Iota Phi Theta National History
On September 19, 1963, at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University), 12 students founded what is now the nation's fifth-largest, predominately African-American social service fraternity: The Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated.
The Honorable Founders of Iota Phi Theta were: Albert Hicks, Lonnie Spruill, Jr., Charles Briscoe, Frank Coakley, John Slade, Barron Willis, Webster Lewis, Charles Brown, Louis Hudnell, Charles Gregory, Elias Dorsey, Jr., and Michael Williams.
This group of men was unique for several reasons. First of all, many were long-time friends. Spruill, Coakley, Dorsey, and Gregory had known one another since grade school, and Spruill and Coakley's friendship extended to when the two were preschoolers.
Even more uniquely, many of these men were what are now referred to as "Non-Traditional Students" and were 3-5 years older than the average college student. Gregory, Willis, and Brown were all service veterans, and Brown, Hicks, and Briscoe were married with small children. Of this group of 12, several were also working full-time jobs and all were full-time students.
Based upon their ages, heightened responsibilities, and increased level of maturity, this group had a slightly different perspective than the norm for college students. It was this perspective from which they established the Fraternity's purpose, "The development and perpetuation of Scholarship, Leadership, Citizenship, Fidelity, and Brotherhood among Men." Additionally, they conceived the Fraternity's motto, "Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!"
The Fraternity functioned as a local entity until the first interest groups were established in 1967 at Hampton Institute (Beta Chapter) and Delaware State College (Gamma Chapter). Further expansion took place in 1968 with chapters being formed at Norfolk State College (Delta Chapter) and Jersey City State College (Epsilon Chapter). The Fraternity was officially and legally incorporated on November 1, 1968, as a National Fraternity under the laws of the State of Maryland.
Today, Iota Phi Theta® consists of over 300 chapters located in 40 States, the District of Columbia, and internationally in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Colombia, South America. The scope of the organization extends throughout the nation, from California to New York; from Wyoming to Florida; and from Wisconsin to our international chapters.