The Alpha Psi chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity at the University of Maryland was founded in 1929 to serve the community of College Park and the University, while providing kinship among members with similar ideals. We are now the longest continually-operating fraternity on the University of Maryland, with a rich and storied 83-year history.
For almost 90 years, undergraduates and alumni alike have continued to promote and sustain the values of Theta Chi fraternity: truth, temperance, and tolerance, in an encouraging and friendly environment where we can better ourselves as men, continue to make valuable contributions to society, and develop true and lasting friendships as brothers.
As our university has developed into a leading national institution, so have the members of our fraternity developed this chapter into a leading organization. Our members come from all over the country and abroad, with almost as many nationalities, races, and religions represented as the majors we study, striving to reinforce our motto: “Alma Mater First, and Theta Chi for Alma Mater”.
Frederic Norton Freeman and Arthur Chase established the Fraternity’s motto of Θηρόποεα Χείρ (‘An Assisting Hand’) as the purpose of the Fraternity and a guideline for how members were expected to behave in life. We strive to live by this motto every day, so that we may all mutually benefit and improve as men while developing lifelong bonds with fellow members.
Written in 1915 by Frank Schrenk of the Kappa Chapter, the creed is an affirmation of the founding principles of Theta Chi and a mission statement.
I believe in Theta Chi, its traditions and its ideals. Born of sturdy manhood, nurtured by resolute men, ennobled by high and sacred purpose, it has taken its place among the educational institutions of America as a promoter of knowledge, an advancer of culture and a builder of character.
It inspires true friendship: teaches Truth, Temperance and Tolerance, extols virtue, exacts harmony, and extends a helping hand to all who seek it.
I believe in the primacy of Alma Mater; in the usefulness of my Fraternity, in its influence and its accomplishments and I shall do all in my power to perpetuate its ideals, thereby serving my God, my country and my fellow-man.
We boast one of the largest fraternity/sorority houses on campus, located at 7401 Princeton Avenue, on the corner of Knox and Princeton Avenues. On nice days, you can usually find the brothers on the deck enjoying the weather and grilling. If you see us, feel free to stop by, say hi, and grab some food!
Theta Chi was founded as the Theta Chi Society on April 10, 1856, at Norwich University, by two military cadets: Frederick Norton Freeman and Arthur Chase.
Freeman and Chase met in Freeman’s room of the University’s Old South Barracks, and after taking oaths and declaring each other “true and accepted members” of the Society, Chase was elected President and Freeman was elected Secretary. The next evening, Freeman and Chase initiated two more cadets: Edward Bancroft Williston and Lorenzo Potter.
Although Theta Chi is regarded as Norwich’s first fraternity, it is believed that Freeman and Chase may also have been members of a secret society called The Regulators prior to founding Theta Chi. However, whether there was any connection between the Regulators and Theta Chi is still open for debate today.
In its first decade, the Fraternity faced a number of challenges. First, because Norwich was a military school, the University lost a large number of cadets to the Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Second, a massive fire erupted on the Norwich campus in the spring of 1866, destroying the Old South Barracks and many of the Fraternity’s historical records that had been kept inside. The University relocated to its present location in Northfield, Vermont, shortly thereafter.
After the fire in 1866 there was doubt for a while as to whether or not the University would continue to operate. Between the aftermath of the war, the fire, and the general uncertainty regarding the University’s future, enrollment at Norwich dropped dramatically. Norwich opened its doors that fall with only 19 students. Despite the low enrollment numbers, however, Theta Chi and another fraternity, Alpha Sigma Pi, flourished.
In 1881, the student body of Norwich comprised 12 students, and Theta Chi found itself with only one active member, James M. Holland. Holland, with the help of local alumni, managed to keep the Fraternity afloat by recruiting two new initiates, Phil S. Randall and Henry B. Hersey. Holland is generally credited with saving Theta Chi from an otherwise likely extinction.
After 1888 the affairs of the University took a decided turn for the better, and Alpha chapter flourished at Norwich until 1960, when Norwich disbanded all of its fraternities.
Growth in the Twentieth Century
From the very beginning, Theta Chi’s founders intended for the Fraternity to be national in scope. However, Theta Chi existed as a single chapter for nearly 50 years due to the conservative nature of the brothers at Norwich.
On December 13, 1902, that trend finally reversed with the installation of Beta Chapter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Spearheaded by Brother Park V. Perkins, Theta Chi’s arrival at MIT launched a new era for the Fraternity.
The early 1900s was a period of rapid expansion. Although hindered by the Great Depression and two world wars, Theta Chi grew and prospered in ways far beyond what even its founders had envisioned. At the 75th Anniversary Convention in 1931, the Fraternity erected a granite monument with a bronze plaque in Norwich, Vermont, to commemorate its founding.
Theta Chi Today
If our Founders could see us today, they would surely be proud of what they saw. Over 160,000 men have been initiated into the Fraternity since its founding. On April 9, 2011, Theta Chi installed its 220th chapter, Iota Xi at Georgia College and State University, and began the second half of the Iota series of chapters.