Learn about the beginnings of the Delta Zeta Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, from 1945 to today!
Learn about the beginnings of the Delta Zeta Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, from 1945 to today!
On December 16th, 1945- a date deliberately chosen to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Alpha Phi Omega’s national founding(0), nineteen Penn students gathered in a dark, candlelit room. These young men were all former members of the Boy Scouts of America and were ready to commit themselves to a Brotherhood based on three principles: Leadership, Friendship, and Service. On that night they officially became members of APO and the Delta Zeta chapter was born. Delta Zeta was the 102nd Alpha Phi Omega chapter in the nation. The chartering members of the chapter were, in alphabetical order:
John Francis McNelis
Michael Dorizas (Faculty Advisor)
The above immediately began conducting ambitious service projects. A 1947 description in the Penn Record (the university’s yearbook) describes the many ways in which Brothers gave back to their community. While praising the chapter for bringing together both Greeks and non-Greeks, it describes how Brothers performed such projects as “the maintenance of an information booth during registration period in Houston Hall, the collection of clothing for the World Victory Clothing Drive, and aid in cooperation once with the crew team in helping crippled children at a football gameâ€¦some of the Brothers have been very active in aiding the local Boy Scout troops and council.” The chapter maintained its own office on the second floor of Houston Hall, and meetings were also held in Houston Hall.(2)
The 1947-1948 academic year was a beehive of activity for the chapter. In December 1947, Delta Zeta initiated as honorary Brothers the University President, George William McClelland (the namesake of McClelland Hall), the Dean of Student Affairs A. Henry, and Provost Paul Howard Musser.(3) The next semester, Penn served as the initiating chapter for the new Zeta Sigma chapter at the University of Delaware. In attendance at this new chapter’s first initiation ceremony on May 24th were APO National President Dean Arno Nowotny and National Secretary Sidney J. North.(4) In the meantime, the chapter’s already robust service schedule was expanded. The 1948 Penn Record describes some of Delta Zeta’s new projects:
Carrying out its policy of serving all, the group began by aiding in the publication of the Freshman Handbook, and the registration of students for gymnasium lockers. The second week of November saw them conducting the Community Chest Drive on campus and aiding with the organization of the Cultural Olympics program sponsored by the University. Undoubtedly, one of the foremost achievements of the chapter and one which has earned them the gratitude of all dormitory residents has been the placing of directories listing the residents at each of the numerous telephones.
In May of 1947, a World War II veteran and APO Brother from the Alpha Eta chapter transferred to the University of Pennsylvania. His name was John Mack. He quickly found a home in the Delta Zeta chapter and by 1948 was elected chapter president. Brother Mack did not end his service to the fraternity after graduation. An Eagle Scout, he maintained a lifelong dedication to both the Boy Scouts of America and Alpha Phi Omega. He co-founded the non-profit Camps & Trails Patches, Inc, which worked to assist his local BSA council. This council awarded him with the prestigious Silver Beaver Award in 1972. He stayed an active alumnus of APO during these years, becoming a Life Member, a Torchbearer, and a Sapphire Member of the Blue and Gold Society. In December 1995, Brother Mack set up the John Mack National Scholarship. This awards a one-time scholarship of $500 to APO Brothers who have demonstrated a commitment to community service and extracurricular involvement. For his tireless efforts and generosity, he was awarded the 2001 Alumni Distinguished Service Key- the highest honor the fraternity can bestow on an alumnus. Sadly, Brother Mack passed away in 2007, but his service to the fraternity lives on through a trust, the interest on which continues to fund John Mack Scholars nationwide.(5)
Although service projects are the constant aim of this group, they were taken quite unaware by a recent request from the director of residence at a nursing school in this city asking if the members would consent to escort the incoming class of nurses. Gems like this, of course, do not appear too often in the course of a member’s four years in the fraternity; so do not let the erroneous impression creep into your mind that the group has built its reputation on escorting nurses. â€“Penn Record, 1949
As the quote above shows, the 1948-1949 academic year kicked off with an especially exciting service project (by 1940’s standards.) But the description in the yearbook goes on to discuss, in a more serious way, just how vital APO had become to the university community in only a few short years. From 1946-1949, the chapter collected over $1,000 in various fundraising events. This is $9,374.36 adjusted for inflation in 2011.(6) According to the Record, the chapter made sure that it was involved in any fund-raiser at Penn- from “manning the booths” to “organizing the entire drive.” APO also served as ushers in various university events and activities (including ushering “some cute drum majorette around Franklin Field.”)(7)
In the early 1950’s, the chapter introduced two projects which would become its staples at Penn for many years. One was the “Ugliest Man on Campus” contest, which the chapter conducted as part of the annual Campus Chest Penn fundraiser. This beauty pageant parody was and is a nationally popular APO service project. Though no Penn records outside of the name of the project being held yearly and the names of the two early winners survive (Peter Dennant and Leo Spiegal)(8) this is a well-known project nationally which likely followed a format similar to other chapters. Various men would submit goofy or “ugly” pictures of themselves, and APO would display the pictures in a booth at the Campus Chest. Students would donate money to vote on the “ugliest man.”
