"Komai Ionia," our Community Hub
Our brotherhood is not Gables-centric; both New York Alpha, its alumni, and its national organization are organized around service and increasing the general community’s social welfare. Though New York Alpha is organized under the Cornell University Residence Plan of 1966, as amended, to occupy a University-owned group house, we are also residents of the City of Ithaca. Phi Kappa Psi at Cornell sits at the center of a unique collegiate community, the Franklin C. Cornell Fraternity Quadrangle on the southern edge of West Campus. Surrounding "the Quad" is a group of neighbors that we call "the Komai Ionia," or villages of Ionia. It is through Komai Ionia that both the Chapter and its alumni support the functions of the Cornell IFC and the Cornell University Alumni Interfraternity Council (CUAIFC).
"Mount Ionia" was the name Simeon DeWitt, founder of Ithaca, gave to the Ithaca City Cemetery across the street. The Greek isle of Ithaca lies in the chain of Ionian Islands. A renowned Cornell artist and friend of brother John A. Hartell ('21)('24), Jason Seeley '40, memorialized this association between the Ithaca valley and classical Greece with the statue of Herakles between the Statler Hotel and Uris Halls. The statue was donated to Cornell University at a ceremony held in the Hartell Gallery, named for Phi Kappa Psi’s John A. Hartell (’21)(’24). It’s story echoes the concern with community welfare common in the Cornell community, and its Komai Ionia:
Jason Seley '40, the dean of architecture, has given the university his most recent work, an interpretation in automobile bumpers of the classic Greek sculpture the Farnese Hercules. The work, "Herakles in Ithaka I," stands 11 feet tall, was 14 months in the making, and is on exhibit in the main lobby of the Johnson Museum of Art.
Seley, who announced his gift at a meeting last fall of his college's advisory council, said he was giving it as a challenge to the council, alumni, and friends of architecture, art, and planning. He said it was his intent that the value of Herakles will form the base of a large fund drive to benefit the college. The statue's current value has been estimated at as much as $200,000.
Seley explained that he gave the work in response to the outpouring of affection and support he received from people throughout the university and its alumni body [the previous] February when he became ill: "I was overwhelmed by the kindness and love so many from Cornell showed me then and since. My gift of Herakles is my attempt to repay that debt of gratitude I feel to Cornell."
The announcement was met with a long, standing ovation from alumni, faculty, and students who attended the council's dinner at the Hartell Gallery in Sibley Hall.
("Herakles in Ithaka", Cornell Alumni News (Feb. 1983) at 69.)
When we serve the general community welfare of our brothers, fellow scholars, friends and neighbors, we start with the Komai Ionia, and then work out and across the Ithaca valley. All charity begins at home, and the Komai Ionia surround our house.