Delta Chi (ΔΧ) (del-ta kai) or D-Chi is an international Greek letter college social fraternity formed on October 13, 1890, at Cornell University, initially as aprofessional fraternity for law students. On April 29, 1922, Delta Chi became a general membership social fraternity, eliminating the requirement for men to be studying law, and opening membership to all areas of study. Delta Chi became one of the first international fraternities to abolish “hell week”, when it did so on April 22, 1929. Delta Chi is a charter member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). The Fraternity is headquartered at 314 Church Street in Iowa City, Iowa 52244. As of Spring 2011, Delta Chi has initiated over 107,000 members.
History of Delta Chi
Two incidents have been credited with providing the impetus for interest in the founding of what was to become Delta Chi. One was the election of a Phi Delta Phi as the Law School Editor of the Cornell Daily Sun (the student newspaper) and the second was the election of the law school junior class president. In the case of the class presidency, Alphonse Derwin Stillman had done some campaigning for a student named Iving G. Hubbs and was unaware of any effort being made on anyone else’s behalf. When the voting results were in, Charles Frenkel, a Phi Delta Phi, was declared the winner. Frustrated, Stillman began to ask around about the election. What he found was a law school that was dominated by one small, close-knit group—Phi Delta Phi.
According to Frederick Moore Whitney, there were two or three groups working on the idea of a new law fraternity that spring. After the class election, there were meetings held in Myron Mckee Crandall’s apartment as well as in Monroe Marsh Sweetland’s law office. It is not clear how these two groups came together, though there seem to have been some individuals who had attended both groups.
While the class officer elections and the Law School Editorship incidents may have provided the initial incentives for organization, it soon became clear that those involved were looking for much more: a common bond that would materially assist each in the acquisition of a sound education and provide each member enduring value. Over the summer of 1890, many of the details of the organization were worked out by Myron Mckee Crandall, who had stayed in Ithaca until after school opened. In regard to the adoption of the constitution, Albert Sullard Barnes wrote the following in his 1907 Quarterly article:
“As I recall it, after refreshing my recollection from the original minutes now in my possession, on the evening of October 13, 1890, six students in the Law School, Brothers John M. Gorham, Thomas J. Sullivan, F.K. Stephens, A.D. Stillman and the writer, together with Myron Crandall and O.L. Potter, graduate students, and Monroe Sweetland, a former Student in the Law School, met in a brother’s room and adopted the constitution and by-laws, and organized the Delta Chi Fraternity.”
The minutes from that meeting state, “Charter granted to Cornell Chapter,” indicating from the beginning the intent to start a national fraternity.
The name of the fraternity and the badge
The choosing of the name for the new fraternity is difficult to credit to any one person. In a letter dated November 7, 1919, Myron Mckee Crandall claimed to remember having a conference with Monroe Marsh Sweetland during the summer of 1890 concerning the naming of the fraternity. He also stated that Albert Sullard Barnes may have “had something to do about it.” Monroe Marsh Sweetland claimed he, and he alone, picked the name of “Delta Chi” and that he liked the way the two words sounded together. “Delta Tau Omega” and “Omega Chi” were also early names in consideration. Sweetland further said that he submitted the design and drawing for the first badge.
There seems to be no doubt that Barnes obtained the first badge, which he subsequently lost at a class reunion 25 years later. In an article published in Volume 5 Number 1 of the Quarterly, Barnes state that he had in his possession at that time, 1907, “. . .no less than seventeen designs. . .” for the badge. The badge that Barnes owned had gold letters and a diamond in the center. This badge was frequently borrowed by the other members for special occasions and while having their pictures taken.
The first departure from this design came when Brother Richard Lonergan, Cornell 1892, had his badge made retaining the diamond in the center but had the Delta mounted in black enamel. An early description of the badge stated that the Delta was jeweled or enameled to suit the owner with a diamond usually surmounting the center. The Chi was jeweled with one garnet on each arm.