A second project was introduced during this time which would become the chapter’s main project each semester: the Book Mart. The first record of the Book Mart is in 1953(9), and by 1955 it was described as “probably the most prominent service” conducted by the chapter.(10) This would continue to be the case for over a decade. Dr. Harris R. Stutman, the chapter’s president from 1967-1968, fondly remembers the Book Mart, and was able to shed light on how it was conducted. According to Brother Stutman, the chapter set up a room in Houston Hall. Penn students would give the chapter their books and the price at which they wished to sell, and the chapter would sell it on their behalf keeping a small percentage of the revenue as a fundraiser. This was no easy task- there were of course no computerized systems. All record-keeping was on paper, including making an index card for each book to be sold. The project would be a great endeavor, requiring all Brothers to help keep the textbooks organized, take in new books, and sell used books over the course of several days. Students could claim their unsold books at the end of the project. If they no longer wanted the books, the books would be donated to the local library.(11)
These were only two of the many projects that APO conducted in this time. “Brothers maintained a rigorous service schedule-from collecting books for Vietnamese children years before Vietnam became a nationally prominent issue(12) to conducting blood drives, a “share-the-ride” program, and ushering at Penn’s annual Cultural Olympics(13). After less than ten years of existence, the chapter had become among the most respected organizations on Penn’s campus. This is evidenced in a 1953 Daily Pennsylvanian article called “Merit,” reprinted below:
Daily Pennsylvanian, 2/12/53
Most of us seem to go through college like race horses charging down the last lap of the track, looking neither to the right nor the left, bent only upon getting our diplomas. But there are some, surprisingly enough, who are interested in other things as well. These are the men engaged in activities, working for others rather than for their own benefit. Among these activities stands one in particular whose altruistic ends deserve commendations. This is Alpha Phi Omega, a group of undergraduates, whose fundamental purpose is service-to the community, to the nation and, most of all, to the University.
Without the slightest taint of campus politics, this organization can only be classified with the junior and senior societies according to the work they do or to the respect due them. It has to its credit such projects as the bookmart, the Red Cross blood drive, the share-the-ride plan, polls of student opinion for the faculty, and assistance to the Senior Participation Drive and Alumni Annual giving. It has aided the Crusade for Freedom, the Heart Fund, the Campus Chest, and University Settlement House. Its members usher at Cultural Olympics events and serve as hosts to hundreds of high school students during the Pennsylvania Days and Debate Council clinics.
