History of Phi Kappa Theta at Iowa State University

Iowa Xi Chapter History

In 1920, a group of Catholics denied membership to traditional fraternities formed a social group called “The Amician Club”. Amician is Latin for friend, and seemed to set a tone of trust and
brotherhood for the new group. The club gained strength, membership, and financial standing, which culminated in a charter with Phi Kappa, The national Catholic fraternity. The fraternity continued to grow and in 1934 the property at 2110 Lincoln Way was secured to house the brothers.

In 1959, two Catholic fraternities, Phi Kappa and Theta Kappa Phi merged to form Phi Kappa Theta. This merging of two national fraternities, which today stands alone asthe only long term successful merger of Greek organizations, is a testament to the bonds and fellowship that come with being a member of Phi Kappa Theta.

In 1968 the national fraternity dropped a clause for membership that prevented non-catholics from becoming members of the fraternity. Since then Phi Kappa Theta has been open to all religious denominations.

In 1971, the chapter’s property board secured the property to the south of the chapter house, and the Annex was built shortly after to house brothers.


Phi Kappa Theta is located on the corner of Beach Ave. and historic Lincoln Way, which was the first transcontinental road across the country. Like Lincoln Way, Phi Kappa Theta has seen a lot of students come and go at Iowa State. Yet whenever they return our chapter house and our message of brotherhood stands as a gateway to Iowa State University.

National Fraternity History

PHI KAPPA – 1889

pkcrestIn the late 1880’s, a group of catholic students at Brown University in Rhode island organized themselves as a social fraternity, based on the fellowship of faith.Their first name was Phi Kappa Sigma, taking the Greek equivalent of the initials of “Fraternity of Catholic Students”. (The Sigma was subsequently dropped) With the help of local alumni, businessmen and a receptive college administration, the group thrived. It decided to become a national fraternity and admitted the Loyola Club of the U. of Illinois as the Beta chapter. Their first convention was in 1914. The first magazine, the Yippa-Yappa of Phi Kappa, was published in 1916. By 1930 they had 24 chapters linked under their motto, “Loyalty to God and College”. After several revisions, their coat of arms and initiation ceremony were standardized by then. Both a real estate holding company and an educational foundation were established in 1954.

THETA KAPPA PHI – 1919tkpcrest
In the 1910’s, Newman Club students at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania wanted a stronger, more permanent bond than the club afforded. Originally named the “X club”, the name was changed to Theta Kappa Phi, for “The Catholic Fraternity”. It formed a national fraternity by admitting Kappa Theta at Penn State in 1922. They too, held conventions and published the “Sun” to all its members. Because of the depression and then World War II, they established their 24th chapter in 1957. The fraternity’s ritual gave TKP an esoteric name, which served as their motto.

PHI KAPPA THETA – April 29th, 1959pktcrest
Because of the dramatic expansion of fraternities following World War II, it became increasingly evident that to stay competitive the 2 fraternities with such similar ideals should combine. By 1957, TKP and PK had a total of 58 active chapters on 54 campuses. Committees from each group hashed out issues such as the national name and local chapter names, coat of arms, ritual, magazine, constitution, leadership and a host of other issues that had kept the groups divided. Loyalty and fervor were surmounted and the merger was approved at a special convention held at Ohio State in 1958. The official charter day chosen was April 29, 1959. Its first biennial convention was held in 1961 and first national management school in 1965. The first chapter chartered under the new name was at Belmont Abbey.