Founded in 1895 at Yale University, Pi Lambda Phi is an organization at the forefront of a cause that has impacted the lives of people throughout every generation. The fight for equality. The belief that people should be judged on the content of their character, not on their religious or racial backgrounds.
Throughout Pi Lambda Phi’s history, both here at Baldwin Wallace and across North America, Pi Lambda Phi has and continues to be committed to the quest for equality. Starting with our Founders, Frederick Manfred Werner, Louis Sampter Levy, and Henry Mark Fisher who sought to create “a fraternity in which all men were Brothers, no matter what their religion; a fraternity in which ability, open-mindedness, farsightedness, and a progressive, forward-looking attitude would be recognized as the basic attributes.”
From desegregating Greek Life at places like the University of Virginia, University of California Los Angeles and Penn State University. To establishing the first fraternity at Indiana State University to have interracial members. Pilams have continued to follow the example set forth by our Founding members.
Individual Pi Lambda Phi fraternity members have also helped progress our mission. Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Arthur Garfield Hayes are a few notable examples.
Our own history at Baldwin Wallace is rich with examples of continuing the legacy set forth by our Founders.
Our chapter’s history at Baldwin Wallace predates that of Pi Lambda Phi coming to Berea. In 1948, Sigma Sigma Epsilon was founded on the principle that a brotherhood can only exist when membership is dependent on character, not skin color or religion. The men involved in this fraternity quickly learned that its progressive ideals were shared by other local organizations, and an opportunity existed to spread its inclusive culture to more than just Baldwin Wallace’s campus.
As the desire for student organizations which provided an opportunity for all men of all creeds to come together spread throughout the nation, 12 intercultural local fraternities meet in 1948 to draw up the constitution and structure of the first national, intercultural fraternity: Beta Sigma Tau. Beta Sigma Tau was founded in 1948 at Baldwin Wallace. The purpose of the fraternity was "to end barriers among people and to have a foundation based upon a brotherhood and democracy which transcends racial, national and religious differences." Beta Sigma Tau was merged into Pi Lambda Phi on November 1, 1960 because of the similar ideals expressed by both fraternities.
During Pi Lambda Phi’s time at Baldwin Wallace, our chapter has seen its share of ups and downs, membership growth and reduction. However, the commitment to our values and the mission of Pi Lambda Phi is as strong today as ever before. Examples of great Pilams come from every generation and we are thankful for the contributions of all of our members as they played their role in ensuring the longevity of our chapter. In total, Baldwin Wallace has provided a PiLam home to approximately 700 men.
As with any organization, along with the good times, you have the times of trepidation. In the spring of 2004, campus officials removed Pi Lambda Phi from campus. After months of hard work, our alumni at the time earned the right to begin the revitalization process. Through the revitalization process, our chapter came back to campus with a strengthened committed to the organizational values of Pi Lambda Phi. Membership standards challenge brothers to achieve academically, participate in community service and develop as leaders both within the chapter and throughout the campus community. These changes have helped shape the chapter we enjoy today. Much appreciation is due to our alumni who played a significant role in this time period, including Shawn Upchurch, Dave LeBanc, Al DiFranco, Eric Courtney, Dan Balski, Kristofer Reiber and Brent Savage.
Following the revitalization, our chapter has provided a home for young men to learn the values of our fraternity and challenge them to embody these values in their daily lives.