Mar 9, 2021

From Local to International: The Founding Story of Michigan Delta

From Local to International: The Founding Story of Michigan Delta

History of Michigan Delta

In 1926, six men rooming together on Mason Street in Flint, Michigan, based on the common bonds of friendship and brotherhood, decided to form a fraternity. With the help of Mr. Macking—the shop superintendent of General Motors Institute of Technology (GMI) at the time—these six, along with two others, formed Alpha Delta Fraternity, one of the first fraternities at General Motors Institute (eventually chartered in 1928).

As the membership grew, Alpha Delta became affiliated with the Burr Patterson Company of Detroit in 1929, and with their cooperation came the coat of arms and motto.

When the Great Depression devastated the country, Alpha Delta was not immune to its effects. Membership dropped, but Alpha Delta remained involved on campus through sports and social events. In late 1935, membership was low enough to consider merging with another fraternity on campus, but the fraternity abandoned the idea when a large class of freshmen enrolled.

In May 1961, the land adjacent to Phi Gamma Delta on Dupont Street became Alpha Delta’s property, and building a house became Alpha Delta’s top priority. Early in 1962, Alpha Delta accepted architects Gibbs, Tomblinson, and Harburn to design the new house. Members turned the first shovel of dirt on August 25, 1962, and the fraternity periodically received progress reports the rest of the year. On the weekend of February 10, 1963, the brothers of Alpha Delta moved into their first new home, constructed specially for fraternity life.

Becoming Phi Delta Theta

Throughout most of the 1900s, many national fraternities wouldn’t establish chapters at schools unless the institution was fully accredited. When GMI achieved certification in the 1960s, many local fraternities on campus petitioned to join national organizations. When Alpha Delta began discussions for affiliation with a national organization, chapter president Gary Joy made a strong push for Phi Delta Theta. Gary, a native of Iowa, had several friends back home who had become Iowa Beta Phis at the University of Iowa.

During the next two years, much of the brothers’ fraternal efforts focused on their goal of becoming affiliated with Phi Delta Theta. Six brothers represented Alpha Delta at the 1964 Phi Delta Theta Convention in Pasadena, California. They set up a booth at the convention displaying the merits of Alpha Delta. The General Council voted on Friday, September 4, 1964, and Alpha Delta was to become the Michigan Delta Chapter of Phi Delta Theta officially.

On Friday, February 12, 1965, eighty charter members of the Michigan Delta Chapter signed The Bond of Phi Delta Theta at the initiation ceremony. On Saturday, February 13, Alpha Delta Fraternity became the 154th chapter of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity at the installation ceremony.

See the chapter’s original installation petition from 1964.

“I have so many memories of the whole process of moving from our local, Alpha Delta, to being voted in as the Michigan Delta Chapter of Phi Delta Theta. There were many visits from the province president and officers from the other chapters in the province.

We created the petition booklet and manned our booth at the 1964 General Convention in Pasadena, California. All this work culminated in the installation of the chapter in February 1965. I believe this contributed more to my later successes in life than my academic education.”

—Gary Joy, Kettering ’67

See pictures from the of Michigan Delta installation

Brotherhood Tree

One night, while waiting for the floor wax to dry, big brother Joe Jagadics, ’11, and little brother John Lawniczak, ’13, decided to scribble on some nearby whiteboards to trace their Phi family backward through the generations. What started as a fun task used to pass the time turned into an elaborate Brotherhood Tree, connecting all big brothers and little brothers since the chapter’s founding.

They moved from the whiteboards to GenoPro, which is an intuitive family tree software tool. The two continue to add relationships with each new Phikeia class.

Joe shares, “While not complete, the newest class from A-Section (Winter 2020) can trace their lineage back to the class of June 1968 Bond # 211, Chester A. Basiewicz.”

View the chapter’s brotherhood tree.

50th Anniversary

In 2015 the chapter celebrated its 50-year commemoration. Brothers from every era of the chapter’s history attended by scores, including more than fifty of the first 175 brothers. It was a great reunion with many who have not been together since 1967.

The weekend commemoration event was a grand celebration. Friday night featured a reunion and a short history on the chapter’s founding led by the Michigan Delta founding class. Saturday afternoon included tours of the chapter house and campus. On Saturday evening, the highlight of the evening was the Golden Legion ceremony banquet. Included were guest speakers such as Kettering University President Dr. Robert McMahon, General Council Member Moe Stephens, former General Council President Mike Scarlatelli (Bond #353), Dennis Kulonda (Bond #65), and Gary Joy (Bond #1).

Sunday capped the weekend off with brunch at the chapter house and a very special initiation. Dick Krzys had been an Alpha Delta member while the organization was petitioning Phi Delta Theta for affiliation. Dick was never initiated as a member of Phi Delta Theta as he had graduated before the Michigan Delta Chapter’s chartering. The chapter reached out to him before the 50th-anniversary celebration to see if he wanted to finish what he had started. The weekend’s final event was the initiation of Dick Krzys as Bond #1287 of Michigan Delta—fifty years after he worked to affiliate Alpha Delta with Phi Delta Theta. There could not have been a more fitting and beautiful end to the weekend than with our ritual and honoring one of the chapter’s founders. Sadly, Brother Krzys entered the Chapter Grand on February 24, 2018.

Michigan Delta Today

To date, Michigan Delta has initiated 1,372 brothers and currently has fifty-six undergraduate members and seven Phikeias. The chapter has consistently won the Gold Star Award and ranked in the top three for their academics out of all eleven fraternities on campus. Members are active in campus leadership roles and the community.

Province President Michael Boulter, Kettering ’12, shares why he continues to volunteer his time to support and advise the undergraduate members of Michigan Delta:

“Phi Delta Theta has given me more than I could have ever imagined. From incredible life experiences to my closest friendships—I owe so much to Michigan Delta. The opportunity to pay it forward by advising the newest generation of brothers is so rewarding.”

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