The Founding of Beta Theta Pi
At nine o’clock on the evening of the eighth day of the eighth month of the year 1839, eight earnest young men, all students at Miami University, held the first meeting of Beta Theta Pi in the Hall of the Union Literary Society, an upper room in the old college building (known as “Old Main”). The eight founders in the order in which their names appear in the minutes were:
John Reily Knox, 1839
Samuel Taylor Marshall, 1840
David Linton, 1839
James George Smith, 1840
Charles Henry Hardin, 1841
John Holt Duncan, 1840
Michael Clarkson Ryan, 1839
Thomas Boston Gordon, 1840
“of ever honored memory”
Beta Theta Pi is known for its entrepreneurial spirit, including recognition as the “Pioneering Fraternity” and “Leadership Fraternity.” The Fraternity is proud of its “Beta Firsts:”
- First college fraternity founded west of the Allegheny Mountains (August 8, 1839)
- First fraternity to have a General Convention (1842)
- First to host an interfraternal event and meeting (1848)
- First fraternity to establish a chapter west of the Mississippi River (1866)
- First fraternity to create alumni chapters (1867)
- First and oldest continuously published college fraternity magazine (1872)
- First fraternity to have general officers (1872)
- First fraternity to organize chapters into districts for administrative purposes (1873)
- First college fraternity to publish an open constitution for public distribution (1879)
- First fraternity to be founded in 15 states – more than any other fraternity
- First fraternity established on more than 35 campuses – more than any other fraternity
- First fraternity to adopt a 2.5 minimum GPA for a chapter (1984)
- First fraternity to adopt a 2.5 minimum GPA for each member (1997)
- First fraternity to adopt a 2.7 minimum GPA for a chapter (2006)
- First fraternity to adopt a 2.8 minimum GPA – or the campus All Men’s Average – for a chapter, whichever is greatest (2012)
- First fraternity to achieve 85 Rhodes Scholars – more than any other fraternity (2016)
“Betas of Achievement”
In addition to a roll of honor that includes some of North America’s foremost industry leaders, the Fraternity is proud to claim the following prominent men among its membership. Click here to see a gallery of these Famous Betas of Achievement.
- Vice President of the United States
- Prime Minister of Canada
- 200+ members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives – more than any other fraternity – including two Speakers of the House
- Eight U.S. Supreme Court Justices – more than any other fraternity
- Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
- 32 Ambassadors
- 50 Governors to 23 States
- Two Canadian Premiers
- Six Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients
- Seven Presidential Medal of Freedom Honorees
- Four Astronauts
- 34 Olympic Gold Medals
- Three Nobel Prize Laureates
- 85 Rhodes Scholars – more than any other fraternity
- 12 Pulitzer Prize winners
Men of Principle Initiative
Since the start of Beta’s award-winning Men of Principle initiative in 1998, the Fraternity has seen significant improvements in the areas of academics, recruitment, risk management and leadership development. Before Men of Principle, the Fraternity’s average chapter GPA was just above a 2.8. Today the Fraternity’s GPA has risen to a 3.226, the highest of all fraternities. The average chapter/colony size is 78.5 men, compared to 48.9 in 1997. In 1998 there was an average of 1.95 volunteer advisors per chapter. Today, an average of eight advisors work with each chapter/colony.
With the Men of Principle initiative, Beta gave new voice to the enduring values of the Fraternity. The Initiative was more than a program; it was a deep inner philosophy that demanded integrity from every chapter and all members of the Fraternity. Today, as it was back in 1839, Beta Theta Pi is a shining example across North America for all that is good and true when men come together in a brotherhood of purpose, friendship and fidelity.
To develop men of principle for a principled life.
Every member will live Beta Theta Pi’s values.
To build lasting bonds of friendship and brotherhood, Beta calls for:
Mutual Assistance – Betas believe that men are mutually obligated to help others in the honorable labors and aspirations of life.
Intellectual Growth – Betas are devoted to continually cultivating their minds, including high standards of academic achievement.
Trust – Betas develop absolute faith and confidence in one another by being true to themselves and others.
Responsible Conduct – Betas choose to act responsibly, weighing the consequences of their actions on themselves and those around them.
Integrity – Betas preserve their character by doing what is morally right and demanding the same from their brothers.
Code of Beta Theta Pi – Article 1 Name and Objects: Section 2.
“It shall be constituted as hereinafter provided and shall have for its objects the promotion of the moral and social culture of its members, the establishment of confidence and friendly relations among the universities and colleges of the United States and Canada, in securing unity of action and sympathy in matters of common interest among them, and the building up of a fraternity that recognizes mutual assistance in the honorable labors and aspirations of life, devotion to the cultivation of the intellect, unsullied friendship and unfaltering fidelity, as objects worthy of the highest aim and purpose of associated effort.”