The main work of composing the Ritual was done by Stillman between the summer and early fall of 1890. Supposedly the Ritual was read at a meeting when it was still incomplete and was submitted shortly thereafter at a meeting on October 20, 1890, where it was adopted. Since a committee on the Ritual including Alphonse Derwin Stillman and Albert Sullard Barnes was appointed on October 13, 1890, it seems probable that it was originally read at that meeting, and that Stillman was given some help in completing it. In Stillman’s own words:
“I looked upon that Ritual as temporary and that [it] would serve until some genius could devise something entirely original. The ritual contained many phrases that were not original and which, as I remember, I did not take the trouble to mark as quotations. The principal ideas are almost as old as civilization, and it was my idea that an entirely new ritual would be prepared.”
The original Ritual was written on both sides of some sheets of old style legal cap, and was signed by each new initiate. A rehearsal was held on November 14, 1890, and on November 26, 1890, Albert T. Wilkinson, Frank Bowman, and George Wilcox were initiated in short form. It was not until December 3, 1890, when Frederick Bagley was initiated, that the full initiation was used. The structure of the Delta Chi initiation ritual has remained virtually unchanged since it was used on November 26, 1890. Later, at the May 23, 1891 meeting, the motto and the colors would be adopted by the fraternity.
The emblem of the Fraternity is a secret symbol for the fraternity, only initiated members can learn about the different aspects that make up the current emblem.
On October 13, 1890, Founders Myron Mckee Crandall, Owen Lincoln Potter, and Monroe Marsh Sweetland were placed on the Supreme Council and authorized to proceed with expansion plans. At that same meeting, Albert Sullard Barnes was appointed to work “Buffalo Law School” for possible expansion due to his association with a student there. The lack of enrollment at the school and the fact that the Phi Delta Phi Chapter there was doing poorly, delayed expansion to that school until later. Building Delta Chi into a true national fraternity began during the spring of 1891.
On April 14, 1891, John Francis Tucker of New York University went to Ithaca and earned the confidence and regard of the Cornell Chapter. He was initiated into Delta Chi that night and was sent back to prepare his associates for induction.
Although Stillman remembers Tucker (who was a member of Delta Upsilon) coming to find out about Delta Chi, Wilkinson tells the story with more confidence:
“At first the chapter and the fraternity were the same thing, and there were not separate officers. But in the spring of 1891, in the month of May, I think, we received a visit from John Francis Tucker of New York. We put up a big bluff, and treated him with great formality and instructed him to return to the place whence he came, and make formal application in writing for a charter from our ancient and honorable body. As soon as he departed, there was a hurry call for a meeting to organize a body to which he could apply and it was then that the first general officers of the fraternity, as distinct from the chapter, were elected. I cannot remember for the life of me who they were, except that I was Treasurer.”
When Tucker appeared the next spring, the national organization had to be reorganized in order to accommodate the applicant from N.Y.U. As it turned out, Tucker played a significant role in the development of the Fraternity. In a letter to Johnson dated February 22, 1892, he stated:
“As to Dickinson Law School, I have been at work at that school since last August and I think I now have six more pledges, I have worked up a chapter of 25 men at the Albany Law School and another 12 men at the University of Minnesota.”
In 1892 four more chapters were established, three of which exist today (the fourth Albany Law School—had its charter transferred in 1901 to Union College; the Union Chapter existed until 1994). Twelve chapters were founded within the first decade. On February 13, 1897, Delta Chi became an international fraternity with the installation of the Osgoode Hall Chapter in Toronto, Canada. Delta Chi’s first Convention was held in 1894 at the Michigan Chapter.
Delta Chi goes single membership
In 1909 in Ithaca, New York, the 15th Convention of Delta Chi adopted an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting dual-membership (i.e. initiating members of other fraternities, and prohibiting Delta Chi members from joining other fraternities). Founded as a professional law fraternity, Delta Chi had been initiating members of Delta Tau Delta, Sigma Alpha Epsilon,Alpha Tau Omega and the other general fraternities. As time passed, several chapters that had voluntarily refrained from initiating members of other fraternities began pushing for a change in the constitution to prevent dual memberships. The issue and ultimate decision cost the Fraternity the New York Law (1905), West Virginia (1908), Northwestern (1909) and Washington University in St. Louis (1909) Chapters.
