Department: Financial & Housing
Each issue, the SAE Financial & Housing Corporation presents a profile for the Cornerstone Award. This award recognizes outstanding commitment by an alumnus toward the preservation and promotion of fraternity housing. Sigma Alpha Epsilon thanks these individuals for their dedication and their volunteer efforts. If you would like to nominate an alumnus who should be considered for the Cornerstone Award, contact Associate Executive Director Gregory Somers at email@example.com.
Thomas W. Devine
Minnesota (Minnesota Alpha) ’75
BS, Architectural History-Business, University of Minnesota
Wife Pam, sons Jake, Kenny (Minnesota ’15) and Andy
Do you have any other family ties to Sigma Alpha Epsilon?
I have three younger brothers who all joined the Fraternity as well as my son, Kenny, who is now a collegiate member.
I’m a fourth-generation insurance executive and am proud of being instrumental in the development of group long-term care insurance as a product for employee benefit plans across the nation. In 1982, I conceptualized the first SAE national insurance program, providing property and liability insurance for chapters and house corporations. I went on to write for ten national fraternities and sororities, which are now part of the James R. Favor & Co. insurance program.
Fondest Fraternity Memory
I have good memories of being elected House Manager by my chapter my freshman year. My efforts provided a path to become Eminent Archon, which led to a position on our house corporation. By junior year, I convinced the board to begin a $250,000 fund drive for life safety and other improvements. Our alumni believed in keeping the chapter debt-free, which assures funds annually for new furniture and improvements, as well as providing low-cost housing for our student members. That legacy has taught generations to be good stewards of our building.
I lead a National Interfraternity Conference classroom chapter-housing program, which 3,800 fraternity/sorority and alumni volunteers have completed on 70 campuses. My legacy was the creation of the Minnesota Alpha Chapter Fund Agreement Program, which allows any local chapter to raise endowment funds on an IRS tax-deductible basis, under covenants of their national Foundation, for educational or academic improvements. Since 1983, my chapter raised more than $1 million for the fund, and more than $200 million of endowments have been raised through the years using this tool.
Why is it important for others to support fraternity housing?
Greek-letter housing provides safe, affordable, non-profit student housing and should be a cornerstone in higher education. Academically, it allows peer-to-peer interaction, fellowship and undergraduate and alumni mentoring – all which give the men skills to lead meaningful, productive lives and opportunities to develop leadership proficiencies.
What has been your biggest challenge as a housing volunteer?
The challenge has been the development of principled, practical guidelines and policies, taking into account the headquarters, host institution, alumni and chapter members. We always want to create an atmosphere for building true gentlemen who, in turn, uphold the traditions, memories and legacy of fraternity life and a positive experience.