EVANSTON, Ill. --- In February 1859, eight years after the University's founding, Phi Delta Theta formed at Northwestern and became the first fraternity on campus.
Considered "secret societies" at the time, now, 150 years and 39 chapters later, the Greek community on the Northwestern campus is far from secret.
To celebrate its sesquicentennial, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is inviting students, staff and alumni to the Panhellenic Sorority Quad, 619 University Pl., Evanston at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, to hear remarks from members of the Greek community, followed by refreshments.
"The Greek community is as strong as it's ever been," said Daniel Miller, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life. "Right now 35 percent of the student body is involved and it continues to be an important part of the campus culture."
Few university Greek systems have reached the 150-year milestone, he added.
The event will include a speech by Dominic Greene, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, a talk by a Northwestern alumnus on her experiences in a sorority and a speech by a current student on the state of the Greek community today.
In the 2008-2009 school year, fraternity and sorority members completed 28,132 hours of community service, donated more than $350,000 to philanthropic causes and earned a higher cumulative GPA than students not affiliated with a Greek organization.
Whether organizing formal dances in the 1920s, coordinating May Week in the 1950s or volunteering in today's GreekBuild, sororities and fraternities have been integral to campus life.
"Fraternities and sororities are one of Northwestern's oldest institutions," said Miller. "They are embedded in the university's history."
The Interfraternity Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Panhellenic Association are cosponsoring the event.