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A History of the Pi Kappa Phi Foundation

The story of the Pi Kappa Phi Foundation begins during a difficult time for the fraternity.  The year was 1942, and with the recent outbreak of war following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Pi Kappa Phi’s membership numbers began to decline as men enrolled or were drafted for military duty.

Among those enlisting in the summer of 1942 was then-National Historian William R. Amick, Omega (Purdue).  His vacancy on the National Council would leave a vacancy that was eventually filled by Devereux D. Rice, Iota (Georgia Tech).  Rice was a rising star in the fraternity’s regional volunteer ranks and came from a well established chapter.

Rice was a chemical engineering major and was initiated on October 10, 1917.  He served as the chapter’s archon and remained active in the local affairs of the fraternity for many years.  It is worth noting that Rice was a contemporary of fellow Iota members George Griffin and Manuel ‘Chic’ Quevedo, both of whom would later serve Pi Kappa Phi with distinction.  

The National Council’s decision to appoint Rice to complete the unexpired term of William Amick proved to be a fortuitous decision.  As America’s involvement in WWII deepened, the condition of Pi Kappa Phi correspondingly weakened. With more and more men on active duty, undergraduate membership fell by 95 percent, reaching its nadir in 1944. If the fraternity was to recover, it would take tremendous vision and leadership. In comes D. D. Rice.

Rice brought youth and energy to the National Council. So impressed by his workman like approach to the fraternity’s problems, he was  unanimously elected National President by the 21st Supreme Chapter, held in Birmingham, Ala., in August of 1946.  

This was a critical time for Pi Kappa Phi. G.I.’s were returning to school. Chapters and fraternity houses were reconstituting themselves as men returned to campus.  Pi Kappa Phi stood at a crossroads and, as Star & Lamp editor, Dick Young, Kappa (North Carolina), noted in 1948, “[This period] was a time of decision for the fraternity – whether to try to hold on with what it had or to move forward to bigger and better things.”

Onward & Upward

Moving the fraternity onward and upward became Rice’s principal task. Launching immediately into expansion efforts, the fraternity once again began to grow. His council also issued what may have been one of the most important executive orders of the 20th Century for the fraternity – the forgiveness of all chapter debts owed to the national fraternity incurred prior to the start of the war. This order gave Pi Kappa Phi’s fragile and small chapters a stronger chance of survival immediately during such a fragile time.

From 1946 to 1948, Rice’s council planted new chapters at: Indiana, Miami, Oregon and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Morning was breaking again on Pi Kappa Phi.
DD Rice
Yet, Pi Kappa Phi’s post-war renaissance would soon be led by other capable leaders.  On August 11, 1948, just three weeks prior to the start of the 22nd Supreme Chapter in Detroit, Mich., and the conclusion of his term as Pi Kappa Phi’s 10th National President, Rice died of a heart attack at the age of 50.  Rice was then, and remains today, the only national president to have died in office.

A shroud of sadness befell the convention in Detroit that year. And setting out to honor their fallen friend and brother, four Pi Kappa Phi alumni each pledged $1,000 to establish a fund in Rice’s honor.  Instantly, the Devereux D. Rice Memorial Fund was created. Those alumni were Gene Dunaway, Alpha Eta (Samford), Fred Grim, Xi (Roanoke), Phil Malouf, Xi (Roanoke), and Chic Quevedo, Iota (Georgia Tech).  

The Devereux D. Rice Memorial Fund grew slowly in the years to come.  In 1959 when Durward Owen, Xi (Roanoke), became the fraternity’s executive secretary, he discovered that the fund, which by that time had taken on certain charitable activities, had never received its determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service.  Working with Congressman and fellow Pi Kappa Phi George Grant, Omicron (Alabama), Owen was able to secure a determination letter on March 13, 1964, for the Devereux D. Rice Memorial Foundation (note new name).

As the years passed and the needs of the fraternity changed, so did the name of the Devereux D. Rice Memorial Foundation.  Today, we know it simply as the Pi Kappa Phi Foundation – its name since 1979.

The Founders' Gate

Foundation Gate_294In the early 1990s, Past National President and then-Vice President of Development for the Foundation Ted Scharfenstein, Beta Beta (Florida Southern), adopted the Founders’ Gate as the official emblem of the Foundation. Donated to the College of Charleston on the occasion of Pi Kappa Phi’s 25th Anniversary in 1929, the Founders’ Gate has been a powerful and symbolic image for Pi Kappa Phi over the years.  Now, it uniquely identifies the Foundation as one of the three affiliate organizations of the greater fraternity.

Today, the Pi Kappa Phi Foundation works to connect the charitable intentions of Pi Kappa Phi alumni and friends with the desire of today’s student members to have a memorable and valuable undergraduate Pi Kappa Phi experience.

Each year, the Foundation makes an educational grant to the fraternity which it uses to help offset the costs of its educational programs.  In addition, the Foundation also recognizes a handful of students each year with a number of merit based scholarships.  Most notably of these is the Foundation’s Pi Kapp Scholars program through which seven students are annually identified with Pi Kappa Phi’s highest (and longest running) academic award.

The story of the Pi Kappa Phi Foundation is an evolving narrative that is underpinned by a time-tested fraternal axiom: that one brother, with heart and dedication, can make a lasting difference on Pi Kappa Phi.

In 2014 as a part of the fraternity's Second Century Vision, the Pi Kappa Phi Foundation logo was updated. Pi Kappa Phi aligned its entities as well as the structure of the entire organization and has seen a much clearer focus since the adjustment.

   Pi Kappa Phi Foundation Logo