Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity, Incorporated, was founded at the New Jersey State Normal School at Trenton (presently known as The College of New Jersey) on Wednesday, February 11th, 1925. There were five founding fathers of the fraternity, four seniors and one freshman. The organization was founded within the Division of Industrial Education and Technology department. Phi Alpha Delta was the first fraternal organization on the campus and was incorporated through the efforts of the five founding fathers: Leonard Burns, J. Willard Carey, Milton Jochem, Edwin Spear, and Boris Zisman. The first advisor of the fraternity was Professor Charles A. Burt, head of the Department of Manual Training in 1925.
During the early years, numbers were low, for not many males attended the Trenton Normal School. Many attendees of the school were women, looking to become teachers. Those who chose to join the fraternity were highly intelligent young men who were also highly involved in athletics as well as charitable to the college. Some of the professional activities that the brothers took part in during the 1930's consisted of printing jobs for the college, construction of scenery for school plays, as well as helping construct and control a water dam for holding water in Lake Sylva. The brothers prided themselves in the cultivation of their minds and their skilled hands to perform the solutions to problems.
Recognizing the service that the fraternity had rendered to the college since its incorporation, Roscoe L. West, president of the college, awarded the fraternity an island in the middle of Lake Sylva in 1939. The fraternity was privileged that they were given this honor. The brothers constructed a boat dock so they could row out to the island at their leisure. Some of the footings of the dock still stand today. The brothers also brought out three large gray boulders, and using maroon paint, painted one letter of the fraternity on each stone. This showed the campus that the island belonged to Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity. During the mornings, before class, the young men would row out to the island and would perform calisthenics before the start of each day. Many of the new member initiation sessions as well as parties were held on the island.
In the mid 1940's the fraternity function on a limited basis due to the fact that only a few brothers were in attendance on campus because of World War II. Due to the need of manpower during the war, the school, now Trenton State College, was offering accelerated courses, which allowed a student to finish school in three years as opposed to four. Fraternity member numbers dropped, but the organization set scholastic and traditional goals for itself, which it maintained through the absence of members due to the war. Once the war drew to a close and the veterans returned, memberhsip bloombed, accumulating approximately forty members at the conclusion of the 1940's.
After this point, the fraternity started to thrive. The brothers who returned from the war worked extremely hard with the few members left on campus to improve the organization and increase the number of members. Member numbers ranged from as low as forty members to as high as eighty active brothers. The fraternity continued its service to the college by continuing to do various types of printing jobs, including printing football programs as well as assisting at the Industrial Arts Conference, which was held every year. Many other Greek organizations, both male and female were starting to develop on the campus as well. The fraternity raised money in development of blank paddles and sold them to the other Greek organizations on the campus.
During the middle 1950's, enrollment at the college decreased once again due to the Korean War. Even though numbers were down, the fraternity continued to participate in its numerous college functions. The fraternity was not just popular around the campus, but also became quite popular among the community and state. Some of their service to the community included constructing small bridges and painting buildings. The brothers were awarded many times for their volunteer service to both the campus and community.
At one point, during the 1960's the fraternity was also recognized among the national level when it was informed that it had to change their name. Phi Alpha Delta National Law Fraternity had contacted the Phi Alpha Delta of Trenton State College saying that the law fraternity was established first and had rights to the Greek letters Phi, Alpha, and Delta. They accused the local fraternity of stealing the name and ordered them to change their name or they would be penalized and sued. The president of the fraternity refused to change the name, and the brothers stood strong with him, for it had been a trademark at the college for almost 50 years. In the end, through a long, tough judicial battle, Phi Alpha Delta of Trenton State College had won and kept the rights to keep the name.
At the same time the fraternity was still continuing to grow, at times having new member initiation seasons, which included thirty-five to forty pledges. Because of the large number of members, many social activities took place just about every weekend with the local sororities. The organization was on a steady upward surge with excellent leadership allowing the fraternity to continually increase in numbers.
The organization was growing so quickly that eventually efforts were directed towards the formation of another chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity. This second, or Beta Chapter, was created in 1969 and was located at Glassboro State College (presently known as Rowan University), located in Glassboro, New Jersey.
During the 1970's, a book was written and published about the past 50 years and the future of the organization. This book, which is still around today, includes an in detail description of what we went on over the years, as well as pictures, awards, highly recognized letters, and much more. The 1970's were definitely a good time for the brothers of Phi Alpha Delta. As in past years, a year would not go by without the organization winning the schol's yearly float parade or the homecoming competition.
A few years later, national organizations from all over the country started coming to colleges and taking over local fraternities and sororities. The fraternities at Trenton State College that developed during the 1940's and on were run out or bought out and taken over by national organizations. Phi Alpha Delta was approached several times to switch from their current, local organization to a new, national organization, in turn becoming a totally different Greek organization. The fraternity members listened to the offer but refused, claiming that the organization was born in Trenton and it would die there too. Eventually, due to the increasing number of new national organizations on campus, new member numbers started to drop. People were still being initiated, but the numbers weren't as high as in past years.
During the mid 1980's, Trenton State College President Harold Eickoff, decided to dig out Lake Sylva in order to develop more playing fields for the college. In doing this, the fraternity lost its prized island, for it was dug out of the lake. The tradition of going out and hosting events on the island was lost, but to this day, the lake is still owned by the fraternity. Although the brothers were disappointed about the island being moved, they still continued to offer their volunteer services to the college, by building a bridge and spillway that is still currently located right off Lake Sylva, connecting the campus to behind what is now known as the Green Lane Fields.
Presently, the active brothers have kept the tradition alive by keeping the fraternity powerhouse that it always has been. Their service is still well represented throughout the campus and the community. Some of the current professors at the college today were at one time active brothers of the fraternity and now continue to play their role as an alumni member of the organization. Many can be seen at various yearly fraternal functions. The alumni base is enormous, which includes over one thousand alumni located all over the world, working for various schools, companies, and organizations. There is still a tight connection among the active brothers and the fraternity alumni. Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity has built a strong history behind it, as it did help bring The College of New Jersey where it is today.
-Michael Levy, Alumni Advisor