Delta Upsilon was established by 30 men at Williams College on November 4th, 1834 under the name "The Social Fraternity." These men were greatly concerned with the secret societies on Williams' campus and the power they held over student affairs at the time. To counter this monopoly on power and rampant abuse of it, the Founders, as they are known today, sought to create a new, non-secret society that would welcome “all good men and true.” While other groups fiddled with recognition signs and secret handshakes, Delta Upsilon began promoting friendship and developing character amongst its members.
Williams was the first of many campuses to see anti-secret groups come into existence. By 1847, anti-secret groups at Williams, Union College, Middlebury College, and Amherst College had banded together to form the Anti-Secret Confederation and to adopt the motto "Ouden Adelon," meaning "Nothing Secret." The first convention of the Anti-Secret Confederation was held in 1852, by which time the Western Reserve chapter had joined the confederation. At this convention, our present-day motto of "Dikaia Upotheke" or "Justice, Our Foundation" was adopted.
Having barely survived the turmoil of the American Civil War, the Anti-Secret Confederation met in 1864 to formally become the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. With college men returning to school following the conclusion of the war, Delta Upsilon experienced rapid growth and became an international fraternity with the addition of a chapter at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1898. Notably, Delta Upsilon pushed through the Great Depression without closing a single chapter anywhere in the US or Canada and in fact added 9 new chapters between 1929 and 1935.
Over the past 50 years, Delta Upsilon has proven itself to be a luminary organization in the fraternity/sorority community. It was the first fraternity to call for alcohol-free recruitment even when many states had their drinking ages set at 18. It was one of the first fraternities to offer nationwide educational programming for all of its chapters and continues to do so today through its Regional Leadership Academies and Leadership Institute, amongst other programs. Since 2015, Delta Upsilon has surveyed every active brother each year in order to identify strengths and weaknesses of each chapter and of the international fraternity. This data-driven approach to Building Better Men is entirely unique to Delta Upsilon and goes to show how the fraternity, as it has done for over 180 years, is working to give to its members experiences and skills that will last a lifetime.
There is some mystery to the beginnings of the Western Reserve Chapter. We do know that the Western Reserve Chapter started in 1840 as the Delta Psi Literary Society. In 1851, the society formally joined the Anti-Secret Confederation. 1849 is the date listed on the CWRU Greek Life website. However, Delta Upsilon lists the chapter's founding date as 1847, making it the fifth chapter to join the fraternity.
Due to disagreements between the faculty and administration of the college, many students left Western Reserve University for other schools. Between 1852 and 1853, there were no delegates from the Western Reserve chapter to the fraternity's National Conventions. Due to the lack of representation at the Conventions combined with the understanding that Western Reserve University was on the verge of dissolution, the consensus was that there was no hope for the Western Reserve chapter. However, the school survived, and in 1864, John J. Wilson began plans to revive the chapter. In the fall of 1865, of a university class of only 11 men, 7 joined Delta Upsilon. This revived chapter was formally readmitted to Delta Upsilon at the Rochester Convention in the fall of 1866.
The Western Reserve chapter has been continuously active since 1866. This makes it the longest continuously active chapter at what is now Case Western Reserve University.
For more specific information Please view the Quinquennial Catalog published in 1884 and available via Google Books. Pages 294 to 312 are related to the Western Reserve Chapter. We will add historical documents we find in our research as PDF documents on this page. If you have information to add to the above history, please contact our President at president[at]cwrudeltau.org
Notable DU Alumni
United States President James Garfield is a brother of the Williams chapter.
Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson is a brother of the Toronto chapter.
Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos is a brother of the Kansas chapter.
Legendary football coach Lou Holtz is a brother of the Kent State chapter.
Author Kurt Vonnegut is a brother of the Cornell chapter.
Former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner is a brother of the Dennison chapter.
*Whether deceased or still living, all brothers of Delta Upsilon are members of their respective chapters in the present tense, not past. This is because at Initiation, all brothers of DU take an oath which binds them with the fraternity and their chapters forever, including after their passing. Besides in cases of expulsion or resignation of membership, no brother "was" a DU; they are and will forever be a DU.