History of Pi Kappa Alpha
Nu Chapter History
Nu Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha was chartered at Wofford College by Robert
Adger Smythe on February 23, 1891. The Chapter House was built in 1954
and serves as a location for social events, chapter meetings, and other
gatherings. Several awards hang in the house, recognizing Nu Chapter's
excellence throughout the Carolinas Region of Pi Kappa Alpha Chapters,
as well as, amongst the other fraternities on Wofford's campus.
Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity is a Greek letter, secret,
college, social fraternity. It is composed of men who share similar
ideals of friendship, truth, honor, and loyalty. The Fraternity's
ideals are expressed in the written words and symbols of a secret
ritual. These ideals and members' ability to maintain the visions of
the Fraternity's founders are the great moral legacy of Pi Kappa Alpha.
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.
It all started in Room 47 West Range when Frederick Southgate Taylor
turned to Littleton Waller Tazewell, his cousin and roommate, for help
in starting a new fraternity. Also present was James Benjamin Sclater,
Jr., a schoolmate of Tazewell, and Sclater's roommate Robertson Howard.
Those four men voted to add a fifth to their group and chose Julian
Edward Wood. Although history is unclear, William Alexander, probably a
friend of Sclater, Jr., was proposed for membership and was admitted as
a founder. The first initiate 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."
Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity History
| Robertson Howard
| Julian Edward Wood
| James Benjamin Sclater, Jr.
| Frederick Southgate Taylor
| Littleton Waller Tazewell (Bradford)
| William Alexander
The years after the Civil War found a proliferation of American college
fraternities being organized, particularly in the South. Pi Kappa
Alpha's founding in 1868 was soon followed by the founding of Kappa
Sigma and Sigma Nu. These fraternities, along with Alpha Tau Omega,
Kappa Alpha Order, and Sigma Phi Epsilon, are known as the "Virginia
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 some of the most
troublesome times, nearly shattering the dreams of these young men.
With universities making it nearly impossible for fraternities to exist
by placing bans on the presence of secret societies, the Fraternity was
still able to expand. The second chapter, Beta (Davidson College), had
even voted to disband saying in a letter to the president of the
college, "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."
Nearly two years later, the third chapter, Gamma (William & Mary),
was established. During the years that followed until 1889, there would
be a total of ten charters granted; however, only five remained active.
This was the year of a most important convention. 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.