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Tau Kappa Epsilon

Tau Kappa Epsilon
Founded January 10, 1899; 121 years ago (1899-01-10)
Illinois Wesleyan University
Type Social
Scope International
Motto Better Men For A Better World
Colors Crimson Lake Cherry and Pure Silver Gray.
Symbol Equilateral Triangle
Flower Red Carnation
Publication The Teke
Philanthropy St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Alzheimer's Association
Chapters 271 active[1]
Members 11,730[1] collegiate
268,000 total [2] lifetime
Headquarters 7439 Woodland Drive [3]
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Tau Kappa Epsilon (ΤΚΕ or Teke, pronounced T-K-E or Tēk) is an international all-male secret and social college fraternity founded on January 10, 1899, at Illinois Wesleyan University. The organization has chapters in the United States, Canada, and an affiliation with a German fraternity system known as the Corps of the Weinheimer Senioren-Convent (WSC). As of Fall 2014 there were 271[1] active TKE chapters and colonies throughout the United States and Canada, making it the second largest fraternity in terms of chapters established (behind Kappa Sigma). In 1928, TKE became one of the first fraternities to abolish "hell week", instead replacing it with a secret initiation period.[4]


File:TKE founders.jpg
The five founders of Tau Kappa Epsilon. Clockwise from top left: James Carson McNutt, Owen Ison Truitt, Clarence Arthur Mayer, Joseph Lorenzo Settles, Charles Roy Atkinson

On January 10, 1899, Charles Roy Atkinson, Clarence Arthur Mayer, James Carson McNutt, Joseph Lorenzo Settles, and Owen Ison Truitt met at 504 East Locust Street in Bloomington, Illinois to draw up the first constitution for a new fraternity at Illinois Wesleyan University. The purpose of the new organization was to be an "aid to college men in mental, moral and social development." The founders sought to be a different organization than the other fraternities at the time by establishing a fraternity where membership would be based on personal worth and character rather than wealth, rank, or honor. Mental development would be emphasized by the study of classic literature at weekly meetings, and thus the new fraternity became known as the Knights of Classic Lore. The first public announcement of the Knights of Classic Lore appeared in the February 1, 1899 issue of the Argus, which is the student publication of Illinois Wesleyan University.

During the time of the formation of the Knights of Classic Lore were trying hard to get the Illinois Epsilon chapter of Phi Delta Theta restored. Prominent PhiDelt alumnus Richard Henry Little became a persistent sponsor for the Knights to petition Phi Delta Theta for charter. The Knights first petitioned Phi Delta Theta at its 1902 convention in New York, but efforts were unsuccessful. After renting rooms at several locations beginning in the spring of 1899, the Knights of Classic Lore finally acquired its first fraternity house, known as The Wilder Mansion, in September 1902. Simultaneously with the acquisition of the new house, the Knights also adopted the name Tau Kappa Epsilon. The change in name was expected to create a better impression in future petitions to Phi Delta Theta. The second petition was presented at the Indianapolis convention of 1904, but it was withdrawn in an effort to gain unanimous support of all chapters in Phi Delta Theta's Zeta Province, which included Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. If this support was achieved, then charter would be granted to the group without any action from the convention. The Knights of Classic Lore gained the support of all Phi Delta Theta groups in the province, except for Wisconsin Alpha, Illinois Beta, and Missouri Alpha. The Knights in turn unsuccessfully presented the petition at the 1906 convention in Washington, D.C.. During the continuing struggle for acceptance from Phi Delta Theta, TKE continued to grow stronger in its own existence.

In late 1907, TKE was preparing to petition Phi Delta Theta once again at the 1908 convention, when an event took place that would forever change the course of history for the fraternity. At the annual initiation banquet on October 19, 1907, speeches were made that both advocated and questioned the continued petitioning of Phi Delta Theta. At the banquet, Wallace G. McCauley delivered a blistering speech known as "Opportunity Out of Defeat." The powerful address called for an abandonment of the petitioning initiative and a new campaign to make TKE into a national fraternity itself. While there was some opposition at the time, the movement ultimately took hold, and by 1908, TKE was well on its way to becoming a national fraternity in its own right. The speech was published in the first issue of The Teke, in January 1908, and by November of that year, work was beginning on a new constitution. At the chapter meeting held on Monday, February 15, 1909, the new constitution became official. The first Conclave of the Grand Chapter of the new national fraternity of Tau Kappa Epsilon convened on February 17, 1909.


In 1909, TKE approached the Chi Rho Sigma Fraternity at Millikin University. There were no national fraternities at Millikin at this time, and TKE had just established its intentions to become a national fraternity. Representatives from TKE presented their case, and after thorough consideration, Chi Rho Sigma voted to accept TKE's offer. On April 17, 1909, Chi Rho Sigma was installed as the Beta Chapter of TKE. In November 1911, the Beta Rho Delta Fraternity was founded at the University of Illinois. BPΔ petitioned Tau Kappa Epsilon in January 1912, and they were installed as the Gamma Chapter of TKE on February 3, 1912. Following the installation of Gamma Chapter, The TEKE magazine noted that the triangle was completed. The geographic location of TKE's first three chapters form an almost perfect equilateral triangle. The equilateral triangle was at that time, and continues to be, the primary symbol of Tau Kappa Epsilon.

