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Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity


The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity was founded at the University of Virginia on March 1, 1868. At the time, the University of Virginia was the fifth largest school in the United States, and was considered the first truly American state university, because it was the first to be established totally free from religious control.


It all started in Room 47 West Range when Frederick Southgate Taylor turned to Littleton Waller Tazewell, his cousin and roommate, for help in starting a new fraternity. Also present were James Benjamin Sclater, Jr., a schoolmate of Tazewell, and Sclater’s roommate, Robertson Howard. Those four men voted to add a fifth to their group and chose Julian Edward Wood. In addition, William Alexander, probably a friend of Sclater, was proposed for membership and admitted as a founder.


The essence of the Founders’ vision for Pi Kappa Alpha can be found in its Preamble. A committee was first suggested by Brother William Alexander “to draw up a statement of the origin and the organization of the Fraternity.” The committee was composed of brothers Robertson Howard and Littleton Waller Tazewell.


The resulting statement is now referred to as the Preamble.


“For the establishment of friendship

On a firmer and more lasting basis,

For the promotion of brotherly love and kind feeling

For the mutual benefit and advancement of

The interests of those with whom we sympathize and

Deem worthy of our regard

We have resolved to form a fraternity, believing that,

Thus we can most successfully accomplish our object.”



Memorial Headquarters
Early Transylvania University

Transylvania University (Early History)


As with any city, institution or organization that was founded in late 1700's and 1800's, the history of each can be more complicated than just having a founded date.  Transylvania and Kappa both have a similarly somewhat complicated and rich history.


In 1780 the Virginia Assembly, in an attempt to foster learning on its Kentucky frontier, chartered a "public school or Seminary of Learning," to which it granted 8,000 acres of land confiscated from British Loyalists as an endowment to be administered by thirteen trustees. Three years later the assembly amended the charter to enlarge the number of trustees to twenty-five, added 12,000 acres to the endowment, and named the school Transylvania Seminary.


Throughout the universities beginning, Transylvania had many successes and even some struggles throughout the Revolutionary War and Civil War.  Certain events at the time convinced the Trustees of Transylvania in 1865 to adopt a proposal of a merger of financial resources of Kentucky University (a denominational (Christian Church) university) and the physical facilities of Transylvania.  The legislature approved this union which was named Kentucky University (1858-1908).  During this merger, the Kentucky legislature also agreed to establish the new department of Agricultural and Mechanical College (A&M) in Lexington under the federal land-grant program of the Morrill Act.  In 1878, a sectarian controversy boiled over in the legislature leading to the removal of the Agricultural & Mechanical department to be removed from Kentucky University and would become Agricultural & Mechanical College of Kentucky (1878-1908).


Read more about Transylvania at the Journal Storage.

Kappa Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha


With the understanding of how the university started and transitioned into Kentucky University, the history of Pi Kappa Alpha and the Kappa Chapter can then be easier to follow.  In the fall of 1888, a charter was issued to R.F. Anderson, Jr., Joseph Clement Hearne, and R. B. Walker, students at the Agricultural & Mechanical College, at Lexington, KY.   Unfortunately in 1889, only one man returned to college and the charter was surrendered.  A few years later, the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Kentucky would later be joined with and became a portion of Kentucky State College and would become eventually the University of Kentucky, which would then be the present home of the Omega chapter.


In the fall of 1900, Charles Nash Williams of Gamma sought to expand another chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha to Lexington, Kentucky.  A charter was granted to Kentucky University, Lexington Kentucky.  While there, Williams met a group of men who would be known as charter members of the new Kappa, which would include Charles Nash Williams, Frank Webster Sumner, Homer Wilson Carpenter, David Montgomery Crabtree, George Worthington Hildebrandt, William Arthur Fite, Walter P. Jennings, and Wilbur R. Davidson Winters.  The national organization then granted the Kappa designation to the Kentucky University.  The university would remain under a strong Disciples control until 1908, where it would eventually resume the historic name of Transylvania University.  So, Kappa Chapter has existed, in reality, at what are now two different institutions and is unique among other chapters in that respect.


While being at Transylvania, the Kappa Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha has had a wide range of success, as well as our share of setbacks.  Throughout the chapters 130+ years being a part of Transylvania University and the Lexington community, the chapter has always bounced back and looked to become an even stronger presence on campus and in our community.


Read more at the Register of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (1916).


Pi Kappa Alpha Coat of Arms
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