What are your letters? Acacia is the only founding member of the National Interfraternity Council to choose a full Greek word as its name rather than a few letters. Our name, Acacia, comes from the Greek word AKAKIA which has several different meanings. Acacia means “distinctiveness and leadership among men”, “brotherhood”, and “strength and ruggedness of the spirit”. 

Acacia was founded in 1904 by 14 Master Masons at the University of Michigan. Today it is a strong international fraternity, with Chapters at more than 40 universities across the United States and one in Canada. Over 50,000 university men have called themselves Acacians, including prominent figures such as Senators, university presidents, state governors, and Nobel Laureates. Famous Acacia alumni include: President William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan, Cliff Hillegas (founder of Cliff’s Notes), Wes Santee (former Gold Medal distance runner), and Harold Edgerton (Nobel Prize in Physics). Read an excerpt from the Cornell Chronicle about Taft’s visit to Cornell Acacia. 

The Cornell Chapter of Acacia was founded May 4, 1907 by the captain of the football team and some of his friends. That same year our current house, Northcote, was built. The chapter lived in a few houses before finally moving into Northcote in 1934. Northcote was drafted by the same architect who designed Baker Lab and various other buildings throughout Ithaca. Some recognizable names of Acacia alumni around campus include George Jessup (Jessup Fields), and Harold Riley and Byron Robb (Riley and Robb Hall). Several current Cornell professors in such varied departments as Fine Arts, Agriculture and Biological engineering, Communications, and the Johnson School of Management are Acacians from one of our many chapters. 

Over the years, the Cornell chapter has built a strong brotherhood on the foundation of diversity and tradition. The Cornell chapter has initiated over 1200 brothers since we were founded on this campus. Our chapter has developed a strong tradition, but we have avoided fostering a stereotype. We believe that when a brother joins Acacia, he should not have to give up his individuality. Instead, that brother will be able to enhance the brotherhood with his own ideas. 

This strong tradition of brotherhood was reflected in our Centennial Celebration, which drew over 130 alumni and their families back to Ithaca in August 2007. [Read the article from the Cornell Daily Sun about this historic weekend.] At Centennial, we launched our $345,000 capital campaign to further improve Northcote and ensure our chapter’s financial security for years to come. With approximately 45 active brothers, Acacia is slightly smaller than the average Cornell fraternity size. Our fraternity is, therefore, able to offer every member the chance to develop their own leadership abilities as officers and as brothers. At Acacia, we have formed strong bonds of friendship which often cannot be found in some of the larger houses on this campus. 

Our house philosophy is to balance academics while having fun. Not only have brothers achieved high academic honors, but our house GPA is well above the university average. Perhaps the most appealing factor about a fraternity is its social program. We have a full social calendar of parties, date nights, mixers, and formals. On average, we will have four large parties and two formals every semester, with additional brotherhood events and mixers thrown in. 


Acacia’s strong international organization provides support for the local chapter. With access to a database of alumni from Cornell (and the other chapters) living everywhere in the world, actives and alumni can reach out through a network of people who have shared a common experience in college. Many Cornell Acacians stay at other chapters when they travel around the country. Our organization also organizes both an International Conclave and a Leadership Academy on alternating years, giving actives the chance to meet and make friends with other actives from coast to coast. At the 2004 Conclave, Cornell Chapter was recognized as an Outstanding Chapter of Acacia. 


Since 1934, the Cornell Chapter of Acacia has resided in our house, “Northcote.” Northcote is a large Chicago Prairie style home built in 1907, which sits upon a large property along Highland Road on North Campus. The luxury of wide lawns and open spaces gives us the ability to host large outdoor events. Acacia is not owned by the university — it is privately owned by our alumni, and this gives us greater financial independence and the freedom to adapt the house to the needs of the active chapter. 

The chapter takes pride in the condition of the house, and it is one of the most impressive and well-maintained houses on campus. Bedrooms are all large and comfortable, and the house offers many amenities such as both wired and wireless computer networking, Time Warner Cable, a large recreation room with a pool table, and free laundry machines. The house is a home, not a dormitory and as such we provide a modern open kitchen with a cook for dinner and lunch, and comfortable areas to study and entertain friends and other guests. Our house sets the standard for fraternity living. Moreover, it is significantly cheaper than living in the dorms or in most off-campus apartments. 


The primary goal of every college student is to obtain the maximum from his education. At Acacia, learning is one of our foremost objectives. We believe that the fraternity needs to emphasize our main goal as university students. The house provides an easy place to work, study, or to meet up with members for a team project. A brother can also depend on the upperclassmen in the house for help with something that they have already experienced. Most brothers’ grades go up after joining the fraternity, and as a whole we have a house GPA higher than the Cornell or Greek system averages. 


One of the ways that Acacia makes life at Cornell a little easier is by lightening the financial load. Our chapter has an academic endowment of half a million dollars, the largest per capita endowment on campus. This is divided up into the Thompson Memorial Scholarship, which provides need-based aid for brothers on financial aid, and the Kuhn fund, which provides scholarships for “fraternity-ship.” There are also several scholarships provided by our National organization which Cornell Acacians have successfully earned recently. 


Acacia’s motto is Greek for “human service”, which is our guide to enjoyable and productive fraternity life. Every Acacian is well-served by his membership. From social to scholarship opportunities, Acacia brothers do service to themselves by expanding their horizons. In addition, brotherhood in Acacia provides relationships that will enrich and serve one’s college experience. Human service is also about reaching out to others. Part of Acacia’s purpose is to “give light to those with whom we may be associated as we travel along life’s pathway.” We do this by establishing a strong presence in the community and participating in service projects. Every one of these projects bring Acacians into contact with both the Cornell and Ithaca communities and are fine philanthropic opportunities. Acacia membership is an opportunity to grow by taking advantage of the opportunities presented to brothers both within Acacia and in the community.