Hobart College is home to one of the oldest remaining branches of the Kappa Alpha Society, which itself is the oldest Greek-lettered collegiate fraternity in the United States and the precursor of the modern Greek system. On Saturday, Dec. 7, members will gather on campus to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the New York Beta Chapter at Hobart.
Kappa Alpha was founded at Union College in 1825, and the Hobart chapter — also known as the CH chapter — was founded in 1844. William Talmage McDonald, Class of 1845, and Lawrence Sterne Stevens, Class of 1848, were initiated into KA at Union College Nov. 26, 1844; when they returned to campus, they initiated six other Hobart men into the CH chapter.
In 1854, the CH chapter was suspended “owing to a decline in the affairs of the College,” according to 1938 edition of the Hobart yearbook The Echo. It was reestablished in 1879 with the help of several KA alumni who resided in Geneva.
More than 1,000 Hobart students have had the privilege of calling themselves KAs, including William F. Scandling ’49, LL.D. ’67, Christopher P. McDonald ’77, L.H.D. ’13, Thomas A. Mackie ‘77 and Eric Cohler ’81. Edward G. Mooney ’77 currently serves as president of the Hobart College Kappa Alpha Alumni Board of Directors. “I’m looking forward to connecting with many KA men this weekend,” he says.
In 2007, KA members Christopher S. Welles ’84, P’11, P’15, Kemp Stickney ’80 and Geoffrey Disston Jr. ’81 established the Kappa Alpha Society Endowed Scholarship in Memory of William H. Billings ’44. Billings served as a friend and mentor to generations of Hobart KAs. The scholarship in his name is awarded to an outstanding Hobart student who demonstrates high standards of achievement and quality of character and who is active in the life of the college and the community.
Devin Doeblin ’20 is the current recipient of the scholarship. A native of Geneva, N.Y., the history major is a civic leader with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning and a member of Geneva Heroes. “Receiving the scholarship has truly been an honor,” Doeblin says. “It gives me the motivation to keep working hard to reach my goals as I approach the end of my time here at HWS.”
There are currently 27 active members of Kappa Alpha on campus. They are involved in sports, clubs and events, including crew and chorale, and are dedicated to service and community involvement.
The photo above shows Kappa Alpha men posing in the chapter house in 1895.