Phi Eta Mu

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Phi Eta Mu
Crest of the Fraternity Phi Eta Mu.jpg
Founded December 17, 1923; 93 years ago
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Type Social
Scope International
 Puerto Rico
 United States
Tree Ficus elastica
Publication Anuario Phi Eta Mu
Headquarters San Juan
Puerto Rico
Homepage Phi Eta Mu website

Fraternity Phi Eta Mu (ΦΗΜ) is the first fraternity founded in Puerto Rico in 1923 at the University of Puerto Rico now University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus.[citation needed] All its founders were Puerto Ricans, born on the island of Puerto Rico.[1]


During the 1920s, the most important administrative posts in Puerto Rico were filled by direct appointment of the President of the United States. This had the effect of assigning to positions of great importance people who lacked the temperament or the right qualifications, but possessed the necessary appointments for political connections.[according to whom?] One of the most graphic examples of these actions[according to whom?] was the appointment of Charles St. John W. Dean of the University of Puerto Rico. His particular style caused a great discord between the administration of the university and students of the time, and under its purview the first student protest significance and, later, the first university strike at the University of Puerto Rico took place.

On October 16, 1923, a group of students of the College of Pharmacy, College of Liberal Arts and the Normal School (now Faculty of Education) of the University of Puerto Rico collectively owed $841.50. The distribution of this debt ranged from students who owed a dollar to students who owed $18.50. The dean of the College of Pharmacy, Esq. Lucas Luis Velez, St. John, informed the dean that students of this faculty had agreed not to pay their debts related to deposits of materials laboratory equipment. Students understood that they were in fact being required to pay for used equipment they were using at that time as if the equipment were new.

Upon hearing of this action, the dean suspended students of the College of Pharmacy who owed any money for whatever reason, and announced to the press of the island that he had learned that the students of that faculty intended to steal the laboratory equipment. These manifestations of the dean outraged students, who, along with the growing friction from events in the previous year, paved the way for a student movement.

On October 19, 1923, Atty. Juan B. Huyke, Education Commissioner, met with Governor Horace Mann Towner. After the interview, Huyke informed the press that he understood that “students had overstepped by adopting an attitude he considered an act of indiscipline”. Students were pressured through innuendos that public opinion and the Faculty of Pharmacy were against them. However, while this press conference was taking place, students were meeting with a prominent[according to whom?] faculty member, Prof. Victor Coll y Cuchi, who expressed his support.

Students of the College of Pharmacy received individual support of various students and the formal support of the Class of Fourth Year of the College of Law, chaired by Felix Ochoteco Jr. The Faculty of Law adopted a resolution which determined that the actions of Dean St. John “have not been conformed as per the due consideration to be afforded to students, and therefore expressed their solidarity with them in protest”.

On October 22, 1923 the board of trustees of the university met and agreed to require students to prepay for all equipment and tuition, as well as pay for any equipment broken during the academic year.

Students of the College of Pharmacy, who were still under suspension, were outraged upon learning about this decision of the board of trustees and made their displeasure public in the newspaper La Democracia.

Students requested a public apology from the dean. On October 24, 1923, in the face of an imminent student strike meeting, a General Board of the College of Law (the Board) was organized, integrated therein by Felix Ochoteco Jr., Pelayo Román Benítez, Arcilio Alvarado, Rafael Buscaglia and Emilio S. Belavar. This group carried out a strong campaign against the dean St.John. After information about these events reached the Commissioner of Education, and amidst the insistent rumors of a strike, the Dean ordered in November 1 the closure of that Faculty. In addition, the College of Pharmacy is also notified that if they continue with their attitude, they will face the same fate as the Faculty of Law.

On November 1, with riots in the College of Law, seven students from that college are expelled from the University. Students of the Board, preparing for a possible strike, create a commission for the purpose of raising funds, comprising this committee, among others, Isaias M. Crespo and Antonio R. Barceló.

A few days later a meeting was held where the board reported that the dean of the university would consider the problems solved if a resolution by the College of Law was approved whereby each student is compelled to report any act of protest performed or planned to be performed in the future. Students refused to approve the resolution. On November 5, 1923, to avoid a strike, the dean restored all students suspended and expelled and ordered resumption of classes at the university.

