Get to know your new Grand Consul
BY NATHANAEL HAWTHORNE, YOUNGSTOWN 2020
Order of Constantine Sig Bob Wilson, FORT HAYS 1981, was elected as Sigma Chi's 73rd Grand Consul in June 2023. Since his graduation in 1981, Wilson has remained involved in the Fraternity by volunteering at numerous leadership training workshops, has had several mentors and embodies the congenial spirit that the office of the Grand Consul represents.
If you’ve ever met Bob Wilson, FORT HAYS 1981, it’s plain to see how ambitious he is for Sigma Chi. For years he’s given back to the Fraternity in a multitude of ways. He’s served as a faculty member at various workshops, helped during Mission 365 training and served as a chapter advisor to several chapters, among many other roles.
When Wilson steps into a room his presence is felt. He’s the first to make someone laugh but also knows when to be serious and dig in. His affection for Sigma Chi runs deep, as well as his zeal in dealing with the undergraduates. He is excited for the future of Sigma Chi and wants to see it grow, challenging the expansion team to increase the presence on campuses by three hundred percent.
What do you want your legacy to be when people look back on your time as Grand Consul?
If you start with your legacy in mind, you’re starting for the wrong reasons. You need to be in the moment. One of my undergraduate brothers that I’ve known since he was in an associate chapter said, ‘if you really want to move forward and be successful, you need to be humble, remember your own mortality and never lose your sense of humor.’ I don’t have a legacy goal. If someone says they remember those two years and Wilson was “the fun Grand Consul,” OK if that’s what you get out of it, but just know that what Wilson intends to do is what’s best for the Fraternity.
Who were your mentors in Sigma Chi?
The first one that comes to mind is Doug Molloy, FLORIDA 1978. He started out as a lead for the Magister team. I had gone to that workshop on the Magister faculty and said “this is what a facilitator looks like and this is what a facilitator does.” I was trying to be a cookie-cutter facilitator and Maloy said to me “That’s not why you’re here. You’re here because of Wilson. Get out of the box and be you.” They have not been able to put Wilson back in the box since. Order of Constantine and Significant Sig Bill George, GEORGIA TECH 1964, said “Know who you are and don’t be afraid to show others who you are.” Doug Molloy allowed me to do that.
59th Grand Consul, Order of Constantine and Significant Sig Dick Hester, BALL STATE 1977, comes to mind. He invited me to be a part of the Horizons Huntsman Leadership Summit program.
68th Grand Consul and Chairman of the Sigma Chi Leadership Institute Mike Greenberg, ILLINOIS WESLEYAN 1982, comes to mind. We danced around each other at workshops and never worked together for the first 20 years we went to workshop. We ended up on the same team and ended up being very close. He is really a mentor I lean on.
Some of the Denver alumni who have since passed and entered the Chapter Eternal when I was that young chapter advisor, came in and coached me. They taught me patience. I was really thrilled and blessed to have them in my life.
Why did you want to be Grand Consul?
I was asked to serve. The brotherhood and the leadership at the time said “Wilson, we think you can bring things to the table at the time when Sigma Chi needs them.” That set me forth. It’s a servant’s heart. It’s a spirit, I think, that I call the western spirit… I want to leave it better. I want to make it better. I want to do what I can to enhance the opportunity that I had and the experiences that I had. They say, “time of your life” and as you go through life, every time is the time of your life. You’ve got to be in the moment. Those experiences and those memories of really maturing from 18 to 21 or 22 or 25 really allows for a development of wanting to help others.
How would you define growth within the Fraternity?
Growth is more than just numbers. Growth is quality. Growth is the ability to engage the right people at the right time. I grew up in the recruitment world within Sigma Chi and I absolutely believe any problem or any benefit that a chapter wants can be done through recruiting. By recruiting the right people and recruiting them the right way. I think that goes for alumni chapters and I think that goes for us going to universities, I think that goes for us going to universities in which we already exist and the ability to find the right person at the right time. If you go to a campus of 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 people, there’s roughly 7,500 men on that campus. You’re telling me you could only find 30 men that meet our Jordan Standard minimum requirements? Guys, that’s not right. There are more quality men out there and we can find them if we have the right education, the right drive and the right tools. We can find them and show them this growth is more than simply “here comes Sigma Chi with more numbers.” We’re not a cookie-cutter organization. We believe in different temperaments, talents and convictions. We take those, emphasize those and we bring those up and elevate them to where our chapters perform better and grow.
