The Origins of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity
At nine o’clock on the evening of the eighth day of the eighth month of the year 1839, eight earnest young men, all students at Miami University, held the first meeting of Beta Theta Pi in the Hall of the Union Literary Society, an upper room in the old college building (known as “Old Main”). The eight founders in the order in which their names appear in the minutes were:
John Reily Knox, 1839
Samuel Taylor Marshall, 1840
David Linton, 1839
James George Smith, 1840
Charles Henry Hardin, 1841
John Holt Duncan, 1840
Michael Clarkson Ryan, 1839
Thomas Boston Gordon, 1840
“of ever honored memory“
Known affectionately to all brothers as the Founders’ Paragraph, this passage describes the birth of Beta Theta Pi on August 8, 1839, at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. With more than 215,000 lifetime members, today the Fraternity promotes its core values of mutual assistance, intellectual growth, trust, responsible conduct and integrity on some 140 campuses across North America.
The Men of Principle Initiative
Since the dawn of Beta’s award-winning Men of Principle initiative in 1998, the Fraternity has seen significant improvements in academics, recruitment, risk management and leadership development. Before Men of Principle, the Fraternity’s average chapter GPA was a mere 2.8. Today, it has risen to 3.251 – the highest of all fraternities. The average chapter size is 68 men, compared to 49 in 1997. Furthermore, in 1998 an average of two volunteer advisors worked with each chapter. Today, that number is eight.
With the Men of Principle initiative, Beta gave a new voice to the enduring values of the Fraternity. The Initiative was more than a program; it was a deep inner philosophy that demanded integrity from every chapter and all members of the Fraternity. Today, as it was back in 1839, Beta Theta Pi is a shining example across North America for all that is good and true when men come together in a brotherhood of purpose, friendship and fidelity.
No chapter shall permit discrimination in membership selection, initiation, chapter operations, or other activities of the fraternity based upon any person’s race, color, creed, religion, age, disability, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or national origin. – The Code of Beta Theta Pi
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Established in 2020, the Fraternity’s Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion counts among its members more than 25 undergraduates, alumni and industry professionals who are committed to ensuring Beta Theta Pi leads the interfraternal world on DEI matters.
The Board of Trustees has charged the commission with weaving its work into the fabric of Beta Theta Pi, initially by drilling down on tactical recommendations related to the language, voices and educational opportunities the Fraternity uses to create a culture of belonging.
The Singing Fraternity
Even before the first decade of the Fraternity’s history ended, Betas raised their voices in a collection of songs. These were printed on a card and included opening and closing odes, a benediction, an initiation song, and a greeting of new members.
So essential was singing in the Fraternity’s founding and growth during the 19th century that many songs and poems emerged from that era, many of them still popular.
Collections of Beta songs appeared periodically until 1902, when the publication became a red hard-cover book with gold leaf imprinted cover — a format that was followed for the next 90 years.
The Fraternity’s song collection has grown to be quite extensive over the years, containing not only songs written to long-familiar music but a number also set to original tunes. Additions are made from year to year, each new edition of the songbook containing new melodies.
Volunteer Information & Leadership
Beta Theta Pi has more than 1,000 alumni and Friends of Beta leading its undergraduate chapters to new heights and is always seeking volunteers committed to building men of principle for a principled life.
Are you interested in joining these incredible volunteer leaders in your area? There are many ways to get involved, including short-term roles. Click the button below or contact Chief Volunteer Services Officer Erin McHale for more information.
Board of Trustees
- John Stebbins, Emory ’92 – General Secretary
- Tom Cassady, Cincinnati ’76 – General Fraternity President
- Ken Bryan, MIT ’88 – General Treasurer
- Robert Beall, Oklahoma ’80 – Vice President
- Amar Budarapu, Lawrence ’87 – Vice President
- Bill Haywood, Miami ’74 – Vice President
- Aaron Kozuki, Washington in St. Louis ’05 – Vice President
- Willie Romero, UNLV ’95 – Vice President
- Justin Rutherford, Northwestern ’00 – Vice President
- Nick Sexton, Eastern Kentucky ’11 – Vice President
- Joel Stern, UC Riverside ’94 – Vice President
- Nazar Abbas, Miami ’24
- Jack Corby, Elon ’22
- C.J. Fovozzo, John Carroll ’23
- Max Gauger, Texas ’23
- Collin George, Embry-Riddle ’23
- Alex Houlton, George Mason ’23
- Nathan Satterfield, Michigan ’23
- Liam Traynor, Lawrence ’23
General Fraternity Officers
- Advisory Council Commissioner
Mike Okenquist, Villanova ’94
- Archivist and Historian
Zac Haines, Miami ’05
- Assistant Historian
Ryan Westberry, Clemson ’98
Brock Johnson, Oklahoma State ’09
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commissioner
Ryan King, Southern Illinois ’01
- Insurance Commissioner
David Schawe, Louisville ’06
- Scholarship Commissioner
Jim Strilesky, British Columbia ’72
The Advisory Council is comprised of Betas who have previously served as members of the Fraternity’s Board of Trustees, Foundation Board of Directors or General Fraternity House Corporation. For more information, please contact the Administrative Office at 800.800.BETA.
Beta Theta Pi Fraternity Housing
Beta Theta Pi promotes chapter housing that is safe, attractive and creates an environment that supports academic success and the Men of Principle Initiative.
To that end, the Housing Department provides insurance, education, support and advocacy for our house corporations, volunteers and chapters. This full-service department can answer all your housing questions and connect you with industry experts, vendors and other Beta house corporations.