Kappa Alpha Order (commonly known as Kappa Alpha, KA, or "the Order") is a social fraternity and fraternal order. Kappa Alpha Order has 124 active chapters, 3 provisional chapters, and 2 commissions. The Order has more than 150,000 initiated members. 
Kappa Alpha Order was originally founded as Phi Kappa Chi on December 21, 1865, at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. James Ward Wood, William Archibald Walsh, and brothers William Nelson Scott and Stanhope McClelland Scott are the founders of the fraternity. Soon after the founding, the local Virginia Beta chapter of Phi Kappa Psi protested the name "Phi Kappa Chi", due to the similarity of the names, leading Wood to change the name of the fraternity to K.A. by April 1866. The popular Kuklos Adelphon society had gone defunct during the Civil War, and it is suspected that Wood selected the letters K.A. to attract those who were familiar with the old society. Within one year, the order's ritual would be expanded upon and given a new vision by "practical founder", Samuel Zenas Ammen. In the years that followed, the Order spread throughout the Southern United States, as well as many other states such as California, Arizona and New Mexico, a distinguishing factor that separates it from the smaller, northern-based Kappa Alpha Society.
KA is one-third of the Lexington Triad, along with Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Nu. Robert E. Lee, whose ideals of chivalry and gentlemanly conduct inspired the founders, was designated the "Spiritual Founder" of the Order by John Temple Graves at the 1923 Convention.
The Kappa Alpha Order Administrative Office is located at Mulberry Hill, in Lexington, Virginia. Mulberry Hill is located on the western edge of Lexington, Virginia, is one of the town's chief historic houses, forming a scenic backdrop for the Lexington Historic District and Washington and Lee University. It is documented that Mulberry Hill is where Robert E. Lee spent his first night in Lexington, after arriving to take over as president of Washington College. Mulberry Hill is a Virginia Historic Landmark, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The offices for the Kappa Alpha Order Educational Foundation are also housed here.
Number I's Leadership Institute
The I's Leadership Institute is an intensive informational and educational retreat set at a Christian conference center. The focus of the Institute is to educate and empower the Number I's to understand their role and responsibility as the chapter's highest elected officer. In addition, they are taught to recognize the tools and support systems provided, and to understand the standards and policies of operating an active chapter of Kappa Alpha Order.
The purpose of The Crusade is to provide members with educational opportunities throughout their collegiate experience. The emphasis placed on academic excellence, community service, teambuilding and leadership.
This is done over the member's active membership service, and is broken up into 4 phases (usually coinciding with 4 years of undergraduate classes). The Crusade's four phases are:
- Voyage for Brotherhood - This phase encompasses the new member education program.
- Honor Bound - The second phase of The Crusade is wrapped around an in-depth study of the Kappa Alpha Laws and the customs of the Order.
- Quest for Leadership - The chief purposes of the third phase are to provide members with leadership skills and to educate them on social issues.
- The Journey Beyond - The final phase of The Crusade, has been designed to allow members to focus on activities that will prepare them for life after college.
Kappa Alpha Order Educational Foundation (KAOEF)
Established in 1982, the Kappa Alpha Order Educational Foundation (KAOEF) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Foundation provides grants for educational programs of the fraternity, such as the National Leadership Institute and Province Councils, and provides scholarships to deserving graduate and undergraduate students. KAOEF funds these programs with donations contributed by KA alumni. In 2006, KAOEF awarded $93,000 to 73 members to further their studies.
The Kappa Alpha Journal seeks to reflect the Kappa Alpha experience by presenting news of active and alumni chapters, individual members, and the national organization; by addressing current issues facing the Greek system and the Order; by educating and entertaining those interested in the welfare of Kappa Alpha; and by serving as a historical record. The Journal has been published since 1879.
Members of the Kappa Alpha Order are entitled to a free subscription to The Kappa Alpha Journal if initiated within the last ten years, between the years of 1936 and 1951, or are a member of The Loyal Order. Members initiated between 1936 and 1951 are guaranteed a lifetime subscription to the KA Journal.
The Loyal Order is an alumni program for alumnus members of Kappa Alpha Order. The National office uses the money from Loyal Order memberships to help defray the cost of distributing the KA Journal, as well as other alumni resources. Benefits of membership include a subscription to The Kappa Alpha Journal and member identification.
The members of Kappa Alpha Order pride themselves on a tradition of chivalry and of the values of the gentleman. This is reminiscent of a romanticized version of the Knights of the Crusades. This all culminates into a modern college fraternal experience. A member of Kappa Alpha Order strives to offer reverence to both God and women, as described in the motto. Further, the idea that "Excellence is our Aim" further emboldens members to always apply themselves to self-improvement, realizing that you should always continue to strive for excellence. Finally, being that the organization is an Order, members typically have an idea of the above values before joining. Kappa Alpha does not intend to change anyone, rather bond together those men who have these similar values so that they may experience brotherhood, and pursue improvement, with one another.
The colors of The Order are traditionally Crimson and Old Gold. The colors represent the blood sacrificed and treasures spent in defense of Christianity.
The flowers of the Order are the crimson rose and the magnolia blossom. The crimson rose represents masculine might and the white magnolia blossom represents purity. The flowers of the Order, and a ribbon featuring the Order's motto adorn the bottom of the crest.
The crest itself is representative of several things. The hand holding the axe is representative of the continuing power of the Knight Commander and of the Order. The Helmet was, at one time, a symbol used by the Knight Commander of the Order. The badge is featured at the center of the crest, and the lions on either side represent different things each. The lion on the left, looking away, symbolizes "rampant", meaning magnanimous. The lion on the right, looking towards you, symbolizes "regardent", which means cautious or circumspect. The design of the crest, featuring both lions, suggests that a balance is needed in life.
The Kappa Alpha Order motto is "Dieu et les Dames" (God and the Ladies) and is written on the ceiling of the Mississippi Capitol.
The fraternity has been criticized for racial insensitivity and identification with the Confederacy. In November 2002, the Zeta Psi and Kappa Alpha Order chapters at the University of Virginia were suspended and subsequently cleared after the fraternities held a Halloween party where a few guests were photographed wearing blackface and dressed up as Uncle Sam and Venus and Serena Williams.
In 2009, Kappa Alpha Order at the University of Alabama was criticized for wearing Confederate uniforms for an "Old South" parade that passed by an African-American sorority house celebrating its 35th anniversary. The organization apologized for any offense that might have been caused. Kappa Alpha Order on other campuses, including Auburn, Centenary College and the University of Georgia had already ceased to wear Confederate uniforms in public following complaints from black students. The national organization has since banned the wearing of Confederate uniforms to its "Old South" parades.
See List of Kappa Alpha Order members.
See List of Kappa Alpha Order chapters.