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Pi Alpha Phi
FoundedFebruary 1, 1929; 95 years ago (1929-02-01)
UC Berkeley
   Cultural interest
EmphasisAsian American
Motto"A Tradition of Excellence Since 1929"
ColorsBerkeley Blue, California Gold
SymbolBrotherhood Links
PhilanthropyJade Ribbon Campaign
Chapters20 active chapters
7 colonies[1]
NicknameP-A-Phi's, Pineapples
HeadquartersBerkeley, CA
United States

Pi Alpha Phi Fraternity, Inc. (ΠΑΦ, also Pi Alpha Phi or PAPhi) is an American university-level fraternity. It was founded in 1929 at the University of California, Berkeley, and is the oldest active Asian-American interest fraternity in the United States. As of 2019, the fraternity has 11 active chapters and 4 colonies nationwide.[1] Pi Alpha Phi Fraternity is a member of the National APIDA Panhellenic Association.


In 1928, three members of the class of 1930 conceived the idea to form a fraternity to serve the several hundred students of Chinese descent at the University of California, Berkeley. Wing C. Chan, from the Central California town of Oroville; Dong Wing Tom, from San Francisco; and Elmer Leong from Berkeley, did much of the preliminary work towards the formation of the Fraternity. In the fall of 1928, the three approached Tim Jang, a freshman starting his first year at the university to join.[2]

On February 1, 1929, the six founding fathers signed the fraternity's constitution in both Chinese and English and officially established Pi Alpha Phi at the University of California, Berkeley. The six founders were D. Wing Tom, Wing Chan, Elmer Leong, Chack Chan, Tim Jang, and George Lee.


The founding fathers of Pi Alpha Phi hailed primarily from the state of California. Elmer Leong, George Lee, and D. Wing Tom were from the San Francisco Bay area. Tim Jang, Wing Chan, and his younger brother Chack Chan came from the Central Valley region of California. All were born in America with the exception of Wing Chan, who came from China at an early age.

The men studied science and engineering, which was considered a better path to employment after graduation since discrimination prevented most Asians from entering into law, medicine or other graduate disciplines.

Their challenges grew as they found out that student lodging was often not rented to those of Asian heritage. It was especially difficult for Tim, Wing and Chack from the Central Valley for whom commuting was not an option. The problem was solved by the goodwill of a sympathetic German woman known as Mother Tusch, who also had been a victim of racism. The seeds of brotherhood were planted in the cabin she rented to Wing, Elmer and D. Wing Tom behind her house near Sather Gate.

The six men proceeded with their college careers, engaging in academic and social events, as well as athletics. Elmer Leong even joined the university track team. They found comfort and camaraderie in their small group but felt compelled to turn their group into more than a circle of friends, more than a club, more than a social gathering. They decided to form a fraternity that would break the status quo and seek recognition by the university system.

Following graduation in the early 1930s, the founding fathers found life difficult. The United States was in the midst of the Great Depression and discrimination against those of Asian heritage for jobs was even more prevalent. Four of the six—Wing Chan, Chack Chan, D. Wing Tom and George Lee—went to southern China to find employment and new lives. Tim and Elmer decided to stay in America to continue their education and start a career despite the difficult circumstances. In China, Wing taught chemistry at a university in Canton, Chack Chan worked in the local aircraft industry, George Lee was pursuing a medical degree, and all four became married and started their families.

In 1937, with the advent of war in China, all returned home to America with the exception of Wing, who returned after World War II. During wartime, each of the founding fathers made contributions to their country. For example, Tim enlisted in the U.S. Navy Seabees. He served as a construction corpsman for the 132nd Naval Construction Battalion in the Pacific. Chack put his engineering skills to use as a draftsman at the famed Henry J. Kaiser naval shipyard in Richmond, California, where many warships in the United States were built.

Mission statement

Pi Alpha Phi focuses itself on several core values, which are written into its constitution. The five pillars of the fraternity are: academic excellence, Asian awareness, brotherhood, leadership, and philanthropy.[3]

Academic excellence

The fraternity creates a studious environment and encourages each of its members to achieve their greatest academic potential. The fraternity supports all educational endeavors and recognizes exceptional academic achievement.

Asian-American Awareness

The fraternity believes in learning Asian-American culture, heritage, and history. The fraternity encourages its members to pass on this knowledge to others.

Cross-cultural acceptance

When Pi Alpha Phi was founded in the 1920s, traditional Greek fraternities along with the rest of the nation, legally discriminated against men of color. Since they were banned from joining a traditional Greek fraternity, Pi Alpha Phi's founding fathers wanted to ensure that Asian-American awareness would forever be an important part of the fraternity.

Today, the basic premise of the fraternity remains largely unchanged. Although the fraternity is open to people of all ethnic backgrounds it still retains its Asian-American character. With an emphasis on brotherhood, the fraternity works to create lifelong bonds that extend far beyond the university setting. The basic goals of brotherhood attained through shared experience, friendship and academics remain unaltered. Although the organization evolves from generation to generation, the underlying vision and heart of the fraternity are as solid today as it was for six young Berkeley men in 1926.

