Originally colonized in 1939 and chartered (founded) on Saturday, January 11, 1941, the Louisiana State University Chapter of The Delta Chi Fraternity has a rich history on LSU’s campus that dates back to the early 1900s.
By early 1907, The Delta Chi Fraternity consisted of twenty undergraduate chapters and three alumni chapters, and was approaching its seventeenth birthday. Still a professional law fraternity at the time, a humble petition for a charter from the fraternity emerged from William Murray “Buffalo” Lyles, a member of the Louisiana Law Club on LSU’s Campus. In a letter dated April 3, 1907, Lyles writes, “I herewith enclose on separate sheet the names and affiliations of the members of the Louisiana Law Club who desire the privilege of petitioning the Delta Chi Fraternity for a charter.”
However, Mr. Lyle’s anxiousness to get a chapter installed before the close of the school session went unanswered. There is no further recorded correspondence between Mr. Lyles and the fraternity, therefore it is difficult to ascertain why petitioning efforts failed. Over a century later, this conversation between the Louisiana Law Club and The Delta Chi Fraternity, albeit brief, from the bayous of Louisiana to the offices of D.C. provides a stark reminder of our fraternity’s original state: a professional law fraternity.
The historical practice of local fraternities petitioning national organizations for a charter is well documented, and this was the primary fixation of Delta Chi officers and representatives with LSU throughout the 1930s. Theta Beta Kappa was the first local fraternity to express interest in Delta Chi. In a letter dated May 5, 1932, Van D. Robinson, Theta Beta Kappa president, writes to John B. Harshman, “AA” (International President), “Theta Beta Kappa has been in existence nearly 13 years on the Louisiana State University campus, and, like most locals, we hope to be absorbed by a strong national organization at some time in the future. We are very much interested in Delta Chi Fraternity…”
Upon receipt of Mr. Robinson’s letter the next day, Mr. Harshman directs Executive Secretary O.K. Patton to arrange Field Secretary (now called Leadership Consultants) Donald G. Isett to visit the local fraternity on his way back from the southwest. However, Patton cuts Isett’s trip short in light of difficulties faced by the Nebraska Chapter. The following year, Mr. Isett receives word from J.P. Cole, LSU Dean of Student Affairs, that the Theta Beta Kappa fraternity had been dissolved. However, in a letter dated June 21, 1933 to Mr. Cole, Mr. Isett reaffirms Delta Chi’s commitment to LSU. He writes, “Under present conditions, it is perhaps impossible to find a local [fraternity] that would qualify for a National charter. I thought we might establish contact which would bear fruit in the future.”
Three years later, Delta Chi finds an opportunity to meet with a reestablished version of the Theta Beta Kappa local fraternity, after the LSU Dean of the School of Commerce and Graduate School invites Charles A. Thompson, “AA” and Dean of the College of Commerce at the University of Illinois, to speak to several groups of students on LSU’s campus. The news of Mr. Thompson’s contact with Theta Beta Kappa is encouraging to Mr. Patton, and Delta Chi’s attempts to discreetly pressure the local fraternity initiate once more. In March of 1937, Field Secretary Harold Buchanan meets with members and alumni of Theta Beta Kappa. He notes, “Things look pretty good. I believe we have a good chance of getting a new chapter [at LSU] before long.”
In December of 1937, several reports on Theta Beta Kappa are recorded and sent to Field Secretary Charles Max Cole and Mr. Patton. The reports offer a thorough analysis of the local fraternity’s alumni, the fraternity itself and various university officials. The reports also offer recommendations on various courses of action to get Theta Beta Kappa to petition a charter from Delta Chi. However, the last piece of correspondence related to the local fraternity is dated December 22, 1937 from Mr. Cole to Mr. Patton, and expresses uncertainty and doubts about the situation.
Similar to the 1907 attempt at a petition by Mr. Lyles, it is difficult to determine exactly why petition efforts by Theta Beta Kappa failed. It can be assumed from Mr. Cole’s December 22nd letter that the chapter never agreed upon nationalization, and therefore did not pursue a petition to receive a charter from Delta Chi.
Fresh from the University of Oklahoma, twenty-four year old Field Secretary Doak G. Stowe arrived in Baton Rouge on November 7, 1940 with the goal of directing the formation of Delta Chi’s newest chapter: the Louisiana State University Chapter. His first week in the city was disheartening: because of LSU’s militarized nature, Mr. Stowe faced difficulty in contacting potential members. The students were preoccupied with army life and normal campus activities. To add, in a letter dated November 14, 1940, he writes, “As far as I can ascertain it will be a hell of a problem to find anything like a fraternity house near the campus.” However, things slowly progressed in the nature that most things do in the South.
Over the next two months, Mr. Stowe successfully recruits fourteen men who met Delta Chi’s high standard of membership and installation plans commenced. On the evening of Saturday, January 11, 1941, members of the Alabama Chapter performed the ritual and installation of the charter group of the LSU Chapter of The Delta Chi Fraternity. A celebratory banquet followed on Sunday. The next week, Mr. Stowe writes to Mr. Patton, “The installation of our first initiatory group came off with great success. We have only fourteen initiates, but the character of this personnel is exceptionally high.”
The fourteen Founding Fathers of the LSU Chapter are: Harold Ayres, Dr. Daniel Borth, Walter Carr, Glynn Cox, Edward Engolio, Edward Glusman, James W. Haley, Harold Jacobs, Willis Kessler, Richard Lewin, Ray Manning, Carson Pettepher, W. Kenneth Powell and Walter Thomas.
Due to the outbreak of World War II and following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, nearly the entire LSU Chapter joined an army regiment and the chapter went dormant. Delta Chi revitalized itself at LSU in 1948 and continued until the chapter was closed in 1953.
Delta Chi returned and rechartered in 1965. Yet, the late 1960s and early 1970s was a period of “do your own thing.” Students challenged all that was traditional. Fraternities, highly visible and identifiable, were considered to be part of the “establishment” and not germane to the era. Due to this mentality, the Vietnam War and declining rush numbers, many fraternities were forced to take a leave of absence, including Delta Chi who closed its doors in 1966.
After a period of difficulty, the Greek system responded by reexamining itself, reaffirming principles and purposes, and realigning priorities and programs. Students responded by recognizing fraternities as a means for personal development.
Early in September of 1982, Leadership Consultant Terry Dolar began work to colonize Delta Chi at LSU once more. In response to letters, newspaper ads and personal phone calls, some 80 men pledged Delta Chi over a two month period. Because of the need for another fraternity on LSU's campus, the colonization efforts were an enormous success; on October 13, 1982, ninety-two years after Delta Chi's founding, The Delta Chi Fraternity was officially colonized at LSU.
On November 28, 1982, the Associate Members of the LSU Colony were initiated into the Bond of Delta Chi by the brothers of the Alabama Chapter. The ritual was overseen by Delta Chi Executive Director Ray Galbreth and Leadership Consultant Terry Dolar.
In 2002, with a need to reorganize, the chapter took a leave of absence and recolonized itself in 2005. On March 11, 2006, the current LSU Chapter received its charter. While no longer housed on West Lakeshore Drive, the LSU Chapter's current home is at 17 Dalrymple Drive.