Alpha Xi


West Virginia University [Shenandoah Domain]


Founded as Tau Theta Rho - 1923
Chartered as 38th chapter, Alpha Xi of Phi Kappa Tau – November 10, 1928
Ceased operations - 1943


Tau Theta Rho at West Virginia University in Morgantown first came into existence as a group of fifteen high scholarship men formed in the latter part of the first semester of 1923 on November 7 to “be better able to promote fraternal feeling and social interest among our members, advance our collective, scholastic standing, and to better serve our university with the object of perpetuating the honorable traditions of this institution.” The preliminary organization was carried out with the assistance of Paul F. Opp, Mount Union, at that time a former editor of Phi Kappa Tau and a member of the faculty at nearby Fairmont State Normal College, and J. Frank Heflin, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, who later became president of the local fraternity. After meeting in the Y.M.C.A. rooms for three months, the preliminary organization was perfected, a name chosen and a constitution and by-laws adopted. Early in 1924 a house was rented in Sunnyside. The first initiation was held on April 13, 1924, with the assistance of members of Phi chapter of Phi Kappa Tau at Bethany College. The local fraternity grew in size and strength to become one of the strongest of West Virginia’s organizations. After two years in Sunnyside, the chapter rented property on Kirk Street and was residing there at the time of the installation into Phi Kappa Tau.
It was through Paul F. Opp, Mount Union, that the fraternity was organized and became interested in Phi Kappa Tau. It was the fifth chartering in which Opp, who was teaching at Fairmont State College nearby, played a major role. The group quickly grew to become one of West Virginia’s strongest fraternities. On March 25, 1924, Tau Theta Rho submitted its first request for permission to petition Phi Kappa Tau for a charter. At the time the local received full consideration by the national council, but petitions from organizations at Auburn, Iowa State, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Florida caused a delay. Additional time was also required during which Tau Theta Rho perfected its organization and stability. Early in 1928, the group was permitted to petition. Permission was granted by the grand council and the petition for admission as a chapter was submitted on June 14, 1928, and was received favorably by the convention held that summer.
The installation services took place on November 8, 9, and 10, 1928 in the lodge room of the Elk’s home. The degree team was composed of Grand President I. Miles Wright, Muhlenberg; Past Grand President Edgar Ewing Brandon, Miami; Grand Secretary Ralph K. Bowers; Domain Chief Paul F. Opp, Mount Union; R. L. Miller, Ohio Wesleyan; Howard Brokate, Ohio; Walter Evans, Bethany; S. E. McKibben, Pennsylvania; and Honored Founder Taylor A. Borradaile, who was living in Charleston and was participating in his first chapter installation. It was possibly the first time he ever saw the Ritual performed.
It was a big weekend for Morgantown and the mayor, by proclamation, declared a general holiday that afternoon:

To the Citizens of Morgantown and Vicinity: … Whereas hundreds of distinguished guests and visitors will attend … inauguration ceremonies for Tau Theta Rho to become Phi Kappa Tau, a national fraternity; and other attractive meetings.
Now therefore, I, Thomas A. Barrickman, mayor of Morgantown, do hereby call upon the citizens to enter into the program of welcome, closing all places of business from 1:45 until 5:00 PM thereby proclaiming a general holiday …

On Saturday, November 10, 1928, ceremonies were concluded, the installation banquet was held, and the speakers were Professor W. W. Hodges, chapter advisor; Dean H. E. Stone, dean of men; and Brandon, Borradaile, Opp, Wright, and Cecil Coulter, president of Alpha Xi of Phi Kappa Tau, the thirty-eighth chapter of the fraternity and the second located in the Mountain State.
The opening of school in 1929 found the chapter located at 750 Willey Street where they lived until moving to 665 Spruce Street during the summer of 1932. In 1936 the chapter moved to a home on College Avenue. Another move was made during the 1938-39 school year. The larger home was located at 305 Carson Street. During the summer of 1939, Alpha Xi took occupancy of a home at 2118 University Avenue and in the fall of 1941 the chapter was at home at 810 College Avenue. Alpha Xi chapter occupied seven different houses between 1924 and 1943.
In 1929, for the second consecutive year, Alpha Xi won the loving cup awarded to the fraternity having the best decorated float in the Thanksgiving Day parade. In 1930-31, the chapter ranked first in scholarship among the fraternities at West Virginia and dominated the campus publications. The chapter continued its role of leadership and for several years had members on the varsity sports teams and prominent in campus activities. As a chapter, Alpha Xi took its share of intramural and university honors in competition.
In the later years of the depression, with the usual drop in college enrollments, Alpha Xi chapter began to suffer loss in membership. Slow to come out of its temporary slump, the chapter was assisted by Field Secretary J. Spencer Johnson, Lawrence, and ten pledges were acquired in the fall of 1939. At the same time Dana Wells, an alumnus of the chapter and a faculty member at the university, became the faculty advisor. The chapter made marked progress during the year. Fifteen additional pledges in the fall of 1941 gave the chapter increased stability.
Then World War II struck its drastic blow and by the end of the first half of the 1942-43 school year, Alpha Xi had suffered severe damage. Only three members were able to return in the fall of 1942 and the membership for the fall totaled sixteen. When school opened in September, 1943, the entire membership of Alpha Xi had departed for the service through reserve commitments or by reason of the draft.
The details of closing the chapter, coping with its financial obligations and preserving the records and regalia, were capably handled by Dana Wells, who was the faculty advisor.
Following the end of the war, the alumni of Alpha Xi and the officers of Phi Kappa Tau determined that the chapter should not immediately be reactivated. The time is hopefully approaching when conditions will be appropriate and once again Phi Kappa Tau will enjoy a good chapter at West Virginia University.

Present Status

No longer in operation


Phi Kappa Tau Centennial Opening -
Phi Kappa Tau History (1 of 3) -
Phi Kappa Tau History (2 of 3) -
Phi Kappa Tau History (3 of 3) -
Phi Kappa Tau History Show -
Phi Kappa Tau Home Page -
Phi Kappa Tau Wikipedia Page -


From Old Main to a New Century, Charles T. Ball
The Golden Jubilee History of Phi Kappa Tau: Fifty Years of Fellowship, Jack L. Anson
Phi Kappa Tau Membership Manual: Centennial Edition

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