Above: Dedication of the relocated rose garden in May 2023 (l–r) Mark Timmes, CEO Emeritus; James Contratto, CofC Student Life; Anthony Mower, CofC Fraternity and Sorority Life; Greg Buehner, Managing Director, Pi Kappa Phi Properties; Curt Herzog, Chief Growth Officer; Jake Henderson, CEO; Frank Covington, CofC Facilities Management; Dan Frezza, CofC Institutional Advancement (front squatting); Verneil Phillips, CofC Grounds; John Morris, CofC Facilities Management; Richard Pierce, Fraternity Advisor; Bailey Sumner, Outgoing CofC Chapter President; Caitlin Harrington, CofC Fraternity and Sorority Life; Deronda Washington, CofC Fraternity and Sorority Life; Becca Whited, CofC Fraternity and Sorority Life; Michael Duncan, CofC Student Affairs; Alicia Caudill, CofC Student Affairs; and Ann Almasi-Bush, CofC Student Affairs.

The Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity – a national brotherhood with more than 120,000 members across 187 chapters – prides itself on staying true to its roots. That’s why the members always come back to the College of Charleston, where the fraternity was founded in 1904.

Pi Kappa Phi Bell Tower at the College of Charleston.

And, on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, Pi Kappa Phi returned to the College to celebrate its Founder’s Day. The event took place in the Stern Center Ballroom with alumni and undergraduates in attendance. Past archon Bailey Sumner ’23 delivered the keynote address, and the Pi Kappa Phi Foundation’s chief advancement officer, Steve Esworthy, provided updates on the foundation and the fraternity from a national perspective.

It was the second visit the fraternity made to campus this year. Last May, members of the fraternity came from far and wide for the dedication of a refreshed rose garden. The original rose garden, featuring the flower of the fraternity, was given to the College in 1979 in celebration of its 75th anniversary. Located along Green Way near the Sottile House, the garden thrived for years, but over time started to struggle in the shade. Last spring, the garden was relocated to a sunny spot adjacent to the Pi Kappa Phi Bell Tower, the fraternity’s centennial gift to the College.

gate to cistern yard

Pi Kappa Phi gate dedicated to the College of Charleston in 1929.

“This is the birthplace of our fraternity, and we never forget where we come from,” Jake Henderson, Pi Kappa Phi CEO, said to the crowd of 25 people gathered at the garden dedication. “This is our home. This why we continue to give back and make our stamp on campus.”

To say that Pi Kappa Phi has had an impact on the College of Charleston campus would be an understatement. Indeed, every 25 years, the brotherhood shows its dedication to its birthplace by installing a prominent landmark on campus. In 1929, members commemorated their silver anniversary with the dedication of a memorial gate into the Cistern Yard. In 1954, after surviving two dark periods during the fraternity’s early history — the Great Depression and World War II — Pi Kappa Phi convened in Charleston once again to pay tribute to the founders, celebrate its 50th anniversary and show their appreciation to campus with the clock atop Randolph Hall.

Randolph Hall

The clock on the gable of Randolph Hall was gifted by Pi Kappa Phi in 1954.

The rose garden was installed for the 75th anniversary, and then, in 2004, Pi Kappa Phi marked its 100-year milestone with a celebration that brought leaders and brothers together in a coordinated volunteer effort through the Centennial Commission, which provided leadership for an enhanced celebration and critical funding for the 40-foot bell tower adorned with plaques bearing the images of its three founders – Andrew Kroeg (Class of 1905), Simon Fogarty (Class of 1906) and Harry Mixson (Class of 1907).

The three students held the first meeting at Fogarty’s home at 90 Broad St. on Dec. 10, 1904, with a total of seven CofC students in attendance. Kroeg was selected as the first president (termed “archon”) of the chapter, and the second chapter was established at Presbyterian College in 1907. From there, another chapter was established at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1909, and the fraternity has been growing ever since.