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History of PDK International

Founded in 1906, Phi Delta Kappa International has always been committed to excellence in public education.

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1906 January Pi Kappa Mu, Bergstrom Chapter, organized at Indiana University.
1908 May Phi Delta Kappa, Alpha Chapter, organized at Columbia University.
1909 February Nu Rho Beta organized at University of Missouri.
1910 March Amalgamation Conference at Indianapolis, IN.
Membership limited to graduate students or undergraduates in the senior year or last half of junior year with associate membership for faculty members.
1911 March Phi Delta Kappa chartered at Indianapolis, IN, and incorporated in the state of Indiana.
1912 November Forerunner of field chapters emerged with formation of Stanford Alumni Association.
1914 February Alumni charters granted to petitioning group of seven or more with non-voting representation at council meetings.
1915 National Newsletter of PDK, edited by Abel J. McAllister.
1916 July National magazine designated the Phi Delta Kappan.
1920 June Created five districts headed by district deputies.
National dues established at $1 per year.
1923 February Kappan became a bimonthly with an advisory board.
Executive Secretary and Editor authorized for PDK,
Paul M. Cook (December 1927 – July 15, 1956).
Life membership defined.
1929 December Converted district deputies into district representatives.
1933 December Gave alumni chapters same representation at council as campus chapters.
1937 December Took over publication of Educational Abstracts.
Decided to publish a dictionary of educational terms.
1938 April Established national office at Homewood, IL.
District Conferences started.
1942 “White” clause eliminated from constitution.
State coordinators defined.
1945 First Dictionary of Education published.
1946 Officer handbooks started.
Council authorized formation of chapters outside of the United States.
1947 December Added territories outside the U.S., including all of Canada, to existing districts.
Defined emeritus membership.
1948 February Defined groups carrying out projects as “commissions” and those carrying out fraternity business as “committees.”
Encouraged organization of officer training schools.
1949 December Authorized funds for district projects.
1951 August Executive committee redesignated the board of directors.
December Created a committee to study permanent housing of the
national headquarters.
Authorized a major study of the structure of the fraternity.
1953 December Authorized publication for annual Doctoral Studies in Education.
Authorized dual membership.
Authorized board to acquire a site and construct a headquarters building.
1954 February Board selected Bloomington, IN, as site of headquarters building.
1955 August Board approved petition leading to formation of the first international chapter at the University of Toronto.
November International headquarters occupied in Bloomington, IN.
1956 July Stanley M. Elam appointed Editor of Phi Delta Kappan
(July 1, 1956 – December 31, 1980).
July Maynard Bemis appointed Executive Secretary
(July 15, 1956 – July 31, 1970).
August District representatives started meeting with board, but non-voting.
1957 December Approved two-year experiment in the initiation of
members by field chapters.
Provided for coordinators to attend council meetings
without right to vote.
1961 August Approved professional staff position of Director of Special Services.
November Co-sponsored first PDK Comparative Education Seminar to
Europe and USSR.
December Coordinators given right to vote in council.
1962 February Established a Research Advisory Committee.
 April Started national billing for dues.
1963 August Increased number of issues of Kappan to 10 per year.
December Approved international associate and courtesy memberships with dues waivers.
Approved a study of fraternity structure to be directed by Edgar L. Morphet.
1964 February Created a Past President’s Advisory Committee.
1965 August Approved plans for addition to headquarters building.
December Approved automatic transfer of membership.
Dropped the Greek letter chapter designation.
Funded a research department for headquarters.
1966 July William J. Gephart appointed first Director of Research Services
at headquarters (July 1, 1966 – June 30, 1980).
October PDK Educational Foundation created by George H. Reavis.
1969 December Created an Advisory Panel on Commissions.
Added the seven district representatives to the board of directors.
Approved new election procedures, including nomination for vice presidents at district conferences, publication of qualifications in NN&Q, and election at council.
1971 September Lowell C. Rose appointed Executive Secretary
(September 1, 1971 – November 30, 1995).
December Authorized a major addition to the headquarters building.
Changed the fiscal year to July 1 through June 30.
Authorized new chapter funds to use for expenses of delegates to its first district conference and/or council.
