Charles Gilbert's role in Western's Sigma Chi chapter has won him the honor of joining the "The Order of Constantine"
Being a member of a fraternity can be an integral part of one's college career. For Charles Gilbert it has been part of most of his life. This summer Gilbert will be honored by Sigma Chi with an induction into "The Order of Constantine" - the highest honor the national fraternity gives.
Gilbert began his relationship with Sigma Chi when he was initiated in 1961 as an undergraduate at George Washington University. According to Eric Myers, Sigma Chi president at Western Illinois University, Gilbert is worthy of the award because he has been a loyal Sig and an active contributor for much of his life.
"The Order of Constantine" was created in 1948 and is granted to Sigma Chi members who have devoted themselves to serving the fraternity, usually over a period of at least 20 years. According to Myers, out of 250,000 men initiated into the 150-year old fraternity, only 500 have been so honored.
"(The award) means what every Sigma Chi strives to be," Myers said. "(Gilbert) is Sigma Chi through and through, he started the chapter here at Western, he is dedicated and helps out when needed."
Gilbert, who will be retiring from his position as Office of Institutional Research and Planning at Western this year, has served the chapter in a variety of capacities in the nearly 18 years Sigma Chi has been on campus. He served as the first financial adviser from 1987 to1994 and as the chapter adviser for the last 11 years. Gilbert also was instrumental in helping establish the local chapter.
"I don't know how to describe it, it is very rewarding. You get to see two decades of young men come in and develop as students," Gilbert said about being a member of Sigma Chi. "You get a lot more out of it than you put in; it has been a joy."
One of the more significant gifts Gilbert has given to Sigma Chi was establishing the Charles Gilbert/Isaac Jordan Scholarship, a nonacademic scholarship given to one or two Sigma Chis at Western each year. It is awarded to those who best represent the fraternity, and the values it stands for.
Despite a life of service to the fraternity, Gilbert said he was stunned when he found out he would be receiving the award this June at the Grand Chapter meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio. He prefers to reflect not on what he has done for the fraternity, rather what it has done for him as a person.
He remembers his experience as an undergrad in the 1960s and how his fraternity brothers helped him overcome dyslexia and succeed. He said they used to help him study and edit all of his papers late into the night.
"Being dyslexic in the 1960s, they really got me through. My best friends today are the ones I had as an undergraduate," Gilbert said.
Gilbert also expressed pride for the men in the local chapter and the achievements they have accomplished academically and socially.
"Our chapter here has been running a little better than a 3.0 GPA for the house," Gilbert said. "It's a lot more than just a party, we try to live what we stand for."
Gilbert's induction will officially take place June 23. He will be honored along with 14 other Sigma Chi members from across the country.
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