History, Facts, and Information

Epsilon Kappa Chapter – Lamar University

In September of 1956, before the Fall semester, the officers of Sigma Phi Gamma (local fraternity) called a meeting for the purpose of organizing of the coming semester. At this meeting a complete rush program was set up following the program set out by college officials. The officers at that time were Michael D. Matheny, President; Jerry M. Zoller, Vice President; Tommy G. Clark, Treasurer; and George D. Rountree, Historian. Dr. James C. Cox, Jr., an assistant professor of Chemistry at the college, became fraternity sponsor.


Brothers playing Chess in the   Pi Kappa Alpha lounge  - circa 1965
Brothers playing Chess in the Pi Kappa Alpha lounge – circa 1965

In October of that year, the local fraternity asked permission of Pi Kappa Alpha to petition them and were granted permission in November. Thus, Sigma Phi Gamma local fraternity ceased to exist, and the Pi Kappa Alpha Colony of Lamar State College of Technology took its place. In December the Colony initiated two men out of the pledge class: Archie Land and Jerry Dodson.

Officers for the duration of the colonial status were elected in January. The officers were Bruce E. Banta, SMC; Tommy G. Clark, IMC; Elmer G. Rode, ThC; Thomas F. Burks, SC; and Charles Price, Historian. The Colony followed the Rush Program set out by the college officials. The Colony pushed .forward, hoping that very soon it would be accepted into the bonds of Pi Kappa Alpha.


The colony received an affirmative answer from the Supreme Council, with May 10, 1958 set as the date for the chartering and initiating of the new chapter and its members. Friday evening, May 9, 1958, the members of the new chapter-to-be were formally initiated with Gamma Psi of Ruston, Louisiana serving as initiating staff, assisted by Lyn Kleinhoffer, National Field Secretary, and Pike Powers, Pi Kappa Alpha alumnus – Zeta chapter, of Beaumont, Texas. On Saturday afternoon, May 10, 1958, the Epsilon Kappa Chapter was officially chartered. The chapter met and elected officers for Epsilon Kappa Chapter to serve the coming year. These officers were Tommy G. Clark, SMC; Elmer G. Rode, IMC; Jerry Dodson, ThC; and Charles T. Clark III, Historian.

The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity 

Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity was founded at the University of Virginia on March 1, 1868. At the time, UVA was the fifth largest school in the U.S. and is considered to be the first truly American state university established without 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. Soon thereafter, William Alexander, believed to be a friend of Sclater, was proposed for membership and admitted as a Founder. The Founders very quickly prohibited ‘horseplay’ or hazing of new members—a trait often found in existing fraternities at the time—as they believed such practices ran counter to their mission of promoting brotherly love and kind feeling.”

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.”


Before the end of Spring 1868, the brothers had decided that they wanted more than a Virginia society; they wanted to become a national fraternity. The following 21 years would prove to be some of the most troublesome times, nearly shattering the dreams of these young men. With universities making it nearly impossible for fraternities to exist by placing bans on the presence of secret societies, the Fraternity was still able to expand.

Pi Kappa Alpha first expanded to Davidson College, where Beta Chapter was formed. Nearly two years later, the third chapter, Gamma Chapter at William & Mary, was established. During the years that followed, until 1889, there would be a total of ten charters granted; however, only five remained active. This was the year of a most important convention.


The 1889 Hampden-Sydney Convention brought the likes of Theron Hall Rice, a transfer to Virginia from Southwestern, who represented Alpha; Howard Bell Arbuckle, a recent graduate and then a teaching fellow at Hampden-Sydney, who represented Iota; and John Shaw Foster, a delegate from Theta Chapter at Southwestern (now Rhodes College). Lambda at the Citadel was to have been represented by Robert Adger Smythe, but a telegram from Charleston explained, “no holiday given us. Impossible to come. Act for us in everything.” This convention is of major importance, as it is considered the rebirth of the Fraternity. Together, Theron Hall Rice, Howard Bell Arbuckle, Robert Adger Smythe, and John Shaw Foster reorganized and energized the Fraternity, and thus came to be known as the Junior Founders.

Another pivotal event in the Fraternity’s history is the 1933 Troutdale Convention. At this meeting, the national organization was restructured. Former national officer titles were replaced with simple ones, the number of national officers was increased, and the Fraternity established the executive secretary (later executive director, now executive vice president) as a paid professional administrator. The year marked the end of direct regular service by two junior founders, Arbuckle and Smythe. The period of the Junior Founders had passed and Pi Kappa Alpha looked forward to a new generation of leaders.

Pi Kappa Alpha is composed of more than 300,000 lifetime members, 220 chapters and 150 alumni associations in North America. In the last 10 years, PIKE membership grew by 51% and maintains the largest average chapter size of North American fraternities. Between 2014 and 2016, Pikes raised over $4.5 million and contributed 600,000+ hours in community service.