The National Fraternity Sigma Mu Sigma merged with TKE in March 1935. The merger resulted in the new Alpha-Pi Chapter of TKE at George Washington University and additional members for the Gamma Chapter at the University of Illinois and the Alpha-Zeta Chapter at Purdue University.

Prior to 1939, TKE chapters were installed after local fraternities petitioned TKE for approval. In 1939 a colonization process was established to promote expansion and to ensure that potential chapters met all necessary requirements prior to installation. The first two TKE colonies were the Eta Colony at the University of Kansas and the Chi Beta Colony at the University of Missouri.[5]

Tau Kappa Epsilon expanded for the first time into the Deep South region of the United States in 1946. This expansion was made possible when Alpha Lambda Tau, a small predominantly Southern national fraternity, announced its dissolution. Five of Alpha Lambda Tau's eight active chapters affiliated with TKE, resulting in new TKE chapters at the University of Maryland, North Carolina State University, Auburn University, Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, and Tri-State College.[6]

Presidential Recognition

On January 20, 1981 Tau Kappa Epsilon member Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th President of the United States. Reagan joined TKE at the Iota Chapter at Eureka College in 1929. Through his time as President of the United States, Reagan remained actively involved in Tau Kappa Epsilon.

In 1983, President Reagan created the Ronald Reagan Leadership Award to recognize selected student members of TKE that have demonstrated superior academic and leadership accomplishments.[7]

In March 1984 President Reagan sponsored a TKE alumni luncheon at the White House. Approximately 60 members of TKE were invited to the White House luncheon. At the luncheon, Reagan was awarded TKE's Order of the Golden Eagle as well as the Gold Medal of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) recognizing his lifelong efforts to support and promote college fraternities. Reagan was the first Teke and first U.S. President to receive the Gold Medal of the NIC.[8]

In October 1984 President Reagan attended lunch at the TKE house at The Ohio State University. The Ohio State Chapter hosted President Reagan for lunch following a rally in which he was speaking at Ohio State.[9]

In June 1988 President Reagan hosted a special TKE ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in which he presented the Ronald Reagan Leadership Award/Scholarship to TKE member Alan Friel. During the ceremony at the White House, President Reagan was also presented with TKE's Order of the Silver Maple Leaf by TKE Grand Prytanis Bruce Melchert.

Symbols and traditions


The mythological ideal or patron of Tau Kappa Epsilon is Apollo, an important and complex Olympian deity in Greek and Roman mythology. Apollo is the Greek god of music and culture, of light and the ideals toward which the organization strives for in their development of manhood.


The official membership badge, made of gold and adorned with three white pearls, is by far the most important item of TKE insignia in general use. This badge may be worn only by initiated members. Jeweled badges, crown set with pearls, diamonds, rubies or emeralds, according to choice, may be worn by alumni members. Frequently the standard membership badge is used as a token of engagement. Miniature badges are also available for mothers, sisters, wives, chapter sweethearts or for engagement purposes. The TKE 'badge of gold,' unique in its design and distinctiveness, has never been changed since its adoption.

Red carnation

The red carnation is the flower of the fraternity. From this flower the color for the coat-of-arms, flag, and other symbols are derived. Red carnations are also worn at TKE banquets. The Red Carnation Ball is a dance that many chapters celebrate, and is named after the flower.


The heraldic definition of the TKE Coat-of-Arms is "A shield of a Norman form, upon which has a bend with five equilateral triangles, surmounting a scroll bearing five Greek letters, and surmounted by a skull, or death's head, three-quarters profile. This assemblage is done in the official colors, cherry red and battleship gray, properly mantled." The coat-of-arms may be used only by official members of the Fraternity on stationery, jewelry, and other personal effects. Modified slightly several times during the early years of Tau Kappa Epsilon, the present Coat-of-Arms, adopted in 1926, was designed by Dr. Carlton B. Pierce and Ms. Emily Butterfield.


The present design of the TKE flag, as adopted at the 1961 Conclave, features five voided triangles, in cherry red, on a gray bend surmounting a red field. Because it is patterned after the shield of the fraternity Coat-of-Arms, the flag is readily associated with Tau Kappa Epsilon. Individual chapters may also purchase and use pennants and wall banners of various designs. These usually employ the name or Greek letters of the fraternity and chapter, and may incorporate the basic TKE insignia. TKE insignia may be purchased only from the Offices of the Grand Chapter or a merchant licensed by the fraternity headquarters.

