Delta Kappa Alpha was founded in 1935 as a Professional Cinematography Fraternity for men. DKA received its National Charter on March 16, 1936, in Bridge Hall of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California. Over 85 years later, we’re proud to have evolved into a gender-inclusive organization welcoming undergraduate and graduate students of any major who demonstrate a passion for creative collaboration in the cinematic arts.   


Media and its place in our culture is constantly evolving. While it will always be important to value film and the cinematic arts, there are multiple applications of cinema and storytelling fundamentals in a variety of professions. Our members are involved in a number of fields across entertainment and media industries. DKA strives to evolve with the industry in order to better serve our members, become more aware of historical inequalities in filmmaking and professional organizations and committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition to becoming more inclusive, DKA at large is gradually moving away from identifying as a fraternal organization to identifying as a professional society.




The ten founding men agreed on the name Delta Kappa Alpha, because it was the initials of the leading founder and first President, Allen K. Dallas, in reverse. The founders determined that each letter would stand for cinema’s basic arts–Dramatic (Delta), Kinematic (Kappa), and Aesthetic (Alpha).

Two years later, in March, 1938, they established the National Board of Officers, with Jack McClelland serving as the first National President.

DKA expanded in 1949 when a Beta Chapter formed at Boston University. Additional chapters were established with Gamma Chapter at NYU in 1950 and Delta Chapter at UCLA in 1953. By 1979, all chapters deactivated because the organization at large lacked an executive office, keeping it from surviving the anti-establishment period that shut down Greek organizations across the country. Former national president and national secretary Herbert E. Farmer protected the fraternity’s history through his well-preserved archive. This made it possible for the fraternity to be resurrected at the University of Southern California in 2009 by Grace Lee and Hillary Levi. Now, the organization strives with a modern, improved national structure, passionate membership, and close-knit alumni.


In 2008, Hillary Levi (USC, Alpha Chapter, 2009) was searching the internet for film-related student organizations and stumbled upon an article about a cinema fraternity banquet. She met Grace Lee (USC, Alpha Chapter, 2009) and they bonded over the shared observation that cinema students were competing against each other instead of collaborating, which they felt was a tragic waste of creative energy. Shortly after, Delta Kappa Alpha was reborn when they registered it as a student organization at the University of Southern California. The re-founded Alpha Chapter encompassed all undergraduate divisions at the School of Cinematic Arts, including Film & TV Production, Critical Studies, Writing for Screen & Television, Animation & Digital Arts, and most recently Interactive Entertainment.

For the next three years, pieces of the fraternity’s history were recovered and the organization began looking more as it used to. In 2012, with the assistance of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, DKA drafted and passed a full constitution that organized the national fraternity into multiple corporations. This allowed for unity between chapters, expansion to new campuses, structure for alumni participation and leadership, and the ability for all aspects of the fraternity to not only survive but to grow beyond the role they once had during the mid-20th century Golden Age of Hollywood. 


After being elected as president of the Alpha chapter in December 2011, Andy Dulman accessed original fraternity archives that had been in the university’s long-term storage. He read through all that Herb Farmer so carefully curated, organized, and preserved and realized the potential for growth on a national level. As his term concluded, he held a meeting with all current alumni members to elect the first National Council.

The first revived National Council was composed of Andy Dulman (President), Eric Foss (Vice President), and National Councilors Ryan Bartley, Arielle Zakowski, Shipra Gupta, and Flo Miniscloux. The new leadership worked diligently to improve the foundation of the organization on a national level, working with several advisors and entertainment industry leaders to create and ratify a national constitution and chapter bylaws. 

An initiative for expansion soon began. Under Dulman’s leadership, DKA expanded to 16 chapters nationwide and held its first National Convention in 33 years, uniting DKA members from across the country. There are 22 chapters and 2 associate chapters of Delta Kappa Alpha, and plans for further expansion in the near future.

