Founding and Early Years
Mu Beta Psi National Honorary Musical Fraternity was founded on November 5, 1925 at North Carolina State College by Music Director Percy W. “Daddy” Price and a group of 12 men from the Class of 1926 who were involved in campus music organizations. In the next few years, Price determined that the Fraternity was different from the other music groups on campus and deemed it worthy of growing into a national organization with multiple chapters.
With the addition of Beta Chapter at Davidson College in early 1929, Mu Beta Psi started to grow. Meetings of the two chapters in late 1929 and early 1930 resulted in the adoption of the Fraternity’s Constitution, the founding of the National Organization, and the elections of the first National Officers, including National President Joseph Matthews (Alpha), National Vice-President Paul Fry (Beta), and National Executive Secretary Henry Horney (Alpha). With a strong desire for Mu Beta Psi to realize its true potential, Price pushed hard for the Fraternity’s expansion. Some of the earliest prospects included Wake Forest and William & Mary.
Unfortunately, Price’s life was cut short by a heart attack in 1933. His successor as NC State Music Director, Christian D. Kutschinski, continued to promote Mu Beta Psi. He became National Executive Secretary in the mid-1930s and sought to expand the Fraternity wherever and whenever possible. He would serve in this position for a little over 25 years.
Despite the challenges of the Great Depression and Beta Chapter going inactive, Delta Chapter was established at Clemson College in 1937. Alpha and Delta Chapters would remain active side-by-side for the next 28 years.
World War II and the 1950s
World War II brought about new challenges for Mu Beta Psi. As many students graduated and others entered the armed forces to fight overseas, Chapter activity was limited. With the war’s successful conclusion, Kutschinski helped Delta Chapter reorganize and increase its active membership. Additionally, Alpha and Delta Chapters met for a National Convention in 1949.
The 1950s saw the majority of Chapter activities occur at the local level, with minimal collaboration between the Chapters. Despite a desire to meet for a Convention every year, they would not do so again until 1957. At this meeting, the National Organization was resurrected with the elections of Wade Hicks (Delta) as National President and David Haworth (Alpha) as National Vice-President.
The 1960s and the Era of Development
The 1961 National Convention marked an important milestone for Mu Beta Psi. It was at this meeting that the National Constitution was amended to allow membership to women. Additionally, a national publication which would become known as The Clef was created and Ted Halverson (Alpha) became its first editor. New expansion efforts to grow the fraternity were also established. This Convention also became the first of an unbroken chain of annual Conventions which continues to this day.
The 1960s is considered the first Era of Development. The Fraternity saw additional changes in both leadership and expansion. Kutschinski stepped down as National Executive Secretary in 1962. He was replaced by Clemson’s music director, John Butler. Three years later, Ralph W. Daniel (Alpha) was elected to the position and would serve for the next 18 years. Additionally, the Office of National Editor of The Clef was formally established.
Two new Chapters were installed, the first in nearly two decades. One was Epsilon Chapter at Washington & Lee University in 1965, which would remain active for nearly 20 years. The other was Zeta Chapter at Michigan Technological University in 1967, which was the result of a successful merger with Tri-Beta. Zeta remains active to this day. 1965 also saw the adoption of the Editor of The Clef as a National Officer. “Hail the Spirit,” written by Milton C. Bliss, was adopted as the Fraternity Song in 1967.
The 1970s and 1980s
Mu Beta Psi continued a period of gradual growth in the 1970s and 1980s. The Alumni Association was formally established in early 1970, providing college graduates with a Chapter to continue their participation in the Fraternity’s activities. The short-lived Eta Chapter was installed at VMI in mid-1970. Theta Chapter was established at Saint Augustine’s College in 1973, and remained active for 13 years. Iota Chapter was established at Duke University in 1981 and went inactive 3 years later. Kappa Chapter was established at Wofford College in 1989 and stayed active for 7 years. The mid-1980s also saw the creation of the Permanent Board of Trustees for the purpose of ensuring stability in the National Organization. The first members of the Permanent Board included Wallace DesChamps (Delta), Charlie Emki (Zeta), David Wilson (Alpha) and Bryan Reamer (Zeta).
Reorganization and Expansion in the 1990s
A second Era of Development began in the early 1990s. The National Organization underwent a reorganization with the division of responsibilities and the creation of new national offices, including the Vice President of Chapter Maintenance, Vice President of Expansion, National Treasurer, and National Historian. The National Constitution was revised and approved in 1996. Three members of the Permanent Board resigned and were replaced by Joseph Bledsoe (Alpha), Timothy Kudlock (Delta), and Gayle Kirby (Zeta). Another resignation a few years later resulted in confirmation of Benjamin Griffeth (Kappa) to the Board.
In terms of expansion efforts, Lambda Chapter was established at Anderson College in 1991, only to go inactive a year later. Mu Chapter was established in 1993 at UNC-Chapel Hill, and it would remain active for 19 years. The Fraternity also extended northward with the establishment of Nu Chapter at SUNY Oswego in 1994 and Xi Chapter at Saint Vincent College in 1996. Nu is currently active and Xi remained active for 10 years.
The 21st Century
The 2000s saw the establishment of five new Chapters—the largest period of growth to date. Omicron Chapter was established at Roanoke College in 2001. Omicron remained active for the next 16 years. In 2007, the Brothers of Mu Upsilon Alpha at Rutgers University merged with Mu Beta Psi to establish Pi Chapter.
Rho Chapter was established at Northern Michigan University in 2008. A year later, Mu Beta Psi crossed the Mississippi River for the first time with the establishment of Sigma Chapter at Saint Louis University in 2009, although it would quickly go inactive. In 2011, Mu Beta Psi established Tau Chapter at American University in Washington, DC.
The Permanent Board of Trustees underwent some changes. Gayle Kirby retired in 2004 and was replaced two years later by Matthew Zander (Zeta). In 2011, a fifth Permanent Board seat was created and was filled by Andrew Fleming (Zeta). A year later, Tim Kudock retired from the Board and was replaced in 2015 by Christopher Ciarlariello (Pi).
In 2016, the National Organization underwent some additional changes with the creation of the office of Chief Financial Officer. Jennifer Staten (Omicron) was appointed to fill the office and works closely with the Board of Trustees to oversee the Fraternity’s overall financial health. At the same time, a formal Branding and Style Guide was approved, providing a set of standards for the writing and design of fraternity documents for promotional, ceremonial, and internal use.
In 2018, the National Organization approved significant changes to the Fraternal Life and Conduct Policy and adopted a resolution to adopt Gender-Neutral policies. It was also during this same year that Matthew Zander retired from the Permanent Board and was replaced by Danielle Booms (Zeta).
Expansion took center stage again in 2019 with the installation of Upsilon Chapter at Stetson University – Mu Beta Psi’s first Chapter in the state of Florida. Additionally, efforts began to reactivate Kappa Chapter at Wofford College which were successfully completed in April 2020.
Over the years, through the accomplishments and the challenges, the purposes of Mu Beta Psi have remained the same. Brothers remained steadfast as musicians on their college campuses, and sought to promote, advance, and celebrate music in both their schools and their communities. They remained committed to service and volunteered their time and talents to ensure that their musical programs were successful. Mu Beta Psi brings together individuals from every background imaginable, united through a common love of music and a desire to advance it wherever possible.