History of Syracuse Chapter – Since 1873

Why DU Must Recolonize | Bruce Laidlaw ’55 | The Bazoo | Fall 2000

In the early 1870’s some intellectually minded college men banded together to socialize and discuss the issues of the day.  They called themselves Atticaeum, after the famous Greek forum (or whatever). They enjoyed their fellowship so much they decided to become a fraternity. Luckily, they were accepted as the 22nd chapter of Delta Upsilon — a national intercollegiate fraternity founded on non-secrecy, justice, friendship, character and culture.

Thus on the evening of November 14, 1873, in the Hall of Languages, as the brothers of the Madison College Chapter administered the oath, the Syracuse Chapter of Delta Upsilon was born.

As the second fraternity to arrive at Syracuse University (Deke was first and Psi U was third), they did the usual stuff; rented rooms for meetings and parties, formed a dining club, etc. but not without discord. Some brothers wanted a secret fraternity, others said, “No Way!”.  Rival fraternities blocked DU from participation on the student paper, “The University Herald,” by shutting it down and starting a new campus paper. DU respond­ed by seizing the “Herald’ and running it successfully for years.

In 1888, thanks to the young alumni and Brother Levi Chapman ’89, a local lawyer, the chapter acquired the Coddington residence, a splendid structure at 426 Ostrom Avenue with a magnificent view of the city and Onondaga Lake-and  a long uphill hike from the existing  campus.

Little is known of those early days. Ralph Newing ’13 recalled “suicide” bobsled runs down Marshall Street hill, with brothers posted at the bottom to watch for the trolley.  When not organizing parties or showing off his skill at the billiards table, novelist Stephen Crane ’94 played baseball and exhulted the great DU house with its magnificent view. He then ran off to New York to write The Red Badge of Courage.

On his way home “from a fraternity meeting” Brother Junius Stevens ’95 scribbled off the SU alma mater.  Tom Boggs ’12 attended the DU convention in San Francisco.  Lester “Deke” Wells ’18 started up The Bazoo.  Even today, Syracuse and the SU campus are replete with names of those early brothers – Nottingham, Roberts, Saddler and Kimmel.

The tumultuous 20’s  and 30’s ring out with  the names Stratton, Engren,  Lewis,  Middleton,  Vosburgh, Keller,  Dwyer and so many more. “A.J.” Lewis ’27 was concerned about his grades and his eyesight (bathtub gin). DU was a big crew house, but  there were plenty  of lacrosse,  football, baseball and track athletes. DUs were as adept with a pen as an oar.  ”Ted” Vosburgh ’25 became editor of The National Geographic. Drew Middleton ’35 went on to become a noted New York Times war correspondent.

Many brothers served, and some died, in World War II.  Old 426 roared back to life in 1946 with a blend of returning  vets and apple-cheeked freshmen. Old guard alums such as “Jock” Stratton, “Duke” Engren, Clarence Keller, Harold McBride, Ray Haun, “Pete”  Dwyer and others assisted new brothers  Bill Stark, Dick Keller, Dick Torrey, Tom Walsh and company to restore Delta Upsilon to the SU Greek family.

On a cold, rainy fall evening in 1951, I trudged up to the old house atop Marshall Street hill, which seemed strangely off  campus on the rush guide map.  The warm feeling that I received that night from Cliff Way ’54 and the brotherhood remains with me ’till this day. DU changed my life, as I quickly learned the definition  of “libation” from Chapter President Phil Barnes  ’52.

During the “apathetic 50’s,” we played bridge in the living room, faithfully checked out the new stripper at Andre’s each week, held Colgate Weekend “Kill the Keg” parties (kegs were larger then), played touch football in the “toilet bowl,” and celebrated our academic prowess at the”Last Blast” at Green Lakes. No party was complete without “Noz” (Jack Chamberline ’54).  Jim Strates ’54 boosted our house average with his poly sci papers. Then, he and “Noz” joined  the Marines.

In 1952, Dikaia Foundation was created as an educational foundation that also helped finance a new chapter house.
Brothers like Clarence Keller, Harold McBride, “Pete” Dwyer and Ray Haun worked tirelessly to raise the necessary funds. Claude Kimmel ’08 made a major contribution.

