Phi Kappa Tau

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Phi Kappa Tau
Founded March 17, 1906; 110 years ago (1906-03-17)
Miami University, (Oxford, Ohio)
Type Social
Scope National
Mission statement "To champion a lifelong commitment to brotherhood, learning, ethical leadership and exemplary character."
Vision statement "To be recognized as a leadership organization that binds men together and challenges them to improve their campuses and the world."
Colors      Harvard Red and      Old Gold
Flower Red carnation
Publication The Laurel of Phi Kappa Tau
Philanthropy SeriousFun Network
Chapters 155 Chartered, 86 Active, 6 Colonies [1]
Members 4,700[1] collegiate
96,000[1] lifetime
Headquarters 5221 Morning Sun Road
Oxford, Ohio, USA

Phi Kappa Tau (ΦΚΤ), commonly known as Phi Tau, is a collegiate fraternity located in the United States. The fraternity was founded in 1906. As of 2013, the fraternity has 146 Chartered Chapters, 81 active chapters, and around 4,000 collegiate members.[1] SeriousFun Children's Network, founded by Beta Chapter alumnus Paul Newman, is Phi Kappa Tau's National Philanthropy. According to its Constitution, Phi Kappa Tau is one of the few social fraternities that can accept graduate students as well as undergraduates.[2]


Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity (commonly called Phi Tau) was founded in the Union Literary Society Hall of Miami University's Old Main Building in Oxford, Ohio, on March 17, 1906. The four honored founders were Taylor A. Borradaile, Clinton D. Boyd, Dwight I. Douglass, and William H. Shideler.

"Old" Harrison Hall
Old Main at Miami University, Phi Kappa Tau's founding site

The fraternity was founded as the non-Fraternity Association to give Miami's non-fraternity men a voice in campus political affairs. The name was changed to Phrenocon on March 6, 1909. The two proposed names were the "Miami Friends" and the "Miami Comrades", which were combined to form "Frenocom". "Phrenocon" was actually an alternate spelling of "Frenocom", the idea being to make the name sound more Greek.

Phrenocon became "national" in 1911 when an organization of independent men known as the Ohio University Union chose to become the Ohio University chapter of Phrenocon. Additional Phrenocon chapters were established at Ohio State University, Centre College, Mount Union College and the University of Illinois. At Miami, Phrenocon began to have difficulty retaining members by the early 1910s. Often, men would join Phrenocon, then later withdraw their membership and join Greek-letter fraternities. In fact, the Miami chapters of Delta Tau Delta and Sigma Alpha Epsilon were founded by Phrenocon members. For that reason, the Miami Chapter of Phrenocon withdrew from the National Phrenocon and adopted the name Phi Kappa Tau on March 9, 1916. Since 1919, Phi Kappa Tau has published a magazine, The Laurel. Previously, the magazine was known as Sidelights. The rest of the chapters agreed to the name change on December 21 of that year and invited Miami to return to the national organization as the Alpha chapter of Phi Kappa Tau. Eta Chapter at Muhlenberg College was the first chapter to charter after the change to Phi Kappa Tau.

Phi Kappa Tau has been a member since 1916 of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), a consortium of national men's social fraternities.[3][not in citation given]

Phi Kappa Tau Foundation[edit]

The Phi Kappa Tau Foundation was created in 1945 as a separate charitable organization.[1] The Foundation's significant expansion began in 1983 with the announcement of a challenge gift of over $1 million from Ewing T. Boles, a member of fraternity's Delta Chapter at Centre College. The Boles gift was the largest gift to a fraternity or sorority foundation up until that time and became the lead gift in a $3.2-million capital campaign. That same year Boles was named an Honorary Founder by Phi Kappa Tau. Boles left an additional bequest of over $3 million to the Foundation upon his death. Boles' example has encouraged other gifts to the foundation,[citation needed] and its current assets exceed $10 million.[1]

Organization and leadership[edit]

Phi Kappa Tau chapters are organized into Resident Councils which include the current collegiate members of a chapter and Graduate Councils made up of all members who have graduated or left school. Each council of a chapter is entitled to a vote at the National Convention, which typically meets every two years and is the highest level of authority in the organization. The convention elects a National Council which serves as a board of directors for the fraternity and governs between conventions.

Executive offices of the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity and Foundation are in Oxford, Ohio. Rick Keltner is national president and Mike Dovilla is national vice president.[citation needed]

As of April 2016, Phi Kappa Tau reports having approximately 4,700 collegiate members, and over 96,000 initiated members.[1]

Men of Character Programs[edit]

The Phi Kappa Tau Men of Character Programs' mission is to build a greater and deeper understanding of the values of Phi Kappa Tau. This allows the organization to build and sustain outstanding chapters to help individual brothers grow as leaders. The programs are intended to enrich the collegiate experience of all members and to create strong bonds of brotherhood.

Presidents Academy: Presidents Academy is designed for new chapter presidents to gain deeper understanding of the responsibilities of a president. Participants will learn to lead effective chapter meetings, lead an effective Executive Council, create constructive relationships beyond the Resident Council, and take positive action during challenging times. Participants will create connections with chapter and national Fraternity leaders, enhance their communication skills and leave with a plan for positive change in their chapter.

Regional Conferences: Regional Conferences are one-day conferences focused on preparing incoming officers to be effective leaders and managers throughout the year, while providing additional members training to be more effective chapter leaders. The conferences educate participants on leadership skill building, an overview of Fraternity operations and the day-to-day tasks of the particular offices.

