The Early Years

During the spring of 1912, Albert Cross, a student in the department of civil engineering at Penn, received a letter from Warren Cole, the international founder of Lambda Chi Alpha, indicating that he had received Cross’ name from a mutual acquaintance and that he would like to form a chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha at Pennsylvania. Cross liked Cole’s idea and began talking with some of his friends. One of these friends was John E. “Jack” Mason, whom Cross had met in a French class that summer. Mason, who had hardly been interested in existing fraternities at Penn, suggested to another friend, Raymond Ferris, that they “take a shot at” establishing a chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha.

Thus, with colossal nerve, Cross, Mason, Ferris, and five other men dared to launch a fraternity chapter on a campus with an abundance of long-established national fraternities. But with determination, Epsilon Zeta began. Jack Mason, after being initiated, was not pleased with the then-current ritual. After studying at the Grand Lodge of the Freemasons in Pennsylvania, he authored the Fraternity’s current initiation ritual. Jack Mason and the men of the chapter helped develop many other aspects of the national fraternity, such as the coat of arms, drafting the new member education book, and starting the first Lambda Chi Alpha publications. Because of the work of Mason and others, Epsilon Zeta is considered by many to be the spiritual founder of the national fraternity.

The chapter went on to experience many successful years. However, interest waned after the second World War and the chapter fell dormant in 1956. This dormancy marked the move out of the founding house at the corner of 39th street and Locust.


Recolonization and Rechartering

The Fraternity was recolonized at Penn in 1996 and in Fall 1997, the new Lambda Chi Alpha colony acquired its first house since falling dormant at the University, a three story row home in a prime campus location. It was perhaps a small milestone, but genuinely marked Lambda Chi Alpha’s return as a leading fraternity at Penn.

The colony was officially rechartered May 1, 1999 at the Palladium in Philadelphia, PA. In attendance were Regional Director Paul Ainsworth, Grand High Pi Brad Peabody and Grand High Kappa Ned Book.

Since chartering, the fraternity has has excelled in a variety of capacities, providing over 75,000 pounds of food for local Philadelphians, winning the Crawford C. Madeira Cup for Fraternity Excellence in 2001 from the University of Pennsylvania, and winning numerous awards from the General Fraternity over the years. Epsilon Zeta boasts one of the highest campus and fraternity-wide member GPAs, Green Living Gold status by the University of Pennsylvania, and remains the second oldest active chapter nationally.

At present the Fraternity has 32 active brothers and a growing alumni association. The chapter has moved into their third house, and resides at 128 South 39th Street, near the corner of 39th Street and Walnut.


Associate Member Program

Lambda Chi Alpha was the first national fraternity to ban hazing by converting its traditional pledge program into an associate member program. Associate members of Lambda Chi Alpha hold all rights and responsibilities of full brothers and can serve in all aspects not related to the initiation ritual.