The Delta Epsilon chapter of Kappa Alpha Order at Newberry College has a rich history that dates back to the 1960’s. We wanted to share a historical perspective:

In the early 1900’s, the Newberry College greek system consisted of two local men’s social clubs, Kappa Phi and Phi Tau. They had no connections to a national organization, so these clubs established their own recruitment, pledge training, and initiation procedures. In the fall semester of 1963 a group of young men joined Kappa Phi that would completely change the history of the Greek System at Newberry College. In the spring semester of 1964, the election of officers included these men; Van Segars, President; Bill Mayer, Vice President; Larry Oswald, Treasurer; Mac Cobb, Reporter and Woody Cornwell, Secretary. In the last meeting before the summer 1964 break, President Segars suggested the possibility of joining an established national fraternal organization.  It was decided that Kappa Alpha Order would be the best possible choice. To better align the club with national standards, the decision was made to change the rather crude method of initiation to a more civil one. In the fall semester of 1964, the fraternity was reorganized to accomplish this goal and that fall, another large class of potential leaders in the fraternity were recruited.

In that last meeting of the 1964 spring semester, the secretary was given the task of contacting KA over the summer to inquire about the steps that needed to be taken to become affiliated with their organization. Mr. E. Fleming Mason was the Province Commander of the South Carolina KA Chapters, which at that time consisted of Delta (Wofford), Rho (USC), and Beta Pi (Presbyterian College). A letter to Mr. Mason was answered in short order by a call to Cornwell asking about the clubs intentions and some information about the college. He suggested a visit to Newberry to meet and learn more about Kappa Phi and Newberry College. He was asked when he would like to visit and his answer surprised Cornwell when he stated he was already in Newberry and would like to meet with him. That first meeting established a respect for Mr. Mason that has lasted a life time. He asked “who are your current Brothers?” When only naming less than half the members, he proceeded to name the remaining ones. He knew everyone in the fraternity and where they were from and also stated that some of those members must be cut to have a chance to become KA’s. As he put it, “there is some dead wood that must be weeded out.” He was probably right, but the Brothers did not all see it that way.

The petitioning process was involved and very detailed. The first item Kappa Phi had to do was establish a relationship with all the Kappa Alpha Order chapters in the state. This was the informal petition. Requirements were a full accounting of all members and their pertinent information; name, hometown, major, grades, etc.; the clubs leadership position on the campus including other organizations and officer positions held by Kappa Phi members. Getting to know the Brothers at Carolina, Wofford and PC and them getting to know us would be the first thing the Brothers of Kappa Phi must accomplish.  This was an important aspect since the informal petition must be approved by every chapter in the Province before a new chapter can be established. The Brothers traveled to Columbia (USC), Spartanburg (Wofford) and Clinton (Presbyterian College) whenever the opportunity arose to visit and attend parties the chapters were having. In the fall semester of 1965, Woody Cornwell was elected President of Kappa Phi and Van Segars had graduated (he would later be initiated with the charter members). The process continued and by December of 1965, both PC and Wofford had approved the petition. Carolina was the only hold out. Mr. Mason was a great help to the Brothers as he guiding the effort to get approval from all the Carolina KA Chapters. He told us we must double our effort with the Rho Chapter since he thought the vote might not be there to get their approval. A vote in the Chapter meeting in late December was scheduled to take place at Rho. Mr. Mason, sensing the vote might not go our way, convinced the Rho Chapter to postpone the vote until after the Christmas break.

The meeting that would determine if we made it as a KA chapter took place in early January 1966.  The pay phones in Cromer were the only way Mr. Mason could get in touch with us. That night Cromer Hall’s pay phone area was jammed packed with Kappa Phi brothers and pledges as well as other students interested in the outcome. Late that night the call came from Mr. Mason that the Rho Chapter had approved the petition. All hell broke loose!

The rest of the story is the formal petition that would be presented to the Executive Council of Kappa Alpha Order in the meeting in New Orleans in February of 1966. The formal petition was all the information on the Brothers plus pictures and a letter from the Newberry College Board of Trustees. That posed another obstacle since we learned that there was some opposition on the Board to bringing a National Fraternity onto the campus. With the help of some influential member of the Newberry Community that were KA’s, one of them serving on the board,  and some diplomatic work of several Kappa Phi brothers, the Board made the vote to accept KA on campus. So the final straw was ready for the review of the formal petition by the Executive Council, which we found out, was likely an automatic acceptance.

After all the petitions were completed and approved, the representative from National, Mr. Tom Tune, spent several weeks with the chapter conducting pledge training classes. The week for which the men of Kappa Phi had worked so diligently arrived on May 9, 1966, when KA orientation began for the future Delta Epsilon Chapter. It was a week of learning and inspiration; one that the men will always remember. On Friday, May13th, the installation banquet was held at the Community Hall on the square of downtown Newberry. Delta Epsilon was proud to have had so many distinguished men of Kappa Alpha present for the event. Province Commander, E. Fleming Mason; former Knight Commander W. McLeod Frampton, Jr.; Knight Commander Henry Foresman; and Executive Secretary William Forester.

The initiation ceremonies were held on May 14th at the Central Methodist Church and the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer with initiating teams from Delta and Beta Pi Chapters. The first elected officers of Delta Epsilon were: Hap Pearce, No.l; Woody Cornwell, No.ll; and Tommy Burriss, No.lll

The Delta Epsilon chapter of Kappa Alpha Order was the first national fraternity established at Newberry College leading the way for others. In 1967, Phi Tau became affiliated with Alpha Tau Omega, later to be disbanded in the 1980’s. In the 1970’s, two other national fraternities were founded; Theta Chi and Tau Kappa Epsilon. Also taking from the leadership of the KA’s, a sorority was founded and established as Alpha Xi Delta. Later, two other groups of young ladies founded Kappa Delta and Sigma Sigma Sigma. The Greek Life at Newberry College now consists of KA, TKE, and ΘΧ making up the National Interfraternity Council (IFC) and ΛΞΔ, ΚΔ, and ΣΣΣ make up the National Panhellenic Council. The NPHC is made up of Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Beta Sigma, and Zeta Phi Beta.

Woody Cornwell
Class of 1967