Cap and Skull

Cap and Skull is a senior-year honor society at Rutgers University, founded on January 18, 1900.

Admission to Cap and Skull is dependent upon excellence in academics, athletics, the arts and public service. Leadership and character are also important factors to membership. Using these criteria, only eighteen new members, or less than one-half of one percent of a Rutgers College class, are selected to be tapped each year.


On 18 January 1900, ten members of the Senior Class of Rutgers College assembled in the Chi Psi Lodge on College Avenue and began to define what would become the greatest honor a Rutgers student could aspire to. Drawing inspiration from Skull and Bones, Yale’s Senior Class Honor Society, Cap and Skull sought to identify and bring together the top leaders of the Rutgers College senior class. That night, the ten founders drew up a Cap and Skull constitution and adopted a code of secrecy and the motto, "Spectemur agendo", let us be judged by our actions; for it was a student’s deeds and leadership that afforded him to be selected for Cap and Skull. To ensure that the group would remain highly selective, selection of a new member required a unanimous vote of the current members, and as a result, over the first two decades of the Society, few students – no more than eight men in any of these years – became Cap and Skull members.

The 1920s found the College recovering from the First World War, and the Skulls began to reexamine their selection criteria to increase membership. Under the new system, each leadership position and honor on campus was awarded a point value, and students with the highest cumulative value were selected for induction into Cap and Skull. In 1923, in response to the growing student body, the number of members to be tapped each year was fixed at twelve and a tri-fold criteria for selection was established, still in use today: first – activities, athletic and campus; second – scholarship, and third – character and service to Rutgers. The Society's skull-emblazoned caps were first donned in 1924, and are still worn today, in honor of Cap and Skull's history, spirit, and tradition.

With the onset of World War II, many of the best and brightest members of the Rutgers community put aside college careers and activities to serve our country. Only ten members were selected in 1944, and no one was tapped in 1945. Many would be drafted before they could graduate. In October 1945, members of the administration who were also Cap and Skull members were asked to make nominations for the Class of 1946. Though the Society had taken a brief hiatus, the student body had not forgotten the honor of induction into the group: upon reporting the December tapping of four new members, The Daily Targum noted, "Election to Cap and Skull is the highest honorary distinction a Rutgers undergraduate can achieve." Cap and Skull resumed the traditional twelve-member selection in 1948. Many of these WWII veterans, who had seen active duty, believed this to be the apex of their college careers.

And in the years following the war, the prestige of being tapped for Cap and Skull increased; a growing student body and a fixed selection number of twelve meant that a smaller and smaller percentage of the class received the honor.

On January 31 1950, an all-day gala celebration was held in honor of Cap and Skull’s Golden Anniversary – the first of the ten-year reunions that are sill held today. The Golden Anniversary celebrated the 440 men selected as members of the Society during those first 50 years.

Through the 1960s, sweeping social changes occurred. Organizations such as Cap and Skull, by nature selective, and thus ultimately exclusive to most, came under scrutiny. In 1969, Cap and Skull graduated its last class; a victim of the era.

Cap and Skull may have ended in 1969, but the alumni of Cap and Skull retained their close ties and the underlying need for the organization remained, even during the dormant years. During 1981, Rutgers College students again discussed the need for an organization or honor that would recognize leadership contributions made by members of the senior class. Although there were honors for athletics and academics, the efforts of others were going largely unrecognized. Dean Howard Crosby, a Cap and Skull member who had remained with the University almost continuously since his graduation forty years earlier, described what he knew the solution to be. Thus, Cap and Skull re-emerged in 1982, and a reunion was held to celebrate the tapping of new members and the Society's rebirth.

Today Cap and Skull represents many of the diverse organizations on campus and is now composed of both members of Rutgers College (which had become co-educational in 1972) and Rutgers College affiliates from the School of Pharmacy, Engineering, and Mason Gross School of the Arts.

In November 1990, the Cap and Skull Room, located in the Rutgers College Student Center, was formally dedicated, solidifying Cap and Skull's physical presence on campus. The exquisitely appointed room features old photographs and several display cases filled with Cap and Skull memorabilia. Student organizations using the room for their meetings are inspired by its contents and reflect upon the rich tradition of Rutgers College, and Cap and Skull.

In 2000, the 100th anniversary of Cap and Skull, a large gala event was held and members donated a large endowment for an annual scholarship to Rutgers students. Also in connection with the centennial, a web site was launched and author William B. Brahms, a society member compiled a detailed history with full biographies of all inducted members for the first 100 years. It was privately printed by the Society, but is available at the Rutgers University Special Collections and Archives. The history presented here is from Brahms' research. [*cite book |last=Brahms |first=William |authorlink=William B. Brahms |coauthors= |title=Cap & Skull Centennial History and Biographical Directory |year= 2000 |publisher=Cap and Skull Society |location= New Brunswick, New Jersey ]

