On September 25, 2015, Phi Alpha celebrated its 170th anniversary. Phi Alpha is the oldest literary society at Illinois College, and it was founded by seven men back in 1845. The goal of Phi Alpha, according to their constitution, is to: attain truth, have literary improvement of its members, and to continue the organizations’ democratic heritage.
With its long history, Phi Alpha continues its mission’s promise with judged literary productions, and business meetings while upholding their democratic principles. The judged literary productions are held during both fall and spring semesters in Illinois College’ Beecher Hall. Opinionated speeches, research presentations, and original fiction are all performed at these events. The goal of these productions, according to their constitution, is to strengthen social, leadership and communication skills within the members of the group.
During Illinois College’s homecoming weekend in late September, many present and past members of Phi Alpha came together at the hilltop to commemorate the momentous occasion of them celebrating their 170th anniversary. Dr. Barbara Farley, president of Illinois College and former Illinois representative, Paul Findley were some of the honored guests to attend and speak at the event.
Phi Alpha had a dinner that was held at Hamilton’s restaurant and over 98 men from Phi Alpha’s past, attended. There were also Phips from over 8 decades, some of whom went on to become elected public officials, teachers, school, counselors, doctors, lawyers and college administrators. According to member, and MC/creator of the reunion, Gregory Lister; he feels that many came back to rekindle the friendships that they formed years ago.
“I keep in contact with and some people, but I may not have seen them in over 20-30 years. It is amazing how, even in that amount of time, we can look at one another and feel like the years have melted away and we are able to start up right where we left off before,” he exclaimed
“Making new memories with those of the past and present was great to do, especially based on the fact that all of us went through similar pledging processes, and developed a strong sense of brotherhood,” he later said.
As the organization continues, Lister would like the strong tradition of literary excellence to continue because he feels that if Phi Alpha is able to keep up with that tradition, the ability to retain the bonds of brotherhood with always be strong as new pledge classes enter into the picture. He also hopes that the college continues to see what an asset it is to them by seeing how viable and active groups, such as the 7 literary societies, are to the livelihood of the college. He also believes that would be an asset because it relates to the student body and then as it helps to keep alumni close to the hilltop.
Hopefully, Phi Alpha can continue this tradition in order to make new memories that will last a lifetime for many reunions to come.