Among those entering the University in 1965 was Alan Jay Silverman. Alan was a young man of considerable passion, commitment and vigor. Every man was his brother. He loved to hear and tell a good joke. He knew laughter. And camaraderie. And friendship. He was only about 5’6″ in height, but was a fearsome, “shifty” rugby player. He embodied the very essence of community, fair-play and personal integrity. He demanded the same from his individual relationships, his nation…and his University.
The UVA fraternity community of the late 1960’s was rigidly segregated along racial, religious, and gender lines. It was “the way it was…the way it always had been, the way it should be” according to some university officials. It was as tradition-bound as the singing of several choruses of “Dixie” on another losing afternoon in Scott Stadium, and the endless sea of flags of the “Stars and Bars.” Gentiles were in their Houses; Jews were in their three houses. If any of the handful of African-Americans aspired to University leadership through the fraternity system, they were left to be content with only a good dose of aspiration itself.
And so it was until Alan learned of Pilam through a buddy at the College of William and Mary and introduced a small group of like-minded dormitory residents to the concept of Pi Lambda Phi, an international fraternity that, as it turned out, had disbanded from UVA during the World War II years. The 1967 letter of interest from Charlottesville to the International Fraternity was met with unrestrained enthusiasm from George Beck ‘s (then Executive Director) office in New York. Alan and a few of his closest friends came to be known as the Re-founders. By 1969, the seemingly endless administrative and political obstacles had been overcome. The Chapter was re-chartered and had bought its own House on “fraternity row.” Tragically, in 1972, while Alan was motoring with friends near Charlottesville, another car struck them, causing a fiery combustion and explosion. All were trapped inside and perished.
The goal of this fund is to provide scholarships to UVA undergraduate Pilams who demonstrate commitment to core values shared by both Pi Lambda Phi and Alan Jay Silverman: equality, nondiscrimination, leadership, scholarship, teamwork, and devotion to those ideals.