Notable members

*Richard H. Askin, CEO of Tribune Entertainment and President of Samuel Goldwyn Television
*Al Aronowitz, Writer, influential behind-the-scenes 60's culture-broker [ [ "The Beats" at American Legends] Accessed August 22, 2008.] , wrote the seminal articles that brought Beat culture and Beatlemania into American consciousness [ [ "RIP Al Aronowitz" at Pop Musicology] Accessed August 22, 2008.] , friend of Ginsberg, Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Amiri Baraka, George Harrison and others, introduced the Beatles to Bob Dylan and marijuana. Godfather of "rock or gonzo journalism" (long-before the term existed).
*Walter W. Austin, CEO of Raleigh Bicycle Company
*Samuel G. Blackman [ [ "Samuel G. Blackman; News Executive, 90" (obit), New York Times, October 8, 1995.] ] , First reporter to break the Lindbergh kidnapping story. Held top news-editing position with The Associated Press
*John Joseph "Jack" Byrne, Jr., Chairman and GEO of GEICO which he pulled from the brink of insolvency in the mid-1970s, later served as Chairman and CEO of White Mountains Insurance Group, formerly (Fund American Enterprises, Inc.), Chairman of the Board of 2005-06
*Clifford P. Case, Member, United States Senate
*Jay Chiat, Founder of TBWAChiatDay advertising
*Stanley N. Cohen, Pioneer of gene splicing
*Robert Cooke, First researcher to identify antihistamines
*James Dale, Litigant in noted 2000 United States Supreme Court case Boy Scouts of America v. Dale
* Stuart D. Gittelman, National Executive Director of Delta Phi -- oldest continually active social college fraternity in the United States
* Richard M. Hale, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Halecrest, major supporter of Rutgers Scarlet Knights, namesake of the Hale Center Football Complex at Rutgers
*Homer Hazel, "Pop Hazel", All-American Football Star and member of The College Football Hall of Fame [ [ "Homer Hazel" at The College Football Hall of Fame] Accessed August 22, 2008.]
* William Arthur "Billy" Hillpot, Radio comedian, singer. Half of "Hillpot and Lambert" with Harold Scrappy Lambert a.k.a "The Smith Brothers", [ [ "Scrappy Lambert" at The Jazz Age] Accessed August 22, 2008.] Vocalist on the 1927 Hit "Ain't She Sweet" recorded under Ben Bernie [ Ruhlmann, William, Breaking Records: 100 Years of Hits, page 53. Routledge, 2004;ISBN 0-9668586-0-3] ,
*Franklyn A. Johnson, President of three Universities, including Jacksonville University
*Robert E. Kelley, Highly decorated and youngest Lieutenant General in USAF history; Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, 1981-83
*Herbert Klein, Member, United States House of Representatives
*George Kojac, [ [ "George Kojac" at The International Swimming Hall of Fame] Accessed August 22, 2008.] Member of International Swimming Hall of Fame, Gold medalist in Swimming at the 1928 Summer Olympics [ [ "George Kojac" at The Rutgers Olympic Sports Hall of Fame] Accessed August 22, 2008.]
* Norman M. Ledgin, Journalist, Author, Diagnosing Jefferson; Asperger's and Self-Esteem; The Jayhawker.
*Robert E. Lloyd, Professional Basketball Player with the New York Nets, CEO Mindscape, Chairman of the V Foundation [ [ The Jimmy V Foundation] Accessed August 22, 2008.] for Cancer Research which honors the memory of his former Rutgers backcourt teammate, Jim "Jimmy V." Valvano
* T. David Mazzarella, Editor of USA Today, President of Gannett International.
*Anne Milgram, Attorney General of New Jersey and First Assistant Attorney General of New Jersey
*Charles Molnar, Inventor of personal computer -- LINC (acknowledged as the 1st personal computer by IEEE
*David A. Morse, Director-General of ILO who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969 on behalf of the ILO
*Robert Nash, "Nasty Nash" First football player traded in the NFL and first Captain of the New York Giants
*Ozzie Nelson, The man who defined the family television sitcom genre with The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
*Richard Newcomb, Best-selling author of "Iwo Jima!" ISBN 0-06-018471-X and "Abandon Ship!" ISBN 0-8050-7071-0 and other works.
*Randal Pinkett, President and CEO of BCT Partners, [ [ BCT Partners] Accessed August 22, 2008.] winner of The Apprentice 4
*Rebecca Quick, Anchor for CNBC Squawk Box, played a crucial role in launch of The Wall Street Journal Online [ [ The Wall Street Journal Online] Accessed August 22, 2008.] .
*Rey Ramsey, American social justice entrepreneur, author. CEO of One Economy [ [ One Economy Corporation] Accessed August 22, 2008.] , a multi-national nonprofit that brings broadband to low-income homes and provides a multilingual web portal called The Beehive which has over 9 million users.
*Roland R. Renne, President of Montana State University-Bozeman for 21 years.
*Paul Robeson, World-famous singer, athlete, actor, activist, member of The College Football Hall of Fame [ [ "Paul Robeson" at The College Football Hall of Fame] Accessed August 22, 2008.]
*Austin W. Scott, Professor at Harvard Law School for more than 50 years and President of the Association of American Law Schools.
*John Scudder, Physician and Research Pioneer in the field of Blood Storage and Replacement
*Joseph Siry, NASA Chief Scientist
*Walter Spence, [ [ "Walter Spense" at The International Swimming Hall of Fame] Accessed August 22, 2008.] Member of International Swimming Hall of Fame, In his first year of competitive swimming (1925), he broke five world records. [ [ "Walter Spence" at The Rutgers Olympic Sports Hall of Fame] Accessed August 22, 2008.]
*Dick Standish, Anchor and Reporter on Television and Radio at KYW-TV in Philadelphia.
*Owen Ullman, Sr. News Editor of BusinessWeek Magazine, Chief Economic Correspondent with AP, noted White House Correspondent Deputy Managing Editor of News USA Today
*Franklin B. VanHouten, fossilized remains of the smallest mammal to ever live (Batodonoides vanhouteni) [ [ "Batodonoides"] Accessed August 22, 2008.] were found in a limestone formation that he had earlier named and studied. [ [ National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis] Accessed August 22, 2008.]


ee also

* Rutgers University
* Rutgers University student organizations

External links

* [ Cap and Skull Honor Society] (official website)
* [ Article by Jason Gottlieb, C&S Class of 1994]
*1912 New York Times Article on Cap and Skull Inductees for the year []
*1926 Time Magazine Cap and Skull Letter [,9171,751501,00.html?iid=chix-sphere]

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