On 17 December 1923, the strike leaders Pelayo Román Benítez, Felix Ochoteco, Isaiah M. Crespo, P. Wilson Colberg, Alfonso Paniagua and Mario Polanco gathered under a gum tree in the grounds of the University of Puerto Rico and founded the fraternity Phi Eta Mu, for the purpose of granting protection and mutual loyalty in the face of repression from the university authorities. They managed thus to establish within the university one of the most serious and more solidly grounded student organizations ever.[citation needed] A profound and beautiful initiation ritual,[according to whom?] a wise constitution, a comprehensive set of regulations and a refined blend of traditions have placed the fraternity Phi Eta Mu in a place of excellence among Puerto Rican student organizations, a solid grouping of mind and spirit known to have succeeded the test of time.[citation needed]


The Honorable Fraternity Phi Eta Mu was installed on December 17, 1923, with the following group of young people as its founding members:

  • Wilson P. Colberg
  • Isaias M. Crespo
  • Felix Ochoteco, Jr.
  • Alfonso Paniagua
  • Mario Polanco
  • Pelayo Román Benítez

The late Dr. José Menéndez was presented at the meeting of December 17, 1923 and became the first neophyte of the Honorable Fraternity Phi Eta Mu, thus also becoming part of its first group of directors.


  • Aclaración y Crítica , 1941 by Antonio S. Pedreira; book
  • Paliques , 1952 by Nemesio Canales; book
  • Poemas de amor, poemas del paisaje, poemas de Dios , 1964 by Josefina Guevara Castañeira; audio
  • Edmundo Disdier interpreta a Edmundo Disdier , 1973 by Edmundo Disdier; audio

Phi Eta Kappa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Phi Eta Kappa (ΦΗΚ) is a fraternity at the University of Maine. Founded in 1906, Phi Eta Kappa has remained unaffiliated with any national organizations, choosing instead to preserve their local tradition. Since 1910 the “Green Wave,” as it is known, have been located in a fraternity house on College Avenue in Orono, Maine. There are currently over 1,000 living alumni of Phi Eta Kappa.


Phi Eta Kappa was founded as a for-profit organization owned by its members who bought stock in the fraternity. Sale of shares ceased circa 1942, and by 2001 the organization no longer knew who its shareholders were. Since the 1940s, funds for operations have come from rent charged to members, a mortgage on the fraternity house, and alumni donations.[1] In the 1980s, the fraternity encountered financial difficulties that were attributed to members who had not paid their bills.[2]

The fraternity house was closed temporarily in 1988 due to its deteriorating physical condition and concerns about poor behavior by its members.[2] Later that year it was rented to house the Pi Beta Phi sorority.[3] Subsequently, however, it was reopened for Phi Eta Kappa.

In 2001 the fraternity asked the Maine State Legislature to enact legislation to convert the fraternity to nonprofit status so it would no longer be required to pay the same taxes as a commercial business.[1]


Phi Eta Kappa emphasizes athletics. The fraternity has won the BC Kent Award multiple times. This award is given annually to the fraternity which has the highest combined point total for all intramural events. Phi Eta Kappa won the award nine consecutive years, from 1994-2002. Phi Eta Kappa alumni in professional sports include Mike Buck, who played four seasons as a quarterback in the NFL and holds most passing records at Maine; and Greg Panora, professional powerlifter, who holds the world record for combined bench, squat and deadlift (2481 lbs) for the 242 lb. weight class.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable alumni include former Maine governor John H. Reed,[4] the late University of Maine president Winthrop Libby, successful businessmen and philanthropists Larry and Keith Mahaney, businessman Eldon Morrison, Maine Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter, Air Force test pilot Robert A. Rushworth, UMaine head football coach Jack Cosgrove, Clemson University head baseball coach Jack Leggett,[5] and Dartmouth College head baseball coach Bob Whalen.[5]

Phi Delta Theta

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Theta Crest.png
Founded December 26, 1848; 168 years ago
Miami University
Type Secret, Social
Scope International
Mission statement The cultivation of friendship among its members, the acquirement individually of a high degree of mental culture, and the attainment personally of a high standard of morality.
Motto One Man is No Man
Slogan Become the Greatest Version of Yourself
Colors      Azure      Argent
Flower White Carnation
Patron Greek divinity Pallas Athena and her Owl
Publication The Scroll
Philanthropy The ALS Association
Chapters 196 [1]
Members 251,000 [1] lifetime
Nicknames Phi Delts, Phis
Headquarters 2 South Campus Avenue
Oxford, Ohio
United States