Given your extensive involvement in the Fraternity, what does it mean to you that you're in the position of Grand Consul?
I never really knew I was going to be Grand Consul. I never really thought about it. There was a brother at workshop one year, we had been roommates for a couple of years at consecutive workshops and he looked at me and said he was going to be Grand Consul and wanted me to be his Grand Pro Consul. I was all of 29-years-old at the time and laughed along with him. Unfortunately, that brother left workshop and perished in a plane crash. I guess the seed was planted then. What does it mean to me now? My heart is bursting. I’m so thrilled, so honored and just amazed that [263,000] brothers who share the values I share said I ought to lead the Fraternity. Wow. Can it be overwhelming? It can. Gratifying? Definitely. The high point, though, is certainly the interaction I have with those brothers, whether they’re graduated or still in their college life, some of our ritualistic words about life and life after college, it’s life. We’re brothers so that kind of gratitude and that kind of acceptance and support they’ve thrown to me is just amazing
What's your profession?
There’s a misnomer in Sigma Chi land that the Grand Consul lives in Evanston, Illinois, and gets a Fraternity salary but the Grand Consul is a volunteer. I’m a commodities trader. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done and it’s the only interview I’ve ever had. I started when I was in grad-school. There’s an 80s movie called Trading Places and, in that movie, I’m Eddie Murphy. At the time I had to go to the pit and execute trades when I first got my license. I loved it. Now it’s all computer work. We have clients on our books that we’ve had since I started there. One of my first trading ventures, my language was Russian, and I traded wheat with the Russians during the Cold War. It’s not boring. I’m still doing it. I’m lucky to have a principal that mentored me in the business and he’s still there. I’ve been extraordinarily blessed to have that opportunity.
/////// Quick Facts ///////
If you ever need a pick-me-up do you have a go-to snack or drink?
Ask any Sigma Chi, it’s a Monster. Jeff Twibell, CALIFORNIA-DAVIS 1999, outdoes me, but I can drink three or four Monster’s a day. It’s almost a requirement. I drink the Java, Mean Bean, Lattes, Loca Mocha. I don’t even like coffee but, damn, I like those.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you bring?
That’s easy. My family, Monster and a wireless service to talk to somebody about getting off the damn island.
If you ever need a pick-me-up do you have a go-to snack or drink?
There’s a huge difference between my favorite song and a walk-up song. I’m a huge Jackson Browne fan, but that won't resonate with anyone who’s under 40. I followed him one year like a roadie when I was out of high school and went to some 14 concerts in one summer. He has such memorable lyrics and words. Words are a lot more important to me and clever words make it just rock out. He gave birth to my favorite group, the Eagles. My favorite Eagles’ song is Peaceful Easy Feeling. If I have a favorite song, that’s it. If I have a walk-up song, it’s got to be a lot more aggressive than that and what comes to mind is Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell.
Would you rather have super strength or super speed?
Super speed to help with volleyball. You don’t have to be strong; you just have to be fast
What are some of your hobbies?
I used to play volleyball. I picked up volleyball in high school and played through college on a team. I loved it. One of my doubles partners, when we played sand volleyball, was an alternate for the 1996 US Olympic team. We played through the mountain towns in numerous tournaments and qualified for the North American Classic and went down to Puerto Vallarta and played sand volleyball against the Mexican National Team. We got our butts beat, but volleyball is definitely a hobby. I’ve done other volunteer work through 4H and coached kids on photography in particular. Likewise, I’ve been involved with my parish. I was the parish council president, so I do some lecturing at my church. Somehow the priest has decided I have this connection to college-aged kids, so I offer some pointers on how to stay engaged in the church as they go off to college.
What's your favorite sports team?
I’m gonna get so much grief for this, but I’m a Yankees fan. True blue, dyed blue. I’ve been a Yankees fan since I watched Mickey Mantle actually play. I’ve been to Yankee Stadium and have all their World Series patches, 27 of them, yes. Most of anyone in any sport, yes. True blue Yankee fan. As for favorite athlete, there are lots of memorable athletes, but Derek Jeter, the Captain, is my guy. I hate lines, but I would stand in line for three hours to be able to shake his hand.
If you could give one person an honorary membership in Sigma Chi, who would it be?
If there was a man out there that I could give honorary membership into the Sigma Chi Fraternity, it would be the Captain, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees