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Horizons one of Bob McNair's "Best Investments"
February 1, 2012
The Preview Newsletter, February 2012
Sigma Chi Fraternity Department of Communications

[Editor's note: The Sigma Chi Foundation is sincerely grateful for the ongoing and generous support of brother Bob McNair and his wife Janice. The McNairs have funded one session of Horizons each summer since the program's inception in 1999 to the benefit of 48 undergraduate participants each year. He considers it one of his "best investments."]

The soft voice accompanied by the thick Southern drawl relayed the sincerity felt by Houston Texans majority owner and Significant Sig Bob McNair, SOUTH CAROLINA 1958.

"It's one of the best investments I've made," he says with a faint laugh that trails off to a more serious tone. "I really think it?s been very worthwhile."

When McNair, who sat down with The Magazine of Sigma Chi for a phone interview last week, spoke of his prized investment, he wasn't talking about the Texans drafting defensive end Mario Williams, a chiseled sack producer, with the No. 1 overall pick in 2006. Nor was McNair referring to the signing of the NFL's 2010 rushing leader, Arian Foster, as an undrafted free agent.

Rather, McNair was beaming about his work with Sigma Chi's Horizons leadership program.

Every year since the program's inception in 1999, McNair has funded one session per summer, covering all program-associated expenses to allow 48 undergraduate participants from chapters across North America the chance to develop into leaders.

"The Fraternity really got me started on a leadership path," McNair says about his college days in Columbia, S.C. "[Sigma Chi] really put me into a position to gain some valuable [leadership] experience that I doubt I would have gained otherwise."

This year's deadline for Horizons applications was Feb. 3, 2012. The Fraternity's leadership programs department estimates that it received more than 500 applications for the 192 Horizons spots that are spread out over the course of four sessions in the mountains of Snowbird, Utah.

McNair will once again fund one of those four sessions, which he has done every year since the program's pilot year in 1999. Before Horizons, McNair felt the social life aspect of fraternities was overshadowing leadership and character development. Along with Order of Constantine Sig and Significant Sig Jim Morris, MINNESOTA 1950, among others, McNair wanted to shift the focus of undergraduates back toward the importance of leadership development, and did so through the creation of Horizons.

"I felt like we were sort of at a crisis point in the fraternity world, in that you needed to give a reason for young men to join a Fraternity. I mean, they can join a social club if that's all you want to do. They don?t need to be in a fraternity," McNair says. "I saw a real threat to the existence of fraternities if we didn't do something that would give meaning to our existence. My feeling was [that] we ought to use the Fraternity as a learning experience to develop leaders."

Helping guide a program from the bottom, up to eventual success, is a feeling McNair knows all too well. He took the Houston Texans from an expansion team in 2002 to a Super Bowl contender in 2011, when the organization won its first AFC South title, earned its first playoff berth and won its first playoff game behind third-string quarterback T.J. Yates, NORTH CAROLINA 2011, who took over the NFL team's starting gig after the first- and second-string quarterbacks were lost for the season because of injuries.

Like with the Fraternity, the success of McNair's franchise hinges on the quality of its leaders.

"We put a big emphasis on getting players who are of good character and are disciplined people," McNair says. "It takes time to develop that leadership you really need to have so that when things go bad, whether it's on offense or defense, you've got that leader to step in and say, 'Well, OK, that plays behind us. Let's go. Here's what we are going to do.' And people believe him. That was the big difference this year."

While a majority of the Fraternity's undergraduate chapters reap the rewards each year of their members attending Horizons, McNair also receives a gift that means the world to him when the summer is finished.

Each year, Horizons participants from the session McNair funds scribe a message to him in a Horizons participant's journal to show their appreciation for his generosity and ardent belief in developing Sigma Chis into leaders.

"They talk about how Horizons has changed their life and opened their eyes and been the most meaningful experience they've ever had," McNair says. "Sometimes, it brings tears to your eyes when you read what some of these young brothers have to say about the impact Horizons has had on their lives."


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Sigma Chi's Preparation for Brotherhood pledge education program received international acclaim. Sigma Chi competed with entries from 37 states and 20 other countries.

Foundation Highlights Year-End Giving Opportunities
November 15, 2018

In observance of Giving Tuesday, the Sigma Chi Foundation is highlighting giving opportunities for 2019 and beyond. This year, Amazon Smile and tax-free IRA gifts are among those mentioned.

H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, PENNSYLVANIA 1959, Offers Hurricane Relief to Publix Super Markets Inc.
November 8, 2017

Like most Sigs who've given of themselves during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, supermarket magnate and Significant Sig Charles Butt, Pennsylvania 1959, found a way to help those in need.

Construction Continues on International Headquarters Museum
October 5, 2015

Check the progress of the construction of the new, state-of-the-art, museum at Sigma Chi headquarters.

Significant Sig Robert D. Johnson, MIAMI (OHIO) 1969 Becomes Foundation Chair
April 27, 2015

The Sigma Chi Foundation appoints Significant Sig Robert D. Johnson, MIAMI (OHIO) 1969 as Chairman effective immediately.

$150,000 Watson Match Challenge to Support Museum Reconstruction
January 7, 2015

Foundation, Watson announce $150,000 match challenge to support creation of a new state-of-the-art interactive museum at Sigma Chi International Headquarters.

International Fraternity Video About the Organization's Founding Earns Prestigious Telly Award
July 1, 2014

The video, "Unchanging Principles: The Story of Sigma Chi," which tells of Sigma Chi's enduring values and principles earns award in the charitable/not-for-profit category. Click Above to View

Sixty-Three Chapters to Receive Enhanced Benefits
April 7, 2014

The Foundation's Bell Chapter Challenge promotes alumni support of undergraduate scholastic achievement by sponsoring their chapter's participation in Fraternity programs & funding scholarships.

Sigma Chi Mourns the Passing of Executive Director, Michael H. Dunn
January 24, 2014

It is with great sadness that Sigma Chi Fraternity and Foundation announces the passing of the Fraternity's Executive Director, Michael H. Dunn, Utah State 1976, to the Chapter Eternal.

H. Campbell Stuckeman Trust Makes Generous Gift to Endow 20 $1000 Scholarships.
August 10, 2013

H. Campbell Stuckeman Trust makes generous gift to endow 20 $1000 scholarships. The Annual Academic Scholarships will be awarded through the Donor-Scholar Program.

Fraternity recognizes 64 brothers through annual award.
April 5, 2013

The Fraternity's alumni services department announced that Sigma Chi will recognize 64 brothers with the Significant Sig Award in 2013 for their professional accomplishments.

Scholarships Available to Brothers Adversely Affected by the Oklahoma Tornado.
May 21, 2013

The Strong Arms of Support Fund provides scholarships available to brothers adversely affected by the Oklahoma tornado and other natural disasters.

Horizons one of Bob McNair's "Best Investments"
February 1, 2012

The Sigma Chi Foundation is sincerely grateful for the ongoing and generous support of brother Bob McNair & his wife Janice for the Horizons program.

Foundation History
The Sigma Chi Fraternity established the Foundation on November 9, 1939 as the Sigma Chi Endowment Foundation, but the idea originated as early as 1898. Read More
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