Walter B. Palmer Foundation Created1922
President Will H. Hays appointed a committee in the summer of 1922 to consider the subject of the growing financial needs of the Fraternity. They brought a favorable report for an endowment fund, and the General Convention at Kansas City approved it. In appreciation of the unselfish and untiring services of Brother Walter B. Palmer, the fund was named “The Walter B. Palmer Foundation Endowment,” and it was decided to give every alumnus an opportunity of emulating the inspiring example set by him.
In the closing years of his life, Brother Palmer frequently expressed grave concern about the future welfare of Phi Delta Theta. He saw that educational institutions were undergoing remarkable changes and that these changes were reflected in changed conditions in chapter life. Whether the Fraternity would have sufficient foresight to prepare itself to cope with the new problems and gather the resources necessary to handle the enlarged affairs of increasing membership were questions Palmer discussed with Phi leaders everywhere. In his love for the brotherhood, he dreamed of tremendous growth and power for it.
Relation of Active Men and Alumni
The active chapter men are numerically a small part of any well-established fraternity. They should not be expected to carry, unassisted, the financial burdens of growing supervision and future needs. Alumni never cease to enjoy the benefits of a fraternity and gladly repay something of their undischarged obligations incurred in the days of active chapter life. These payments may be conserved in an endowment fund, with income divided among various needs, welding alumni and actives into one great chapter and holding the support of every initiate.
Uses of Fund
It was decided at Convention that the principal of the fund may be used to make loans for chapter houses to active chapters or the alumni chapter house corporations. Loans may also be made to deserving members of the Fraternity to aid them in completing their education. The income or interest from the fund may be used to pay the Fraternity’s general expenses and establish scholarships among the active chapters. In appreciation of the loyalty, devotion, and invaluable services to the Fraternity of Walter B. Palmer, from his initiation in 1873 until his death in 1920, a sum not to exceed $1,200 per annum is to be devoted to the support and welfare of his widow, and the education of his daughter.
Alumni generally approved of the idea. Many asked why the work was not undertaken long ago. Men with business training, men with a vision of what our Fraternity may be, and men with an understanding of current college conditions joined in commending the move to give the Fraternity adequate reserve funds. Andrew D. White, former president of Cornell University, once said that he could think of no wiser thing that wealthy graduates could do, in testifying kindly feeling toward their respective fraternities, than to aid in the erection and endowment of chapter houses, as good centers for college social and literary life.
How Fund Is to Be Raised
The task of raising the fund’s principal (not less than $500,000) was assigned to the traveling secretary. A survey of the field was made at once. It was discovered that there were 225 towns and cities in the United States and Canada with ten or more resident alumni, counting an aggregate membership of slightly over ten thousand. It was thought best to start the fund by getting in touch with these ten thousand alumni because of the facility in reaching them. Later, another ten thousand alumni scattered, and fewer than ten in a place would be contacted. Every living Phi would be asked to support the fund before the campaign was completed. As traveling secretary, Arthur R. Priest won over the alumni to support this endowment fund. That endowment fund exists today, although the administration of it has been divided into different categories.