Our Founding at Beta Chi
The Beta Chi Chapter at the University of Minnesota was initially installed as the 70th chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha in 1922. In October of 2006, the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity National Office sent two professional staff members from the Memorial Headquarters to begin the process of re-organizing the Beta Chi Chapter at the University of Minnesota. Chapter Consultants Eric Miller (Tulsa, Gamma Upsilon ’02) and Vince Drieling (Nebraska- Omaha, Delta Chi ’01) spent five weeks in Minneapolis conducting the referral-based expansion project. University sorority women, student leaders, administrators, faculty, and local Pi Kappa Alpha alumni offered the consultants both insight and recommendations of candidates who best exemplify the qualities Pi Kappa Alpha represets.
After conducting many student interviews, 35 invitations were extended to a group of young men that displayed the qualities of Pi Kappa Alpha. These men accepted the challenge and committed to establishing another strong chapter of PIKE at The University of Minnesota. Currently, Beta Chi is one of the largest fraternity chapters on campus and a leader in the University of Minnesota Greek community. Our members serve as leaders on campus in Student Unions and Activities (SUA), Men’s Tennis, Marching Band, and Orientation & First-Year Programs (OFYP), among others. Recent alumni have used their PIKE experience to inspire their post-grad careers such as starting their own business or attending Princeton Law School. Raw statistics about our house–3.2 Average GPA, Smythe Award for the top 5% ranking PIKE chapters, House of the Quarter–can only communicate so much. Our true strength shines through the unique talents and nurtured aspirations of each of our members. These men have set a new standard for excellence in Greek life at the University of Minnesota and are a leading chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha.
You can read more about our chapters re-chartering in the Shield & Diamond HERE.
Pi Kappa Alpha was founded at the University of Virginia on March 1, 1868. At the time, the University of Virginia was the fifth largest school in the United States. Only Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Michigan were bigger.The University of Virginia is considered the first truly American state university because it was the first to be established totally free from religious control.
The story of Pi Kappa Alpha started in Room 47, West Range, with Frederick Southgate Taylor. Taylor had a vision of a group of men drawn together by a common cause. Taylor began by finding the best men on campus. His first initiative was inducting his cousin and roommate, Littleton Waller Tazewell. He also invited James Benjamin Sclater, Jr., a schoolmate of Tazewell, and Sclater’s roommate, Robertson Howard. These men were joined by Julian Edward Wood and William Alexander, and the journey of Pi Kappa Alpha began. The first initiate to Pi Kappa Alpha was Augustus Washington Knox.
The essence of the Founders’ vision for Pi Kappa Alpha can be found in its Preamble. A committee was first suggested by Brother William Alexander “to draw up a statement of the origin and the organization of the Fraternity.” The committee was composed of brothers Robertson Howard and Littleton Waller Tazewell. The resulting statement is now referred to as the Preamble.
“For the establishment of friendship on a firmer and more lasting basis;
for the promotion of brotherly love and kind feeling;
for the mutual benefit and advancement of the interests of those with whom we sympathize and deem worthy of our regard;
We have resolved to form a Fraternity, believing that, thus we can most successfully accomplish our object.”
Frederick Southgate Taylor
James Benjamin Sclater
Julian Edward Wood
Littleton Waller Tazewell
Before the end of Spring 1868, the brothers had decided that they wanted more than a Virginia society. They wanted to become a national fraternity. The following 21 years would prove to be troublesome times, nearly shattering the dreams of these young men. Universities made it nearly impossible for fraternities to exist, due to bans that were placed on the presence of secret societies. Fortunately, Pi Kappa Alpha was still able to expand. The second chapter, Beta (Davidson College), nearly disbanded, stating in a letter to the president of the college that “we have disbanded our chapter and we do not intend to carry it on unless we can do it openly and above board, as we regard its ties too sacred for other procedure.” It was nearly two years before the third chapter, Gamma (William & Mary), was established. During the years following the establishment of the the Gamma chapter through 1889, there would be a total of ten charters granted; however, only five managed to remain active. 1889, however, was the year of great importance to the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
A Crucial Turning Point
After almost a decade of decline, Pi Kappa Alpha was “re-founded” as a part of the Hampden-Sydney Convention, held in a student room of old Cushing Hall at Hampden-Sydney College. The Hampden-Sydney Convention brought the likes of Theron Hall Rice, a transfer to Virginia from Southwestern, who represented Alpha; Howard Bell Arbuckle, a recent graduate and then a teaching fellow at Hampden-Sydney, who represented Iota; and John Shaw Foster, a delegate from Theta Chapter at Southwestern (now Rhodes College). Lambda at the Citadel was to have been represented by Robert Adger Smythe, but a telegram from Charleston explained, “no holiday given us. Impossible to come. Act for us in everything.” This convention is of major importance, as it is considered the rebirth of the Fraternity. Together, Theron Rice, Howard Arbuckle, Robert Smythe, and John Foster came to be known as the Junior Founders.
Another pivotal event in the Fraternity’s history is the 1933 Troutdale Convention. At this meeting, the national organization was restructured. Former national officer titles were replaced with simple ones, the number of national officers was increased, and the Fraternity established the executive secretary (later executive director, now executive vice president) as a paid professional administrator. The year marked the end of direct regular service by two junior founders, Arbuckle and Smythe. The period of the Junior Founders had passed and Pi Kappa Alpha looked forward to a new generation of leaders.