Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Tribute to My Greek Advisor: Brian Breittholz

I hope you will allow me a very personal post this week.

I attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  That’s where I became a Theta Chi in the Spring of 1995.  My Greek Advisor for all my years at Miami was Brian Breittholz.  Those who have been around the fraternal movement for a while know Brian very well.  He has always been a big personality, a loveable friend, and a brilliant thinker on fraternity issues.  He has won many awards, including the NIC Award of Distinction.

Brian hasn’t been the Greek Advisor at Miami for a while now, but he has always remained a fixture at Miami and in Miami’s Greek community.  Brian advised chapters, including the alpha of Beta Theta Pi, and mentored other professionals who came to Oxford.  He was someone I could visit when I went back to see my alma mater.  For many outside of Oxford, especially those involved with fraternity life, Brian was the face of Miami.  As an alum, I was very proud of that.

Brian announced this week that that he will be leaving Miami to take a new job at Indiana University.  The red bricks are shedding a tear.

Brian and I became friends 17 years ago when I worked as a student receptionist in the student activities office.  From there, he mentored me as a chapter president and as IFC president.  We were an unlikely pair.  A transplanted New Yorker with an affinity for cigarettes, biting sarcasm, and the occasional curse word advising an innocent plaid-shirted country boy from the Midwest.  He lost the cigarettes and I lost the plaid, but the rest of us remains.  Brian will always be a mentor and a friend. 

On that note, I wanted to quickly share some of the many things I learned from Brian Breittholz:
  •  Nothing can make you as memorable as a distinct laugh.  You could have a third eye and still be forgotten more easily than someone with a laugh that forces others to laugh back.
  • Good advisors, like most good parents, limit the times they scold or express anger.  However, there is no question when you disappoint them.
  •  If you’re going to do an awards ceremony or formal event, go all out.  A good production matters.  The Academy Awards had nothing on Brian’s Greek Awards night!
  • There is at least one person on earth who thinks Chaka Kahn is one of the greatest singers ever.
  • You can teach values and stress character, and do so with colorful language.
  • Treat students with the respect of a colleague and the care of a family member.
  • ALWAYS leave action-oriented messages.
  • Always listen to chapter advisors.
  • Once in a rare while, something good comes out of Ohio University.
  • Come prepared to meetings.  Be ready to answer tough questions.
  • When you have a sense of humor, others want to be around you.
  • You can like things the way you like them, and want things the way you want them, and not have to be considered “high maintenance.”
  • Sometimes an “I love you kid” is all you need to keep going.
Brian – Miami will miss you.  But, Miami will never forget you.  That’s what happens when a person leaves a legacy of significance.  Now, It’s Indiana’s turn.   

Congrats on the new job my friend.  You’re welcome for dinner anytime.