Stu Gittelman, an old friend and long-time Executive Director of Delta Phi Fraternity, would often refer to Delta Phi, Chi Psi, Psi Upsilon, and Sigma Phi as “those stogy, old, two-letter, conservative, Union College fraternities.” In many ways Stu’s description was accurate, but for Chi Psi it only tells half the story.
Like those other fraternities, we’ve remained small, colonized at the best schools, and maintained an intimate “family” feel within our Fraternity. However, Chi Psi’s founders infused a progressive streak that has made us one of the most innovative fraternities. At the Fraternity’s sesquicentennial in 1991, then #7, Carl Holstrom, I’57 said the following in his remarks to the Convention.:
Chi Psi is credited with many innovations – the first fraternity house, the first traveling consultant program, and the first educational foundation. I note all these accomplishments as a tribute to our glorious past and as a challenge for the future…for if we are to witness a Bicentennial Celebration, not only will we have to adhere to the ideas of brotherhood established by our founders, but we will have to continue to build and strengthen the foundation provided by our past leadership.
I am thankful for Brother’s like Carl who challenge our leadership and staff to think broadly about Chi Psi and how we continue to adapt. In a rapidly changing higher education environment we must remain innovative to remain relevant. Ten young men in May of 1841 were hoping to create a unique brotherhood. I think our founders would be proud of the way in which we have honored their legacy. Since 1991 we have continued our innovations by becoming the first fraternity on the web and the first fraternity to do a full-scale self-assessment of our total undergraduate experience. We’ve combined these firsts with new and expanded programming opportunities for undergraduates and alumni.
In a world where the terms “conservative” and “progressive” are often at odds, Chi Psi has used the core tenets of both to create a society that enriches life for thousands of men.