Theodore Distler

Theodore Distler, PhD., Epsilon/Phi 1922, Phi Alpha 1947-1948


Theodore Distler, Epsilon/Phi, 1922, was Phi Alpha 1947-1948. Dr. Distler was born in Brooklyn, NY and started his college education at Brown University, where he joined Zeta Psi. After service with the U.S. Naval Reserve, he received his Bachelor’s degree from NYU.

He was a highly respected leader of higher education in the United States. He began his career after receiving his Ph.D. at NYU as a member of the NYU faculty and in various administrative positions,
the last of which was Director of Admissions and Personnel. From 1934 to 1941.  Brother Distler served as Dean of Lafayette College. In 1941, he was named President of Franklin & Marshall College and served until 1954. Dr. Distler was President Emeritus of Franklin & Marshall until his death in 1991. Today, the campus bookstore and café are located in Distler House on the campus.

Dr. Distler received honorary degrees from NYU, Muhlenberg College, Dickinson College, Ursinus College, Lafayette College,, and Temple University.

Dr. Distler served as executive director of the Association of American Colleges in Washington, D.C. from 1954 to 1965 and for two years served as President of the Commission for Independent Colleges and Universities. He was the interim president of Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1969-1970.

As Phi Alpha, Dr. Distler was proud to announce the formal establishment of the Zeta
Psi Educational Foundation in 1947. When he took office as Phi Alpha, Zeta Psi had 29
active chapters with the Alpha Mu at Dalhousie University being on inactive status.
During his term, the Dalhousie chapter was reactivated and the Theta Phi chapter at the
University of Western Ontario was chartered as the 31 st chapter of Zeta Psi.

Brother Distler was awarded Zeta Psi’s Distinguished Service Award in 1959.