In 1956, the chapter house was remodeled into the modem structure you see today. During construction, DU spent a year in a university cottage across from Shaw Dormitory. Who will forget the famous touch football match in Thornden Park with the Colgate DUs? They were Colgate intramural champs and expected to crush us. Three of our pledges, Fred Bransted, John Klamar and Frank Vlllchar, had finished SU frosh football the day before and joined the fray.  Ably led by all-state NJ quarter­ back Dick King, we played our Colgate brethren to a scoreless tie.

In 1958 DU was victorious in winning the coveted Chancellor’s Cup, the first in our history, and the chapter followed this achievement with another win in 1959.
With a new and larger house, DU rose to the top of the fraternity world.  During the 1960’s, DU held every  major
campus position worth holding and was home to pretty much the entire SU basketball team. These were the days of beloved housemother “Ma” Strain, “Mike” the cook and countless “Andy” Saint Bernard mascots.

For 84 years, DU held forth at old 426 Ostrom building a proud reputation on the SU Campus. While we survived “mooning” we did not survive the social and political unrest of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  In 1971, a bad combination of apathy and the tumultuous times led 426 Ostrom to close its doors. We lost our original charter and a great pool table. The hiatus lasted until 1976 when Rick McGinley ’78, Bob Portmess ’79, and company again assisted by the old guard of Stratton, Dwyer, Stark, Roney, Holden, Broad, etc., led a fantastically successful revival.
Who can forget the Winter 1976 dinner in the Faculty Club, when DU hosted Bill Sanford’s crew squad. Bob Portmess claims they ate everything including the table decorations. At the new chapter’s first party at 744 Comstock in fall 1976, every sorority on campus responded. Roger Sharp ’78 kissed at least a thousand women.
In 1979, we left old 744 behind (since demolished) and moved into the magnificent Ward Wellington Ward designed “Chapel House” (ex-Beta house) at 711 Comstock.   The structure served us well as Marion served up great meals,  Joe Spinks ’80 survived his tumble, and Tom Darling ’81 rowed to an Olympic silver medal.  Leo led the troops and a certain sports information specialist is rumored to have founded the Royal Order of Nudity.

As we moved into the 1990’s the outlook of the members began to change. Being number one socially with Reggae, etc. and having a place to hang out seemed the only chapter goals.  Many good men remained, but a fierce loyalty among the members to each other replaced their loyalty to DU. Pride and respect for the chapter’s reputation and our once beautiful house declined, leading to final University and DU suspension in 1996.

We must not let one hundred twenty-seven bright and shining years of good fellowship, great times and outstanding brothers and career leaders be eclipsed by the events that led to the chapter’s downfall. With the dedication and support of our 900 living alumni, DU will be restored to its rightful and traditional place on the Syracuse campus.

And restored it was…
​Two decades later, on January 28, 2017, over 150 people gathered in Hendricks Chapel to attend the Re-Colonization Ceremony. There, in the same building where hundreds of DU’s have taken the Oath of Brotherhood, Alumni, family, and friends bear witness as 60 men were pinned and the Syracuse Colony was officially created. The return to SU had been the culmination of over three years of effort by the alumni who held events throughout the U.S. and raised $325,000 to establish an educational endowment. That spring, the new Colony recruited 15 additional members bringing the total membership to 75. The Colony flourished as the men banded together to restore DU’s presence on campus and worked tirelessly to meet the requirements necessary to become a full fledged Delta Upsilon Chapter.

On January 27, 2018, after the new colony exceeded all expectations and met International Headquarters’ 11 stringent requirements in only 10 months, the Syracuse Chapter earned its official Charter and was officially re-established at Syracuse. That same weekend, the Brothers of DU unveiled the letters on their new Chapter House located at 801 Walnut Ave. Over 100 alumni attended the weekend to witness the glorious moment.

Note: The last two paragraphs were added 17 years after the original article was written for the Bazoo.

