History can be presented in many forms. It can be written or oral; or it can also be the truth, which is usually biased by human nature. This historical outlook on the trials and triumphs of our brotherhood was taken from history articles which have appeared in the Garnet & White, from personal letters in the Fraternity’s archives, and from personal discussions with Brothers who shared their stories with us.
The year was 1894. Grover Cleveland was the President of the United States. The country was starting to recover from the Panic of ’1893, which seriously jeopardized the monetary and fiscal policies of both the country and its individuals.
There were approximately 117 students attending Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Most of the students attending Trinity College were from preparatory schools located in New England. The college system of that day was much different than today’s system of higher education. Not every man went to college and those who did were expected to help shape the future of our country.
The Reverend Paul Ziegler had attended Trinity College and received his degree in 1872. While a student at Trinity, Rev. Ziegler was a member of the local Beta Beta Society. In today’s terms, Beta Beta is a fraternity, but in that era, it was a literary society. In the 1890s, Reverend Ziegler and his family lived in Detroit, Michigan, and he wanted to send his oldest son, Carl, to his alma mater. This made Carl a unique student at Trinity. Instead of an easterner who had attended a prep school in New England, he was a Midwesterner. He was attending an eastern school that associated itself with schools such as Yale and Brown in the state.
Upon entering Trinity, he became friends with William Rouse and former pupil Herbert Sherriff. Both Carl and Herbert were not invited to join Reverend Ziegler’s fraternity, Beta Beta, which had now become the Beta Beta chapter of Psi Upsilon Fraternity. As a result, Reverend Ziegler wanted to found a Greek letter society on a basis that was distinct from that of existing societies. Reverend Ziegler wrote his beliefs about what the new brotherhood should stand for and portray in the “Exoteric Manual of Alpha Chi Rho.” This document, the first Exoteric manual of Alpha Chi Rho, was a non-secret statement of the principles of the new fraternity. The three men who accepted the first manual were Paul and Carl Ziegler, and Herbert Sherriff. Detroit could be considered the birthplace of Alpha Chi Rho.
When Ziegler and Sherriff returned to school, they interested four other men in joining them in their venture. All four had either refused or been refused membership in the existing fraternities at Trinity. Most all of the fraternities were part of some old and prestigious national organization. There were many doubts that such a new group had any hopes of survival. Two of the four dropped out of the group, which left us with our five Revered Founders. On June 4, 1895, the first formal meeting was held. The four undergraduate men exchanged the vows of brotherhood in Ziegler’s room in Northam Towers on the Trinity campus.
A personal letter from Ziegler to Rouse relates to us that the name of the chapter, “PHI PSI”, came about because Ziegler thought it was a nice sounding name for a chapter. They needed a chapter name since it was planned from the very beginning that Alpha Chi Rho would spread to other campuses.
At the conclusion of the school year in 1897, Carl Ziegler and Herbert Sherriff finished their studies at from Trinity. The Founders left the brotherhood in the hands of 17 Brothers. They had become one of the largest fraternities on campus, having over one-sixth of the student body. They included the brightest scholars and athletes on the campus. The first chapter hall was a rented room and the chapter had an eating club, which cost $4.50 per week. At that time, the college did not provide meals, and it was left up to the students to form clubs, join fraternities or eat with a private family in town. In addition to our respected membership, Alpha Chi Rho was the first fraternity on the campus to accept local students or “townies” as members.
At first Paul Ziegler was a businessman and pursued his ministry only after leaving the business field. He was a strong advocate of prohibition. William Rouse was the oldest student founder, while Carl Ziegler was the youngest. Rouse was the first President of the Phi Psi chapter and was considered to be quite intelligent. A sign in the Northam Tower room where our ritual was first performed stated “Chickens Roost High, But They Must Come Down” – obviously a statement which could be attributed to the attitudes of the existing fraternities on campus. William Rouse, first Phi Psi President, never met Paul Ziegler, even though Ziegler attended the Institutions of the Phi Chi and Phi Phi chapters.
Upon leaving Trinity, Carl Ziegler and William Eardeley were both living and working in New York. They became interested in expanding the brotherhood to another campus and approached a man from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. After discussions with these two Founders and the acceptance by the Phi Psi chapter (which had to approve all functions of each chapter, especially chartering new groups), three men started the Phi Chi chapter at Brooklyn Poly. The initiation fee was $10, a considerable sum of money at that time. Spurred on by success, Eardeley, when later in Philadelphia, approached a man of good standing at University of Pennsylvania. The man, Howard Long, class of 1900, thought that he was about to be attacked in the street when Eardeley first approached him. He rejected the proposal of starting a new fraternity on the Penn campus, especially one that was only in existence for less than one year and had only two chapters and no alumni of which to speak. However, Eardeley spoke to Long’s mother as well as to his Episcopalian minister. These discussions helped Long make his commitment to this new venture. Phi Phi was chartered with 18 members in 1896. As a side note, Eardeley’s full Christian name was William Appleby Eardeley-Thomas.
