LAMBDA PHI CHAPTER
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY - CAMBRIDGE, MA
On April 3, 1976, Henry Lorent Leeb, a 1915 graduate of MIT, was initiated into the Alpha Delta Phi, sixty-five years after he had first set out to become an AD. And in what proved to be the last three weeks of his life, he saw that his dream of bringing Alpha Delta Phi to MIT would at last become reality.
The history of the Lambda Phi Chapter begins in 1906, when a small group of MIT students, aided by a few Alpha Delta alumni from Brown, founded the Lambda Phi Fraternity. Among the original purposes set forth in the First Constitution was the goal “to establish at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Boston, Massachusetts, a chapter of the Fraternity of Alpha Delta Phi.” Among all existing fraternities, Alpha Delta was the obvious choice because of its decades long history of leadership and prominence in the fraternal movement.
A period was spent by the Lambda Phi Brothers building strength, and by 1911, their “Alpha Delta Phi Committee” would become very active. Henry Leeb joined the Lambda Phi that year and took the lead in the effort to lobby the Chapters for support. The Executive Council was petitioned for a Charter at several points over the next few years.
But in 1911, AD and MIT were very different institutions. The literary tradition was not as yet inclined to make room for the physical and social sciences. MIT was more of an engineering trade school than the center of science and technology that it is now.
Henry and his Brothers petitioned in vain. Its original purpose unfulfilled, Lambda Phi stopped initiating in 1925. In the hearts and minds of its Alumni, however, Lambda Phi remained alive as they went on to prove their merit as worthy sons of MIT.
Most especially, Henry Leeb never forgot the original aim and became a lifelong friend of Alpha Delta Phi and of many individual Alpha Delts. Yet it was not until 1975 that solid progress would be made.
At that time, Brother Burton S. Price, HAM 1923, brought Henry’s story to the attention of the Board of Governors. Brother Price produced a mass of correspondence, which he, the Executive Council, and the Board had had with Henry Leeb over the years. This time Henry’s story was heard with great interest. The Board’s Expansion Committee led by Brother Vice president Robert G. McKelvey, MID 1959, recognized MIT as a logical candidate for expansion, given the prominence of the Institute, the strength of its fraternity system, and the obvious tenacity of its Alumni support.