Did you know? DU Syracuse Alumnae is Father of Four Founding Principles

For years the story of our Four Founding Principles has been lost between the covers of books, a puzzle waiting to be put together. What began as a simple addition to a constitution, to provide a little more definition to a sense of purpose provided by our founding fathers, ended up as the still meaningful statement that we continue to use as our battle cry today.  Now, the story can be told, and we can now laud the efforts of the unsung hero, the Father of the Four Founding Principles – Syracuse University Brother – Edward C. Morey, SU 1884. Credit finally given, where credit has been due for the past 110 years.

This excerpt is from the Delta Upsilon International Fraternity website: Read the history of our Four Founding Principles

The House – A Place to Grow and Remember. Memories from 1935-1939

Prepared by Herb Dean ’39 |  June 23, 2002​

Read the article.

History of Delta Upsilon International Fraternity

DU International Fraternity Website | December 2014

On the evening of November 4, 1834, 30 students – ten men from each of the three classes (freshmen, sophomores, and juniors) at Williams College – “all good men and true,” met in the Freshman Recitation Room in West College and formed the Social Fraternity known today as Delta Upsilon International Fraternity. A new era had begun.

The first 30 years were trying for the Social Fraternity, which adopted the name “Anti-Secret Confederation” (ASC) once an alliance was formed with other non-secret groups from Union College, Middlebury College, and Amherst College.  The formation of the ASC led up to the Convention of 1864, which was critical for the young Fraternity.  Delegates from three of its seven chapters were in attendance, but a fourth delegate was needed to establish quorum and enact legislation.  Just as the group was about to discuss the formal disbanding of the ASC the delegate from the Rutgers Chapter arrived, completing the quorum.  The Convention moved forward with its important discussion and legislation and officially adopted the name “Delta Upsilon,” which had already been in use by several of the chapters.

The Convention of 1879 saw another important change for Delta Upsilon.  The Fraternity had always been anti-secret, actively opposing the secret societies on college campuses.  Though this was a hotly debated subject, the delegates felt that it was an outdated principle and chose to adopt a principle of non-secrecy, working in harmony with the secret societies while keeping the key elements of the organization’s founding.

By the following year, DU had grown to 15 chapters in the northeast.  In 1898, DU became an International Fraternity, installing its first Canadian chapter at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.  After a strong period of growth around the turn of the century, the Fraternity was incorporated in the State of New York in 1909.

The chapters which had been established were consistently solid.  Due to this strength the Fraternity did not lose any chapters through World War I or the Great Depression.  In 1949, through the vision and generosity of Hugh E. Nesbitt, an alumnus from the Ohio State Chapter, the Delta Upsilon Educational Foundation (DUEF) was founded to provide educational scholarships to DU members.  Over time, the DUEF expanded its purpose to include funding for educational programs such as the Leadership Institute and the Presidents Academy.

The late 1960s meant social upheaval and fraternities were among the institutions questioned about their relevancy.  DU strongly emphasized the personal aspect of fraternity, rather than just its rituals and formalities.  This was a strong argument for starting so many new chapters, with 18 chapters chartered from 1968 to 1971.

Until 1969 Delta Upsilon rented office space in New York City to serve as the organization’s headquarters.  In 1969, Delta Upsilon moved to Indianapolis, Indiana to service the Fraternity’s membership more efficiently.  With a gift from an alumnus from the Pennsylvania chapter, Lester E. Cox, the Fraternity Headquarters was built in the College Park area of Indianapolis, Indiana.

During the 1970s through the 1990s, issues such as drug use, alcohol abuse, sexism, racism, hazing, and other social issues came out into the open and were discussed, and actively attacked.  While these are problems throughout society, Delta Upsilon has attempted to combat these issues in our chapters.

The new millennium is presenting new challenges, which must be faced.  Membership recruitment and education are a continued focus.  Fraternities must also deal with tough social issues, risk management and loss prevention, and more diverse demographics in an ever changing college environment.  Delta Upsilon has more than 175 years of experience in the fraternity world and is planning its strategies for the years and decades to come.  Delta Upsilon has always been a leader and will continue as it builds the 21st century fraternity.