Society vs. Professional Fraternity

As patterns of institutionalized sexism and racism in Greek organizations and the entertainment industry have come to light in recent years, DKA leadership has strongly encouraged chapters to restructure themselves as professional societies to more accurately reflect and perform our organization’s values and professional purpose on campuses. Since 2016, all newly founded DKA chapters have abandoned the “fraternity” model to instead take the form of gender inclusive “cinematic societies.” 

While leading DKA’s move toward new, modernized organizational identities and structures, cinematic society chapters are still a part of the same family as our professional fraternity chapters. Like fraternity chapters, they recruit new members each term with a  “Recruitment Week,” though they emphasize DKA’s commitment to professional development over the social aspect associated with traditional fraternities. New members go through an educational “Associate Program” where they are oriented to the organization and shown how to get the most out of their membership in it. 

Every campus culture is unique. While we have encouraged all of our chapters to adopt a more inclusive model dedicated to professional development, we also support chapters retaining their identity as a “professional fraternity” as long as they continue to uphold DKA’s values and mission to foster inclusive collaboration. Whether a chapter identifies as a professional fraternity or cinematic society, members can expect to have the same experience and be held to the same standards.


Herb E. Farmer


Herbert E. Farmer

When Herbet “Herb” Farmer first arrived at University of Southern California in the fall of 1938, both the cinema program and DKA were still developing. As a result, Farmer was able to actively help shape both. As a member of DKA, Farmer took on many roles, but his most enduring contribution to DKA was as its archivist and historian. Thanks to his work preserving DKA’s history, today’s members can shape its future.

Farmer began classes at USC in the fall of 1938. He double majored in physics and cinema, while also finding time to produce the Trojan Newsreel, shoot instructional films for the university (including football surgery), play sousaphone in the marching band, and help build DKA. He acquired and installed the campus’s first 35mm projectors, and by 1940, along with his friends Dan Wiegand and Dave Johnson, had installed a full film laboratory. In 1942, a few months before graduating with his undergraduate degree, Farmer became acting head of the Department of Cinematography and took over teaching a motion picture history class from Warren Scott, who had been called to active duty in World War II. Farmer himself was called to service in 1943, serving in the Navy Motion Picture School, but returned to USC after the war in 1946 and began teaching classes in basic film technology and distribution.

Farmer remained at USC for 71 years, and his service to DKA is still relevant today, embodying many of the organization’s values:

  1. Selflessness & Loyalty: Farmer was dedicated to USC and the community of staff, faculty, students, and family that supported him and his work. When you collaborate with your community you can bring the seemingly impossible within reach.

  2. Constant Learning & Adaptability: When Farmer visited the USC cinema complex in his late 80s, he said, "I wish I could go to school again." Acknowledge that our industry involves continuous change. Like Farmer, we can use the past to inform the future. Remaining curious and hungry for knowledge makes us better artists.

  3. “Do-It-Yourself” Inventiveness & Problem-Solving: Even when the cinema program lacked institutional resources, Farmer found a way to use whatever resources were available to him to support student projects. If a project looks to be in jeopardy because funding is running low, do not be afraid to create the solution with the same ingenuity used to create your movies.


Through its annual banquet, Delta Kappa Alpha became an influential presence in the entertainment industry. These banquets inducted pledge members into the organization and bestowed outstanding members of the film industry with honorary membership before a hall of cinema professionals and journalists. These banquets, held in USC’s Town & Gown Banquet hall, became so renowned that they were considered one of the top three most distinguished and celebrated annual events in Hollywood (with the Academy Awards ranking as number one).

Industry executives from influential organizations—such as the Writer’s Guild of America, Director’s Guild of America, and major studies like 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, MGM, Paramount, Disney—purchased tables. DKA banquets were a spectacle that attracted both Hollywood’s elite and important industry publications like Variety and Hollywood Reporter.

DKA's founders laid an important foundation for the future of our industry through their commitment to creating a robust, innovative film culture by supporting young filmmakers in their professional journey from students to industry leaders. Today's DKA honors that legacy by expanding the society's mission and bringing its values and activities in alignment with the modern film industry. By creating a more inclusive, welcoming, and collaborative culture among young film professionals, DKA is working to ensure that the future of cinema includes a variety of voices. The future of film art will only be improved by doing so.