Delta Psi
Founded1850; 171 years ago (1850)
University of Vermont
Colors  Old gold
  Dregs of wine
Chapters1 (defunct)

Delta Psi (ΔΨ) is a fraternity formerly active at the University of Vermont that was associated with the early history of Delta Upsilon.


Delta Psi was founded on the campus of the University of Vermont in 1850.
Delta Psi was founded on the campus of the University of Vermont in 1850.

Founding and affiliation with Delta Upsilon

Delta Psi was founded at the University of Vermont in 1850 by John Ellsworth Goodrich and eight other freshmen classics students.[1] It was the third fraternity organized at Vermont, after Lambda Iota and Sigma Phi.[2][3] The following year, in 1851, Delta Psi joined the Anti-Secret Confederation (A.S.C.) that had been convened by several independent northeastern fraternities. (The confederation later changed its name to Delta Upsilon.) [4]

The establishment of Delta Psi at Vermont was met with disdain by student newspaper The College Maul, which opined:

"The Delta Psi or Anti-Secret Society is as decent an affair as anything born of the Freshman class could be. The extreme verdancy of the members is manifest in that they believe their society has made them seniors at once. They have got out a badge - a seven gabled sort of a pin - and they march downtown arm in arm.

Subsequent issues of the paper included similar denouncements.[4] Nonetheless, Delta Psi's policy of pledging freshmen helped quickly grow the chapter and pressured Lambda Iota and Sigma Phi into opening themselves to underclass students.[5]

Delta Psi severed its connections with the A.S.C. in 1854, three years after it joined. The cause of separation is lost to history with Delta Upsilon's own records recording that the exit of Delta Psi is "from causes unknown to us." A Delta Psi historian later claimed the withdrawal was due to the expenses the fraternity was incurring sending delegates to the meetings of the Anti-Secret Confederation.[4] It's also been speculated that Delta Psi felt local pressure in maintaining the A.S.C.'s militant stance against secret ritual; after separating from the A.S.C. it undertook secret work. Delta Upsilon has maintained that it does not consider members of Delta Psi during the period it was affiliated with the A.S.C. to also be members of Delta Upsilon, the separation being so total that the "action removed all its members from membership in the Delta Upsilon fraternity."[5][6]

John Ellsworth Goodrich helped found Delta Psi as a student at the University of Vermont. Fifty years later, while on the faculty of that institution, he helped the fraternity acquire its first chapter house.
John Ellsworth Goodrich helped found Delta Psi as a student at the University of Vermont. Fifty years later, while on the faculty of that institution, he helped the fraternity acquire its first chapter house.

As a local fraternity, Delta Psi experienced substantial growth under the leadership of then student Charles H. Heath, becoming the largest fraternity on campus by the middle 1900s.[7]

Chapter house

Delta Psi did not become a residential fraternity until 1903 when it acquired its first house with the assistance of its aging founding father, Goodrich, by then a professor of Latin at the university.[8] (Vermont was a non-residential campus until 1895 when the first dormitory opened.) Later, in 1924, Delta Psi purchased and moved into a new home, continuing to use it until the fraternity's undergraduate organization was shut down.[9]

Members of Delta Psi in 1916
Members of Delta Psi in 1916

Delta Psi's new facility was a magnificent Queen Anne structure built in 1892 by deceased Burlington businessman Edward Wells. Each room in the house was constructed of a different wood; the entry was built in white oak, the dining room in mahogany, and the conservatory in sycamore. During the 83 years of Delta Psi's occupancy of the Wells Mansion it became famous for the 100-keg Oktoberfest parties the fraternity would host.[10]


By the late 1990s Delta Psi had started a slide into neglect. In 2003 the undergraduate organization reported only five active members.[3] That year, several members were arrested during what university officials described as a hazing incident in which it was alleged another member was abducted off the street, hogtied, and taken to the chapter house where he was paddled, the incident being reported by the abducted member's girlfriend. Fraternity members disputed the hazing characterization, noting the member was an initiate of the fraternity, not a pledge, and explaining the entire event was a case of tomfoolery. University administrators ultimately issued an indefinite suspension of Delta Psi.[11][12]

Graduate members of Delta Psi immediately undertook a fundraising campaign to pay for the renovation of the aging Delta Psi house, as well as maintain the unoccupied property until such time as the undergraduate organization could be restored. By 2005 they reported raising $1.2 million from alumni, short of the $2 million needed.[13] When the house lost its property tax exempt status due to lack of student occupancy, the fraternity was no longer able to pay to keep it. In 2007 the Delta Psi chapter house was purchased by the University of Vermont and renovated to become an event space, and the home of the UVM Alumni Association.[9]

In the 150 years since Delta Psi and Delta Upsilon separated, the latter fraternity avoided attempts to colonize the University of Vermont. In 2014, ten years after the collapse of Delta Psi, Delta Upsilon entered the Burlington campus for the first time since its split with Delta Psi, chartering a colony.[14]

Notable members


  1. ^ a b c d e Baird, William (1905). Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (6th Edition). Alcolm. pp. 343–344.
  2. ^ "History". Celect. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Delta Psi Fraternity v. City of Burlington (2007-386)". Supreme Court of Vermont. Archived from the original on 23 May 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Miller, Thomas (1934). Delta Upsilon One Hundred Years 1834-1934. Delta Upsilon.
  5. ^ a b Thomas, John (2005). University of Vermont. Arcadia. p. 30. ISBN 0738537772.
  6. ^ Chase, William (1884). The Delta Upsilon Quinquennial Catalogue. Delta Upsilon. p. 320.
  7. ^ a b Vermont Bar Association Officers and Members: Report of Proceedings of the Annual Meeting, Volume 2. Argus and Patriot Steam Book Press. 1887. p. 203.
  8. ^ "John Ellsworth Goodrich". University of Vermont. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Homepage: UVM Alumni House". University of Vermont. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  10. ^ Lilly, Amy (6 June 2012). "In a Tour of Historic Homes, the Wells House Is a Showstopper". Seven Days. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Frat brothers accused in assault". Concord Monitor. Concord, NH. 15 December 2003.
  12. ^ "4 in fraternity accused of seizing 5th". Boston Globe. Boston, MA. 13 December 2003. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Letter from the President" (PDF). Delta Psi Update. Burlington, VT. Winter 2005. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  14. ^ Olsen, Sarah (30 September 2014). "New Fraternity to Join UVM". The Vermont Cynic. Burlington, VT. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  15. ^ Catalogue of the Delta Psi Fraternity of the University of Vermont 1850–1896. Glenns Falls, NY: C. H. Possons. 1896.
  16. ^ Davenport, Charles (1894). Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont. Transcript Publishing Company. p. 243. DELTA PSI uvm.