Leadership Academy: Leadership Academy is the Fraternity's premier, individualized leadership-development event for rising Phi Kappa Tau leaders. The four-day program is offered in two to three sessions of 40-60 students at summer camps across the country. Participants will create connections with rising Phi Kappa Tau leaders while identifying their own leadership style and learning how to effectively use their core values as a leader.

Building Men of Character Retreats: A Building Men of Character (BMC) Retreat is a two-day chapter focused program that results in the chapter developing a vision and plan of action for positive change in the chapter. After participating in this weekend full of engaging activities, chapter members will gain a deeper and greater understanding of Phi Kappa Tau's values in order to develop leadership, enhance communication, emphasize chapter identity and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood.

Good to Great Retreats: Good to Great Retreats, modeled after ideas for success presented in Jim Collins' book, Good to Great, are four-hour programs designed to assist chapters with specific issues or needs. The programs focus on such topics as recruiting men of character, Ritual, Executive Council transitions, and risk management through a program called ResponseAbility.

Volunteer Development Institute Volunteer Development Institute is a three-day program designed for volunteers who work directly with chapters. The institute is focused on working with today's college students, as well as providing the volunteer with an intensive understanding of the national organization and all related policies. Participants will leave with an increased confidence and understanding of how to advise a chapter and provide support to undergraduate students, as well as develop a network of other advisors and Fraternity leaders.

Interfraternal relationships[edit]

Phi Kappa Tau has been a member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) since 1917. The top NIC award is named the Jack L. Anson Award and the top NICF award is named the William D. Jenkins Award, both after members of Phi Kappa Tau.[citation needed]

Hazing and alcohol abuse[edit]

As part of their risk management policy, Phi Kappa Tau prohibits chapters from engaging in hazing and underage drinking.[4] The fraternity recognizes a National Hazing Prevention Week in late September.[5]

In 2003 Bradley University student Robert Schmalz, age 22, died from alcohol poisoning during a rush week event. The event happened shortly before the university received a national award for its efforts to reduce alcohol abuse.[6][7]

In 2007, Gary DeVercelly Jr., age 18, died from alcohol poisoning while pledging the fraternity at Rider University. The chapter was dissolved, and three students were indicted in the death with one receiving three years probation.[8] Atypically, two university officials were also indicted,[8] although charges against the officials were later dropped.[9]

In 2012 the College of William and Mary suspended Phi Kappa Tau for three years due to a repeated history of hazing, culminating an incident when something was stolen from Colonial Williamsburg during a scavenger hunt held for new recruits.[10][11]

In 2016, the Miami University suspended the fraternity for at least four years for forcing pledges to participate in abusive workouts, be held overnight against their will, and act as servants by cleaning members’ rooms and writing their papers for them.[12]


In October 2013, the Phi Kappa Tau chapter at the Georgia Institute of Technology was suspended after an email from one member to other members titled "Luring your rapebait." [13] While the email's author subsequently released an apology, the chapter was suspended by the school's Office of Student Integrity until 2017 after a university investigation concluded that the chapter engaged in a "pattern of sexual violence that suggests a deep-rooted culture within the fraternity that is obscene, indecent and endangers women." [14] A lawsuit was filed in 2014 against the national and local chapter by two plaintiffs who claim they were raped by a fraternity member. The suit states that the alleged rapist has been expelled from Georgia Tech.[15]

Notable members[edit]


As of April 2016, Phi Kappa Tau reports chartering 155 chapters since its founding, with 86 active chapters and 6 colonies.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mission, Creed, and Insignia of Phi Kappa Tau
  2. ^ Link: Under membership qualifications, "Any male student not a member of a national college fraternity other than an honor society or professional fraternity who is pursuing undergraduate, post-graduate, or professional study" (Emphasis added).
  3. ^ The North-American Interfraternity Conference
  4. ^ "Phi Kappa Tau Risk Management Policy - Reviewed July 2011" (pdf). Phi Kappa Tau. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "Prevent Hazing". Phi Kappa Tau. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Keith, Ryan (18 September 2003). "Student dies after binge drinking". Deseret News. Associated Press. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Jodi S. Cohen; Ted Gregory; Virginia Groark (16 September 2003). "Death at college tied to drinking". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Indictments In N.J. Campus Hazing Death". CBS News. Associated Press. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Hester Jr., Tom (8 August 2007). "Judge dismisses Rider U. hazing charges". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Koenig, Becky (14 February 2012). "Fraternity Suspended On Hazing Charges". Flat Hat News (Student Newspaper). Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Ham, David (14 February 2012). "W&M suspends fraternity for hazing, crimes". WVEC (ABC News). Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Frat chapter suspended over 'rapebait' email". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  14. ^ "Infamous 'Rapebait' Frat Disbanded for Being Entirely Too Rapey>". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  15. ^ "Two Lawsuits Allege Rape at the "Rapebait" Frat House>". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 

External links[edit]

Further information[edit]

  • Anson, Jack L., The Golden Jubilee History of Phi Kappa Tau, Lawhead Press, Athens Ohio: 1957
  • Ball, Charles T., From Old Main to a New Century: A History of Phi Kappa Tau, Heritage Publishers, Phoenix: 1996 ISBN 0-929690-29-X