Delta Chi becomes a general fraternity
The years after the 1909 decision were years of great change and unrest. The United States became involved in World War I with a majority of the members of the active chapters dropping their college courses and enlisting in the armed forces. Chapter houses became almost deserted, and a convention in August 1917 was unthinkable. At the end of the war, the college men returned to the universities to complete their courses. The chapter finances were generally in bad condition as were the houses. Attempting to rebuild, many chapters stretched the recruiting restrictions by initiating men who had no intention of studying law. In the 1919 May issue of the Quarterly, editor Roger Steffan, Ohio State ’13 became the torchbearer of the issue of general membership with his editorial: “Shall We Go On a General fraternity?” claiming that the majority of the chapters were “no longer even predominantly legal in their membership.”
Starting in 1919 in Minneapolis at the 20th Convention, the issue of becoming a general fraternity was hotly debated until 1921 in Columbus, Ohio at the 21st Convention. The convention was deadlocked on two amendments, for and against general membership respectively. For three days votes were held, until at last (on a swing vote by the Buffalo Alumni Chapter representative), the Wadsworth amendment was adopted. Ratified in 1922, the amendment made Delta Chi a general fraternity, no longer requiring its members to be law students at their respective universities and colleges.
1922 to the Present
In 1923 the old “XX” (until then, the 15-man governing body of the general fraternity) was abolished and replaced with an executive committee of seven. This board, composed of the “AA”, “CC”, “DD”, “EE”, and three members-at-large, was the governing body of the fraternity between Conventions. A new “XX” was created as an advisory body to the executive committee; its membership consisted of the “BB”s elected by each chapter.
The position of Executive Secretary was created in 1923 and provision made for a permanent central office that was finally established in 1929. The position of Director of Scholarship came into being in 1925 to lead the drive for general scholastic excellence. In 1927, one full-time Field Secretary was placed in direct contact with the chapters and, in 1935 a second one was added to the staff. By 1930, Delta Chi had grown to 36 chapters and in 1934 the Headquarters began publishing the Quarterly . During this era Delta Chi made two noteworthy contributions to the Greek letter fraternity world. The first of these was the Tutorial Advisor Plan—members of the faculty (preferably not members of the Fraternity) living in the house where they acted as tutors, advisors, and counselors.
In yet another way Delta Chi took the lead among Greek letter organizations. At the 1929, Estes Park Convention, Delta Chi unanimously voted to abolish “Hell Week.” (The following day another national organization, meeting in convention, also abolished hazing.)
The position of “EE” was also abolished at the 1929 Convention, and at the 1935 Convention, the executive board was increased to nine.
In 1937 the Pennsylvania State Chapter invited six chapters in neighboring states to meet with them. Dean C. M. Thompson, the “AA” at the time, saw the potential of such gatherings and promptly asked the Indiana Chapter to be host for the first Midwest Regional Conference. After that the Regional Conference plan blossomed. World War II was a temporary setback to this new plan but the need, desire, and concept were not forgotten. After the war, Delta Chi saw its conference program expand and become more purposeful.
After the Great Depression and on the verge of the United States entering World War II, the Fraternity celebrated its 50th anniversary with 35 chapters. Once again young men went off to war and many of the chapter houses were taken over by the military, as had been done during the First World War. It was the alumni dues program started in 1935 that provided the main source of revenue to the fraternity while the chapters were not in operation.
After the war, chapters resumed normal operations. By 1950, Delta Chi had 39 chapters. 1951 saw the retirement of O.K. Patton from the position of Executive Secretary that he had held part-time since 1929 on an official basis while he was a professor of Law at Iowa. Prior to that time he had effectively operated the central office since his election as “CC”.
When Patton was elected “CC” in 1923 he put the records in one room of a downtown Iowa City building and hired one part-time secretary. After the “general” membership question was resolved, Delta Chi grew from 21 to 36 chapters by 1929 and the records and related activities had expanded to four rooms and four secretaries. Effectively after the fact, Delta Chi established its Headquarters in Iowa City, where it has stayed.
In 1958, the size of the Executive Board was increased to include the “AA”, “CC”, “DD”, the immediate past “AA”, and Regional Representatives called Regents.