It is to Alpha Phi Omega, an activity of a rather rare species, that we drink this highball.(14)
The rest of the 1950’s was spent developing these and similar service projects. But 1959 saw the imposition of a particularly unique service to the campus. In this year, the chapter created its own “travel bureau for vacationing students.”(15) Outside of a throw-away line in 1959 and 1962 yearbooks, nothing else is known of this travel bureau. But like most of APO’s projects at the time, it was sure to have been both fun and involved. In 1955 the chapter inducted as honorary members Penn’s president, Gaylord Harnwell, and chaplain, Edward George Harris.(16)
In 1960, the chapter was still conducting many of the same service projects, but also expanded into new territory. Brothers began serving as ushers in the University Chapel and, even more significantly, began holding an annual Christmas party for underprivileged children.(17) In 1963, service to the campus was expanded even further, as Brothers served as guides for incoming freshmen and were given the responsibility of conducting the student government elections.(18)
But it was in 1965 that the chapter experienced its most dramatic change. Though women would not be permitted to join APO nationally until 1976, many chapters in the 1960’s began to discreetly induct female members or create co-ed auxiliary chapters. The Delta Zeta chapter chose the latter, and helped establish Gamma Sigma Sigma, a service sorority. Though there is no record of an official Gamma Sigma Sigma chapter being chartered at Penn’s campus, photographs and alumni interviews indicate that a service sorority referring to itself as Gamma Sigma Sigma was active at Penn in the late 1960’s. It is possible that this was an attempt to gain an official charter or perhaps was an unofficial use of the sororoity name and letters. Alpha Phi Omega and Gamma Sigma Sigma worked together on service projects and shared yearbook photographs but, as Brother Stutman confirms, were run as separate organizations with their own executive boards and meetings. The initial chartering members of Gamma Sigma Sigma were, in alphabetical order:
Jo Bernice Rosen (President)
Ruth Schwartz (Secretary)
In addition to projects already described, APO-GSS in the mid 1960’s tutored third graders in Philadelphia, served as adult leaders in local Boy Scout Troops, manned poll booths for the Network Election Service, volunteered with hospital patients, and aided the blind.(20) In both 1967 and 1968 the Penn Record states that APO “has filled the gaps left by other community service organizations.” Though Brother Stutman recalls GSS through his graduation and was actually recruited to join APO by a member of GSS, he also recalls that it was a “small” organization. Unfortunately, the year after his graduation there was no record of GSS’s existence in the Penn Record or the University Archives. However, Gamma Sigma Sigma still exists as a national service sorority with many chapters across the nation, and in spirit here at Penn where the chapter has been co-educational since its rechartering in 1992.
The pledging process in the mid 1960’s was quite different than it is today. According to Brother Stutman, there was little outreach. Rushes found APO either through knowing a Brother in one of their classes (or in his case, a Sister in GSS) or from knowing about it by having Scouting background (many on the exec board during these years were Eagle Scouts, including Robert Tansik and Joel Kaufman). There were a few “orientation” sessions, and then a rush would be paired with a Brother to meet for coffee and learn more about the chapter’s service program. There was no Big/Little system as is found in the chapter today, but Brothers did serve as one-on-one mentors to Pledges. Initiation was taken very seriously. Pledges had to pass a “Board of Review” (though nobody was blackballed) and then would be initiated in an “all secrets revealed” ceremony. Though the chapter had a few social events, the focus of pledging and membership was almost exclusively on the chapter’s service schedule.(21)
1968 was to be the last year that the Delta Zeta chapter appeared in a Penn Record until 1995. Many interesting service projects are described, including distributing information about the Peace Corps and Vista as well as the distribution of Career Books to graduating seniors. Most significantly, in this year the chapter served as the host for the Delaware Valley Section Conclave (analogous to a modern-day Sectionals.) The chapter continued publishing press releases of its executive board through the 1969-1970 academic year. However, no records exist past this date. The last pledge class initiation listed in APO’s national Chapter Alumni Retrieval List was on January 1, 1969 with 8 new Brothers. According to a 1996 Daily Pennsylvanian article, it was in 1971 that the chapter formally dissolved.(22) If any alumni reading this have more information about APO’s early years or the loss of the charter, please do not hesitate to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any new information will be immediately published on this site.
