[su_dropcap style=”flat”]W[/su_dropcap]HEN STEVE BECKER first came to the University of Florida campus, he considered himself a music man. Yes, he planned to be a music major and pursue a career in music education. It was a good thing for Gamma Xi, though, that his plans changed slightly along the way. However, it was his love of music that attracted to him to Beta. Known as the singing fraternity, and in the 1960s the UF Betas were very good at it. Can you imagine Gemma Nostra sung in four part harmony? Well that is just one example of what was in their repertoire at the time. Steve had visited other houses where there was singing – well not really singing, more like organized shouting. But none of them compared to Beta. Steve dove right in, becoming the chapter chorister while still a pledge. He has many great memories of his time at UF and especially the Beta house.
During our recent conversation he recalled one very memorable dinner at the house. It was a Thursday, which at the time was known as “grub” night. That meant you didn’t have to wear a coat and tie to dinner! His first hint that this was to be an unusual evening was when the house mom came to dinner dressed as a clown. Halfway through the meal she pulled out two cans of shaving cream and starting dousing everyone in sight with foam. As you might imagine, things got a bit out of hand after that – you might say it was the “mother” of all food fights at a time before the movie “Animal House” popularized the sport. Even the draperies, which were brand new, were totally covered with food and condiments. When they came back from the cleaners the following week they were clean – but a foot shorter than when they were sent in.
Steve was born in Toronto, Canada and lived in many places while growing up. These included Chicago, Nassau, and eventually Miami, where he went to high school. He met Trudy, his wife of 45 years, there in the 8th grade.
After College, Steve went back to Toronto to start his career. He held positions in banking and fund raising, where his stint as the Beta treasurer as an undergrad proved to be great training. In 1992 he went to work at the Beta Theta Pi Administrative office in Oxford, OH, to head up fund raising to build a new general fraternity headquarters. Two other campaigns had been started prior to this effort, but both had stalled. Two and a half years later, after having raised $3.1 million, the doors to the beautiful new building were opened. After returning home to Toronto for a few years, Steve was called back to Oxford to serve as the Administrative Secretary – essentially the COO – of Beta Theta Pi General Fraternity. He served in that role in the late 1990s, a time when the Men of Principle initiative was just getting underway. This effort brought Beta back to its roots and to the objects as set forth by the fraternity’s founders in 1839. Steve was very instrumental in the success of this program, which has transformed Beta Theta Pi into the leading Greek organization on college campuses today.
It’s funny how it works that when you are really good at something everyone wants you to do it for them. So, when Gamma Xi needed to raise funds to renovate the house, something long overdue, they turned to Steve Becker to lead the campaign. Steve was chairman of “Preserving Our Legacy – Campaign for the Future of Gamma Xi.” Fund raising during a recession isn’t usually a good idea, but Steve assembled a team of committee members from across many eras to lead this critical task. With the help of architect (and District Chief) Dan Farmer, their success is evidenced by the gorgeous newly renovated Beta house on Fraternity Row in Gainesville today. The redeveloped house’s bricks and mortar are almost as strong as the brotherhood that lives within it. Like the Bridge builder poem in Beta lore, they built it not for themselves but for the young men who will follow them. “This chasm which has been naught to me to that young man may a pitfall be. He too must cross in the twilight dim. Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.” If you haven’t been to the house lately, please stop in the next time you are in Gainesville. You are sure to receive a warm welcome!
Steve has retired from fund raising, after having led some forty successful campaigns. He is continuing with his consulting practice, advising others on how to be successful. His advice to young people just starting on their careers? He says, “Guard your reputation above everything. In today’s social media world, be very careful about the words and pictures you post.”
So we shine our Alumni Spotlight on Steve Becker. His leadership has been invaluable to the continued success of Beta Theta Pi, both on the General Fraternity level and to the Gamma Xi chapter at the University of Florida.