Brother Lugar a true inspiration for 'Men of Principle'

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Oh, and he became a brother at Beta Theta Pi. The brothers at Alpha Eta Chapter changed their minds about Lugar during the spring semester in 1951. 

“In those days, you had to do physical education to keep your grades up,” Lugar says. “I came back from Christmas vacation and did well on the physical education test. A lot of the Betas were watching this. A few days later, I got an invitation to dinner.”

The fact that he would become a Beta was welcome news to Lugar’s father. 

“Throughout my boyhood, my dad … impressed upon my brother Tom and me how much it meant to him (to be a Beta),” he says.

Despite the initial setback at Denison, Lugar became a proud Beta and even continued the legacy. His sons John and David joined Pi Chapter at Indiana University.

When asked about his own experience at Alpha Eta, Lugar says that he and his brothers were a tight-knit group.

“We had a chapter there where brothers really cared for each other, and not just during undergraduate days,” he says.

Following graduation, Lugar would serve on the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners before becoming the mayor of his hometown. He then served in the U.S. senate from 1977 to 2013. While a member of “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” he was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Agriculture Committee.

Lugar credits the fraternity with helping him get his start in politics.

“The fraternity experience was very important,” he says. “I was running for president of the Denison Christian Emphasis Program. That was the first time they had a campus-wide election for that position. Many of the brothers were helpful in talking up my candidacy.”

Beta Theta Pi served Lugar well, and he has served the brotherhood well. In the 1990s, when the fraternity began to rebrand itself using the “Men of Principle” motto, Lugar agreed to become a spokesman for the new ideal.

“I began going annually to the conventions, speaking and participating with the undergraduates,” he says. “I attended the last convention in Oklahoma. I’ve attended 17 or 18 conventions over the last 20 years.”

Not surprisingly, Lugar’s time as spokesman has coincided with halcyon days at Beta Theta Pi.

“There’s an emphasis on scholarship and brotherhood,” he says. “The GPA at Beta Theta Pi is the highest in the country (among all fraternities).” 

You could say that there’s never been a better time to be a Beta. Lugar is happy to have the opportunity to do his part.

“More and more chapters are coming about, and the academic results are truly outstanding,” he says. “New Beta seminars are attracting hundreds of new Betas each year.”