The Horse Shoe

In April 1921, members of the Fraternity at The Ohio State University made their way to the Conclave in Madison, Wisconsin. At the conclusion of the vote granting their charter as Omicron Chapter, one of the members pulled from his pants pocket a rusty horseshoe which the fraters had picked up along the way. Believing that the horseshoe had granted the chapter good luck, the tradition began to pass the horseshoe down to each chapter. The original horseshoe was lost during World War II at the Alpha-Chi Chapter, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky (it was replaced with a new horseshoe to continue the tradition).

In mid-1995, the original horseshoe was discovered by Past Grand Prytanis Rodney Williams among some artifacts belonging to Alpha-Chi Chapter, which had been held for years by a charter member of the chapter. At the 49th Biennial Conclave, the original TKE horseshoe from Omicron Chapter was displayed, and the story behind its loss explained.

The horse shoe, now an adopted symbol, is traditionally displayed on a plaque given to new chapters at their founding.

International officers

Grand Council officers and members

  • Grand President[10]Robert L. Barr
  • Grand Vice-President – Rodney G. Talbot
  • Grand Secretary – Fritz Jacobi
  • Grand Treasurer – Christopher T. Hanson
  • Grand Historian – Dr. James Hickey
  • Grand Chaplain – David Bohline
  • Grand Sergeant-at-Arms – Brian Montgomery
  • Grand Educator – Anthony Clemens
  • At-Large Member – Van Muse
  • At-Large Member – Ted Bereswill
  • CAC Student Representative – Shaun Taylor

Notable alumni


Chapters and colonies

Tau Kappa Epsilon is also affiliated with the German fraternity system known as the Corps of the Weinheimer Senioren-Convent (WSC). The WSC serves as an umbrella organization for 60 student Corps at 22 cities all over Germany.



THE TEKE is the award winning[11][12] official quarterly publication for undergraduate and alumni brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon. The magazine features in depth articles related to topics of interest for TKE members, including chapter news, alumni news, service and foundation annual reports, and articles relating to leadership, professional development, chapter operations, and of general interest to the fraternal world. October 19, 1907, Wallace G. McCauley delivered his Opportunity out of Defeat speech at annual initiation banquet of the fraternity. Not only did this speech mark the decision to become a national fraternity, it also marked the beginning of the official magazine of TKE. In the speech, McCauley stated, "Then let us issue a magazine, quarterly as first, name it The Teke, make it attractive and artistic in form." THE TEKE magazine first appeared in January 1908. The first edition was a 20-page booklet of 7 by 10 inches bound with a gray cover and the title THE TEKE within a red triangle. Illustrations and photos were first used in Volume II, No. 2 of THE TEKE. The magazine expanded to the 8.5 by 11.5 inch size in 1935. THE TEKE was suspended in the 1990s amid financial difficulties for the fraternity, but it was re-established in 1999.[13][14]

The Teke Guide

The pledge manual of Tau Kappa Epsilon is known as The Teke Guide. Development on the manual began in 1927, and The Teke Guide was first published in 1935. The book was developed to acquaint pledges of TKE with the history, government, organization, idealism, functions, aspirations, and traditions of Tau Kappa Epsilon. The Teke Guide was the first fraternity pledge manual to use a two color printing process. The original book was designed, compiled, and edited by Grand Histor Leland F. Leland. Through the 1950s, The Teke Guide was a spiral bound book of nearly 150 pages. The book was rich with illustrations, including photos of all TKE chapter houses. In 1966 a new hard cover version of The Teke Guide debuted; however the new version contained significantly reduced content and very few photos. By the 1980s, the The Teke Guide had been reduced to a soft cover magazine-like format. The hard cover format returned again by the 1990s, and over the next few years an effort was made to restore the in-depth historical content and photographs that had been stripped from previous versions in order to make the book more of a permanent TKE reference manual for the life of each member. In 2007 the first edition to be printed in full color was issued.[15][16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "2013-2014 Fraternal Services Report". The Teke. Fall 2014. pp20-21
  2. ^ "Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity". 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  3. ^ "TKE homepage - contact details". Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  4. ^ The Golden Book of Tau Kappa Epsilon. 1949. p 74.
  5. ^ "paragraphic History of TKE". The Golden Book of Tau Kappa Epsilon. 1949. pp 15-16, 81.
  6. ^ "Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity :: History". Retrieved 2013-10-27. 
  7. ^ The TEKE. Summer 2004. p 12.
  8. ^ The TEKE. Summer 2004. p 14.
  9. ^ "Reagan visits frat house at Ohio State". Durant Daily Democrat. October 24, 1984. p 11.
  10. ^ "Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity :: Grand Council". Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "TKE and its Publications." The Golden Book of Tau Kappa Epsilon. 1949. pp. 121-129.
  14. ^ "100 Years of THE TEKE." THE TEKE. Winter 2008. pp. 7-11.
  15. ^ "Preface - Why This Teke Book." The Teke Guide. 1946-47, p9.
  16. ^ "TKE and its Publications." The Golden Book of Tau Kappa Epsilon. 1949. p. 132.

External links