1947: The chapter: 50's, 60's, and 70's

With its humanitarian and egalitarian values established, the chapter became a major academic and social force at Bucknell, even as it continued to operate as a local fraternity on a campus dominated by large “nationals.” Though still not able to realize the dream of having a “House on the Hill,” the chapter experienced strong growth in the 50’s and 60’s. PLT excelled in all phases of campus life: social, academic, athletic, and campus and community service. The chapter consistently achieved the highest GPA among Greek organizations even though engineering and pre-med were predominant majors. PLT regularly won the prestigious Homecoming Parade Float and House Party decoration contests, and serenades, featuring “Phi Lam Sweetheart” and “I Love You Truly,” were a popular part of pinning ceremonies for Phi Lam brothers. The chapter included two quarterbacks, Terry Fetterman ‘58 and Jimmy Stewart ‘57, basketball center Jim Beidelman ‘58, and long distance runner Walt McConnell ‘53, as well as Bucknellian editors and ROTC regimental staff officers. Intramurals were an important measure of success for Greek chapters and PLT produced a number of boxing champions when boxing was the premier sport.

In the late 50’s the chapter took a major step by moving to a new larger facility at the corner of Third and St. Catherine Streets in Lewisburg. The basement was ideal for parties and the large colonnaded front porch became a popular gathering place. It was still not the “House on the Hill” envisioned by Biff Hoffman, but the former mansion was a significant step up.

Like the national chapters on campus, PLT found periodic renewal to be an essential part of fraternal life. Fortunately, when low membership or other difficulties caused the chapter to fail, alumni were able to find young men willing to replicate PLT’s ground-breaking social agenda. What happened in the early 70’s was a good example. Following closure due to low membership and lack of group cohesion, Mel Woodward ’53, Harley Bennett ’74, and fellow alumni recruited 15 new members who immediately sought to rebuild and reenergize the fraternity. New members Bob Stevens and Rich Wobbekind led the effort in the early 70’s even though the chapter’s former home on South 3rd Street had been sold in anticipation of the move to upper campus. The new group reestablished ties with PLT alumni while living in interim housing in the A-wing of Swartz Hall. The “House on the Hill” had become more than a dream, however, as actives and alumni laid plans for a new structure and the fund campaign to make it a reality.

PLT achieved another milestone in the mid 70’s when the chapter admitted women to membership. Many alumni and actives believed this was the last artificial barrier to be overcome. However, this near revolutionary step created more problems than solutions and the “experiment” was terminated four years after it began. New leadership initiated by Chris O’Brien ’80 was able to regain chapter unity by stressing the importance of hard work and discipline while preserving PLT’s humanitarian values and maintaining an active social life.

Phi Lambda Theta Chapter - Chi Phi Fraternity
Bucknell University
820 Fraternity Road
Lewisburg, PA 17837

Phone: (570) 231-4758