1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Transylvania alumni restore Pi Kappa Alpha charter from 1900

people being presented with a charter

Members of one of Transylvania University’s oldest fraternities can now proudly hang their charter in their chapter room after it was restored and framed.

The 123-year-old vellum document was wrinkled and fragile until Pi Kappa Alpha alumni Rick Berman ’64 and Jan Schoonmaker ’68 led fundraising for the project. They checked with a range of experts — from the school library to the curator of the U.S. House — before contacting Strange Stock Art Conservation, which, Schoonmaker said, “carefully restored the document over a seven-month period to near mint condition.”

The Kappa Chapter Alumni Association presented the restored document to the chapter’s members during Alumni Weekend this past April. Transylvania President Brien Lewis (who’s a Lambda Chi Alpha), along with KCAA President Bill Todd ’79 and Pike Bluegrass Region President Allen Eskridge ’94, joined students and other alumni for the presentation.

The charter before (left) and after

Pike alumni have also been busy with other projects, like successfully completing fundraising campaigns for a new scholarship to provide bonuses to undergraduates who are on the dean’s list, and to purchase new furniture for the chapter room.

The Kappa chapter was originally installed in 1888 at the Kentucky Agricultural and Mechanical College, but it went inactive when none of the students returned to the school in the fall of 1889, according to the fraternity.

The chapter was revived, though, 12 years later at Transylvania. Among the eight men receiving the charter was Charles Nash Williams, who had been initiated into the fraternity at the College of William and Mary (Gamma chapter). In Lexington, he gathered seven others who petitioned the Grand Council of Pi Kappa Alpha for recognition as a chapter, which was granted Nov. 5, 1900. Most of the original charter members went on to attend the College of the Bible and became Disciples of Christ ministers, according to Bill McCann ’79.

In addition to the arrival of Pi Kappa Alpha were fraternities Kappa Alpha (1891), Phi Kappa Tau (1917) and Delta Sigma Phi (1941) — along with sororities Chi Omega (1903), Delta Delta Delta (1908), Phi Mu (1939) and Alpha Omicron Pi (1987).

This past school year, Transylvania welcomed a historically Black fraternity and sorority to campus. Two “Divine Nine” member organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council — Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Gamma Rho — recruited students and introduced them in ceremonies outside the Campus Center.