The Founding of the Chapter

The plan for our chapter began 1892 with two WPI students, Charles W. Dyer and Gompei Kuwada.

Charles W. Dyer, a new student at WPI, had studied previously at Willston Seminary where we was a member of a friendship based society and he was interested in introducing WPI to this type of society.

Gompei Kuwada was a Japanese exchange student from an honorable family in Japan. It is said he was one of the most popular students to ever attend WPI, and he and Dyer soon became the best of friends.

Dyer shared with Kuwada the idea of founding a fraternal society. The two extended their plans to include Nathan Heard and Arthur C. Comins who enthusiastically gave their allegiance to the cause. The group of students, known as the Pioneer Society, quickly added to their numbers.

At the time, fraternities were largely unpopular at the school, although not banned. Phi Gamma Delta had recently been established as the first greek letter organization on campus, although the Pioneer Society was active prior. The group wanted to found another fraternity, but did not want to suffer any penalty, so they founded a non-secret, social club. They made it their mission to recruit only men of the finest character and eventually win the respect of the entire student body, only then establishing itself as a chapter, if possible.

The plan proved to be successful in every aspect. In the fall of 1892 the society announced itself as the Tech Co-operative Society and floated $400 worth of bonds, hired and furnished a tenement and ostensibly conducted a co-operative housekeeping concern with a secondary social feature.

All members of the chapter promised not to divulge the object of the society and “to strive constantly by conduct and work to maintain for the society the best and highest standard and reputation possible, and to labor zealously for its welfare and advancement.” Furthermore, to avoid any suspicion from other students, the members decided that their connection should not be at all binding in school politics and that they would not to nominate each other for campus leadership positions.

This policy proved very wise and the society quickly gained traction on campus over the next few years. The society held their first faculty social which greatly impressed the professors of the school.

In the fall of 1893, after deciding to discard their secret policy, the group boldly decided to seek out recognition from a national fraternity. They came to know Sigma Alpha Epsilon through a connection at the Massachusetts Gamma chapter of Harvard. Two Harvard members from Worcester came to the chapter to aid them in obtaining a charter from Sigma Alpha Epsilon. These Harvard SAE’s, George A. Davis and Charles T. Tatman, formed a strong friendship with most of the WPI men.

On March 10th, 1894, the Massachusetts Delta chapter initiated twenty-two new members, along with five from Masssachusetts Beta-Upsilon (Boston University), six from Massachusetts Iota-Tau (MIT) and five from Massachusetts Gamma (Harvard) for a total of thirty-nine new SAE’s.

Charles W. D. Dyer, Arthur C. Comins, Nathan Heard, Charles M. Allen, William H. Larkin Jr., Edward W. Davenport, Walter J. Denny, Charles Baker Jr., Harry L. Cobb, George W. Heald, Helon B. McFarland, Eugene B. Whipple, Frank E. Wellington, William O. Wellington, James B. Mayo, George A. Denny, Charles A. Harrington, George C. Gordon, George S. Gibbs, William H. Cunningham, Frank E. Congdon, Henry N. Smith. Gompei Kuwada was inititated later on May 1, 1900 because he was back home in Japan at the time.

The following years were very prosperous for Mass Delta. It soon became the first chapter in New England to have its own house.

In one of his chapter letters Burnett Wright, who was correspondent in 1905, wrote: "Strong in numbers and closely knit by fraternal love, the brothers of Delta chapter are a unit for its advancement." These words epitomize the early history of the chapter very well.