Phi Tau – Our Founding Fathers

FaceBook  Twitter
LaVie Picture of Fairmount Street House

This past December, specifically December 8th, marked our 105th anniversary as a DU chapter.  The roots of our chapter began in 1905 with the founding of Penn State’s local “Phi Tau” chapter.  The Phi Taus lived at 139 S. Allen Street from ~1905 to 1916, until purchasing a house on East Fairmount, moving into it in 1916.

In the April 12, 1915 meeting minutes, the purchase of the “ADS house” is mentioned. The chapter moved into this house in fall of 1916. The documentation of the location of this house is very scant, but in a speech that Gus Cohen delivered this speech at the June 1960 reunion at the chapter house (as documented in “Letters to Doc Davis”) suggests that this house was on Fairmount Avenue, perhaps with an address of 100. In DU Quarterlies from 1915 and 1916, discussions with ADS appeared to have lasted for a year or more.  It is also documented that the Fairmount house was in one of the best residential parts of town, and was a “10 minute walk” from town.  The purchase was attributed to the “untiring work of A.E. Roberts ’10, G.E. Cohen ’07, and C.R. Stahl ’08, and was “on a 60x150 lot, well back from the street, but with enough room for a tennis court in the rear. It has three stories, and is built of light brown brick with a slate roof.  The 1918, 1919 LaVies have the picture of the Fairmount House (see below) as representing our chapter house, which was occupied by the chapter from approximately 1916 to 1922. 

“We have been successful. Persistency has won.” With these seven heart-gladdening words, from an undergraduate standpoint the installation of the Penn State Chapter into Delta Upsilon became a reality. As old Phi Tau men we were pleased, not only because we had obtained a charter from what we considered to be the best national fraternity, but also because we had won the fight started five years before by our revered alumni. And, indeed, it was with much difficulty that we laid aside our feelings of elation sufficiently to start with the preparation for our event that was so uppermost in our minds.”At the chapter installation, from an undergraduate testimonial was documented:

In early October of 1905, the core group started to seriously consider whether there was a field for another fraternity. In the summer of 1906 – they went off to summer vacation to find out about national fraternities, and in the fall of 1906 they found out about the DU convention too late. They attempted to submit an application, but it was not submitted in time. Subsequently, they sent delegates to the DU conventions:

1907 –3 delegates to Minneapolis

1908 – 2 delegates to Swarthmore

1909 – 3 delegates to Boston

1910 – 2 delegates to California

1911 – 8 delegates to Rutgers

After four unsuccessful attempts to join Delta Upsilon, the national DU fraternity accepted the Phi Tau application in October of 1911 at the Rutgers convention in New Brunswick (see the DU Quarterly from 1912). 

Phi Tau was officially transformed into a DU chapter on December 8, 1911. At the time of this event, the International fraternity president was Charles Evans Hughes, c/o 1881 (Brown University).

On December 8th, 1911, ~66 men were initiated as DUs – encompassing graduates from 1908 to 1911.  Here is the description from the article “Delta Upsilon’s Newest Chapter” from the March, 1912 Delta Upsilon Quarterly, as described from an alumnus' viewpoint:

“We gathered from New York, New England, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, that December evening, ready to take the sleeper up to Tyrone. There were Brother Bovie, Marietta ’98, the newly elected Second Vice-president of the Fraternity; Brother John G. Conner, trustee of the Lafayette Chapter; “Goldy” Goldsmith, president of the Executive Council; Sheldon J. Howe, the secretary of the Fraternity, and last, but not least, John Patterson, chairman of the Board of Directors, without whom no fraternity function is complete. But we must not forget the undergraduates – Keppel, of Colby; Edds, of Amherst; Seabury, Brundin, and Coykendall, of New York; Townsend, of Pennsylvania; Leslie, of Rutgers; Willams and Knox, of Lehigh; Cox and Reid, of Swarthmore.”

As this event ended, “Goldy” Goldsmith said “the more you put into Delta Upsilon the more you get in return.”

**Editor’s note: As the PSU DU historian, I always find this story of our origin fascinating – particularly because of the persistence that these young men showed in creating our chapter. I also find that Goldy Goldsmith’s words about “what you put” into our stellar organization ring true today – so, in closing, remember that the lessons and insights from 105+ years ago about persistence and contributing to our fraternity still apply! It is never too late to contribute! 

Fraternally,

515- Alan Piciacchio, Class of 1989

Login Help

Log in above with your username and password that was provided to you via email. If you are unable to locate this email, please contact support.

Upcoming events

There are no up-coming events

Recent Online Donors

Photo Gallery