Created a senior membership category.
1972 January First foundation monograph published.
Designated staff of PDK as the staff for the foundation.
August Asked each chapter to designate a foundation representative.
Terminated Research Studies in Education.
1973 October Limited coordinators and district representatives to three consecutive elected terms.
Made charters granted to chapters conditional for a two-year period.
Eliminated distinction between campus and field chapters.
Occupied addition to headquarters building.
1974 February Women became eligible for membership in PDK –
Bessie F. Gabbard is the first woman member.
August Created a Center for Dissemination of Innovative Programs.
1975 January Coordinators met for the first time as a legislative committee.
1977 February Abolished Past President’s Advisory Committee.
Kappan receives the Educational Press Association of America (EdPress) Golden Lamp award for overall excellence in educational journalism.
October Limited vice presidents to three elected terms.
1979 October Approved Immediate Past President as voting member of board.
Approved billing for dual membership by headquarters.
1980 July Past Presidents became eligible to vote in council.
Chapters required to select a foundation representative and a research representative.
1981 July Robert Cole appointed Editor, Phi Delta Kappan.
1982 Kappan received Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Educational Journalism from Educational Press Association of America for One Theme Issue as part of the All American Awards Program.
1983 July Changed to an annual membership in lieu of a fiscal year membership.
1984 CEDR began publication of Hot Topics series.
1985 October First council to be held outside the United States met in Toronto, Ontario.
1986 November District VII divided into two districts to be numbered District VII and District VIII.
1987 September Howard Hill assumed responsibilities as the first Director of Chapter Programs.
October Approval given for a major expansion to the headquarters building.
1988 January Pauline Gough appointed Editor, Phi Delta Kappan.
1989 October Dedicated a major addition to the headquarters building and International Conference Center.
1990 January Referendum ballot creating Coordinator Legislative Committee approved.
1991 October Silver Anniversary of Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation celebrated.
1993 November Chapter membership committees given final authority for approving new members.
1994 March Accepted responsibility for Future Educators of America.
1995 July The Center on Education Policy, supported by Phi Delta Kappa, was established in Washington, D.C.
1995 October District IX (International District) created effective July 1, 1996.
November International conference center renamed Rose International Conference Center.
December Ronald J. Joekel appointed as Phi Delta Kappa’s fourth Executive Director (December 1995-June 1999).
1996 February Referendum ballot creating international at-large, associate, and undergraduate student memberships approved; ballot also provided for self-nomination and extended eligibility to student teachers, beginning graduate students, and persons in educationally-related fields.
1996 July Approved establishment of the National Center for Curriculum Audit and the National Center for Effective Schools under the auspices of Phi Delta Kappa.
1997 February Revised PDK’s vision and mission statements and approved goals for the year 2006.
Interim amendment approved changing the biennial council to a smaller legislative council consisting of the board and area coordinators.
Approved reducing from three to two the number of vice presidents on the Board of Directors.
Approved primary election of president-elect candidates by chapters.
October PDK’s first International Conference, Forum, and Legislative Council held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Council approved a two-year pilot program for direct membership.
1998 July Approved completion of third floor of Rose International Conference Center.
Changed automatic withdrawal for nonpayment of dues from three to two years.
1999 July George Kersey, Jr. appointed PDK’s fifth Executive Director (July 1999-June 2004).
February Amendment changing “fraternity” designation to “association” passed on chapter referendum.
2000 July PDK Constitution amended to include direct membership category and to standardize membership eligibility requirements.
2001 July Board of Directors began association-wide strategic planning process.
PDK awarded Lilly Endowment grant to support the Community Alliances to Promote Education (CAPE).
Constitution amended to allow post-baccalaureate students pursuing initial licensure to join PDK as student members at half dues; to require special district representative election if position vacated more than 90 days before term expires; and to change six-meeting requirement for chapters to six meetings/activities.
First PDK Constitutional Convention held in Bloomington, Indiana.
2003 March Constitution and Bylaws revised and approved by chapter referendum to include all member vote; professional, associate, institutional membership categories; International Board designation; regional restructuring; coordinators replaced by chapter/member liaisons; annual budgeting; and four required chapter officers.