Phi Delta Theta (ΦΔΘ), also known as Phi Delts or the Phis, is an international social fraternity founded at Miami University in 1848 and headquartered in Oxford, Ohio. Phi Delta Theta, along with Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Chi form the Miami Triad.[2] The fraternity has about 185 active chapters and colonies in over 43 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces and has initiated more than 251,000 men between 1848 and 2014.[3] There are over 142,000 living alumni. Phi Delta Theta chartered house corporations own more than 135 houses valued at over $141 million as of summer 2015.[4]There are nearly 100 recognized alumni clubs across the U.S. and Canada.

The fraternity was founded by six undergraduate students: Robert Morrison, John McMillan Wilson, Robert Thompson Drake, John Wolfe Lindley, Ardivan Walker Rodgers, and Andrew Watts Rogers, who are collectively known as The Immortal Six. Phi Delta Theta was created under three principal objectives: “the cultivation of friendship among its members, the acquirement individually of a high degree of mental culture, and the attainment personally of a high standard of morality”.[5] These cardinal principles are contained in The Bond of Phi Delta Theta, the document to which each member pledges on his initiation into the fraternity.

Among the best-known members of the fraternity are Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, Adlai Stevenson I, the 23rd Vice President of the United States, Baseball Hall of Fame member Lou Gehrig, actor Burt Reynolds, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and John S. McCain Sr., U.S. Navy Admiral and grandfather of John McCain.



Room where Phi Delta Theta was founded. It is used by undergraduates of the parent chapter in recognition of achievement.

In 1839, Beta Theta Pi was founded at Miami University in Ohio. In protest against the president of the university, members of Beta Theta Pi and another fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi, blocked the entrances of the main educational and administrative building in what became known as the Great Snowball Rebellion of 1848.[6]

After the president expelled most of the students involved in the uprising, Phi Delta Theta was formed by six men staying in a dormitory the day after Christmas. Robert Morrison, a senior, proposed to classmate John McMillan Wilson that they form a secret society together; the two subsequently invited juniors Robert Thompson Drake and John Wolfe Lindley and sophomores Ardivan Walker Rodgers and Andrew Watts Rogers to join them. These men are known today as “The Immortal Six.” The first meeting was held in Wilson’s room at Old North Hall, now called Elliott Hall.[6]

During the early meetings, the Founders wrote The Bond of Phi Delta Theta, which is the fundamental law of the fraternity. It has remained unchanged ever since, and it is believed to be the only document of any fraternity of such a nature.[3] Morrison designed the shield form of the badge, with the eye as an emblem, while Wilson suggested the scroll with the Greek letters on it. The first branch of Phi Delta Theta was founded at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1848. Fearing punishment from the university, the activities of the fraternity were sub rosa for its first three years of existence. Phi Delta Theta also took an unusual step, unique among all fraternities, of splitting into two chapters at both Miami and Centre College, so their meetings would be smaller and attract less attention.[7] Eventually, as the organization attracted new individuals into their membership including prominent university officials, members began to openly wear their badges indicating their affiliation.

Early years[edit]

Phi Delta Theta held its first convention in 1851 in Cincinnati, Ohio when the organization had only four chapters. The event was attended by seven members. Despite the limited number, positive steps were taken for the establishment of new chapters by forming an expansion committee. It was also during the first convention where the chapter at Miami University was designated as the Grand Chapter whose duties were to oversee the overall fraternity operations. Subsequent conventions were held again in Cincinnati five years later; Bloomington, Indiana in 1858; and Danville, Kentucky in 1860. Another convention was held in 1864 in Bloomington during the American Civil War. The Civil War was difficult for all fraternities. Battles put fraternity brother against fraternity brother. Fifty Phis fought on the side of the Confederacy while 231 Phis fought for the Union Army.[8]

It was not until the 1868 Indianapolis convention that the first steps in the creation of an overall administration took place. The convention was regarded as the first “National Convention” as permanent convention rules were adopted during this time. Twelve years later, the most important of all Phi Delta Theta conventions took place. The Indianapolis Convention of 1880 established new ritual, insignia, and customs that are still used today.[9] Moreover, the convention saw the creation of the General Council, the governing body of the fraternity, with Walter B. Palmer, Emory-Vanderbilt 1877, and George Banta, Franklin-Indiana 1876, becoming the president and historian, respectively. The convention also called for the organization of groups of chapters into provinces, which were to be headed by province presidents.

