WKU Fijis win top national award

Katherine Wade

After only a few years on campus, WKU’s chapter of Phi Gamma Delta brought home the fraternity’s highest honor.

The Chi Eta chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji, was presented on Monday with the 2010-2011 Cheney Cup, Fiji’s award for the greatest all-around chapter in the nation.

The Cheney Cup is based on efficiency in scholarship, fraternity relationships and general collegiate activities, according to the Phi Gamma Delta national website.

Chapter Advisor Jeff Baynham said WKU Fiji never expected to win such a high honor after only one year as a chartered chapter.

“I’m very happy and surprised that we won,” he said. “But we don’t chase awards. The guys have done a lot of incredible things this year, but I think awards never crossed their minds. They just do things because it’s the right thing to do.”

WKU’s Fiji chapter placed in nine other categories at the awards ceremony, including first place for the Coon Plaque, the award for best chapter publication, and first place for the Zerman Trophy, which awards chapters that promote member involvement in student government, campus publications and other extracurricular activities at their university.

They also collected a couple individual awards. Ray Blankenship received first place for the Crowder Cup, which is given to the most outstanding faculty advisor, and Baynham was awarded first place for the Durrance Award, which is given to the most outstanding Purple Legionnaire, the chapter advisor.

Baynham said that although people give him credit for the chapter’s success, he really attributes it success to the chapter members.

“They’ve got their heads on straight,” he said. “My mission is just to challenge them to continue to strive for excellence, and to continue to do things that will help the WKU community and the Bowling Green community.”

Over the past year, the members of WKU Fiji completed more than 5,000 hours of community service through projects benefitting organizations such as the American Red Cross. Members helped build houses in areas of Louisiana still suffering from Hurricane Katrina damage and raised nearly $60,000 for Alzheimer’s research through Fiji’s Across America.

Baynham said he believes the group has very pure intentions.

“One thing about this group that is different is that they are a very humble group,” he said. “I’m glad to see that they are being recognized for these selfless acts.”