Phi Kappa Theta – Wisconsin Lambda
Wisconsin Lambda is a new fraternity at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, strongly rooted in Catholic values.
After a 45 year hiatus, the University of Wisconsin once again holds a Phi Kappa Theta chapter. Originally founded in 1922, Wisconsin Lambda is one of Phi Kappa Theta’s oldest chapters. The eleventh Phi Kappa Theta chapter, Wisconsin Lambda lasted until 1970.
The mission to reinstall began when Michael Hess and Steven Leeb both followed a prayerful call to start a fraternity with Catholic values. The two began an interest group in the 2013-14 school year with a group of men felt the need for strong brotherhood and leadership in the fraternity scene at Madison.
The group, called Aquinas Club, quickly grew under great leadership and support from St. Paul’s University Catholic Center. After being unanimously approved by the Interfraternity Council of Madison in the Spring of 2014, Aquinas Club began the process of becoming a colony with the help Phi Kappa Theta’s Executive Office. On September 6, 2014 the group became an official colony of Phi Kappa Theta.
During the school year of 2014-15, the colony grew substantially, and worked tirelessly to be able to charter at the end of the year. As of May 2015, Wisconsin Lambda officially became a charter member of Phi Kappa Theta! We are very excited to start this new stage of our fraternity. Wisconsin Lambda’s mission is to grow in fraternal brotherhood as we bring the message of our Catholic faith to the greater Fraternity scene in Madison.
History of Phi Kappa Theta
PHI KAPPA – 1889
In the late 1880’s, a group of catholic students at Brown University in Rhode island organized themselves as a social fraternity, based on the fellowship of faith. Their first name was Phi Kappa Sigma, taking the Greek equivalent of the initials of “Fraternity of Catholic Students”. (The Sigma was subsequently dropped) With the help of local alumni, businessmen and a receptive college administration, the group thrived. It decided to become a national fraternity and admitted the Loyola Club of the U. of Illinois as the Beta chapter. Their first convention was in 1914. The first magazine, the Yippa-Yappa of Phi Kappa, was published in 1916. By 1930 they had 24 chapters linked under their motto, “Loyalty to God and College”. After several revisions, their coat of arms and initiation ceremony were standardized by then. Both a real estate holding company and an educational foundation were established in 1954.
THETA KAPPA PHI – 1919
In the 1910’s, Newman Club students at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania wanted a stronger, more permanent bond than the club afforded. Originally named the “X club”, the name was changed to Theta Kappa Phi, for “The Catholic Fraternity”. It formed a national fraternity by admitting Kappa Theta at Penn State in 1922. They too, held conventions and published the “Sun” to all its members. Because of the depression and then World War II, they established their 24th chapter in 1957. The fraternity’s ritual gave TKP an esoteric name, which served as their motto.
PHI KAPPA THETA – April 29th, 1959
Because of the dramatic expansion of fraternities following World War II, it became increasingly evident that to stay competitive the 2 fraternities with such similar ideals should combine. By 1957, TKP and PK had a total of 58 active chapters on 54 campuses. Committees from each group hashed out issues such as the national name and local chapter names, coat of arms, ritual, magazine, constitution, leadership and a host of other issues that had kept the groups divided. Loyalty and fervor were surmounted and the merger was approved at a special convention held at Ohio State in 1958. The official charter day chosen was April 29, 1959. Its first biennial convention was held in 1961 and first national management school in 1965. The first chapter chartered under the new name was at Belmont Abbey.
Message from our first President
It gives me much joy to announce that Phi Kappa Theta has been reinstated at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The journey to chartering has been challenging, but the incredible community I have found within Phi Kappa Theta has been worth every struggle. Fortunately for Phi Kappa Theta – Wisconsin Lambda, the community of brothers extends far beyond our 39 current members. It is our alumni brothers whose membership extends back 93 years that separates Phi Kappa Theta from other organizations at Madison.
Now that we are officially reestablished, our collegiate brothers are thrilled to become more engaged in the rich history of Phi Kappa Theta – Wisconsin Lambda. Our chapter plans to send a biannual newsletter to all alumni regarding the status of our chapter and inviting brothers and their families to Chapter Events held during the following months. We hope to see you at the upcoming Alumni & Family Tailgate. I hope you enjoy our first Alumni, Family, and Supporter Newsletter. For more information, please “Like” our Facebook page or send us as email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the bonds of the Phi, the Kappa and the Theta,
Former President of Madison Phi Kappa Theta
The Aquinas Club’s Logo
Members of Wisconsin Lambda presenting to the IFC Board
Wisconsin Lambda brothers and some Phi Kap Leadership at the colonization ceremony
The original chartering brothers of Wisconsin Lambda on May 2, 2015
Steven Leeb (left) and Michael Hess (right) holding the Phi Kappa Theta charter