50th Anniversary of Phi Delta Theta with Founders Morrison and Lindley in the fore front. From the 1898 Convention.

A housing movement began to form during this time. The movement arose out of necessity because it was pointed out that chapter meetings were being conducted in rented halls. Even though the housing movement had been gaining momentum, it was not until the 1892 convention that a resolution was passed that advocated that all chapters rent or own at least one house.[10] In the last two decades of the 19th century, over 50 chapter houses were acquired.

For a brief period a resolution was set forth to allow chapters to initiate women.[11] First proposed in 1869, this was considered a radical idea both from a fraternal standpoint and social one as well since women were not allowed to vote until 1920.[12] Although it was met with strong opposition, the issue would not be settled for several years.

During the two decades from 1870 to 1890, the growth of the fraternity was rapid, due principally to the efforts of Palmer and Banta. The two were given the title “Second Founders” for their work.[13] In the 1870s alone, 34 new chapters were established, but this was also a period of uncertainty because of the anti-fraternity sentiment held by many faculty in schools where Phi Delta Theta had chapters.[13] Several chapters became dormant because of this. The fraternity continued steady growth, and by 1889, there were 66 chapters in 27 states.

First half of the 20th century[edit]

With constant expansion into the western United States, Phi Delta Theta became an international fraternity when the organization’s first chapter in Canada was installed at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec on April 5, 1902. By 1918, there were 78 chapters with a membership of 77,000.

Members of Phi Delta Theta at West Point in 1917, before their deployment in the First World War

At the outbreak of World War I, college administrators urged its undergraduate members to stay in school. However, many were eager to enlist. The first Phis to fight in the war were members of the chapters at the University of Toronto and McGill University, the fraternity’s only Canadian chapters during that period. By the time the United States entered the war in 1917, over 5000 Phis served in the conflict with 155 of them losing their lives.[14] Because many of the undergraduate Phis put their studies on hold, many chapter houses either had limited occupants or none at all. To prevent losing houses pending the return of Phis from the war, many housing corporations consented to having the houses used as barracks or for YMCA programs.[14]

During the 1920s and 1930s, expansion was carefully controlled. Focus was placed on re-activating chapters whose charters were revoked years earlier.

World War II exacted a heavy toll on the membership and operations of the fraternity. Many undergraduate members joined the military, and 13 chapters were closed. As active membership declined, most of the Phi Delt houses were used as women’s residence halls or became makeshift military quarters. The fraternity tried its best to maintain up-to-date records regarding the status of members engaged in combat.[15] A newsletter, The Fighting Phi News, was sent to members whose contact information was known to the fraternity.

Over 14,000 Phis were known to have been in active service during the conflict.[16] Of that number, over 800 were killed or missing in action, the largest loss of any fraternity during the war.[16] An additional 8,000 veterans were initiated into the fraternity in the immediate subsequent years. Fifty Phi generals and admirals served in the United States and Canada during the conflict, the most for any fraternity.[16] Prominent among them were General Edward P. King, leader of the U.S. and Filipino forces in Bataan, Philippines; Admiral Robert L. Ghormley, commander of the Guadalcanal campaign; and Admiral John S. McCain, Sr., commander of carrier task forces in the Pacific. Members of Phi Delta Theta also received every major military decoration in both the United States and British Commonwealth forces, including the Medal of Honor (MOH) awarded to Leon Vance of the Army Air Corps and the Victoria Cross (VC) to Robert Hampton Gray, a Canadian naval aviator. Vance’s MOH was the last to be awarded before the D-Day landings, and Gray was both the last military personnel to receive the VC in the war and the last Canadian to lose his life during the war.

But the line will not be broken, because the fraternity’s life is continuous, with a mystic cord binding one generation to another.

Hilton U. Brown, past president of the fraternity speaking on the participation of Phis in WWII[17]

Members of the fraternity also played a crucial role on the homefront. Among those were Elmer Davis, the head of the Office of War Information; Byron Price, the head of the Office of Censorship; and Ted Gamble, the National Director of the War Finance Division.

