Phi Kappa Theta Areas of Development:

    Leadership • Fraternal • Intellectual • Social • Spiritual

+ PHI KAPPA – 1889

In the late 1880’s, a group of catholic students at Brown University in Rhode island organized themselves as a social fraternity, based on the fellowship of faith. Their first name was Phi Kappa Sigma, taking the Greek equivalent of the initials of "Fraternity of Catholic Students”. (The Sigma was subsequently dropped) With the help of local alumni, businessmen and a receptive college administration, the group thrived. It decided to become a national fraternity and admitted the Loyola Club of the U. of Illinois as the Beta chapter. Their first convention was in 1914. The first magazine, the Yippa-Yappa of Phi Kappa, was published in 1916. By 1930 they had 24 chapters linked under their motto, "Loyalty to God and College”. After several revisions, their coat of arms and initiation ceremony were standardized by then. Both a real estate holding company and an educational foundation were established in 1954.


In the 1910’s, Newman Club students at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania wanted a stronger, more permanent bond than the club afforded. Originally named the "X club”, the name was changed to Theta Kappa Phi, for "The Catholic Fraternity”. It formed a national fraternity by admitting Kappa Theta at Penn State in 1922. They too, held conventions and published the "Sun” to all its members. Because of the depression and then World War II, they established their 24th chapter in 1957. The fraternity’s ritual gave TKP an esoteric name, which served as their motto.

+ 1940's


United States Enters WWII: Japan attacks Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines (Dec. 7, 1941). U.S. declares war on Japan (Dec. 8). Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; U.S. reciprocates by declaring war on both countries (Dec. 11).


War changes landscape of higher education: Relationships strengthened between universities and the US government as research facilities became breeding grounds for military advancements. The 1944 GI Bill had provisions that allowed free tuition for WWII vets.

October 24, 1945

Formation of United Nations: A replacement for the ineffective League of Nations, the organization was established after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; as of 2017 there are 193.

How does the UN play a role in Fraternity’s timeline?

+ 1950's

June 1950 - July 1953

Korean War: North Korean Communist forces invade South Korea (June 25). UN calls for cease-fire and asks UN members to assist South Korea (June 27). Truman orders U.S. forces into Korea (June 27). The fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when an armistice was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea.

November 22, 1954

Phi Kappa National Foundation and Phi Kappa Estate Holding Company Established.


Federal Funding Again Increases: Russia’s launch of Sputnik provided another wave of research money to American universities. Because of the success of the university’s role as a WWII research vessel, more and more money is being poured into schools to act as the government’s research arm.

April 29, 1959

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Phi Kappa & Theta Kappa Phi Merge to form Phi Kappa Theta: Because of the dramatic expansion of fraternities following World War II, it became increasingly evident that to stay competitive the 2 fraternities with such similar ideals should combine. By 1957, TKP and PK had a total of 58 active chapters on 54 campuses. Committees from each group hashed out issues such as the national name and local chapter names, coat of arms, ritual, magazine, constitution, leadership and a host of other issues that had kept the groups divided. Loyalty and fervor were surmounted and the merger was approved at a special convention held at Ohio State in 1958. The official charter day chosen was April 29, 1959. Its first biennial convention was held in 1961 and first national management school in 1965. The first chapter chartered under the new name was at Belmont Abbey.

Fall 1959

First Phi Kappa Theta President, Pierre F. Lavedan (MIT, ‘20).

1st Phi Kappa Theta Chapter after the merger was installed at Belmont Abbey College.

+ 1960's


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First Biennial Convention: Phi Kappa Theta’s first Convention held in French Lick, IN.

January 20, 1961

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John F. Kennedy is President: Kennedy Administration brings new mindset to Americas. His leadership philosophy is represented by his famous quote in his inaugural speech, ‘Ask not what your country can do for your, but what you can do for your country’.

When in the Fraternity’s history did it make a commitment to serving others?

August 28, 1963

Martin Luther King delivers “I Have a Dream”.

November 22, 1963

President Kennedy Assassinated


Catholic Clause Reviewed: The 1965 convention was held in Hamilton, Ontario, and was the first to take place in Canada. At this meeting the Fraternity debated the restrictive clauses in its Constitution that limited membership to Catholics. The Fraternity set up a Catholic Activities Committee to study the question. During the 1967 Biennial Convention the assembled chapters voted to remove the restrictive Catholic clause from the Constitution.


Kirchner Era - Rapid Expansion: Through the generosity of Brother Frank Flick, (University of Illinois, ‘27), an ambitious expansion program was launched under the full-time direction of Brother Edward Kirchner (The Ohio state University, ‘55).


First management school held


D.C. Convention: Held in Washington, D.C.

April 4, 1968

Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated


United States Tax Reform Act of 1969: The Act is a federal tax law signed by president Richard Nixon. It caused a reorganization of Phi Kappa Theta National Foundation.

+ 1970's


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Father Donald Wuerl (right) initiated in Rome.

What role does brother Wuerl have in PKT today?


Title IX Becomes Law: No person in the U.s. shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.