When the Fraternity was founded, there were few rules or guidelines. Each chapter was left to develop their own rules. However, policies that were made had to be approved by the brothers of the Phi Psi chapter. This did not always make for easy times; it was not easy to get permission from Hartford when things happened in Philadelphia. Although the Brothers were able to travel to visit each other, transportation was neither quick nor cheap, and the communications were not always quick or secure enough for secrets of the Fraternity. Each chapter continued to grow and flourish, although some discontent was brewing among members who felt that the guidelines for membership were too stringent to live by. They also believed the Fraternity needed to associate itself with a larger, more prestigious fraternity.
By this time, a newsletter for the Phi Psi chapter was started that would later become the official fraternity magazine, The Garnet & White. On June 23 and 24 the first convention was held in Hartford. Forty-one Brothers attended this first meeting. A President was elected, but to serve only for the duration of the Convention. This was Brother Eardeley. No new policies were adopted; all power remained with the mother chapter, Phi Psi.
In 1899, Brother Burton S. Easton, Phi Phi’1898, interested two of his students at the University of Iowa in starting a chapter. Three students eventually were granted a charter as the Phi Upsilon chapter. This new chapter was in a different region from the other three and had a different type of student. Communication across the country was difficult, but by the end of 1900, a fifth chapter had been established by four men at Columbia College. Within our first five years, the Fraternity had held a convention and started a magazine (which was run by an editor from each chapter). Things looked upcoming for the Fraternity although many in the existing fraternity world looked upon them with disdain as upstarts and a group whose ideals were unattainable. Membership increased on all campuses and men, who were to lead Alpha Chi Rho through the next decades, pledged this new fraternity.
As noted earlier, some of the first brother’s felt that the thoughts expressed in the original Exoteric Manual was too lofty, too constrictive and unattainable. They felt that the standards would hurt the future of the fraternity by making it difficult to attract new men. They also wanted to more closely pattern the fraternity after those in existence. This dissension led to discord among all chapters in the fraternity. A contingent of discontents went about doing their best to destroy their Chapters and to foist their discontent onto the other Chapters. Upon hearing false news that Alpha Chi Rho no longer existed, the men whom were known as the Phi Upsilon Chapter abandoned their charter since they felt that the Fraternity was dead. They immediately joined Kappa Sigma at the University of Iowa. The letter Upsilon has not been used in a Chapter name since that time, remembering the hard feelings created by the men of Phi Upsilon. News of this spread and seemed to confirm that Alpha Chi Rho was dead. During 1902, the only chapter that really existed was Phi Psi, weakened by the turmoil, but determined not to die. Brothers such as Henry Blakeslee and James Wales, both of the Phi Psi Chapter, were two men bound and determined to make the Fraternity survive and prosper. It was decided that Alpha Chi Rho would stick to its principles and expel all those who were not willing to do so. This severely cut the membership of the Fraternity, almost by one-half. Addressing the issue of our principles, Revered Founder Eardeley commented that: “Although benevolent men cannot do all the good they would, their duty is to do all the good they can.”
It was decided that more organization was needed to make the Fraternity work. The official duties of running the Fraternity as a whole had to be taken out of the hands of the undergraduates and put into the hands of graduates. A National Council was created to run the affairs of the Fraternity and to oversee expansion, although approval still had to come from each chapter for a charter to be granted. Fees were introduced. Brother Henry Blakeslee, Phi Phi 1898, was elected President of the Fraternity in 1903. We owe Brother Blakeslee much gratitude since he, along with Council member, Carlton Hayes, Phi Omega ’04, (later a United States Ambassador) created much of what is Alpha Chi Rho today. The Ritual was changed in 1903 when the Phi Alpha Chapter, formerly a member of the two-Chapter Fraternity of Psi Alpha Kappa, joined the ranks of Alpha Chi Rho. The Landmarks in the form we know today were introduced in 1905.
The chapters at Trinity, Brooklyn, Penn, Columbia and the new Lafayette chapter, were once again all active and prospering in 1903. Under the guidance and self-examination of devoted Brothers, Alpha Chi Rho began to make an impact on their campuses.