Chinese Historical Society of Southern California

Established in 1975, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together people with a common interest in the history of Chinese and Chinese Americans in Southern California. The Society conducts research, collects materials and artifacts, and disseminates information.

San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade

From the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, Pi Alpha Phi was a mainstay in the parade, operating what had affectionately become known as the “Pi Alpha Phi Dragon”. It was an event that truly exemplified the close bonds of brotherhood among the chapters of the fraternity: an opportunity for fraternity members all over to come together, have fun, and celebrate a cultural tradition.

Since 2002, due to several factors including the retiring of our dragon as well as criteria changes for participating organizations, the fraternity has not participated in the parade.

Their efforts were rewarded when the parade committee graciously extended a parade invitation to Pi Alpha Phi and its partner the Jade Ribbon Campaign to operate a Jade Ribbon Dragon.


The fraternity is committed to its responsibility to serve others and encourages participation in activities for the betterment of not only the Asian-American community but the community as a whole. One of its national events is the Jade Ribbon Campaign.

Jade Ribbon Campaign

The Jade Ribbon Campaign spreads awareness of health disparity between Asian Americans and white Americans: liver cancer, 80% of which is caused by chronic hepatitis B infection.

The dragon the fraternity purchased was thought to have a capacity of only 20 people, but when it was put together, it was much longer. Although the dragon may not have been the most elaborate of the parade, it was definitely the longest, as the crowd surely recognized as the dragon snaked through the downtown parade route.

The fraternity members took advantage of their opportunity by having a great turnout: almost 100 fraternity members showed up to participate and share in the bonds of Brotherhood. Running a dragon at the parade has always been a opportunity for the fraternity's members to work together, build the bonds of Brotherhood, and celebrate cultural traditions. This year, they were also able to support a philanthropic cause: the Jade Ribbon Campaign.


The fraternity encourages mutual trust, respect, and loyalty among its members. The fraternity creates an extended family that nurtures lifelong "friendships" through the shared bonds of tradition, shared values, and unity.

National Conventions

Joint Conventions


The fraternity provides opportunities to fulfill important duties within the organization and helps members develop leadership skills in preparation for their future careers and endeavors.


Active chapters listed in bold. Inactive chapters listed in italic.[2]

Greek Designation Collegiate Institution Charter Date Status City U.S. State
Alpha University of California, Berkeley February 1, 1929 Inactive Berkeley California
Beta Stony Brook University 1990 Disbanded Stony Brook New York
Gamma University of California, Davis May 1, 1990 Inactive Davis California
Delta San Jose State University Fall 1991/ Fall 2012 Inactive San Jose California
Epsilon University of California, Riverside Spring 1993 Inactive Riverside California
Zeta University of California, Santa Cruz March 5, 1995 Inactive Santa Cruz California
Eta University of California, Irvine September 16, 1998/ Re-Chartered Fall 2016 Inactive Irvine California
Theta University of California, San Diego August 20, 2000 Inactive La Jolla California
Iota University of Michigan Fall 2000 Active Ann Arbor Michigan
Kappa University of Arizona Fall 2002 Active Tucson Arizona
Mu Michigan State University Summer 2003 Suspended East Lansing Michigan
Nu University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Spring 2003 Inactive Chapel Hill North Carolina
Xi University of Washington Spring 2004 Active Seattle Washington
Omicron University of California, Santa Barbara Spring 2006 Inactive Santa Barbara California
Pi University of Iowa Fall 2011 Active Iowa City Iowa
Rho University of North Carolina, Charlotte Fall 2012 Inactive Charlotte North Carolina
Sigma Northwestern University Spring 2013 Inactive Evanston Illinois
Tau North Carolina State University Fall 2011 Inactive Raleigh North Carolina
Upsilon San Francisco State University Fall 2012 Inactive San Francisco California
Phi Drexel University Fall 2014 Inactive Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Chi Clemson University Spring 2017 Active Clemson South Carolina
Psi Iowa State University Fall 2014 Active Ames Iowa
Alpha Alpha State University of New York, Buffalo Fall 2007/ Fall 2017 Active Buffalo New York
UNLV Colony University of Nevada, Las Vegas Fall 2013 Inactive Las Vegas Nevada
Delaware Colony University of Delaware Spring 2014 Inactive Newark Delaware
ASU Colony Arizona State University Fall 2014 Active Tempe Arizona
Maryland Colony University of Maryland, College Park Fall 2018 Inactive College Park Maryland
UNC Greensboro Colony University of North Carolina at Greensboro Spring 2019 Active Greensboro North Carolina
UofSC Colony University of South Carolina at Columbia Fall 2021 Active Columbia South Carolina

Notable members


  1. ^ a b "chapters". Pi Alpha Phi. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b William Raimond Baird; Carroll Lurding (eds.). "Almanac of Fraternities and Sororities (Baird's Manual Online Archive), section showing Pi Alpha Phi chapters". Student Life and Culture Archives. University of Illinois: University of Illinois Archives. Retrieved 1 January 2022. The main archive URL is The Baird's Manual Online Archive homepage.
  3. ^ "National Constitution" (PDF). Pi Alpha Phi National Fraternity. January 15, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2019.


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