History of Society for Collegiate Journalists

The Society for Collegiate Journalists was formed on June 1, 1975, when two Greek-letter journalism societies merged. The honorary organizations of Pi Delta Epsilon (PDE) and Alpha Phi Gamma (APG) joined to become the Society for Collegiate Journalists.

The impetus for merger began in 1956-1957 when Dr. Louis Ingelhart, APG President, contacted other collegiate journalism organizations throughout the country, suggesting that they merge to form a strong unified organization.

Alpha Delta, one of the other journalism groups, disbanded in 1957 and merged with APG, but no other merger activity took place. The desire for unification, however, did not die.

There were efforts throughout the 1960s to get PDE and APG together. Officers from APG attended several PDE National Conventions and the groups met frequently at the Associated Collegiate Press conventions.

In 1973, Daniel E. Thornburgh of Eastern Illinois University, PDE First Vice-President, pushed hard for merger talks again with APG but to no avail. The PDE National Convention of 1973 voted down a merger proposal, but Thornburgh continued his work and asked APG National President Glen A.W. Kleine and J. William Click, APG Executive Secretary, to attend the 1975 PDE National Convention and participate in renewed merger discussions.

John David Reed of Eastern Illinois University was adviser and coordinator of the PDE constitution committee assigned to handle the merger question, and through his efforts and those of many other PDE student members, a proposal was adopted. Kleine and Click took the proposal back to APG and its membership adopted the merger by mail ballot. Under the agreement, a former PDE officer was to be President, an APG officer would be First Vice-President, and Thornburgh, who was PDE President at the 1975 convention, became Immediate Past President, effecting an orderly transition.

A new constitution for the Society was written under Reed’s direction and another constitution committee at the 1977 SCJ National Convention, headed by Wilford Kale of the College of William and Mary, finalized the document. The constitution was formally adopted during the convention’s final hours. In 1981, the National Convention opened membership in the Society to two-year colleges, providing that they adhere to the constitutional requirements in the establishment and organization as any other four-year school chapter. The first two-year colleges to receive a charter were Cowley County Community College, Kansas City, Kans.; Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Ocean County Community College, Toms River, N.J. The basic tenets of PDE and APG continue to live and flourish in the reorganized SCJ organization.

More recently, SCJ formed an alliance with SPJ, the Society of Professional Journalists. Upon graduation, SCJ members pay only one-half the regular SPJ dues for the first two years as they launch their careers.

History of Pi Delta Epsilon

Pi Delta Epsilon was organized at Syracuse University on Dec. 6, 1909, by members of the staff of the Daily Orange newspaper. The colors were olive and gray. The founders were Sydney H. Coleman, Neil Dow Cranmer, Paul L. Benjamin, J.H. Lloyd Baxter, C. Earl Bradbury, William G. Kennedy, Willard R. Jillson, Philip S. Perkins, Wallace M. Williams, and Donald J. Wormer.

Initially, it appeared that the fraternity would not become a national organization because its members sought only to furnish an incentive and reward for the services rendered by the students on the publications at Syracuse. During the following year, however, permission was given for the establishment of a group at the University of Nebraska. The seed for nationalization of the fraternity had been planted, and, through the years, chapters were established in other colleges and universities.

Pi Delta Epsilon’s mission was in the undergraduate collegiate journalism field. It was the oldest national honorary collegiate journalism fraternity in the country. Through its Pi Delta Epsilon roots, the Society for Collegiate Journalists has that distinction.

Pi Delta Epsilon always taught service and sacrifice of self. Just as the undergraduate media are the guides for undergraduate opinion during the time when the student is in the most susceptible, formative period of development, Pi Delta Epsilon sought to act as the stabilizing nucleus of student workers who guided those who served in the collegiate media.

To the workers in student communications who sacrificed the lighter pleasures of college life to labor for a worthy campus medium for the sake of the student body, the student body owed much, and it was in recognition of those students’ efforts that Pi Delta Epsilon operated. The fraternity has been the medium through which college administrations have recognized the importance of publications on a number of campuses. Among the achievements reported by chapters have been the creation of boards of publications for supervision of staff finances, the institution of needed publications, the introduction of courses in journalism, the adoption of a proper rate card and the elimination of circulation misrepresentation, the acquisition of proper rooms and laboratory space for publication staffs, and proper recognition for student journalists, among other campus activities.

