, he replied that “the chapter provided me with so many benefits. I can trace back everything to the fraternity—my wife, my career, and my best friends.”

The best memories Brian has of being an undergraduate were the pranks and day-to-day shenanigans. The opportunity to live in the chapter house with his brothers was an unforgettable life experience that Brian wants other men to share which is why he chooses to serve on the house corporation board. “I felt a responsibility to give back. David Frayne ’89 was the longtime president and had a small growing family and I saw an opportunity to provide energy and enthusiasm to board. It was a critical time for Michigan Alpha to find a short-term solution for housing and establish a lofty long-term vision. It’s really been a lot of fun but we have a ton of work left to do.”

Brian is impressed with the campaign efforts so far, but is looking even further to the future of Michigan Alpha. “We have built ourselves a strong financial foundation but we need much more significant support to reach our long-term goals. Financial support is the lifeblood of the chapter. We all took advantage of that when we were in school, and future generations rely on the same support. Students demand a lot in housing these days. We need everyone’s help to have a remarkable house on campus.”

Serving on the house corporation has been a great way for Brian to reconnect with brothers, and the campaign helped him reach out to a broader group of men that he had lost contact with. Many of Brian’s career opportunities have come from Phi Psi. He encourages undergraduates not to be afraid to reach out or ask for help. Today, Brian is vice president of strategy at Founders Brewing Company, a fast growing craft brewer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he is a member of the executive management team and leads strategic and business development initiatives.

Brian and his wife, Kelly, (Sigma Kappa) met when they were introduced by Eric Rosenberg ’02 and Lee Laudicina ’01.They have two children, Miles and Madeline. If you have questions about the campaign or would like to volunteer, e-mail Brian at bdmay10@gmail.com.

Michigan Alpha Provided Gino Roncelli ’07 Opportunities for Success

GinoMichigan Alpha gave Gino Roncelli ’07 four years to chart a course for his life. It provided an opportunity to let loose in an environment where failure might be accepted, but refusal to take the chance was not.

Joining a fraternity wasn’t in Gino’s original plan, but the strong sense of brotherhood and the quality of the men in Phi Psi changed his mind. “When it came down to it, I’m not sure I had a meaningful choice. I’m quite sure Recruitment Chairman Jesse Tomares ’06 forced my hand despite my hesitation to go Greek. Thanks to him, I quickly met and became quite attached to the other candidates and brothers. The candidates showed great promise, and I formed a large respect for the type of men the older brothers had become. I looked up to brothers like Bryan Blum ’06 and President Ben Glaze ’06 almost immediately. When the time came that they invited me into the Phi Psi family, there was only one logical decision worth making.”

Gino insists that his favorite memories will never be put to paper, but he was willing to share that events like football Saturday, every mechanical bull rental, date parties, and ski trips will never be forgotten. His fondest memories include a fall 2007 trip to see Michigan take on Duke in Charlotte during the NCAA tournament. “The Fraternity taught me important life lessons and prepared me for life in a number of ways. Two important lessons relate to responsibility and teamwork. Leadership roles with expectations taught me the importance of standing responsible for your decisions, even during times where irresponsibility runs rampant. Further, the transition from ‘team’ to ‘family’ allowed the Fraternity to thrive; this familial bond was a cornerstone of collective success, and I apply this lesson to professional teamwork every day.”

Gino advises undergraduates and all other alumni to stay in touch with one another. His pledge class keeps in touch via e-mail, and Gino relies on brothers Jack Gray ’07 and Blake Toll ’07 to organize football excursions and a group trip every year. “The bond formed amongst your brothers is far stronger than any network you’ll form in the professional world. You spent four years cultivating a relationship in which you can ask for help or advice without having to worry about what the other party might see in it for them; the friendships are true and were forged before professional endeavors ever came into play. Social networks are a real form of capital. It’d be a terrible waste to throw such valuable capital away.”

When asked about professional advice for younger alumni, Gino repeated his speech from Founders Day 2014, Break the mold, and further advised that “advice from those you respect is important, but it should never be the cornerstone of your professional decisions. Find what you love to do; the most highly regarded persons in history created change around their passions and their success was not an accident.”

Gino works for Roncelli, Inc., a construction services firm headquartered in Michigan, with operations and projects across the U.S., as well as Canada and Mexico. His current responsibilities include cash-flow projection and exchange rate hedging, as well as support to General Counsel and contract negotiations. Gino pursues his JD-MBA by night at Wayne State University, alongside Pat Sierawski ’07 and Michael Sulaka ’07; his expected completion is spring of 2015. He lives, works, and plays in what he calls “The New Detroit.” He enjoys traveling and recently earned his SCUBA open water certification in Thailand. E-mail: gino.roncelli@roncelli-inc.com, Web: www.roncelli-inc.com

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