Indiana Gamma Chapter - History
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Brief History of Indiana Gamma Phi Kappa Psi

Indiana Gamma was installed in 1871 by five ambassadors from Indiana Alpha as the 21st chapter of the Fraternity, and for its first thirty years was primarily a literary society. Excellence in scholarship, congeniality, and compatibility were the criteria for membership. Despite the success of the chapter, in the late 19th century, Wabash found the competition of the new state universities too strong. This, combined with its traditional curriculum and high entrance requirements, led to depleted Wabash enrollment. After much effort, an alumni committee headed by Edward H. Knight, 1893, decided a chapter of two men could not be enlarged with suitable recruits and voluntarily surrendered the charter on March 15, 1901.
Eddie Knight was often urged to make an attempt to restore the chapter. He sponsored an unsuccessful effort to do so in 1914 and 1916, and discouraged the idea for many years thereafter because he felt conditions for reestablishing the chapter had not improved. However, the flood of returning servicemen in the mid-1940s and the change at Wabash driven by Dr. Frank Hugh Sparks caused conditions to improve.

With the backing of Dr. Sparks, the Wabash Board of Trustees, other Wabash fraternities, the few surviving members of the original chapter, and the national fraternity, the effort was launched. In 1947, Wabash Dean Byron Trippet handpicked a small group of interested students to meet with Eddie Knight and Thomas Elery to discuss refounding Indiana Gamma. Functioning as Gamma Phi literary society, these men accepted the challenge, increased their membership, and found a suitable house. In the words of Dr. Sparks, in one year these men "…did more for the Wabash fraternity system than has been done in the last 25 years." The men of Gamma Phi led the campus in scholarship and made significant contributions to the college.

On July 8, 1948, the Grand Arch Council of the Phi Kappa Psi, fraternity directly rechartered Indiana Gamma. On October 17, 1948, fifty years and one week ago, 26 men were inducted into the mysteries of Phi Kappa Psi. The twenty-three undergraduates and alumni who were initiated into Phi Kappa Psi as recharter members of Indiana Gamma were: (undergraduates) Ronald L. Bailey, William P Barnett, Frederick E. Brown, Richard F.H. Butler, James C. Ching, Jay S. Grantham, Richard H. Griesser, Bernard E. Hiester, Frederick Philip Hinshaw, Robert J. Hoey, Warren H. Jackson, Marsh H. Jones, Paul H. Jones, Harry F. Knotts, William Donald Martin, Robert Morris, Richard T. Nolin, Robert B. North, James R. Pearson, David D. Randolph, Richard O. Regnier, Charles M. Rhodes, and Glen E. Tudor; (alumni) Joseph L. Daszek, Richard H. Lehman, and Richard L. Sills.

The Shield later reported that "In an impressive, formal manner, the chapter charter was presented by the Chapter Daddy, Edward H. Knight. It was received in an equally sincere and solemn manner by the chapter's first GP, Frederick Phillip Hinshaw."
The chapter remained active and progressive. In 1962, when the college enrollment grew and the chapter expanded, Phi Psi alumnus Fred Hadley bought the large frame house next door for use as a temporary annex. The college trustees devised a building program to aid expansion, and the chapter began to form plans.

The initial step of a two-phase building program called for the adjoining houses to be connected at the rear by a center wing containing a new dining room, dormitory, and recreation room. Since the old houses seemed structurally sound, they could continue to serve as study rooms and new wings could be added later. A vigorous fund drive raised more than $60,000 and with over $80,000 from Wabash, construction began and the new wing was ready in the fall of 1964. The giant U-shaped structure provided housing for sixty men with both of the wings converted entirely to study rooms. However, maintenance problems grew with the newly connected structure. These difficulties, combined with intra-house rivalry caused by two separate wings, and a need to compete with other fraternities in their new and handsome houses, led to talk of building one large study wing.

The fall of 1968 and a then-record pledge class of 23 forced the decision to build again. Alumni Gordon Peters '49, Dick Regnier '48, and Daniel Johnson '51 led the charge to raise $50,000 to qualify for a matching $200,000 from Wabash. Construction began in June of 1969 when the two old houses were torn down to make way for the one study wing, which is used today. At the time, the house was in the midst of perhaps the most extreme financial difficulty it had faced in its history. With leadership from actives and alumni, by the mid-1970's the chapter had turned things around.

Subsequent decades were very good to the house. With continued leadership from alumni including Dr. Robert Mouser, chapter advisor and Homecoming chef Ben Kessler, Peters, Regnier, and many others, the chapter has continued to prosper. In the eighties and nineties, the Fraternity has been honored by numerous Phi Psi speakers, thespians, singers, journalists, scholars, cross country runners, and swimmers who have won national awards. Indiana Gamma has always undertaken numerous philanthropic projects: working with underprivileged children, raising funds for charity, and volunteering time and talents to numerous efforts in the Crawfordsville area. The chapter has won numerous IM championships, including over 50% of the crowns in the last ten years. Phi Psi pledges have won the Homecoming contest each year since 1994. The massive Phi Kappa Psi tapestry in the Great Hall, hung in 1986, still welcomes visitors today. The spirit of brotherhood, always a distinguishing characteristic of Indiana Gamma, remains very strong.

With strong support from alumni, parents, college, and friends, and driven by the strength and enthusiasm of its active chapter, Indiana Gamma looks back proudly at its past and optimistically looks forward to its next fifty years.

Edward H. Knight

Edward H. Knight was born in 1877, and at the age of sixteen he enrolled at Wabash College. During his freshman year in 1893, Eddie was initiated into the Indiana Gamma Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi. Upon graduating from Wabash, he traveled east to study law at Yale University.

After receiving his law degree Eddie returned to Indianapolis to establish his professional practice. During his years in Indianapolis, Brother Knight served as Indianapolis City Attorney, sat on the Indianapolis Corporation Council, and authored fifty-five legislative acts that were adopted by the Indiana General Assembly. During World War I, Eddie served as the Marion County Selective Service Chairman and the President of the Indiana Selective Service Association. In 1959, he received the Alumni Award of Merit from his alma mater, the most prestigious recognition given by Wabash College.

In his seventy-seven years of service to Phi Kappa Psi, Brother Knight distinguished himself through his unyielding devotion to the Fraternity. He attended an unprecedented thirty-eight Grand Arch Councils, and consequently, the GAC Award for attendance bears his name. In 1915, he helped establish the Endowment Fund of Phi Kappa Psi. He also served two terms as SWP, the National treasurer of the Fraternity. Eddie helped establish Phi Psi's fraternity within a fraternity, the Order of the SC; membership in the Order of the SC is attained by attending at least seven Grand Arch Councils. The National Fraternity named another award for Brother Knight, the Edward H. Knight Award of Merit, due to his extensive service to the Fraternity.
Brother Knight passed away in 1974 at the age of ninety-seven, and the members of Phi Kappa Psi will always remember his love and devotion to Indiana Gamma.