Originally established as an undergraduate honorary collegiate journalism fraternity, PDE initiated only men for more than 25 years. At the 1937 National Convention held at George Washington University, the delegates unanimously voted that the National Constitution be amended to admit women to Pi Delta Epsilon.

This constitutional amendment was adopted in such a way that chapters established at co-educational institutions could either absorb existing women’s organizations or admit women on the same basis as the men. It also provided that new chapters could be established at women’s colleges.

As a result of this amendment, the local chapter at George Washington University immediately offered membership to the local women’s honorary journalism fraternity, Gamma Eta Zeta.

By 1944, the place of women in Pi Delta Epsilon became so well established that the national women’s collegiate journalism sorority, Alpha Chi Alpha, contacted Pi Delta Epsilon for information about the fraternity and the possibility of a merger of the two groups. Within just a few months, Alpha Chi Alpha had merged into Pi Delta Epsilon, the older organization, to work as one in advancing the high ideals and purposes of college journalism.

The National Officers and delegates were formally initiated as members of Pi Delta Epsilon in July at the 1944 convention, at which all of the chapters of Alpha Chi Alpha were given the privilege of membership.

National Conventions of Pi Delta Epsilon were held at two-year intervals as the organization strengthened its membership and added new chapters through the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s.

History of Alpha Phi Gamma

Alpha Phi Gamma was organized at Ohio Northern University on Dec. 11, 1919, to honor the work of the staff members of the Northern Review.

Initially the group was named Phi Alpha Gamma, and black and white were established as the colors. In 1923, the Ohio Northern organization made plans for a national organization. On March 23, 1923, delegates representing six other Ohio colleges and universities attended the first National Convention and received membership charter. The name also was changed at that convention. A National Headquarters was established in Akron, Ohio, in 1927. The fraternity was strengthened in 1929 when Omega Xi Alpha, a California journalism fraternity organized in Los Angeles, merged as the Western section.

National Conventions were held until 1954 when Western and Eastern Regional Conventions were adopted because of the large geographic coverage area and the growing travel problems and expenses of a national meeting.

Alpha Phi Gamma’s principal purposes were to honor individual achievement in journalism, as shown through a student’s participation on a campus publication or news bureau, and to help maintain and improve the quality of student publications.

The general purposes were to recognize and honor individual ability and participation in collegiate student publications; to serve, promote, and help to improve collegiate journalism; to establish cordial relationships between students and members of the profession; and to unite congenial students interested in journalism.

In 1957, Alpha Delta fraternity also disbanded and most of its chapters merged with APG. From its modest Midwest beginnings, the group extended nearly coast to coast by the early 1970s. Throughout its existence, APG, as policy, chartered chapters on campuses known for excellent student publications.

History of the Regalia

The Insignia of Pi Delta Epsilon

In 1949, the National Convention of PDE established an heraldic coat of arms, incorporating the elements of the just merged Alpha Chi Alpha organization.

pikeyArms: Per pale, argent, a quill palewise nib in ink bottle all vert, and of the second, a cross saltire gules, bordered or and studded with pearls. In escutcheon or a chevron vert.

Crest: A carnation argent leaved and stemmed proper, issuing on either side of an equilateral triangle bearing a mullet all radiant d’or.

Mantling: A knight’s helmet with mantling argent double vert.

Motto: The fraternity name in upper and lower case Greek letters.
The fraternity’s insignia is a rectangular key in gold with three Greek letters inlaid on black enamel.

The Insignia of Alpha Phi Gamma

The heraldic coat of arms of APG contained the following elements:

alphakeyArms: Three stars, an inkwell, a wreath, and a quill.

Crest: A head of a secretary bird.

The fraternity’s badge is a rectangular key in gold with three Greek letters appearing diagonally from upper left to lower right, three stars in the upper right, and an inkwell in the lower left. The seal is the key encircled by the name in upper case letters and founding date, Dec. 11, 1919.


The Seal of the Society for Collegiate Journalists

scjsealThe Society’s emblem incorporates several elements of its predecessors. Its seal is a circle with crossed quills above an inkwell. Around the outer edge of the circle are the words (in all capitals): “Society for Collegiate Journalists, Founded A.D. 1909.”


The Flowers and Colors of the Society

The Society for Collegiate Journalists has selected a flower and colors to be worn and displayed on occasions where such emblems are appropriate. The chosen flower is the white carnation. While the Society’s official colors are black and white, representing the organization’s print media heritage, it has chosen the colors of blue and gold for use on banners and the Society’s Medal of Merit.

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