Brother Blakeslee served as President from 1903 until 1908, the longest term of any brother in the fraternity. The “National Fraternity” was organized and prepared to spread the brotherhood to campuses throughout the country. Looking back, it might be said that some of the brothers who needed to approve all charters were “school snobs,” They desired to have Alpha Chi Rho only at the best and most prestigious schools. This slowed expansion somewhat. “Slow but sure,” the original expansion policy, moved more surely than slowly and by 1909, Chapters were chartered at Dickinson College, Yale University (a sports rival of Trinity), Syracuse University, the University of Virginia, Washington & Lee and Cornell University whose charter members included one Wilbur M. Walden. Alpha Chi Rho representatives attended a meeting of fraternities in New York City in 1909. At that time there were 11 Chapters, all in the East, and were still considered as “pie in the sky” idealists by some of the larger and older fraternities. At that meeting the National Interfraternity Conference was founded and Alpha Chi Rho is a charter member. Alpha Chi Rho was one of the first fraternities to address such issues as hazing, alcohol abuse and scholarship. We have remained an active member of the NIC ever since, a record that not all fraternities, especially some of the largest can claim.
The future looked very promising for Alpha Chi Rho. The country was flourishing while the storm clouds in Europe grew threatening. Expansion continued with chapters chartered at Wesleyan and Allegheny, both schools with religious affiliations. We were growing regionally but not nationally; all the chapters were in only four different states. With the acceptance of the Chi Delta local at the University of Illinois, expansion efforts were changed to focus on expanding to schools in the same athletic conferences or ones that were close by. Penn State was the next school to have an Alpha Chi Rho Chapter. By this time, U. S. President, Woodrow Wilson could no longer keep us out of the war. The oldest Brother in the Fraternity was 60 years old and that was Reverend Ziegler. The majority of our Brothers were much younger and served in “the war to end all wars”, World War I. During the times following the war, expansion continued slowly with chapters at Lehigh and Dartmouth. The year was 1920; good times were ahead for the country; the war was over; the fraternity was 25 years old – a surprise to some in the fraternity world. The fraternity had survived and could boast 17 active chapters with the only one lost being Phi Upsilon. By this time, although the hurt continued, Phi Upsilon stopped being discussed and became footnote in the fraternity history. The name has been forgotten, but the Brothers vowed to remember the lesson they learned.
The “Roaring ’20s” saw the first chapter in Michigan, close to the home of Paul Ziegler at the University of Michigan. Revered Founder Paul Ziegler died during that same year. Carl and Howard from Phi Psi, Winfred from Phi Omega and Eustice from Phi Gamma were Paul Ziegler’s four sons that he left to carry on his legacy. Ziegler was always amazed that the little group he had helped foster and develop had grown so large. The Phi Omicron Chapter at the University of Wisconsin was chartered in 1922. Among the founding brothers there was a married brother and a Phi Beta Kappa Brother who would become very important to the future of Alpha Chi Rho, Robert B. Stewart. Phi Pi at Ohio State, chartered in 1923, brought Alpha Chi Rho to four of the Big 10 schools.
Not all campuses were considered for expansion. Some schools were judged inferior, often based on reputations or the lack of an endowment. The National Council directed all expansion efforts, but all work was done on a volunteer basis. While we were growing, we were still small enough so that almost all brothers in the Fraternity could know each other. New chapters and even new fraternities were being created during this time. A significant step was taken in 1923 when the Phi Rho Chapter at Berkeley was chartered. We were finally “national” in scope, having chapters on both coasts. Plans were made to undertake more vigorous expansion efforts in the west. This brought about the chapter at Oregon State, chartered in 1927. However, it had been four years since Phi Rho had been chartered and some wind had gone out of the sails of expansion in the west and everywhere. Why? One reason could be that the brothers of Phi Rho thought many schools in the west inferior to their own. The west was still being settled in some sense, and few “old line” schools were there. There were also few brothers living in the west except for Phi Rho brothers. Another reason that expansion might have slowed down could be that this was the time many chapters became serious about securing adequate housing, not only for then, but also for the future. Alumni money was spent on the local chapters, not national efforts, and the fraternity, using the Ritual as its guide, had never stressed monetary worth in the area of donations to the fraternity. The Fraternity was run by volunteers who worked out of their homes and offices. The right to grant a charter was now in the hands of the National Council.