When World War II ended, the fraternity experienced a surge in membership as many veterans attended college under the GI Bill. On December 15, 1945, the groundbreaking of the present-day General Headquarters building took place. One of the features of the headquarters was a permanent war memorial honoring all Phis who lost their lives during WWII and previous wars.

Second half of the 20th century[edit]

After the end of World War II, the fraternity was confronted with the social changes sweeping college campuses in the United States. Like many fraternities, Phi Delta Theta had a restrictive clause barring membership to African-Americans, Asians, Jews, and Muslims.[18] Specifically the term “white persons of full Aryan blood” was the subject of strong opposition among many members in light of Nazi ideology in the recently fought war, although there had been dissenting voices regarding this long before the clause became controversial among its members.[19] This clause was added to the Code of Phi Delta Theta in 1910. However, by the 1946 convention there was an open discussion regarding this topic. Impassioned sentiment from many alumni as well as undergraduates coupled with the changing demographic of the college scene caused Phi Delta Theta to re-examine its membership. Years of debate followed; however, by 1954, Phi Delta Theta eliminated the clause and became one of the first fraternities to eliminate any restriction based on race, color, or creed.[20]Only a year earlier, Phi Delta Theta had suspended its chapters at Amherst and Williams College for pledging minorities.[21]

The 1950s saw a period of rapid growth and an expansion of the internal operations of the fraternity. Twelve new schools were granted chapter status. An important change in leadership also occurred during this time. In 1955, Paul Beam, the executive vice president of the fraternity (the head of the fraternity’s daily operations) unexpectedly died. He had succeeded the position from Arthur R. Priest who had served 1923–37. Beam guided the fraternity through eight conventions and through the trials of World War II. Bob Miller, who was Beam’s assistant, was eventually chosen to take over by the General Council and assumed the office almost immediately. He would go on to serve for 36 years, which is currently the longest term served in that office.

Two important programs were developed during this period that would profoundly affect the fraternity’s services. Before Beam died, he and several province presidents proposed a leadership convention for undergraduate members. These conventions would cover topics ranging from chapter organization to effective leadership. The first such convention was set up in 1956. At the time, it only involved 16 chapters. From 1956 until 1987, these sessions were held on a regional basis. The gatherings would form the basis of the Leadership College founded in 1987. 1958 was an important year for the fraternity because an educational foundation was created, the main purpose of which was to provide scholarships to deserving students.

During the turbulent 1960s, Phi Delta Theta along with other social fraternities dealt with strong anti-fraternity sentiment from people who saw the Greek lettered communities as old world established institutions.[22] This sentiment was not without reason. Although Phi Delta Theta attempted to revise its restrictive membership codes in the wake of World War II, as late as 1961 the national office made headlines by rejecting the pledge of a Jewish student at Lake Forest College.[23]Later that same year the University of Wisconsin banned Phi Delta Theta from campus for barring Jews, African-Americans, and other minorities from membership.[24]

Despite an overall decline in fraternity membership during the late 1960s, Phi Delta Theta continued to expand through a carefully controlled process known as “colonization.” In 1968, a historic initiation took place when Robert Wise, Academy Award winning director of The Sound of Music and West Side Story, was initiated in the Franklin College chapter. Wise had completed all membership requirements in 1932 but was forced to withdraw from college due to a lack of funds. Roger D. Branigin, the Governor of Indiana at the time and Phi Delt member, presided over the ceremonies. 1969 was an eventful year for the fraternity as Neil Armstrong, a graduate from the Purdue University chapter, became the first man to walk on the moon. During the moon landing, Armstrong carried with him a fraternity badge, which he subsequently donated to the General Headquarters of the fraternity.[25] He also donated a small silk flag of the fraternity, which he carried with him on his Gemini flight in 1966.[25]

As war raged in Vietnam, Phis again served in the armed forces. With the emergence of new technology, a significant percentage opted to become fighter pilots. The Vietnam War saw a small dip in the Fraternity’s membership; however, by 1972, the fraternity had 140 active chapters with over 128,000 initiates. An important change was made during the 1970s that gave more autonomy to chapters in terms of membership selection. An amendment was passed wherein the unanimous vote rule to allow a college man to become a pledge was changed to allow individual chapters to decide on their own which method best suited their respective chapters.[26] In 1973, the fraternity celebrated its 125th anniversary. The special occasion was marked by the construction of the university gates at Miami University. To date, there are nine buildings on the campus that were either constructed by Phi Delta Theta or named after members.[27]

