December 21, 1865 was a tumultuous time in our nation’s history, particularly at Washington College (now known as Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia, which had been left as a shadow of its former self following the War Between the States. In spite of these trying times, four brave young men banded together in the interest of higher education and the bonds of friendship, faith, and loyalty. Originally known as Phi Kappa Chi, this new society was formed upon the gentlemanly standard as set by Washington College’s new and most illustrious president, General Robert E. Lee. Emulating chivalric ideals and genteel ethics, these timeless philosophies have been translated into the mainstream of American colleges and universities by the honorable brotherhood we now know as the Kappa Alpha Order (KA).
Since its founding in 1865, the KAs pursuit of excellence has proved appealing to many, with over 150,000 lifetime initiates, 6,000 collegiate members, 103 alumni chapters, and 131 active chapters across the United States. The focus on high moral standards and self-improvement benefits all Brothers, and many have carried these ideals with them into the professional world, using the examples set for them in KA as a springboard for success, such as Ken May (CEO, FedEx Kinko’s), General George S. Patton (Former Commander, 3rd U.S. Army), Paul Johnson (Head Football Coach, Georgia Tech), and Bill Engvall (Comedian & Actor). With Brothers like these, it is easy to see why so many men want to wear the KA crimson and old gold!
As evidenced by the gold shield found in their badge, all KA men have a genuine concern for protecting their fellow man and giving back to their communities, which is why every member goes to great lengths to further the cause of their philanthropic partner, the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Between local fundraising, Muscle Walks, and Shamrocks programs, the efforts of Kappa Alpha have raised over $2.7 million dollars for the MDA since 1975, funding research into Muscular Dystrophy and helping to improve the lives of people like Luke Christie, MDA Youth Chairman and Kappa Alpha Brother.
When General Robert E. Lee described the traits of a true gentleman, he stressed the importance of forgiveness, of not abusing power, and of striving for a “nobleness of self and mildness of character.” These traits inspired the founders of the Kappa Alpha Order, and because of their timeless quality, they inspire KAs to this day. The Brothers of Kappa Alpha are reminded of the value of character and self-worth and work to further the idea that “Excellence is our aim.”