Phi Beta Sigma Honorary Service Fraternity was installed as New Jersey Phi Beta Chapter of Phi Kappa Theta at a ceremony held on the campus of Seton Hall University at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, 1962. Phi Beta Sigma was the first local fraternity and Phi Kappa Theta was the first national fraternity to be approved by Seton Hall University. At the installation banquet held that evening at Graulich’s Restaurant in Orange, NJ, more than 60 undergraduate members of Phi Beta Sigma and several dignitaries were initiated as charter members of Phi Kappa Theta in an induction rite held on campus.
In addition, the PKT National Board of Trustees initiated as alumni (honorary) members several officials of Seton Hall University, including: Msgr. John J. Dougherty, SHU President; Rev. Edward J. Fleming, executive vice-president; and the Rev. Edward J. Larkin, spiritual director. Also inducted as alumni (honorary) brothers were: Dr. Thomas Malady, advisor to the US State Department on African Affairs; John Simons, director of College Relations, US Peace Corps; and Dr. Peter Vygantas, president of Pax Romana. Two others accepted honorary membership but were initiated at a subsequent ceremony in 1968: NJ Governor Richard J. Hughes; and Frederick Boland, Ireland Ambassador to the United Nations and president of the UN’s15th General Assembly.
In a letter read at the 1962 ceremony, Governor Hughes said: “I want you to know that I was pleased to learn of my election as an honorary charter member of Phi Kappa Theta. I deem it a privilege to be associated in such a way with Seton Hall University and those undergraduate members of the new chapter.”
At the installation banquet, PKT National President William R. Grogan said: “We are pleased to welcome the addition of such an outstanding group. Phi Beta Sigma’s record of service to Seton Hall is to be commended and the fraternity has truly taken an active part in the growth of your great university.”
In accepting the Charter, Phi Beta Sigma President Thomas H. Gasque ’63 said: “The attainment of Phi Beta Sigma’s position at Seton Hall is living testimony to the fact that students are able to participate in University progress with desire, responsibility and dignity.”
The Setonian Foundation, the alumni chapter of NJ Phi Beta Chapter of Phi Kappa Theta at Seton Hall, was founded as a nonprofit corporation on July 7, 1962 and became an SHU Alumni Club on January 1, 2008. NJ Phi Beta Chapter of Phi Kappa Theta traces its origins to the fall of 1953, when five Seton Hall students formed a local fraternity known as Alpha Sigma Phi “to promote friendship and brotherhood among its members, to set examples of honor, leadership and good college spirit, and to further the welfare of its undergraduate and alumni brothers.” Its primary goal was to provide service to the university.
The founding brothers were: Robert Cuozzo, Frank Dondershine, Les Fries, Vincent Hanlon and William Mc Dermott. Alpha Sigma Phi began operating in early 1954. After learning of the existence of a national fraternity with the same name, the brothers changed it to Phi Beta Sigma Honorary Service Fraternity on April 13, 1954. It was soon recognized by Seton Hall and functioned as a local fraternity for the next eight years.
One of the most revered traditions of Phi Beta Sigma Honorary Service Fraternity – which has been continued by NJ Phi Beta Chapter – is the Phi Kappa Theta Stein Song. It was adapted from the original University of Maine Stein Song, written and recorded by vaudeville entertainer Rudy Vallee. The song is sung by the brothers of NJ Phi Beta Chapter at every Phi Kappa Theta or Seton Hall event where brothers gather as a rousing symbol of the chapter’s commitment to lifelong brotherhood and service to others.