Gary Sachs ’76

Success and Brotherhood through the Principles of Pi Kappa Alpha

From a positive impression of Pi Kappa Alpha, Beta Pi Chapter, Gary Sachs '76 went on to form friendships and values that would help to guide a highly successful life – both professionally and personally.

"During our first week at the U of Penn, there was a terrific outreach of people who came and joined in with us and brought us up to the house," Gary said. "They came to the dorm and we played touch football. You don't think of it as a big thing at the time, but the people I met in the very beginning I remain close with to this day."

The brothers Gary met during his initial contact with Kappa included Harvey Mackler '74, Bruce Wilson '73, Jerry Herman '74, and Dave Edmund '75.

Gary soon learned that this outstanding group of Kappa brothers were in sharp distinction with the image he had of a fraternity based on the "Animal House" stereotype.

"They had serious ideas about what fraternities could do and what brotherhood was about. They held to the principles of service and scholarship; It wasn't just something they said for Rush," Gary said. "They took their principles seriously, and made it easy for the new brothers to join in and take it just as seriously."

Leadership by Example

One of the most striking elements of the Kappa brother's formula for success, according to Gary, was leadership by example.

"When I first moved into the house, I saw Jerry (Herman), who was president at the time, scrubbing bathrooms just like everyone else. It made quite an impression on me," Gary said. "We were all very proud of the house and we all worked together to maintain it."

Enduring Relationships

Gary may not have realized it at the time, but he says that the enduring nature of the friendship and brotherhood he discovered in Beta Pi Chapter was foreseen by a prominent guest speaker.

"A very well known sociologist came as a guest speaker for Founders' Night. He talked to us about what organizations like ours would come to represent in our lives," Gary said. "He talked about the kind of bonds that would form between us, saying in the future you will be drawn back together by the warmth of seeing people and communicating, having long-term interactions well beyond just attending Homecoming."

"The proof was our chapter winning national and local awards, a tradition where you see your peers as role models working hard toward their objectives. He was predicting that we would become part of the national elite, people that would later on play prominent roles in their businesses and communities."

A Fortunate Career

Gary modestly describes his own career path as "very fortunate." After attaining his Bachelor of Science at U of Penn, he went on to Cambridge on a Fellowship for experimental psychiatric medicine. Since then, he has had a long-standing career in Psychiatric Medicine at Massachusetts General and as faculty member of Harvard.

He believes that the principles reinforced in his time with the fraternity have helped to guide and shape his future success.

"The idea of leadership by example stands out. The concept that if you take yourself seriously you can accomplish a lot," Gary explained. "It was that belief that lead me to become President of the Intrafraternity Council. You can live up to a lot of goals if you are prepared to do the work."

Gary also believes in the strength of the support coming from the brothers themselves.

"It's great to have the support of a group that you know well and can turn to. I believe having a team of comrades and confidants behind you can increase the overall likelihood of success," Gary said.

Supporting Future Success

Gary returns to U of Penn several times each year to visit with brothers from his era and meet the upcoming generations of Beta Pis.

"I believe the fraternity goes through cycles, and it's always changing. There is no right way, but I encourage the active brothers to remember the values of Pi Kappa Alpha," Gary said. "Do it your own way – but as you do it, realize that you are influencing the level of friendships, defining your integrity. Your attitude and actions have an effect on you and the group as a whole. Through self-awareness, by remaining purposeful and thoughtful, you can have a good time and really build something worthwhile within the group."

Gary actively supports Beta Pi, attending chapter meetings and donating to support the chapter.

"My motivations for supporting the group is simple," Gary said. "It was there for us and I want to help sustain it for future generations."

Gary currently lives outside of Boston and said he is lucky to be associated with first-rate people and institutions, but also to have "one of the most supportive and understanding wives on the planet and three great kids."

Harvey Mackler ’72

Pike Brother Helps Raise Awareness and Promote Research for ALS

Like many brothers, Harvey Mackler '72 looks fondly on his time as an active part of the Beta Pi Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha. However, his connection to Pike is stronger than ever in his dedication to working with the fraternity alumni association and benefitting Pikes and sufferers of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a progressive, neurodegenerative disease.

Harvey pledged Pike in 1972, when he was a sophomore earning his Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at U Penn. His motivations were social but also practical in nature.

Read more: Harvey Mackler ’72