Delt Lecture

The Delta Phi Rho Lecture

Cornell College’s Delta Phi Rho Lecture was conceived by alumni organizing the 100th anniversary of the college’s Delta Phi Rho fraternity. An endowment to support the major lecture series originated with a group of early 1960s Delt alumni who wanted to leave a legacy as part of the 1998 Delt centennial celebration. After committing $150,000 themselves, the group raised the balance of the initial $400,000 goal from other Delt alumni. Due to the overwhelming response to the lecture series, contributions have doubled to more than $800,000.

Steven Chu
Nobel Laureate Steven Chu speaks on climate change.

“We wanted to do something that would bring distinction to the college,” Bob Bowman ’62, co-chair of the endowment campaign with John Urheim ’62 and R.K. Scott ’63, said of establishing the fund and lectureship.

The Delta Phi Rho Centennial Fund commemorated not only a century of Delt tradition, but the accomplishments and leadership shown by individual Delts as students, alumni, and members of their communities. Its purpose is to contribute to the intellectual capital of the college and the community by bringing nationally prominent figures on campus to interpret current issues and encourage involvement in public affairs.

Delta Phi Rho Lectures

2019: Steven Chu, “Climate Change and the Innovative Paths to a Sustainable Future”
2016: Thomas Friedman, “The Big Trends Shaping the World Today: Economics, Technology, and Geopolitics”
2014: Doris Kearns Goodwin, “Leadership Lessons of History”
2012: Karl Rove and Dee Dee Myers, “Election 2012: Two Perspectives”
2010: David Gergen, “The Press, the President, and Public Policy”
2008: George Stephanopoulos, “Politics: The Art of the Impossible”
2005: Fareed Zakaria, “The Future of Freedom”
2004: Bob Woodward, “Bush at War”



Delta Phi Rho

Raymond Peter Ink founded Cornell College’s Delta Phi Rho fraternity in 1898 from members of the Adelphian Literary Society, which dates to 1859. The purpose of the Delta Phi Rho, as set forth in its charter, is to develop members socially, intellectually, and morally, and to nurture brotherhood.

A prominent Mount Vernon farmer and longtime supporter of Cornell, Ink remained involved with the Delts until his death in 1963. Ink was memorialized on campus with the creation of Ink Pond.

For much of the last century the Delts were known for their rich athletic heritage. Seven of the eight members of Cornell’s legendary 1947 NCAA and AAU national championship wrestling team were Delts, and its coach, Paul Scott ’29, was an honorary Delt. Between 1932 and 1956, Delt wrestlers also carved places on five consecutive U.S. Olympic teams. As of its centennial year, Delts represented almost one-half of the athletes in the Cornell Athletics Hall of Fame.

Throughout the years, Delt alumni have provided leadership to Cornell on the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Board of Directors, and the college’s administration. Many Delts have contributed to Cornell’s distinction through their professional achievement or philanthropy. Former board chair Richard Small ’50, the retired CEO of Tri-Star Aerospace, and his wife, Norma, are the most generous donors in Cornell history. Campbell McConnell ’50, author of the world’s leading college economics textbook, and his wife Marilyn established two endowed faculty development funds at Cornell. Before his untimely death in 1992, William Taylor ’61 was chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and oversaw the resolution of the savings and loan crisis that then threatened the nation’s banking system.

Many other Delt alumni have achieved a high level of accomplishment, as well as prominence, in numerous fields of endeavor including medicine, medical research, physical science, scientific research, behavioral science, psychology, education, diplomacy, and law. Others have achieved leadership positions in various areas of industry as CEOs or other senior-level posts, and many have made their marks as entrepreneurs, creating and developing their own professional and commercial enterprises.

In addition to Ink Pond, Cornell has seven buildings funded by Delts, five of which bear the names of Delts: The Richard and Norma Small Multi-Sport Center, the Thomas Commons (in honor of the parents of Norma Thomas Small), Youngker Hall (Charles Youngker ’42), the Scott Alumni Center (Paul Scott ’29), West Science Center (Merle S. West, Class of 1909), the McLennan Center in Chicago (Robert McLennan ’65 and Becky Martin McLennan ’64), and Tarr Hall, funded by Charles Youngker ’42, along with his brother Ben Youngker ’43, in tribute to the aunt and uncle who helped raise them.

Delt Lecture Advisory Board

Robert B. Bowman ’62, Retired President/CEO, PlainsBank of Illinois, Glenview, Illinois
Robert G. McLennan ’65, President/CEO, Beacon Management Company, Naples, Florida
R.K. Scott ’63, Retired CEO, SDN Communications LLC, Loudon, Tennessee
Brian R. Wendt ’64, Partner, Big Red Rooster Flow LLC, Lincolnshire, Illinois

Past founding Advisory Board members:
Richard A. Bowman ’62 (1940-2016)
Jerry M. Meyer ’62 (1941-2019)
John Urheim ’62 (1940-2014)