Motto Change: The Biennial Convention changed the Fraternity motto from ‘Loyalty to God and College’ to “Give, expecting nothing thereof.” (Luke 6:35)


American Universities Evolve: Due to student anti-war protests and the rise of independent research institutes the government pulls a large amount of funding for universities. This leaves them in a bit of a crisis, as many of them had operating budgets that relied on this funding. The golden age of the American university is officially over, and schools must re-invent themselves to again gain favorable reputation.

April 30, 1975

Vietnam War Ends: Direct U.S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973. The capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese Army in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year.

July 28, 1978

National Lampoon’s Animal House Debuts

+ 1980's


Commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) began to emerge.


Leadership college re-introduced.


Man of Achievement program started: Edward “Easy” Macauley (Saint Louis University, ‘49), Samuel B. Casey, Jr. (Penn State University, ‘50) and C.J. “Jim Ethier (WPI, ‘36) are honored.


The National Minimum Drinking Age Act: many Greek Societies had transformed into notorious social clubs in the 80’s. so when congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, requiring states to raise their ages for purchase and public possession to 21, This caused the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council to impose new bylaws against drinking on Greek chapters.


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HQ Relocates: The Executive Office relocates from Worcester, MA, to Indianapolis, IN.


Civil Rights Restoration Act: The Civil Rights Restoration Act, or Grove City Bill, was a US legislative act that specified that recipients of federal funds must comply with civil rights laws in all areas, not just in the particular program or activity that received federal funding.


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Centennial Celebration: Kicked off in 1988 at the National Leadership Conference hosted by our co-founding chapter at Lehigh University. spring 1989 saw several successful regional celebrations, all serving as a prelude to the main event, the 1989 Centennial Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. The cornerstone of the Convention was a very special ceremony conducted in Hope Hall.

November 9, 1989

Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe

+ 1990's

September 1, 1990

Return to Values: Greek life saw changes in values that resembled the societies in their beginning years, refocusing on honorary, scholarly attitudes and strong leadership. This movement back to the original morals that Greek chapters were built on set the stage for the Greek community to flourish once again on college campuses across the country.

What other actions in history were taken towards this movement?

April 19, 1995

Oklahoma City Bombing: The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. The bombing killed 168 civilians and injured more than 680. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a 16-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, causing at least an estimated $652 million worth of damage.

April 20, 1999

Columbine High School Massacre: A school shooting that occurred at Columbine High School in Columbine, CO.

+ 2000's


Biennial Convention 2001.

September 11, 2001

September 11 Attacks: A series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States.


Call for Values Congruence: College and university presidents, the presidents of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), and inter/national Greek organization executive directors joined to develop a specific set of strategies that campuses with negative Greek behavioral issues can use to close the gap between what fraternities and sororities espouse and what their chapters do.

What film served as an influencer, calling for values congruence?


Biennial Convention 2003.

August 2005

Biennial Convention 2005.

June 29, 2007

The First iPhone Was Released.

August 2007

Biennial Convention 2007: Held in Indianapolis, IN.


Our Mission: Servant Leadership: Fraternity focuses its Mission on servant leadership, Launching ten year strategic plan to recruit, train and serve members with this philosophy.


‘Start with Why’: Recruitment workshop utilizes Simon Sinek who references Apple and their ability to innovate as an example of the Start with Why philosophy.


Regional Leadership Conferences: While Fraternity has held Regional Management Schools dating back to the 1920’s, the 2009 relaunch committed to train specifically on servant leadership. The Conferences were an evolution from the Presidents Academy and resulted in a 300% increase in collegiate brothers being annually developed by the Fraternity.

August 6-9, 2009

Biennial Convention 2009: The 50th anniversary of the merger. Held in Columbus, OH.

+ 2010's


PKT Properties Dissolves: After several years of serving as an educational provider of risk management and harm reduction, the PKT Properties’ Board of Directors voted to dissolve the Corporation. The Fraternity accepted the responsibility of leading all educational initiatives of Phi Kappa Theta.

August 2011

Biennial Convention 2011: Held in Indianapolis, IN.


Achieve Launched: Achieve enables chapters to assess their current developmental culture, set year-end goals to improve their culture, create strategies and action items that allow them to reach their goals.

August 2013

Biennial Convention 2013: Held in Chicago, IL.


Quo Vadis 2016: Held in Indianapolis, IN


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United Nations Adopts 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

August 2015

Biennial Convention 2015: Held in Lexington, KY.

August 2016

Commitment to serving Society: Quo Vadis experience CHALLENGED COLLEGIATE BROTHERS TO ASSEMBLE INTO NINE TEAMS TO DESIGN AND PRESENT A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION addressing 1 of 17 sustainable development goals identified by the UN.

How many nations were originally part of the UN?

July 2017

Biennial Convention 2017: Held in Washington D.C., this convention honored various brothers as well as took brothers on a tour of our nations capital.

When did PKT first hold a convention in D.C.?

August 2017

Biennial Convention 2017: Held in Washington D.C.

July 2018

IMPACT18: Our national event, held in Orlando, FL.

Our Journey

The Journey Book of Phi Kappa Theta is a relevant training tool for not only our Associate Members, but for all members for the years to come. The Journey is an interactive tool that takes members through the history of Phi Kappa and Theta Kappa Phi, through Phi Kappa Theta and into the future of our organization.