Delta Phi (ΔΦ) is a fraternity founded in 1827 at Union College in Schenectady, New York. Along with the Kappa Alpha Society and Sigma Phi Society, Delta Phi was the third and last member of the Union Triad.
Delta Phi and the other fraternities of the Union Triad were established during a time of strong anti-Masonic sentiment in the United States. Because fraternities were secret societies at the time, they also became targets of the anti-Masonic movement. This led Phi Beta Kappa, the original fraternity, to abandon secrecy and become an honor society.
In the early 1830s, Dr. Eliphalet Nott, president of Union College, called for the dissolution of all fraternities. Before this policy could be enacted, John Jay Hyde, a member of Delta Phi, argued the benefits of the fraternity system so convincingly that Nott relented and permitted the organizations to remain in existence. Hyde went on to design the badge still worn by members of Delta Phi, which includes a Maltese Cross, a symbol used by the Knights of Malta.
This connection to the Knights of Malta led Delta Phi to become known as "The St. Elmo Club", a name first used by the Omicron chapter at Yale University, which since has transformed into a senior secret society known as St. Elmo Society. The brothers there used the name of St. Elmo, the patron saint of mariners and the Knights of Malta. Some of Delta Phi's chapter houses are also known as "St. Elmo Hall".
Delta Phi remains a small fraternity with thirteen active chapters and few chapters with more than several dozen members. It has resisted expansion in order to create an "intimate, personal experience" for its members. The fraternity's current expansion policy is to reactivate dormant chapters. As a member of the Union Triad, Delta Phi is the third oldest fraternity in the United States.
Owing mostly to its development in the early 19th century, Delta Phi organizes itself federally. Individual alumni chapters still exercise significant power over chapter governance. Those powers that are given in the national organization are vested in the Board of Governors. The board consists of one member appointed from each alumni chapter plus two undergraduate representatives elected at the annual leadership conference the fraternity sponsors. Among the duties given to the board is hiring the Executive Director who oversees day-to-day management of the fraternity.
In addition to the national governing organization of the fraternity, Delta Phi alumni have also established the Saint Elmo Foundation which, among other things, sponsors the annual leadership weekend and provides scholarships to undergraduate members of Delta Phi.
On or about November 17 of every year, the national organization sponsors the Founder's Day Dinner at the Saint Elmo Club where undergraduates and alumni celebrate the founding of the fraternity.
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There are 13 active chapters of Delta Phi.
[*] An active fraternity that is no longer affiliated with the national organization
There are 14 inactive chapters of Delta Phi, including the Alpha Chapter.
Omicron Chapter dissociated with Delta Phi and is now known as the St. Elmo Society at Yale.
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