Being a part of Phi Delta Theta means being part of a standard of excellence. Before Phi Delta Theta came to the Emporia State University campus in 1969, our local Fraternity was formed in 1968 by Doug Lewis, Tad Patterson, Larry King. They called their newly formed Fraternity ΒΣΤ.
Beta Sigma Tau, referring to the "Best" on campus, shared similar ideals as Phi Delta Theta with their five principles of: Academic Excellence, Brotherhood, Service, Faith, and Leadership.
Since 1968, our Fraternity has attained the Interfraternity Council Scholarship Trophy on the Emporia State University campus over 75% of the time it has been given. Sound learning is one of our three cardinal principles. We strive to make our members better by implementing a strong scholarship program to ensure academic success.
Creating the Best
The Founding of Beta Sigma Tau at Kansas State Teachers College and Its Affiliation with Phi Delta Theta Fraternity

By Roger Wm. Heineken, KE160, with R. Doug Lewis, KE 001
First written in the 25th year, the following was revised and updated for the 40th anniversary observance in 2008

During KSTC’s 1965-66 Interfraternity Council membership recruitment efforts Doug Lewis, Tad Patterson and Larry King were being considered for membership by Alpha Kappa Lambda. Tad and Larry had each pledged to other KSTC fraternities but did not initiate for various reasons. Though AKL was seriously considering these three for membership, J. D. Snodgrass, former student body president and current AKL president, suggested these three form a fraternity that would provide friendly completion to AKL. In those years AKL was the premier fraternity at KSTC by any and all measures. J. D. was worried that his chapter would become complacent and slip in its stature.

The Snodgrass proposal intrigued these three and they, along with David Rukes and Jack Adams, set about forming a local fraternity. In the spring of 1966, they worked to develop a constitution and received organizational recognition by May. Their vision was to become the best campus fraternity at KSTC. The Greek-letter name they chose was Beta Sigma Tau= BST= Best.

Bob Wilhelm was a friend of Doug Lewis. They had run on the same ticket for student body president and vice president. Bob was an initiate of Sigma Chi at KU before transferring to KSTC. Bob consulted with the BST founders on developing there own local ritual and unifying symbols and traditions. Tad designed the crest which featured a five-pointed star representing the original founders and the five principles they would adopt. Flanking the star were two lengths of chain. Each open link represented the next ten members who joined BST. The brothers chose as their principles Academic Excellence, Brotherhood, Service, Faith and Leadership. Royal blue and gold were the chosen colors.

(Photo Caption, page 1) Three of the five BST founders become the first Kansas Epsilon Phis. Doug Lewis, Tad Patterson and Larry King become Bond Numbers One, Two and Three.
Right: The crest in quest of the best.

John Lehman, assistant professor of Speech and director of Forensics, became the first faculty adviser and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega at Northwestern University. David Baughman, an instructor in English, also served as faculty adviser for the fledgling group. He would eventually be initiated as a charter member of Kansas Epsilon.

Recruitment strategy for BST was to identify the men of KSTC who were pre-existing campus leaders, talented and/or academically established students. These men, for whatever reason never considered fraternities or rushed and chose not to affiliate. Friendship with Beta members and the intrigue of creating a new fraternity caused many of these men to pledge helping create and strengthen the “best” at KSTC. The local fraternity grew fast, so fast it was “scary” according to Doug Lewis. Within a year they numbered 35 men. Momentum was building in BST.

After the first full academic year Beta Sigma Tau found its first fraternity home at 526 Union Street six blocks from campus. The local rented the grand old Queen Ann Victorian with a ballroom/dining room/meeting space on the third floor. Within the next academic year the local was able to amass lots of money – eventually banking $23,000 plus in savings. This enabled the Beta Sigma Tau Housing Corporation to buy a small bungalow with adjoining lots on the south west corner of 13th and Cottonwood Street as a future building site. With a little fix-up the bungalow became an income-producing property while the local continued to rent 526 Union as its chapter home.

The brothers began to consider affiliation with a national or international fraternity. They determined they wanted an old-line fraternity that brought with it instance prestige, heritage and tradition. They wanted a fraternity with chapters ranked first or second on the respective campuses. They explored the Miami Triad chapters, Delta Upsilon, Alpha Tau Omega, Lambda Chi Alpha, and Sigma Nu – 15 in all. The Sigma Pi and Theta Xi headquarters actively courted Beta Sigma Tau while KSTC’s Phi Sigma Epsilon (now known as FSK) wanted to annex BST to strengthen its ranks. For many reasons most of these fraternities were ruled out or never considered.

Of the Miami Triad fraternities, Beta Theta Pi was considered too arrogant and self-possessed. Sigma Chi was hesitant to consider installing a chapter on a 6,500 student campus – new territory for its pattern of expansion. Phi Delta Theta was more receptive to the two-year-old local fraternity with its depth of campus leadership, academic superiority and bank account.

Phi Delta Theta had never installed a charter on a historic teachers college/normal school or such a small campus. Beta Sigma Tau’s record of achievement was hard to dismiss. Phi Delta Theta met much of the criteria desired by BST and, significantly, its three principles were very congruent with Beta Sigma Tau’s five.

The Survey Commission of Phi Delta Theta, after studying the local fraternity, college, city, Greek system and roster of local Phi alumni, recommended to the General Council that a delegation from Beta Sigma Tau be invited to petition for a charter at the 1968 Ashville, North Carolina General Convention. The brothers of BST began preparing for the convention and published a slick prospectus selling the KSTC local to the voting delegates. Conservative voices cautioned against this move but significant votes were garnered to welcome the “Best” at KSTC into the Phi Delt fold. On August 24, 1968, the realm of Phi Delta Theta voted to adopt the local fraternity as a colony of the international fraternity.

