History of Lambda Chi Alpha
Lambda Chi Alpha began as the dream of one man, Warren Albert Cole. Cole was a young man of pleasing personality,
ordinary means, limited experience, and no unusual talents except a dogged determination to found an international
college fraternity. After many failed attempts at starting a fraternity: "The Lodge," "Tombs," and "Lambda Pi," Cole
met with his first cousin and a more distant relative on November 2, 1909. This date was later selected as the first
formal step in Lambda Chi Alpha, but in later years, Cole said that the date had little significance. Lambda Chi
Alpha, or "Loyal Collegiate Associates," as it was known was born.
Cole boldly approached many local groups at colleges and universities throughout the Northeast in hopes of finding
others willing to join his new fraternity. Before the acquisition of Lambda Chi Alpha's first functioning chapter,
Cole had corresponded with or visited 117 institutions.
Early in 1912, Cole, wrote to a student at Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC) in Amherst, now the University
of Massachusetts, asking the names of the Greek-letter fraternities on campus and the names of at least two "good,
non-fraternity men." Herbert E. Cole responded with the names of six Greek-letter groups and two names, including
that of Lewis Drury. Warren Cole wrote to Drury asking if he was interested in forming a Greek-letter society.
Apparently Drury was quite interested, as he had his Agronomy professor write a letter of recommendation to Warren
The MAC petition was duly submitted and quickly approved, after all, it was Cole's first success in attracting a
group after more than one hundred futile efforts. Lambda Chi Alpha's first established chapter, Gamma Zeta, was
During the spring of 1912, Albert Cross, a student in the department of civil engineering at the University of
Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, received a letter from Warren Cole indicating that he had received Cross' name from a
mutual acquaintance and that he would like to form a chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha at Pennsylvania.
Cross liked Cole's idea and began talking with some of his friends. One of these friends was John E. "Jack" Mason,
whom Cross had met in a French class that summer. Mason, who had hardly been interested in existing fraternities at
Penn, suggested to another friend, Raymond Ferris, that they "take a shot at" establishing a chapter of Lambda Chi
Thus, with colossal nerve, Cross, Mason, Ferris, and five other men dared to launch a fraternity chapter on a campus
with an abundance of long-established national fraternities. But with determination, Epsilon Zeta began.
Following the addition of Zeta Zeta at Penn State, the infant fraternity now felt confident in contacting
established local groups. Cole made the acquaintance of members of Sigma Phi Delta at Brown University and won its
affiliation. A "picked delegation" at MIT proved successful. By the beginning of 1913, Delta Kappa at Maine was
admitted as the seventh chapter. On March 31, 1913, Sigma Zeta at the University of Michigan was founded, being the
first chapter installed with the Mason initiation ritual. Within a decade of Cole's founding, the fraternity grew to
53 chapters spanning from Maine to California and from Michigan to Texas. Cole accomplished this largely by
traveling to schools and finding local fraternities that aspired to affiliated with a national organization. Since
these groups were largely ignored by other established fraternities, Cole's method was quite successful.
In 1927 Lambda Chi Alpha became an international fraternity with the founding of Epsilon-Epsilon Zeta at the
University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Today the Fraternity is represented by three more Canadian
chapters in addition to Epsilon-Epsilon: Epsilon-Rho Zeta at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Alberta);
Iota-Iota Zeta at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec); and Delta-Eta Zeta at the University of Western Ontario
Theta Kappa Nu
Theta Kappa Nu Fraternity was formed by the union of 11 well-established local fraternities on June 9, 1924 in
Springfield, Missouri. The pinnacle of the Springfield Grand Chapter was the signing of the League and Covenant-the
instrument that embodied the ideals of the various groups and would bind them together to form one organization.
Those present at the founding meeting were asked to come forward and sign the document. Each delegate realized that
the signature meant the end of his local fraternity. In silence each delegate present came forward, removed the
badge of the local from over his heart, placed it on the table, and signed the League and Covenant. Theta Kappa Nu
With the help of the National Interfraternity Conference in identifying local groups and Theta Kappa Nu's policy of
granting charters quickly to organizations with good academic standards, the young national fraternity grew quickly,
and boasted 2,500 initiates in 40 chapters by the close of 1926. This record expansion remains unequaled in the
As the Great Depression was drawing to a close, many fraternities were struggling in terms of membership and
finances. Theta Kappa Nu began seeing its chapters shut down for the first time in the early 1930s, and was forced
to reduce fees in 1933 and again in 1935 to maintain its membership. Meanwhile, Lambda Chi Alpha had lost one third
of its membership. In 1938 a merger committee was formed.
In 1939, Lambda Chi Alpha merged with the Theta Kappa Nu Fraternity. The ceremony was held at the Howard College,
now Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, chapter of Theta Kappa Nu, where the documents were signed. The
merger increased the number of chapters from 77 to 105 (or 78 to 106) and the number of members from 20,000 to
27,000. At the time, this was the largest merger in fraternity history. All Theta Kappa Nu chapters became Lambda
Chi Alpha chapters and were given chapter designations that began with either Theta, Kappa or Nu. At schools where
chapters of both fraternities previously existed, the two merged and retained Lambda Chi's Zeta recognition. For
example, the University of California at Berkeley was home to a chapter of both and is still denoted Mu Zeta.
Into the Future
Today, Lambda Chi has evolved into a leader in fraternities around the world. It has pioneered many landmark
policies many organizations have yet to adopt. With nearly 300
chapters and more than 260,000 lifetime members, Lambda Chi Alpha is one of the largest Greek organizations. It has
been ranked in the top five best fraternities for CEO's
by Forbes. The future of Lambda Chi Alpha is bright, and it is obvious that it will continue to be a leader in
fraternal organizations for decades to come.