Theta Delta Chi (ÎÎ"Î§, Theta Delt) is a social fraternity that was founded in 1847 at Union College. While nicknames differ from institution to institution, the most common nicknames for the fraternity are Theta Delt, Thete, TDX, and TDC. Theta Delta Chi brothers refer to their local organization as Charges rather than using the common fraternity nomenclature of chapter.
Origins and growth
Theta Delta Chi, the eleventh oldest of the college fraternities, was founded in 1847 at Union College in Schenectady, NY by six members of the class of 1849: William G. Akin, Abel Beach, Theodore Brown, Andrew H. Green, William Hyslop, and Samuel F. Wile. In 1849, Green and Akin along with Francis Martindale (the first initiate), organized the Beta Charge (later renamed Beta Proteron) at Ballston Law School. However, two years later the school itself moved and the new Charge was disbanded and the members put on Alpha's rolls.
During the 1850s Theta Delta Chi spread rapidly, adding Charges at Vermont, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, William and Mary, Virginia, Hobart, Wesleyan, Harvard, Brown, Bowdoin, Kenyon, Tufts, Washington and Jefferson, and North Carolina. Few of these remained active for long, although several were later revived. Kappa at Tufts, founded in 1856, presently enjoys the honor of being the oldest active Charge in continuous existence.
During the 1860s new Charges, at, among other institutions, Lafayette and Rochester (1867), Hamilton (1868), and Dartmouth (1869), continued to be chartered at a pace that kept slightly ahead of attrition caused by Charges going inactive. The Civil War, however, severely weakened most Charges as men left for military service; many of the earliest Charges went inactive during this period, and expansion in the South ceased for half a century.
Only after 1870 did Theta Delta Chi begin to acquire its present configuration. Westward expansion had traditionally been opposed by a large segment of the Fraternity, which worried that supervision and solidarity would suffer if Theta Delta Chi were to stray far from the East. The rise of the large state universities in the West, particularly in the Big Ten, eventually overcame that resistance and Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin welcomed Theta Delta Chi between 1889 and 1895. Further Midwest expansion included Illinois (1908) and Iowa State (1919). Berkeley (1900), Stanford (1903), the University of Washington (1913) and UCLA (1929) brought Theta Delta Chi in strength to the Pacific coast.
Expansion in the East during the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s brought Charges to Cornell, Boston University, Wabash, CCNY, Columbia, Lehigh, Amherst, Yale, MIT, Williams, and George Washington. Pennsylvania (1915) was the last Eastern Charge to become active before World War I, although 1904 and 1910 saw the reactivation of the Southern Charges, Epsilon and Nu.
Theta Delta Chi became an International Fraternity with charterings at McGill (1901) and Toronto (1912).
The Great Depression and the Second World War saw a number of Charges go inactive and brought a halt to expansion. At its Centennial Convention in 1947, Theta Delta Chi stood at 28 Charges, a number that would begin to increase only in the 1950s.
The institutions of the Fraternity slowly took shape during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1867 anti-fraternity sentiment at Union led to the disbanding of the Alpha. As the Mother Charge, Alpha had exercised governing power over the Fraternity, but her demise, although temporary, brought about the creation of the Grand Lodge by action of the eight surviving Charges at the Convention of 1868. The Grand Lodge, originally three and now five officers (of whom two are undergraduates) remains the elected governing body of the Fraternity to this day (Alpha was rechartered in 1923, although executive power has remained with the Grand Lodge).
The annual Convention has evolved into a major international assembling of Theta Delts at which all Charges are represented by undergraduate and graduate delegates and at which the major business of the Fraternity is transacted.
The 1881 Convention required that the President of the Grand Lodge visit every Charge once a year; Central Fraternity Office staff now performs these duties. In 1869, the first issue of The Shield was produced, qualifying it as the oldest fraternity magazine. Although it lapsed after one issue, The Shield was revived in 1884 and has been published continually since then.