All chapters had housing by this time, although some of the newest had difficulties in obtaining houses. While the Fraternity was 30 years old, other fraternities had been around more than 90 years and had endowments and alumni who could make significant donations. This is not to say that Alpha Chi Rho had no supportive alumni. Brothers had already distinguished themselves in politics, the ministry, law and the arts. However, 1929 proved a shock to the entire world and to Alpha Chi Rho. The stock market crash and eventual depression shook the country very foundations. Men could no longer afford college, let alone join a fraternity. Things grew more desperate in 1930 and 1931. Money was severely tight and it looked poorly for the Fraternity. The Phi Zeta chapter, who claims among its Brothers former Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania and former Senator John Stennis from Mississippi, was unable to remain fiscally sound. Despite efforts and monetary support by the National Fraternity, the Chapter surrendered its charter in 1931. The Depression continued and the Phi Xi and Phi Eta Chapters at Michigan and Washington & Lee surrendered their charters as well. In 1932 one bright spot was the chartering of the Phi Tau Chapter at Iowa State.
Things started to improve for the country; it appeared that Alpha Chi Rho would once again survive. A new factor in the Fraternity was that for the first time, the Fraternity had a full time National Secretary/Executive Director. He was Wilbur M. “Curly” Walden, Phi Theta ’11. He was to become one of the most important men in the Fraternity as well as the interfraternity world. He was a charter member of the Fraternity Executives Association and well regarded for his opinions. He also how well he worked well with the young men in the Fraternity. As the depression gave way, some fraternities had to merge with stronger fraternities to survive. Others had completely disappeared. The chapters at Yale and Ohio State were the last losses, which could be attributed to the Depression. The chapter house at Yale, known for the stage on the first floor where the Brothers put on plays, was sold to the university and is still used today by the theater department. The Ohio State alumni brothers vowed that they would reappear after things had become better.
By 1937, Brother Stewart, Phi Omicron 1922, was working at Purdue University. The Pirathon Club at Purdue petitioned and was granted a charter as Alpha Phi. Rutgers was considered for expansion as early as 1896 but it took over forty years for a Chapter of Alpha Chi Rho to appear there. The last chapter chartered in the 1930′s was at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Forty men were initiated although most of them were alumni of the local fraternity, Omicron Kappa Omicron. Things looked bright as the Fraternity prepared for the 1940′s. A few chapters were having problems with numbers, especially Lafayette and the new Gamma Phi Chapter at Johns Hopkins. Five chapters had succumbed to the depression but the Fraternity had resolved that they would return. Elaborate and extensive plans were made to further build the Fraternity, rebuild what was lost during the depression, and prepare for the 50th anniversary of the Fraternity that was only five years away.
On December 7, 1941, all plans for the future mattered no longer. Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese the call to arms went through the country and men responded especially college men and brothers of Alpha Chi Rho. There were no more men going to college; they were all heading to war. With no supply of future men to join and with men leaving school to enlist or being drafted, the Fraternity faced another crisis. How would it survive? The National President at that time was Robert B. Stewart. Also a member of the National Council at the time was (Senator Scott from Pennsylvania). Plans were made by the National Council that Chapters who were faced with great difficulties should return their charters and all fraternity materials to the National Office in New York City. The items would be kept for safeguarding until the war over, and the chapters could be reactivated.
Over time, all chapters surrendered their charters and closed their doors. Both graduate and undergraduate brothers headed off to war. During the war the Garnet & White was still faithfully mailed to the men in the services; although it was shrunken to avoid excessive costs. The Garnet & White was fortunate to have Brother Bob Dell, Phi Kappa, and a professional cartoonist, who create a cartoon for each issue. The cartoons focused on the war and its lighter side. The chapter at Johns Hopkins returned their charter in 1942, and it was never restored. The chapter at Oregon State consisted of 21 men at the time. Twenty were drafted on day, and the remaining brother was drafted the next day. While an attempt was made to renew the Phi Sigma charter in the 1950′s, it never returned to the active of Alpha Chi Rho.
As the war dragged on, finances continued to cause great problems for the Fraternity. Most was spent on Liberty Bonds but the Fraternity, just barely recovered from the Depression, faced possible death. Serious negotiations were held with several national fraternities during the war years, including Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and Lambda Chi Alpha. All fraternities were known to accept smaller fraternities in mergers. However, it was decided that we would lose much of our distinction as Alpha Chi Rho if we merged, and no final merger plans ever resulted. This was not the case for some other fraternities, even ones larger than our own. No National Conventions were held from 1943-46. The Fraternity was kept alive through the guidance of Curly the National Council and Garnet & White. Each issue listed Brothers missing in action or killed. However, brothers in the war were able to meet each other and reported (though censored) of meeting brothers in Europe and in Asia. Robert B. Stewart had sold the idea to the government of using college campuses for training troops and housing them in fraternity houses. This saved many Chapter houses, not only for Alpha Chi Rho but also for the entire fraternity world.
