History of Alpha Gamma Chapter
In November 1902, six men founded the Alpha Gamma chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at Louisiana State University. Alpha Gamma was the 27th chapter of the fraternity and the 5th fraternity chapter on LSU’s campus. The members of Alpha Gamma were initiated by Alpha Beta chapter from Centenary College, located in Jackson, LA at the time.
Five years after the founding, P.L. Ferguson presented a petition to the 1907 Richmond National Convention whereby Alpha Gamma chapter requested the permission and support of the Supreme Council to build the fraternity’s first chapter house. The request was granted and each active member in the National Fraternity was assessed $1.00 to provide the $300 needed for the chapter house. This led to the formation and operation of a National Housing Fund. From this funding, a house was constructed on the shore of what is now Capitol Lake in Baton Rouge.
During World War I, many chapters had brothers serving their country in battle, and Alpha Gamma was no exception. In the Memorial Oak Grove, behind the Union, there is a tree dedicated to the memory of William Digby Morgan.
The period 1917 to 1930 saw Alpha Gamma alumnus John R. Perez elected to the office of Grand Princeps, the highest position on the National Supreme Council. The office of Grand Princeps has since been changed to International President.
At the time of the founding of Alpha Gamma chapter, LSU was located in the area of the grounds of the present state capitol building. In April 1926, the transfer of the LSU Cadet Corps from the downtown barracks to the new campus marked the transition from the old campus to the present location. In August 1926, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to pay Kappa Sigma Fraternity the sum of $350 and to Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity the sum of $575 for their houses located on the old campus, “that being all they are deemed worth.” Alpha Gamma chapter had to find a new place to live. It would be many years before the chapter owned another house, and a series of rentals followed.
During the 1930’s, an excellent football trainer and brother, Mike C. Chambers gave his talents to the University football team. Brother Chambers, from New Orleans, was initiated in 1923 by Beta Eta chapter at the University of Illinois. As a tackle at Illinois, he helped clear the way for “Red” Grange. He served as Olympic trainer in 1928 and came to LSU from Georgia Tech where he handled the 1929 Rose Bowl team. The famous LSU mascot, Mike the Tiger, was named in his honor by the students of LSU. A plaque commemorating the event, donated by Alpha Gamma chapter, is now affixed to Mike the Tiger’s cage on the LSU campus.
With the start of WWII, college enrollment across America dropped as its young men went to war. Fraternity involvement suffered a corresponding drop and in 1944, Alpha Gamma chapter initiated only one man. Once the war was over, the chapter was ready once again to take its rightful place on the LSU campus.
Following the war, Alpha Gamma grew enough to justify a new house. Under the direction of alumni A.R. Johnson, Sr. (’18), National Secretary at the time; H.H. Huckabay (’19); James R. Fuller (’29); H. Lyall Barnett (’24); and Otis C. Edwards (’30), the chapter raised enough funding to receive a loan to fund the construction. The house was started in 1953, completed in 1955, and continues to serve us to this day.
In the late 1950’s the chapter began a major membership drive which led to initiation of 26 brothers in 1960, the largest in the history of the chapter. Alpha Gamma emerged as a dominant fraternity on the LSU campus. During that period the chapter received strong support from the National Office in Memphis from men like Earl Watkins, Executive Director. The house continued to grow and prosper through the 1960’s.
The early 1970’s was a time of great civil unr est on the campuses across America. As a result, many fraternities and, indeed, the entire Greek System fell into a decline. Men like William Dorroh (Past Member of the Alumni Council and President of Mansfield Bank), who was SMC for three years, Wayne Macaluso (Past President of the House Corporation) held the chapter together and Alpha Gamma survived those trying times. During the late seventies, Mike Nelson was SMC and IFC President. Mike, in the tradition of Alpha Gamma Pikes, went on to work for the National Fraternity as a chapter consultant.
In the period of the 1980’s-2000 Alpha Gamma has seen many changes to the greek system and has tried to adapt to the changing environment. These changes caused overall numbers to dip, but we have persevered to continue our century long traditions.
On September 5, 2003 the Alpha Gamma House Corporation purchased its current chapter house from the Delta Chi Fraternity. This was Alpha Gamma’s first move in over 49 years, and marked the re-birth of the chapter at LSU, after being chartered at LSU in 1902.
With the chapter’s membership growing, the new home for Alpha Gamma promises to bring many new opportunities for success to the active chapter. As the second century begins for Alpha Gamma, its alumni and active chapter look to continue the growth in strength and numbers that it has already experienced over the last years in its new home.