In 1960, the Fraternity employed its first, full-time executive, Harold “Buc” Buchanan, Wisconsin ’35. Up to this time the fraternity was run by volunteers or part-time employees. At the 1960 Convention, a “Building Loan Fund” was created. The original level of assessment proved too low and, in 1962, the Delta Chi Housing Fund was established to assume the function of the “Building Loan Fund.” Today, the Housing Fund has loans outstanding to chapters and colonies across the country.
Also at the 1962 Convention, the regional representatives were re-designated as ‘regents’ and the Executive Board was renamed the Board of Regents.
In 1969, the fraternity moved out of rented space into its first permanent facility. The property is wholly owned by Delta Chi and houses the archives of the fraternity and a staff of four directors, five traveling consultants and four clerical employees.
At the 1975 Chicago Convention, the Order of the White Carnation was created to honor alumni who give outstanding service to the fraternity in a meritorious but inconspicuous way. The first inductee into the Order was Victor T. Johnson, Purdue ’32. In 1983, Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Washington ’34 was selected as the first Delta Chi of the Year in honor of his achievements in his chosen profession.
Delta Chi’s stated mission is to “promote friendship, develop character, advance justice, and assist in the acquisition of a sound education”
The Founders of the Delta Chi Fraternity
- Albert Sullard Barnes
- Myron McKee Crandall
- John Milton Gorham, (First “BB”)
- Peter Schermerhorn Johnson
- Edward Richard O’Malley
- Owen Lincoln Potter, (First “AA”)
- Alphonse Derwin Stillman
- Thomas Allen Joseph Sullivan
- Monroe Marsh Sweetland
- Thomas David Watkins
- Frederick Moore Whitney
In 2006, the members of The Delta Chi Fraternity named The V Foundation for Cancer Research as the fraternity’s official philanthropic organization. Since then, the brothers of Delta Chi have dedicated countless hours to their partnership with The V Foundation for Cancer Research. As of October 2015, Delta Chi has raised nearly $500,000 for the Foundation and generously donated three grants. 
Organization of the fraternity
Undergraduate officer positions
Delta Chi chapters and colonies have six permanent officer positions. While each position has strict definitions of responsibility, their duties may vary slightly from group to group.
- A – The “A” is the president of the chapter or colony. He serves as presiding officer at chapter meetings and chapter events.
- B – The “B” is the vice president of the chapter or colony. He schedules and chairs executive committee meetings, and oversees all committees.
- C – The “C” is the secretary of the chapter or colony. He keeps record of chapter or colony meetings, and is responsible for completing necessary paperwork and online forms.
- D – The “D” is the treasurer of the chapter or colony. He is responsible for tracking chapter financial records and files, as well as collecting dues and creating a budget.
- E – The “E” is the alumni secretary. He is responsible for contacting and communicating with alumni. He also works on chapter or colony newsletters and other publications.
- F – The “F” is the Sergeant at Arms. The “F” works on developing and implementing safety precautions for chapter or colony events.
Each chapter and colony is encouraged to have a functioning committee system. Each committee chairman has duties designated by Delta Chi. Committees include subjects such as recruitment, educating new recruits, philanthropy, scholarship, social events, housing, and others.
Support alumni positions
- BB – The role of the “BB” is to mentor, advise and service as a liaison between student members and alumni. This position is required by Delta Chi Law to be a two-year term and served by a Delta Chi alumnus.
- Alumni Board of Trustees – The purpose of The Alumni Board of Trustees (ABT) is to lead, supervise and advise the chapter.
- Housing Corporation – The role of the Housing Corporation is to manage the chapter or colony housing facilities and all legal responsibilities of such management. Since a Housing Corporation is a separate, incorporated legal entity, it has no requirements set forth by Delta Chi Law.
Chapters and colonies
For a listing of all Delta Chi chapters and colonies see List of Delta Chi chapters.
Delta Chi chapters are unique in naming. Most college fraternities and sororities are named in an alphabetical Greek system. This is not so with Delta Chi chapters and colonies, who are named by institution, and sometimes by self-naming. Therefore, the first ‘Alpha’ chapter was the Cornell Chapter.
Famous Delta Chis