After V-J Day, men were mustered out of the service and were looking to return to campus. Even more men were considering attending college for the first time. The GI BILL, another ideathat R.B. STEWART helped create, made this possible.
Nineteen Chapters came back to life within five years of World War II. Men were overflowing on the college campuses. The war had broken down many barriers among people of different religions, race and origins. The new attitudes towards men of different groups also changed. Alpha Chi Rho still remained a “Christians only” fraternity. At the National Convention in 1948, it was adopted that men of African descent would be eligible for membership. However, the need to be Christian still remained. This was a subject that would later cause more upheaval in the country and in the Fraternity. One of the leading groups against “Christians only” were young undergraduates from the Phi Gamma Chapter at Wesleyan. The only expansion in the Fraternity during the 1940′s was at Rensselaer PoIytechnic Institute, when became the Delta Phi Chapter.
The 1950′s saw another burst of expansion for the fraternity world. Chapters emerged all over the country. It was popular to be Greek. More and more people were going to college, even women. It is not known if the exhaustive process of rebuilding after the war or the inner turmoil caused reduced expansion during this time. No new chapters were instituted until 1955 when a charter was granted to the Epsilon Phi Chapter at Temple. Maybe expansion slowed during the development of another group, the Alpha Chi Rho Educational Foundation. Started with the National Council and helped along by Brothers John Hunter of Phi Lambda and Richard Conant of Phi Omega, efforts began to create an educational foundation to further the purposes of higher education and scholarship within Alpha Chi Rho in 1950. After a few years of hard work, the Foundation took shape and began offering student loans at a limit of $100. Brother F. Prescott Hammond, Phi Omega, was its first chairman of the board. Sadly, Brother Hammond, a lawyer, entered the Chapter Eternal in 1956. Brother Hammond left his entire estate to the Foundation. Due to his most generous gift, the Foundation was off and running, granting more loans and looking into new program ideas. The Foundation office is named in honor of this infrequently talked-about Brother, but a Brother whose impact is still felt today.
Curly continued to run the Fraternity as the National Secretary/Executive Director. Each year, the issue of Christian-only membership came up at the National Convention. There were articles in the Garnet & White which also addressed the point. Colleges were pressing for all groups on campus to be nondiscriminatory. It was an issue of the day and an issue within the Fraternity.
While this issue continued to be a boiling point, chapters at Clarkson University, Gettysburg College, Thiel College (which was the last chapter chartered by Curly Walden) and Parsons College in Iowa were established. At last, expansion efforts increased, while the turmoil over the first Landmark still continued within Alpha Chi Rho.
In 1959, in poor health and after serving for 25 years, Curly Walden stepped down as Executive Director. His length of service is the longest in our history, only 7 other men have taken his place since that time. Brother John F. Benke, Epsilon Phi, was hired as Executive Director. Sadly, Brother Benke killed himself within one year and W. Henson Watchorn of Phi Gamma replaced him. Hense was faced with leading the Fraternity into the 1960′s and no one had any idea of the things that would come about.
The 1960′s brought in President John F. Kennedy, and new hopes abounded in the country. Discrimination was still a topic in the country and in Alpha Chi Rho. At that time, our first Landmark, “membership from Christians only” was the problem along with wording in the Ritual. The Chapter at Wesleyan, Phi Gamma, led a revolt and the charter of Phi Gamma was revoked. It is believed that the ensuing debate within the Fraternity slowed our expansion efforts once again. In 1961, the Kappa Phi Chapter at Slippery Rock was chartered. The next two new chapters were Lambda Phi at Quinnipiac College and Mu Phi at Clarion State College in 1964. Nu Phi at Steubenville College was chartered in 1965 and became one of the largest chapters within the Fraternity. Also growing large was the chapter at Parsons College in Iowa with over 80 men. The Vietnam War was escalating, President Kennedy was dead, hair became longer, skirts became shorter and the generation gap developed. Fraternities were seen as the “establishment” and membership started to decline.
The chapter at Dartmouth was feeling pressure from the school to abandon its national affiliation and become a local fraternity. Compounded with discrimination, the Phi Nu Chapter’s charter was revoked. It continues this day as Alpha Chi Alpha Fraternity on the Dartmouth campus. Chapters at Hartwick College and Utica College were chartered in 1966. Plans were made by the National Council that would guarantee 75 Chapters for our 75th Anniversary in 1970. At that time, Chris Seidel of Phi Beta, was the National Secretary. However, by that time, campus rioting, demonstrations, and more anti-fraternity feelings were taking their toll. It was no time to try to expand. National fraternities that faced serious problems merged into larger fraternities. No other charters were granted during the 1960s. The chapter at Phi Rho was closed over a disagreement regarding women living in the fraternity house. This ended the bi-coastal Fraternity of Alpha Chi Rho. The biggest problem was that Phi Rho felt left out of many things, and the campus attitude regarding fraternities had changed. Travel from coast to coast was still costly during that time, and all travel was done by train. The charter of Phi Omicron was returned as the brothers could no longer maintain a chapter at their campus. The house was also threatened with firebombing.