Fortunately, the loss of the chapter’s charter was only temporary. The Delta Zeta chapter was reinstated in 1992 through the efforts of Penn students Mariza Shavelle and Brooke Temple and national APO staffer Michael Beyer.(23) The chapter has since grown to be an active and vital part of the Penn community. The chapter’s first initiation ceremony in over 20 years took place on April 25, 1992 in Houston Hall.(24) It was recognized by the Student Activities Committee the next November.(25) One rechartering Brother was Carlos Tang. According to Brother Tang, “I remember that the whole rechartering process was not trivial, lots of work, service projects, and a test.” This work included tracking down alumni through the University Archives and finding out more about Delta Zeta’s early history. The soon-to-be Brothers were able to contact alumni, one of whom, who was retired, wrote a letter back from a cruise ship with a donation for the chapter to buy candles at their first ceremony. The chapter is forever grateful to the following Brothers and Advisors who worked hard to bring APO back to Penn:
Raymond Braun (Boy Scout Advisor)
Kevin Chun (Advisor)
Chai Woo Foo
Stanford Marcus Hswe
Joseph Meers (Faculty Advisor)
Marcine Pickron-Davis (Program for Student-Community Involvement Assistant Director)
Brooke Temple III
Bao Truong (26)
The newly reinstated Delta Zeta chapter immediately began a program of service. Though it would not appear in the yearbook until 1995, a write-up of the chapter appeared in the 1994 Practical Penn, a guidebook for incoming classes. According to the guidebook, the chapter at the time had about 35 Brothers. Many of the service projects written about in the guidebook the chapter continues to perform to this day: the Philly Aids Walk, park cleanups, and soup kitchens. The chapter also conducted bowl-a-thons and bike registrations. Fun social activities, which were already coming to be called “Fellowships” included murder-mystery parties, Phillies Games, and an annual Fellowship Banquet held at the end of every spring.(27) Brother Tang also recalls the Fellowship Banquet as taking place in the CA Building, which has since been renamed the ARCH Building. According to Brother Tang, the event was made special with “lots of prizes, some serious, some goofy.” (29)
1995 marked APO’s first appearance in the Penn Record in 27 years. The entry describes a robust service schedule, including partnerships with the Ralston House, the Anti-Graffiti Network, the Philadelphia Food Bank, and Habitat for Humanity.(30) December 16, 1945 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Delta Zeta chapter’s founding. A banquet was held at the Gold Standard, with 25 Brothers from Penn and Drexel attending. The celebration featured dinner, dancing, and a speech by Urban Studies professor Ira Harkavy, who commended APO for its program of service.(31) In 1996 service was expanded to include involvement with the People’s Emergency Center, which cares for homeless women and children, and Thrift-for-AIDS, a thrift store which raised money to help fight AIDS.(32) In 1997 a particularly fun project was held, helping guide young children through Philly’s Please Touch Museum.(33) 1998 saw the chapter helping at a project which continues to be a favorite to this day, Boo at the Zoo.(35)
The next decade saw APO expand even more, both in membership and in service. The chapter underwent a high-tech revolution under VP Service Dan Tanh, who created the chapter’s Service Forum and enabled Brothers and Pledges to sign up for service projects with ease. Countless service projects are performed- in the Spring of 2011 over 100 active Brothers and Pledges together logged 3,525.25 hours of community service-some Brothers logging over 50 hours by themselves. Projects in the past few years have included all nighters at the Philly Marathon checking in equipment; the JDRF Diabetes Walk; Philadelphia neighborhood cleanups; Boo at the Zoo; working with University City Hospitality Coalition (including sending 3 Brothers/Pledges to soup kitchens almost every night of the week); teaching about various nations at an annual Girl Scout World Cultures Fair; staffing blood drives; organizing books for the incarcerated for Books Through Bars; working with the PAWS organization to help needy animals; and of course, a huge presence at Penn’s annual Relay for Life. The Delta Zeta chapter strives each and every day to continue the mission it started in 1945: service to all. From reading books to Kindergarteners to the Rush service project each semester doing invasive removal at Morris Park, Delta Zeta has created strong relationships with Penn and Philadelphia service organizations. The bonds of fellowship still unite us, whether in a fun game of Broomball or by watching a Disney movie every other week. Delta Zeta continues to push its Brothers and Pledges to be leaders, friends, and of service, and will do so for many years to come.