The 1980s saw the fraternity deal with issues such as hazing, rising insurance costs, and maintenance of individual chapter operations. The unofficial theme of the 1980 convention was “Eliminate Hazing.” The decade was marked by an increase of lawsuits dealing with hazing and alcohol abuse among many fraternities.[28] To deal with this issue, Phi Delta Theta instituted a comprehensive insurance policy to protect its chapters. During the 1980s, an important aspect of the fraternity was created: Leadership consultants. The consultants, who are recent college graduates, travel to assigned provinces and assist various chapters in many aspects of fraternity life and chapter operations. They also report the status of each visited chapter to the general headquarters.

An important leadership change occurred in the beginning of the 1990s when Robert Biggs became the fourth executive vice president of the fraternity after Robert Miller stepped down. During the decade, Phi Delta Theta and many other fraternities experienced a decline in membership.[29] The most important policy to be implemented by the fraternity during the decade was the decision made in 1997 to have all chapter facilities alcohol free by 2000.[30] It was an initiative that was strongly pursued by the 1996–98 General Council. The policy was in response to the growing insurance claims against the fraternity, 53% of which were alcohol-related, and a return to the core values of the organization.[31]

Governing bodies[edit]

All powers of the fraternity, both legislative and supreme, rests within the General Convention. The convention is a biennial event attended by representatives of undergraduate chapters, alumni chapters, and the various foundations. The purpose of the convention is to discuss and vote on a wide range of issues affecting the fraternity.[32] The convention is held in various cities across North America. It is also during the convention where the General Council is elected.

The General Council is the governing body of Phi Delta Theta. Its all-volunteer membership are elected every two years during the fraternity’s convention. Their chief responsibility is to act as the executive and administrative board of the fraternity.[32] Their duties include the granting and suspending of charters.

The General Headquarters (GHQ) is responsible for the daily operations of the fraternity. Among its many duties, GHQ collects dues, distributes supplies, and tries to maintain up-to-date information about all its members. Unlike other entities within the fraternity, the staff of GHQ are paid for their services. While the main offices of GHQ are held by members of the fraternity, support staff need not be members. The head of GHQ is the executive vice president, who acts as the secretary to the General Council.

Educational foundation and programs[edit]

Phi Delta Theta and many other fraternities have an educational foundation fund. Part of the Phi Delta Theta foundation’s aim is to award scholarships to deserving undergraduate members and those pursuing advanced degrees in various graduate schools. Each year, it provides over $150,000 in scholarships.[33] The foundation is also essential in supporting programs such as the Emerging Leaders Institute, the Leadership Consultant Program, and portions of the General Convention as well as The Scroll, the official magazine of the fraternity. The foundation, which was established in 1962 with only $4,708, has since grown to over $14 million.[33]

The Accolade[edit]

In 2004, the fraternity began a member development program for undergraduates called The Accolade. It is designed to enhance a member’s collegiate and overall fraternity experience. Some of the program’s personal development activities include goal-setting, time management, and career development. Although the program is intended for new undergraduate members, it is available to all members, including senior members and alumni. Although Phi Delta Theta is no longer part of the North American Interfraternity Conference, the fraternity was recognized by the conference for “Best Use of a Foundation Grant” for its support of The Accolade.[34]

Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute[edit]

The Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute (Kleberg) is an annual event held at the Fraternity’s headquarters during the summer where newly initiated undergraduates are given instruction in leadership classes, as well as participating in programs that help to improve their respective chapters.[35] It is attended by selected undergraduates from every chapter. It is mainly geared toward newly initiated members. The Institute was established after the Leadership College was dissolved. The event was renamed in honor of Tio Kleberg, Texas Tech ’69 after a one-million dollar donation in 2012.


For many years, Phi Delta Theta had no official philanthropy. The fraternity, however, was long associated with the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA) because of Lou Gehrig, an alumnus who died of the disease. Amytrophic Lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a debilitating neuro-muscular disease and has since become known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Although there had always existed a relationship between ALSA and Phi Delta Theta, it was not until November 2002 that the General Council made the partnership official.[36] Undergraduate and alumni chapters from all across North America regularly organize events to raise money for research.