During the mid 1960′s, the issue of religious discrimination had come to a crisis level. Schools were demanding the fraternity drop its Christian-only, requirement and Chapters felt they were losing too many good, potential members. It was first agreed that membership would not be based on religion, but many segments, especially the Ritual, contained references to Jesus Christ. It was explained that we looked up to Christ as our example but any Christian reference did not require theological connotation. Not until the 1971 edition of the Exoteric Manual do we see the first Landmark in its wording today. The Ritual took longer to revise, requiring the approval of all Chapters, and was finally completed in 1972. This crisis was, over but another one loomed ahead.
As student bodies and opinions changed during the ’60s a generation gap between the brothers running the fraternity and the undergraduate membership grew. Expansion continued with chapters at Robert Morris College, Southern Connecticut State College and Alfred University.
The 1970′s began and the war in Vietnam continued. The Kent State shootings occurred, and students continued to question authority. At that time, each chapter was billed for initiation fees for all their new members. However, chapters were slow or even worse in paying these bills, and the Fraternity was beginning to have fiscal problems. We could not expand, our membership was shrinking and the money due to the fraternity was not always being paid. A rift between the thinking of the National Council and the undergraduates occurred at the National Convention in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. One new face at the National Convention was the newly appointed Executive Director, Wes Dangler, Beta Phi, who had formerly served as National Treasurer. It was Wes first convention, and the undergraduates came to the Convention to make many sweeping changes.
One change made was that initiation fees would no longer be charged to the chapter, but rather to individual Brothers. Other changes included having alternate Resident National Councillors. Finally, the undergraduates took control of the voting and elected Rick Sinding, Beta Phi, as president. Rick was less than 30 years old at the time. He was also the first Jewish president. At the time, the fraternity had 23 active Chapters. Phi Tau at Iowa State died a slow death during the Vietnam War and was not strong enough to survive. Wes faced difficult challenges in his first year.
Healing the wounds of the brotherhood was vital, and Wes provided Alpha Chi Rho with healing words and dedicated work. The latest new chapter instituted into Alpha Chi Rho was in 1972 with the Phi Kappa Beta chapter at James Madison University. It was the first-three-letter chapter and our first Virginia chapter since the death of Phi Zeta and Phi Eta. Crow Bowl was established in 1973, and this event brought more brothers together than any other Fraternity event. The Fraternity had resolved its problems on discrimination and the new Ritual was in the Chapters’ hands. The war was over in Vietnam and Alpha Chi Rho started to grow to make up lost ground. Omega Phi was chartered at LaSalle College in 1975. 1976 was the country’s Bicentennial; the USA was 200 years old and Alpha Chi Rho chartered two new chapters – East Stroudsburg and Johnson Tech. Sadly, the chapters of Slippery Rock and Quinnipiac were lost. Parsons College went bankrupt and a good Chapter was lost. Expansion efforts were retried at Ohio State and Cornell. Both failed. However, Ohio State did manage to exist a few years before the charter was withdrawn again. Phi Omicron managed to be revived. Chapters were started at Edinboro, Radford, Trenton State, WPI and Fairleigh Dickinson/Teaneck.
Mr. Alpha Chi Rho, Curly Walden, died during the early 1970′s. His spirit and love for Alpha Chi Rho is hard to match. In honor of this devotion to offered by the brotherhood, a fund-raising effort was held to create the Walden Scholarship. This was the first scholarship from the Educational Foundation.
Any wounds the Fraternity had were healed by the start of the 1980′s. At the National Convention in Montreal, Brother Stewart addressed the Convention on the need to have a permanent home for National Headquarters. The fraternity had left New York in the ’60s for New Brunswick and moved to Red Bank, New Jersey. He proposed a fund-raising effort never before attempted in Alpha Chi Rho and started it with a large donation. It took several years of looking at plans, phone calls and letters, but within a few years, the Robert B. Stewart National Headquarters was proudly established in Neptune, New Jersey. Without the persistence we R.B., Alpha Chi Rho still may not have a national headquarters. Chapters were started at SUNY/Geneseo, Stockton State, Longwood College and Central Michigan. By this time, in addition to Wes, the Fraternity established two new staff positions, which took care of the existing Chapters and always looked for expansion at new institutions.
