100 years of solicitude

BY MICHELLE NGO | MARCH 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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Philip Hubbard, the first African American professor at the University of Iowa, spent more than 50 years dedicating his life to educating, researching, and administrating.

Duke Slater, an Illinois native, played football for four years at the university beginning in 1918.
And this year, the fraternity they both participated in celebrates its 100th year on campus.

Kappa Alpha Psi was the first African-American fraternity at the UI and west of the Mississippi River.   

“The University of Iowa is one of the cornerstones of Iowa’s ideas and efforts in terms of equality,” said Alexander Lodge, an alumnus and adviser for the Gamma Chapter of the UI fraternity.

Last week, the members and alumni celebrated 100 years at the university with a recognition ceremony honoring the March 7, 1914, founding of the fraternity.

“The fact that 100 years ago, they allowed a group of African Americans to establish a chapter speaks a lot about the history and mission of the university to build a diverse campus for its students, even back in 1914,” Lodge said.

Along with the members of the fraternity, Vice President for UI Student Life Tom Rocklin and Bill Nelson, the director of the UI Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, also helped celebrate the chapter’s anniversary.  

“It’s remarkable when a group of students comes together and creates something that lasts well beyond them, and I think that’s something that deserves the university’s congratulations,” Rocklin said. “I think one of the great opportunities of college is to interact with people who have different backgrounds from yours and come to understand yourself better by learning about other people.”

The chapter currently has two UI members, UI junior Kyle Davis, a who serves as president, and UI senior Patrick Shelton.

“Even though there are only two of us, we still try to make a presence and effect change on the campus,” Davis said. “We try to stay as involved as we can and help pave the way for African Americans, even with the stereotypical notions people may have against us.”

According to the university registrar, African Americans make up about 2.7 percent of the approxlimately 31,000 students, which makes it hard to find new members, Davis said. Despite the small pool of potential recruits, Lodge continues to encourage Davis and Shelton.

“There’s always those faithful few who have to carry on the legacies,” Lodge said. “I remind them they’re part of a chapter with a major presence at the university as the first African American chapter, and that distinction carries a lot of pride with it.”

Even though the chapter has reached a major milestone for other African American fraternities, Davis said there is still work to be done.

“A hundred years might sound huge, but the 101st year is even bigger,” Davis said. “It sets us back at zero. It’s not the ending of something, it’s just the beginning.”

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