June Bruce Smith appointed Editor, Phi Delta Kappan.
November First annual professional development conference in St. Louis, Missouri.
2004 July New regional alignment implemented with elected regional representatives; Area Coordinators designated as Chapter/Member Liaisons.
October William J. Bushaw appointed PDK’s sixth Executive Director.
2005 July Bylaws amended to create new international electronic membership category.
Future Educators of America changed to Future Educators Association.
PDK International Board approved first statewide chapter in Washington.
September The first issue of EDge offered to members in electronic format; EDge replaces long-standing Fastback series.
2006 January PDK’s Centennial Year begins.
First meeting of Chapter/Member Liaisons held in Bloomington, IN.
April PDK reestablishes Emerging Leaders program that was offered in 1981 during 75th anniversary but then discontinued; six Kappan leaders under age 40 selected for first class.
May PDK joins the Washington, D.C.-based Learning First Alliance (LFA), an umbrella organization including the largest associations serving educators.
September PDK offers first Internet-based webinar discussing the PDK/Gallup Poll results.
2007 December New comprehensive association management software system launched, assisting board and staff in providing increased member and chapter services.
PDK Educational Foundation approves new Bylaws, permitting the increase in the number of board members from five to ten.
2008 January PDK International Board approves new vision statement and three goals aligned with long-standing tenets of research, service, and leadership.
PDK International Board authorizes restructuring to align staff with three tenets: research, service, and leadership.
July Joan Richardson appointed Editor-in-Chief, Phi Delta Kappan.
September PDK International Board authorizes sale of PDK headquarters building to Indiana University with lease-back option; money from the sale placed in building fund.
2009 January PDK International Board approves plan to shift regional representative operational responsibilities to field representatives and change the name of Chapter/Member Liaison to Area Directors.
April PDK launches first online community, PDKConnect.
October Board approved a reapportionment plan that established six regions effective July 2010.
December The Future Educators Association® (FEA) is officially recognized by the United States Department of Education as a Career and Technical Service Organization (CTSO), making state and local programs eligible for monetary support using federal Perkins funding. FEA is the first new Career Technical Student Organization approved in over 25 years.
2010 June The PDK International Board of Directors adopts revised board policies that shift all operational responsibilities from board members to the PDK International staff.
August First annual Area Directors’ Meeting held in Chicago, Illinois.
October PDK acquires Pi Lambda Theta (PLT), a 100-year-old collegiate honor society for education students. The acquisition was unanimously approved by the PDK International Board of Directors and the Pi Lambda Theta Board of Directors. Though Pi Lambda Theta’s purpose and name remain the same, the governance responsibilities shift to the PDK International board. The PDK board appoints PLT’s First Vice President to serve as an at-large PDK board member. The PDK Educational Foundation assumes responsibility for the PLT Endowment.
December The PDK International board approves a dual membership option for qualified Pi Lambda Theta and Phi Delta Kappa members.
 2011 February Student members of the Future Educators Association® (FEA) attending the 22nd annual FEA conference in Atlanta, Georgia, elect their first national student officers.
The PDK International Board approves revised Articles of Incorporation for PDK.
Educational Horizons, the signature publication of Pi Lambda Theta receives a significant redesign.
May The PDK membership overwhelmingly ratifies new bylaws that clarify the governing responsibilities for Phi Delta Kappa International, Pi Lambda Theta, and the Future Educators Association. PDK membership is open to professional educators and other individuals who are committed to the purposes of PDK. These bylaws replace constitution and bylaws ratified in 2003.
June The PDK International board unanimously approves establishing a PDK office in Washington, DC.
August The Future Educators Association® offers individual membership to high school and college students, and others who are interested in affiliating with the organization. This is a significant departure from its past practice only offering institutional affiliation to high school FEA chapters. FEA launches Go Teach, a quarterly magazine for FEA students and their advisors.


Whether you are a teacher or an administrator, PDK provides opportunities and information for educational leaders at all stages of their careers working in diverse locations. Travel, publications, awards, and scholarships make PDK a valuable membership for all educators to have.