The National Headquarters was dedicated on August 20, 1983. The national staff had grown once again to include a Director of Chapter Services. New Chapters had started at Temple/Ambler, SUNY/Plattsburgh, Kent State, Lock Haven and West Chester. We were growing and not losing chapters! It was determined that we needed to pace our expansion efforts and make sure that existing chapters received as much attention and direction as possible. Expansion slowed somewhat with only two new chapters at Towson State and Fairleigh Dickinson at Rutherford. Crow Bowl East was started by the brothers at Epsilon Phi. The Foundation continued to grant more scholarships and granted loans up to $2,000. Sadly, the Phi Alpha Chapter at Lafayette returned its charter after several disappointing years of trying to survive.
1986 marked another transition in the Fraternity. After 13 years of service, Wes Dangler retired as the Executive Director/National Secretary of the Fraternity. His service to the fraternity did not end, however. Wes became the first full-time employee of the Alpha Chi Rho Educational Foundation, Inc. serving as its Executive Director. For the first time, both the Fraternity and Foundation had full-time employees. Brother James J. Spencer, Mu Phi ’81, was promoted from Director of Chapter Services to Executive Director/National Secretary of the Fraternity. Fraternity growth and expansion was continuing and three consultants were hired to work with chapters and colonies. During the 1986-87 school year, chapters were chartered at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the University of Massachusetts, SUNY/Brockport and Albright College. Differences between the fraternity and the administration at the University of Steubenville forced the closure of the Nu Phi Chapter. More operational manuals were created to assist Chapters in their daily operations and expansion continued. Expansion slowed somewhat and an attempt at becoming an international fraternity with a colony at the University of Windsor in Ontario failed.
Chapters were chartered at SUNY/Buffalo and Mansfield University during the 1987-88 school year. The Crow Bowl basketball tournament was moved from its original location at Penn State to Utica College. Brothers left money to AXPEF and more scholarships were awarded. The traditional “Graduate Dinner” at Convention was changed to the Scholarship Banquet, at which AXPEF presented their undergraduate and graduate scholarships. Chartering increased with chapters added at North Adams State College, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, George Mason University and Kutztown University.
While new chapters were being added; some chapters were being closed, including the Eta Phi Chapter at Gettysburg. A plan to return was agreed upon with the college. The national staff grew again and Brother Paul Thallner was hired to become the Assistant Executive Director of the Fraternity and an assistant to Wes Dangler in the AXPEF office. Also, at the National Convention in 1989, the Fraternity adopted a risk management policy and joined an interfraternity group interested in reducing our risk management liabilities. The group Alpha Chi Rho joined is called FIPG. The fraternity membership in this group enabled all chapters to purchase liability insurance at a reasonable rate. Many chapters who were previously insured with other carriers found that their insurance was canceled, regardless of their record. More schools started to require that in order to be a recognized chapter on campus, the chapter must show proof of liability insurance. Joining FIPG brought about many changes to the Fraternity’s social life, but it ensured that everyone would be covered in the case of a lawsuit.
A record year for chartering occurred in the 1989-90 school year with five chapters added. They were located at Western Michigan University, SUNY/Stony Brook, Northwood Institute, Southern Illinois University and New York Institute of Technology. Not since the fraternity revived inactive chapters after World War II had so many chapters been chartered.
It was one complete year before another chapter was chartered, but within two weeks of each other in the spring of 1991, two Chapters were chartered at Montclair State University and Rowan College of New Jersey. The Eta Phi Chapter at Gettysburg College was also re-chartered during this time period. Due to a school merger, the FDU/Teaneck and FDU/Rutherford chapters were merged, with the new chapter having the name, Phi Epsilon Omicron. This name signified the merger of the two chapters’ names. This chapter continues at the FDU/Teaneck campus today.
Unfortunately, while expansion continued, many chapter’s membership levels were declining. It was the first year of what has been termed a “rush recession.” The number of students attending colleges and universities declined and fewer men were joining fraternities, including Alpha Chi Rho. In order to remain fiscally sound, the Fraternity was forced to eliminate the position of Assistant Executive Director.
Another milestone was observed with the retirement of Wes Dangler as AXPEF’s Executive Director. For over 18 years, Wes worked for the Fraternity or the Educational Foundation. While still active to this day, Wes’s day-to-day duties for the brotherhood concluded. Brother Scott A. Carlson (a former Leadership Consultant), Pi Phi, was hired to replace Wes as AXPEF Executive Director.