The Central Fraternity Office, or CFO, evolved over many decades from a virtually one-man job, filled by a Grand Lodge member, and housed in the now defunct Theta Delta Chi Club in New York City, to a professional staff consisting of an Executive Director, a Director of Charge Operations, a Director of Expansion, a Director of Charge Development, a Systems Administrator and one or more undergraduate interns, referred to as Member Service Coordinators. The office currently operates from 214 Lewis Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts.
The financial health of Theta Delta Chi was ensured through the establishment of two entities, the Founders' Corporation in 1910 and the Educational Foundation in 1944. Any Theta Delt may join the Corporation on payment of $250 and thereby vote at its annual meetings. It also receives bequests and holds and invests all funds for the benefit of the Fraternity. The Educational Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) public charity, receives bequests and owns the property occupied by the CFO and other assets. It funds the educational activities of the Fraternity.
Between 1951 and 1970 the Fraternity added Charges at Northwestern, Penn State, Arizona State, Rhode Island, Michigan State, Santa Barbara, Calgary, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Commonwealth; Bucknell was rechartered also. Several of these charterings brought into being some of the strongest Charges in the Fraternity, but in the increasingly uncertain climate of those times, with anti-fraternity sentiment gaining strength on a number of campuses, a significant number went inactive. The 1992 rechartering at Wabash continued a pattern of reviving inactive Charges; new charterings in the 1990s and 2000 include Northeastern, Nova Southeastern, UNC Greensboro, SUNY Albany and Merrimack. The Fort Lauderdale, FL and Greensboro, NC Charges marked a significant re-entry into the South.
With the start of the new millennium, Theta Delta Chi has worked to revive several of its defunct Charges, while installing Charges on new campuses. The Chi Charge, founded in 1867, and active for most of the time since then was re-chartered in the summer of 2002 at the 155th Annual Convention. Following a brief closure, the Epsilon Charge returned to the active ranks in August 2004. Theta Delta Chi has also worked to increase its presence in the northeast with the installation of the Iota Triton Charge at UMass Dartmouth in 2005.
Yet the active Charge roll call remains in flux, as the fraternity has lost several Charges, young and old, since 2001; losing Omicron Triton at URI (2001), Psi Deuteron at UCLA (2003), Nu Deuteron at Lehigh (2004), Delta Triton at Northeastern (2005), Eta Triton at Nova Southeastern (2005), Mu Deuteron at Amherst (2006), and Rho Triton at VCU (2009). While these losses are disheartening, the Grand Lodge and Central Fraternity Office have worked progressively for the betterment of the fraternity, and Theta Delta Chi enters the future with the most stable foundation it has had in nearly a decade.
The last two years have been marked by a significant period of growth for Theta Delta Chi. Following the chartering of the Theta Triton Charge at Binghamton University in 2007, the fraternity chartered four Charges in 2008; reviving the Epsilon Triton Charge at Arizona State University  and the Rho Proteron Charge at the University of South Carolina, while chartering the Tau Triton Charge at Marist College and the Lambda Triton Charge at Rutgers University who were also winners of the Victory Cup naming them the best overall charge. In March 2009, the Gamma Deuteron Charge at the University of Michigan returned to the active roles of the fraternity. In February 2010 Psi Deuteron at UCLA was rechartered, as well as at Hobart College [Xi] (xicharge.com). In 2011, the Upsilon Triton charge at Indiana University was established, putting the present roll standing at 31 Charges.
Finally, in April 2007, the Grand Lodge hosted the inaugural Preamble Institute for its undergraduate leaders, ever hoping to improve the intellectual, moral and social being of its brotherhood. With other programming initiatives on the horizon, the fraternity seems poised for success in the coming years.
Charges and Colonies
- Map of Theta Delta Chi Charges and Colonies
- List of social fraternities and sororities
- Theta Delta Chi - Official site
- Baird's Manual 1879