Founded on Nov. 4, 1834, at Williams College, Delta Upsilon is the sixth oldest men’s college fraternity and the first to be founded as non-secret.
NOT JUST ANOTHER FRATERNITY
Delta Upsilon was never intended to be “just another fraternity.” From the Fraternity’s very beginnings, it strived to be something different. In the 1830s, faculty and students at Williams had become concerned by the two fraternities on campus for many reasons, but particularly in their successful placement of members into high campus offices, regardless of their qualifications. Looking to change that, a group of men formed what would become Delta Upsilon. Their goal: create a new, non-secret society that would welcome “all good men and true.”
A group of Williams students led by sophomores Stephen Field, Lewis Lockwood and Francis Tappan, consisted of 30 men (10 juniors, 10 sophomores and 10 freshmen) and met for the first time on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 1834, at the Freshman Recitation Room of the West College Building to form what they would call the Social Fraternity. To these men, “social” did not refer to entertainment events, rather an interest in life’s interactions among people and how society would better itself through group action.
Delta Upsilon’s Founders at Williams were not the only men to like the idea of brotherhood based on merit. Soon, similar groups began to appear on other campuses, and in 1847, the Social Fraternity formed an alliance with three other non-secret groups to create the Anti-Secret Confederation (ACS). Using the motto Ouden Adelon (meaning “Nothing Secret”), these groups from Williams, Union College, Middlebury College and Amherst College fought to advance justice and spread liberal, learned culture at a time when other fraternities fought to guard their secrets.
adopting the name delta upsilon
Over the next 20 years, nine other chapters would join ACS, though several had come and gone by 1864. At the 1864 ACS Convention, the confederation nearly formally disbanded as only three of the seven ACS chapters were in attendance. Just as the decision was about to be made, the delegate from Rutgers Chapter arrived, establishing quorum and the ability enact legislation. From there, the delegates further discussed the future of the Fraternity and officially adopted the name Delta Upsilon, which had already been in use by several of the chapters.
By 1865, a year after becoming Delta Upsilon, DU had grown to 15 chapters in the northeast. In 1898, DU became an International Fraternity, installing its first Canadian chapter at McGill University in Montreal.
Incorporation and NIC founding
After a strong period of growth around the turn of the century, the Fraternity was incorporated in the state of New York in 1909, leading to the formation of an Assembly of Graduate Trustees and a Board of Directors. At this time, Charles Evans Hughes became Delta Upsilon’s first president. That same year, 1909, DU also became a founding member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC).
Fraternity growth continued to soar in the early 1900s with DU’s first chapter in the Pacific Northwest (Washington Chapter) in 1910, and the first Southern chapter (Virginia Chapter) in 1922. Even through the Great Depression, DU continued to thrive despite the economy hitting colleges hard. Remarkably, not a single chapter closed, and the Fraternity added seven new chapters between 1929 and 1935.
delta upsilon educational foundation
In 1949, through the vision and generosity of Hugh E. Nesbitt, an alumnus from the Ohio State Chapter, the Delta Upsilon Educational Foundation (DUEF) was founded to provide educational scholarships to DU members. Over time, the DUEF has expanded its purpose to include funding for educational programs such as the Leadership Institute and the Presidents Academy.
The late 1960s meant social upheaval, and fraternities were among the institutions questioned about their relevancy. Thanks to DU’s non-secret heritage, the Fraternity was able to strongly emphasize the personal aspect of fraternity, rather than just its rituals and formalities. During the Civil Rights Movement, DU’s history of both non-secrecy and inclusion proved fruitful as many other fraternities were called upon to amend their governing documents to admit men of different races and religions. With the founding idea of membership based on merit alone, Delta Upsilon had no such restrictive policies to change. During this time, from 1968-1971, DU chartered 18 chapters.
In 1969, Delta Upsilon International Headquarters moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to service the Fraternity's membership more efficiently. With a gift from Pennsylvania Chapter alumnus Lester E. Cox, the Fraternity headquarters was built in the College Park area of Indianapolis. Following DU’s lead, Indianapolis is now home to nearly three dozen fraternity/sorority headquarters.
tackling tough issues
Later in the century, particularly the 1970s through the 1990s, issues such as drug use, alcohol abuse, sexism, racism, hazing and other social issues plagued fraternities. Delta Upsilon encouraged the open discussion of these issues and, to this day, continues to combat them in our chapters.
TURN OF THE MILLENNIUM
At the turn of the millennium, Delta Upsilon had established 148 chapters. Following the installation of its 150th chapter (Northwestern State Chapter) in 2001, the Fraternity focused solely on reopening closed chapters until 2007.
PRESIDENT'S TASK FORCE
In 2009, Delta Upsilon took the bold step of creating a President’s Task Force under the direction of International Fraternity President E. Bernard Franklin. This task force, comprised of dedicated alumni volunteers and leaders in the fraternity/sorority industry was tasked to determine how DU could meet the needs of the modern college man in a global society. The findings formed the basis of a new Fraternity strategic plan that has propelled Delta Upsilon to become a leader in number of areas: chapter operations, loss prevention, leadership development and global competency, to name a few.