The Phi Kappa Upsilon Fraternity was the first engineering and social fraternity on the campus of the Lawrence Institute of Technology, in Highland Park, Michigan. Founded at the suggestion of the late Dean Russell E. Lawrence it was organized in order to perpetuate the bond of friendship between the original students of the College and those who followed. This Fraternity was to embody all the ideals of Dean Lawrence, as well as those of LIT which was renamed in 1989 to Lawrence Technological University. With the help of many L. I. T. students who had been members of the University of Detroit Dynamic Club, Dean Lawrence founded Phi Kappa Upsilon. Brother Lawrence realized that by the formation of a fraternity, men in college would receive valuable social training in addition to their formal education. These men felt that even though the Dynamic Club and other related groups were beneficial, a fraternal organization would be necessary for closer relationship between students. Fraternal brotherhood creates unity such as can be accomplished in no other manner. Phi Kappa Upsilon was organized under a national charter, the nucleus being located at L.I.T. The founding occurred on August 15, 1932 at the Whittier Hotel in Detroit, Michigan. One hundred and thirty-five charter members, representing fifteen colleges and thirty four industrial firms were present to witness the birth of the Phi Kappa Upsilon Fraternity that evening. It was incorporated November, 1932. Read more on the origins of the Phi Kappa Upsilon fraternity and it's history here.
The purpose of Phi Kappa Upsilon is to further the individual and collective welfare of its members by creating cultural, educational, and fraternal advantages. Membership in the Fraternity is restricted to students pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree at an accredited College or University. Thus, Phi Kappa Upsilon is in actuality a Social- Professional Fraternity, rather than merely a social organization. The fact that almost all of the Phi Kappa Upsilon alumni have assumed roles as business/technical professionals lends itself perfectly to colleges such as Lawrence Technological University. The educational advantages that Phi Kappa Upsilon has provided its members and Alumni have not been neglected. Indeed the Fraternity goes to great lengths to provide its members with numerous speakers holding high positions in professional fields, in addition to sponsoring several outstanding field trips and cultural events all the while maintaining close ties to the educational institution.
Alpha was the first Chapter to be formed and represented the evening students at L.I.T.
Russell E. Lawrence formed it on May 20, 1932, eight days after he founded Lawrence Institute of Technology. The core if its early membership were students and faculty plus members of the Dynamic Club. On February 10, 1935, Beta Chapter was formed at the Chrysler Institute of Engineering. The Gamma Chapter name was reserved for U. of M., which was thought to be organizing soon. With the formation of a day school at LIT, Delta Chapter organized quickly and came into existence on June 1, 1939.
A few years later, on March 16, 1940, Epsilon Chapter was organized at the Great Lakes College in Ferndale. Unfortunately, Great Lakes College stopped offering Engineering degrees and that chapter’s members merged with other chapters in 1946. A similar Chapter, Gamma, was planned for the University of Michigan just before World War II. However, the war soon depleted the students and that Chapter never officially got started.
Unsuccessful attempts were also made to start a Chapter at Wayne University. On April 6, 1963 Zeta Chapter was formed at Detroit Institute of Technology with twelve members. The chapter lasted less than four years and was folded into Delta chapter.
Beta Chapter was suspended in 1956 and Alpha Chapter faded away around 1963. The Fraternity was founded with the intention of being a national organization and while most of these attempts at expansion have not been successful, a more determined effort is planned for the future.
During the period between 1932 and 1941, the membership of the Fraternity varied from 64 to 78 collegiate members. In November, 1941 PKU had four active collegiate chapters with 197 members and an Alumni chapter with 197 members all totaling 394 members. Although the second World War greatly reduced Phi Kappa Upsilon's active membership, as well as the entire student body, the Fraternity continued to function throughout the entire war with membership that dwindled to 171 in 1948 and 132 in 1949.
Since that time progress has been sound and consistent. The ever-present need for higher education has brought many excellent members into our group. Many of these men have given time and effort to the Fraternity, with the result that the membership has grown and the Fraternity has become a more powerful force for the promotion of its aims and ideals.
Alpha Nu was the Ladies Sorority which although not connected with, was open only to wives of Phi Kappa Upsilon members. Founded in 1938, its contribution to the founding and growth of our Fraternity has been considerable and will always be honored. The Sorority is planned to be reactivated soon.
The Alumni Chapter was organized on May 20, 1935. Its members all occupy positions of responsibility, particularly in the fields of Engineering, Architecture, Business Administration, and allied business. Their contribution to the advancement of all Phi Kappa Upsilon Fraternity members has been important but unpublicized. Their continued support of all fraternity activities is invaluable to the progress of the Collegiate Chapters.
Since 2000 it has, with the help of the college chapter, added a large deck, created an alumni meeting room, upgraded electrical and plumbing systems, roofing and gutters, upgraded the basement into a study area, refinished the attic, and made many repairs, updates and improvements – both inside and out to the fraternity house.
Due to the visionary efforts that started on November 22, 1938 with the formation of the PKU Holding Company, which became the Housing Corporation and provided the selling of corporation stock for the purpose of constructing a “clubhouse”, land was purchased in Oak Park for that purpose. In 1958 that land was sold and in 1959 the Fraternity House in Southfield (The Castle) was purchased. It was the culmination of tireless efforts of a dedicated group Fraternity Brothers.
The Phi Kappa Upsilon Housing Corporation membership is limited to members of the Phi Kappa Upsilon Fraternity. The Housing Corporation handles the facilities, maintenance and operations of the house as well as the renting of rooms to Phi Kappa Upsilon Fraternity collegiate members.