Over 160 years ago at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, two college students were nursing their classmates and friends through an epidemic of typhoid fever. Through this experience, William H. Letterman and Charles P.T. Moore developed a deep appreciation of the great joy of serving others and felt compelled to start a society of men based on this ideal. The result was the founding of Phi Kappa Psi on February 19, 1852.
The fraternity, known popularly as Phi Psi, flourished and extended to other colleges and universities throughout the United States. Men came to it because of its unique attributes. It was one of the first fraternities to exist without any barriers to membership; the only criteria are that you be a man of good character and enrolled at the college. Phi Kappa Psi also is one of the only fraternities governed by a majority vote of undergraduates at both the Convention and Board levels, keeping the organization true to the needs and priorities of our student members.
Phi Kappa Psi today is represented at 105 campuses in thirty-five states and the District of Columbia, with over 6,000 active student members. There have been nearly 150,000 men initiated since 1852 and our alumni ranks include U.S. presidents and congressmen, industry titans and top achievers in almost every profession. Some names you may recognize are Woodrow Wilson, 28th U.S. President; Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of NYC; Jerry Yang, Co-Founder of Yahoo!; Actor and Director Zach Braff; Evan Bayh, former Indiana Senator and Governor, Tony Horton, founder of P90X Fitness and; Butler alumnus Jim Brainard, Mayor of Carmel, Indiana.
Our motto today, “The Great Joy of Serving Others,” comes from our founding. We believe service to one’s community helps develop us as men of integrity and is the greatest compliment to our education. There is no more powerful way to affect the world than to care for one’s community and fellow man. For that reason, service is a significant component of membership – whether with our national service parter, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, or supporting the many campus and Butler Greek system charity events.
Last, but not least, our national educational foundation provides financial support for scholarships and grants and for education programs of the Fraternity. The Phi Kappa Psi Foundation was founded in 1914 and today has almost $40 million in assets, making it the largest in the fraternity community.