Organizing Phi alumni support for the new colony was the next order of business. Mu West Province President Ed Love, Washburn ’43, tapped Jim Lowther, Kansas ’51, to become the colony/chapter adviser. A new slate of Emporia area Phis assumed roles on the housing corporation. Emporians Gene White, Oliver Samuel, Jim Lowther and Gary Ace were to serve for the next several years until Kansas Epsilon had its own alumni body from which to draw volunteers in support of the chapter. These brothers assisted the headquarters and undergraduates in planning the ritual initiation of the colony members and the ceremonial installation of the charter.

(Photo Caption, page three) Palatial digs. The first home at 526 Union St. is rented.

Below: Delegates Bob Bridgman, Bob Nelson, Roger Bruning and Tim Fahrbach promote BST to FDq in August at the Ashville, North Carolina General Convention.

The new fraternity was the fifth in the state and is known as Kansas Epsilon, Epsilon being the fifth letter in the Greek alphabet. It was the 166th charter installed since 1848. On Friday, January 17, 1969, forty brothers were initiated in ceremonies held at the First Congregational Church of Emporia. Dr. Richard Barlow, chapter adviser of Nebraska Beta in Kearney, was initiated as a charter member of Kansas Epsilon.

The charter installation ceremony was performed on Saturday, January 18, 1969 by Lothar Vasholz, member of the General Council. Others assisting on the installation team were Robert J. Miller, Executive Secretary; Ed Love, Province President; Weston Harris, Field Secretary; James Lowther; Oliver Samuel, President of the Emporia Alumni Club; and Gene White. Nationally known local writer and journalist Phi, William Lindsay White, hosted the Phi Delt dignitaries for lunch at the Emporia Country Club during the weekend in Emporia.

Soon after Kansas Epsilon chartered, Ed Love retired as Province President. Oliver Samuel was asked to fill the position because of his volunteer effort with Kansas Epsilon. He would serve for 25 years through the summer of 1994. Doug Lewis who graduated and worked for KSTC became the first Kansas Epsilon alumnus to serve as chapter adviser in 1969.

Kansas Epsilon grew to a 50 plus member chapter within the year and continued the natal legacy of the five Beta Sigma Tau founders. The fraternity formed at a time when social fraternities were falling from fashion on campuses across the nation. Kansas Epsilon was exuberant and energized to succeed in those years. Confidence in the chapter enabled the housing corporation to purchase its first chapter home at 1326 Highland Street in 1971. Though it would later meet with hard times, low membership and financial difficulties, Kansas Epsilon would remain buoyant academically, organizationally successful and would offer positive growth and learning experiences for its members into its 40th year. The best had been created.

Ironically, by the1970-71 academic year, Alpha Kappa Lambda which nudged Beta Sigma Tau into existence would drop in membership from 90 to 30 men in a chapter home housing 56 men. By the following year they were gone from the KSTC campus. In lockstep, Phi Sigma Epsilon, Theta XI, Phi Kappa Tau, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Acacia would disband over the next three years. Some of these fraternities would make efforts to re-colonize over the years. New fraternities came on the campus as the climate for fraternal organizations changed. These included Sigma Pi, Kappa Sigma and Delta Upsilon. Sigma Pi and Kappa Sigma prevail in 2008.

Kansas Epsilon sold its house at 14th and Highland Street in 1984 to purchase the former Delta Zeta sorority house at 1005 Merchant Street. In 2004 this house was sold and the chapter existed without a facility as part of a new chapter facility initiative launched at the chapter 30th anniversary in 1999. On March 4, 2008 the Kansas Epsilon Chapter of Phi Delta Theta took occupancy of its new chapter home at its old address on the corner of 14th and Highland Street. On the same weekend of April 12, 2008 when Kansas Epsilon celebrated its new house and 40th year reunion, Alpha Kappa Lambda was re chartered on the former Kansas State Teachers College campus, now Emporia State University.

(Photo Caption, page four) The vision realized. The charter brothers of the Kansas Epsilon Chapter of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity stand united in the Bond.

(Group Photo, legend) Kansas Epsilon brothers pose with the Installation Team. Front row, left to right: Robert J. Miller (New Mexico ’50), Gene White (Washburn-Kansas ’49), Oliver Samuel (Kansas ’48), Lothar Vasholz (Colorado ’52), Marc Johnson (chapter president), Ed Love (Washburn ’43), James Lowther (Kansas ’50), Clinton T. Willour (Whitman-Washington ’64) and Weston L. Harris (Utah ’67). Second row, left to right: James Harris, Bob Bridgman, John Bateson, Don Herbert, Bruce Lutz and Tad Patterson. Third row, left to right: Larry King, Mike Jerrick, Ted Bilderback, Roger Bruning, Steve Marks, Carl Hanson and Ed Poston. Fourth row, left to right: Bob Nelson, Dan Evans, Mike Goodwin, Bob Marshall, Phil Hammond, Mike Mills, Dick Trizicky, Gorman Frederickson, Tim Fahrbach, Doug Lewis, Steve Brown and Mother Rundle (house mother). Top row, left to right: Jeff Lubberts, Bev Everhart, Richard Geisler, Kent Speers and Jerel Williams.