(0) Penn Record, 1947. There seems to be some controversy over whether the chapter was founded on December 16th or 17th, with APO’s national website and a Daily Pennsylvanian article claiming the 17th but early yearbook photos claiming 16th. Because the yearbook photos are much closer in time to the actual event, and both the photos and the DP article specify that the initiation occurred on the anniversary of the national founding (which was December 16th), it is far more likely that the DP article was mistaken and that the chapter was founded on the 16th.
(1) Chapter Alumni Retrieval List, http://www.apo.org.
(2) This yearbook page, along with all others, has been scanned and is publicly viewable at: http://photobucket.com/apodeltazetaThe 1947 yearbook is particularly of interest, as it contains pictures of an early Rush event and Initiation Ceremony.
(3) Penn Record, 1948
(4) “The Zeta Sigma Chapter History” Alpha Phi Omega Zeta Sigma. Web. 3 Sept. 2011.
(5) “A Tribute to John Mack.” The Torch and Trefoil 83 (Summer 2007): 4. www.apo.org. Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, Summer 2007. Web. 3 Sept. 2011.
(6) CPI Inflation Calculator http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1000&year1=1948&year2=2011
(7) Penn Record, 1949
(8) Penn Record, 1953
(10) Penn Record, 1955
(11) Telephone Interview with Harris R. Stutman, September 2, 2011
(12) Penn Record, 1955
(13) Penn Record, 1954
(14) Author unknown. Thanks to Nancy Miller of the University Archives for locating this wonderful article.
(15) Penn Record, 1959
(16) Penn Record, 1955
(17) Penn Record, 1960
(18) Penn Record, 1963
(19) Penn Record, 1965
(20) Ibid and Penn Record, 1966, 1967
(22)Alim, Hesham. “Service Fraternity Celebrates 50 Years.” The Daily Pennsylvanian 29 Jan. 1996. Web. 6 Sept. 2011. http://thedp.com/index.php/article/1996/01/service_fraternity_celebrates_50_years.
(23) Ibid for Mariza Shavelle and Michael Beyer who are mentioned in the article. Correspondence with rechartering Brothers Justin Huang (9/5/11) and Carlos Tang (9/8/11) both mention Brooke Temple as a “driving force” behind the chapter’s recharter in addition to Brother Shavelle.
(24) Houston Hall location through correspondence with Carlos Tang, 9/8/2011
(25) Kaye, Alissa. “SAC Elects New Finance Board.” The Daily Pennsylvanian 3 Nov. 1992. Web. 6 Sept. 2011. http://thedp.com/node/32695.
(26) Both the date of the first initiation and this list are from: Chapter Alumni Retrieval List, http://www.apo.org. This list includes a Carlos Chang rather than Tang and does not include Mariza Shavelle or Brooke Temple, the list was edited based on email correspondence with Mariza Shavelle. Also, the list maks Stanford Marcus Hswe only as “S. Hswe,” correspondence with Justin Huang confirms his first and middle names.
(27) 1994-1996 Practical Penn (one issue, it was published to cover 3 years).
(28) Email correspondence with Mariza Shavelle, August 30, 2011
(29) Tang, 9/8/11
(30) Penn Record, 1995
(32) Penn Record, 1996
(33) Penn Record, 1997
(34) Tram, Diem. “Co-ed Service Frat Begins Rush.” The Daily Pennsylvanian 11 Sept. 1997. Web. 6 Sept. 2011. www.dailypennsylvanian.com/node/11157 .
(35) Penn Record, 1998
Researched and Written by Matt Catalano, Chapter Historian Fall 2011
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