While the rush recession deepened, chapters were chartered at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Frostburg University, and Drexel University. The Kappa Phi chapter at Slippery Rock also returned to the active roster. The Phi Theta chapter at Cornell, inactive for over 15 years, also returned. During the 1992-93 school year, the Phi Mu chapter at Lehigh University was reactivated, having been closed a few years prior. Chapters were also instituted at SUNY/Albany and Wesley College, the first chapter in the State of Delaware. The amount of a student loan was increased to $3,000 and a new scholarship was created by the Foundation. This scholarship was given by Jean Addams, the widow of Brother Paul K. Addams who graduated in 1929 from the Phi Phi Chapter at Penn. He served as president of the Fraternity during two different decades, executive secretary of the National Interfraternity Conference and executive director of the Fraternity. In addition, he also served many years as chairman of the board of the Alpha Chi Rho Educational Foundation. Along with Brother Robert B. Stewart, Brother Addams is the only other Alpha Chi Rho Brother to ever be awarded the highest honor in the interfraternity world, the NIC Gold Medal.
The 1993-94 school year saw chapters instituted at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. The rush recession continued and the Fraternity, along with the Foundation, sponsored rush seminars for chapters and provided free videotape programs on how to improve chapter rush. Due to finances, another staff position was eliminated after the 1994 school year. A new addition at the National Headquarters was made possible by the graduate chapter at Millersville University. They donated a flagpole and memorial stone in honor of brother W. Henson Watchorn. Hense had served as executive director of the fraternity, national vice president, and as assistant treasurer of AXPEF. This addition further enhanced the headquarters and provides a fitting memorial to Brother Watchorn who, from the first day, insisted that the headquarers’s should have a flag pole. The pole flies the American flag and a smaller Fraternity ensign.
The Fraternity held its 1994 Convention in Harrisburg, PA, at which the delegates voted to end the tradition of annual conventions and instead, hold the convention every other year. The last annual convention would be held in 1995 to mark the 100th Anniversary of the fraternity Founding at Trinity College in 1895.
The year leading up to the Centennial saw chapters chartered in Elon College, North Carolina and SUNY/Delhi in New York. Unfortunately, the Phi Psi Chapter at Trinity was closed and the house sold due to the college administration’s requirement that all groups on campus accept both men and women as full members. A proposal to permit the chapter to accept women was proposed at the 1992 Convention in Pittsburgh, but it was soundly defeated.
The Fraternity’s centennial was observed when the National Convention, traditionally held in August, was held in early June of 1995. A record number of brothers and sweethearts were in attendance. All living past presidents in attendance were honored with medals to recognize their service to the Fraternity. June 4, the Alpha Chi Rho founding date, was observed with a nondenominational service held in the Trinity College campus chapel. The national chaplain conducted the service and various brothers of different generations participated. It was a fitting way to end the Centennial Convention and to observe the day on which the Founders first gathered to share their oaths of brotherhood.
The Fraternity made it to its 100th anniversary. Despite wars, depression, rush recessions and anti-fraternity movements, the brotherhood founded upon the four Landmarks remains. James J. Spencer, Mu Phi 1981 stepped down as Executive Director/National Secretary in 1996 after ten years of dedicated service. “Spence” had navigated the Fraternity through an adjustment period, from the party atmosphere of the mid 1980 to the academically geared 1990. D. Matthew Jenkins, Phi Kappa Lambda ’92, a former chapter consultant/expansion director was empowered by the National Council to lead the Fraternity into the next millenium. There were charterings at two new schools that same year: Shepherd College, Alpha Phi Epsilon and California University PA, Sigma Chi Phi. The following 1997 year, saw the birth of a symbiotic relationship with Habitat for Humanity of Baltimore, MD, and the Eta Phi Chapter. This was a challenging year for the Fraternity due to the fact that there were no longer any leadership consultants vastest the chapters. Convention 1997, the first bi-annual convention was held in Washington D.C., where the hot issues were assessment fees and chapter-size policies. 1998 began with the chartering as the Tau Chi Phi Chapter at Monmouth University in March. 1998 saw the return of staff to the National Office in the positions: Director of Marketing & Expansion and Director of Programs & Services. These two positions will also serve as traveling consultants as well.
The challenge of brotherhood is a lifelong endeavor that encompasses all levels of life and Alpha Chi Rho. As the Fraternity poises upon the new millenium one can only take pride in the previous success and perseverance of the brotherhood. The landmarks, mission and Ritual have given Alpha Chi Rho many great years. If you have faith in fraternity and take pride in the fraternity as our Founders did, there is nothing that Alpha Chi Rho cannot do.