Our History

2012 National Chapter of the Year Award Recipient

Phi Mu Delta traces its roots to the National Federation of Commons Clubs. The Commons Club was founded at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1899. The Commons Club grew to an impressive 19 chapters from Washington state to Maine prior to the formation of Phi Mu Delta. At the 1918 Conclave, held at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now UMass), Clarence Dexter Pierce and many of his supporters petitioned the assembly for the formation of a Greek letter fraternity. The petition was adopted and the original plan was in favor of all chapters of the Federation to join Phi Mu Delta. However, only four chapters did so: the Universities of Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut, as well as Union College.

The formation of the new fraternity met with some early resistance when the alumni of the Union chapter refused to join Phi Mu Delta. So, the Universities of Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut went on to become the founding chapters. Chapter designations were determined by lottery. The Connecticut chapter drew the number one and therefore became the Nu Alpha chapter, New Hampshire drew the number two ticket and became Nu Beta and Vermont became Nu Gamma (the Nu prefix was determined by the location of the chapter, New England Region).

Expansion was conservative with the first new chapter at Northwestern University (Gamma Alpha) in 1921. This was soon followed by chapters at the University of Michigan (Gamma Beta) and M.I.T. (Nu Delta) in 1922. The local fraternity Alpha Sigma Omega became the Mu Alpha Chapter atSusquehanna University, the first expansion into the Mid-Atlantic Region. Pi Alpha at The University of California, Oakland (now Berkeley), was the first Pacific Region expansion.

The end of the 1920s came with three new chapters. The Masonic Club at Ohio Northern University became the Mu Beta Chapter in 1926. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Nu Theta Chapter was formed and the local fraternity Omega Delta Epsilon at Penn State became the Mu Epsilon Chapter in 1930. These three chapters are all still active today.

Our Founders

Clarence Dexter Pierce (Nu Gamma 1918) Brother Pierce is considered the father of Phi Mu Delta. He was a delegate at the 1917 convention of the National Federation of the Commons Clubs at which the proposal to convert to a Greek-letter fraternity was discussed. While the name Phi Mu Delta came out of this discussion, it is not known whether or not Pierce actually suggested the name. What is known is that Pierce was the leading voice in having the Commons Club become a Greek-letter fraternity and he led the way for the founding of Phi Mu Delta at the 1918 convention. Brother Pierce wrote the ritual we still use today. “Dex” as he was known, enlisted in the military as a medic at the outbreak of WWI. He then transferred to the infantry, was recognized for his natural leadership, and received a commission as a second lieutenant before the war ended. He returned to UVM and graduated with his class, receiving and Ph.B. in 1818, and a M.D. in 1923. He practiced medicine in Connecticut and New York, eventually settling in Batavia, New York. He was an avid supporter of the Boy Scouts and one of the first Eagle Scouts. Dex never married, but devoted his life to helping others. He died in Batavia, New York, in 1957. So beloved was this man by the people of Batavia that the Medical Library in the Genessee Memorial Hospital bears his name. Clarence Dexter Pierce truly lived the ideals of Phi Mu Delta.

Arthur Conrad Bird (Nu Alpha 1919) Brother Bird was a delegate at the 1918 convention and an avid supporter of the formation of a Greek-letter fraternity. He was elected Extension Secretary of the new Fraternity. Brother Bird was active in athletics and ROTC while in college and,after graduation,worked for several florists and received his graduate education in agriculture from what is now the University of Massachusetts. In 1925, he became a landscaping foreman for Bristol Nurseries in Bristol, Connecticut. He received several promotions over the years and, in 1949, he bought the company. Under Bird’s leadership, Bristol Nurseries became world famous for its chrysanthemums.

Otis Raymond Garland (Nu Beta 1918) Brother Garland was one of the delegates from New Hampshire Agricultural (now UNH) to the 1918 convention. After graduation, he served in the Army and, in 1919, he became a high school principal in Massachusetts. In 1933, Brother Garland, was appointed Clerk of Hampton (NH) Municipal Court, and in 1964, he was named Special justice of the same court. Brother Garland remained a loyal supporter of Phi Mu Delta all of his life.

Charles S. Rising (Nu Gamma 1919) Brother Rising was a natural born leader. This was recognized and the 1918 founding of the Fraternity when he was elected the first National President of the Fraternity. Brother Rising was an educator and served in numerous teaching and administrative posts, including superintendent of schools. In 1943, he was named Chief of Vocation and Education for Vermont Veterans. He later was named director of the same group for all of New England. In 1962, he became director of the experimental Vermont Family (Farm) Project. Brother Rising lived in Vermont all of his life.

Robert C. Stimson (Nu Beta 1918) Not much is known of Brother Stimson. He was born in Concord, NH in 1896. Very active in the founding of Phi Mu Delta, he graduated from what is now the University of New Hampshire in 1918 with a degree in chemical engineering. He enlisted in the Navy as a radio technician and died of unknown causes in Rotterdam, Holland, on September 19, 1920.

Lloyd A. Woodward (Nu Gamma 1918) Brother Woodward, a classmate of Clarence Dexter Pierce, served as an artillery officer toward the end of WWI. Upon returning to civilian life in 1919, he became a school teacher for the next year and a half in New York state. He then returned to UVM as an instructor in Physics and received his master’s degree from there in 1924. Brother Woodward remained at Vermont until 1961 when he retired with the rank of Associate Professor of Physics. He was active in the Boy Scouts and American legion and served Nu Gamma faithfully all of his life. Brother Woodward was also the town Moderator and Justice of the Peace in his hometown of Underhill, Vermont.