Leadership Consultants[edit]

Phi Delta Theta, along with other Greek organizations, employ Leadership Consultants (LCs) to assist with undergraduate development. The LCs, formerly known as Traveling Secretaries and Chapter Consultants, help undergraduate chapters identify major problems and challenges. Then, along with chapter leaders, alumni advisors, and university officials, they develop plans and programs for solving them. LCs serve as liaison between the General Fraternity/GHQ and the chapters. The LCs also work to guide chapter members to realize leadership and achieve, more fully, the ideals, objectives, and values of the fraternity.


The Scroll[edit]

The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta is the official magazine for members of the fraternity. The award winning magazine has been published continuously since 1875. It is the second oldest continuously published fraternity magazine behind the official magazine of Beta Theta Pi, which was first published three years before.[37] Members receive lifetime subscriptions to The Scroll. The magazine covers topical issues relating to Phi Delta Theta and the wider fraternity world, news of prominent alumni, alumni club meeting reports, and undergraduate chapter reports. While its focus is Phi Delta Theta, readership is open to non-members. Since its inception, issues have been published 2–4 times a year.

The Palladium[edit]

The Palladium was the private magazine specifically for members of Phi Delta Theta. Unlike The Scroll, the Palladium was intended to be read by Phis only. The magazine covered topics such as fraternity policy, reports, and minutes to any conventions. It was published only once a year and was a supplement to the winter edition of The Scroll. The first issue was printed in 1894 and the last issue was released in the mid-1960s.

Pledge manual[edit]

The first three pledge manuals of the fraternity were written by Walter B. Palmer. The idea for the manual was conceived by J. Marshall Mayer (City College of New York, 1884), who at the time was the managing editor of the Scroll. The first pledge manual was printed in 1886 and contained only 56 pages. Since few copies were published and it is the first membership manual of any fraternity, it is regarded as one of the most rare and valuable books of its kind.[38] The 4th–6th editions were authored by Arthur R. Priest. Much of the present-day material is derived from these editions.

Role in the fraternity world[edit]

Phi Delta Theta has played a major role in the fraternity movement. Chief among these was being a founding member of the North American Interfraternity Conference, which was established in 1910 (an organization that they subsequently left in 2002), and leading the initiative to ban alcohol from Phi Delt houses. Throughout their history, the fraternity became a pioneer in establishing traditions as well as having individual members shape the formation of similar women’s organizations. The fraternity has also been the first fraternity to establish itself on over 25 campuses.[39]

Historical ties with fraternities[edit]

Delta Kappa Epsilon, then Sigma Chi[edit]

The Kappa chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) was formed at Miami University after disagreement among Phi Delta Theta members over prohibiting alcohol. Several members left Phi Delta Theta and formed the Kappa chapter in 1852.[40][41] In 1854, two years later, another disagreement in this group led to another break-away. A schism over who would become Poet for the Erodelphian Literary Society led to the founding of Sigma Chi in 1855.[41][42][43]

W. W. W. Fraternity, and Delta Tau Delta[edit]

Two chapters of W. W. W. Fraternity (also known as Rainbow Fraternity) refused to join with other chapters of their fraternity in merging with Delta Tau Delta in 1885. Instead, the University of Texas chapter merged with the Phi Delta chapter there, and the Southwestern University chapter became a new chapter of Phi Delta Theta.[44]

Tau Kappa Epsilon[edit]

Started as the Knights of Classic Lore, Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) attempted to become the re-activated Illinois Epsilon chapter of Phi Delta Theta at Illinois Wesleyan University. After several failed attempts from 1902–1907, the Tekes decided to discontinue attempting to become part of Phi Delta Theta, and instead go it on their own.[45]

Phi Kappa Tau[edit]

The dorm room in Old North Hall (now Elliott Hall) in which Phi Delta Theta was founded was later home to Phi Kappa Tau founders William H. Shideler and Clinton D. Boyd.[46]

Theta Kappa Nu (Lambda Chi Alpha)[edit]

Charles Lamkin, a former international president of Phi Delta Theta, was instrumental in the formation of a new national fraternity called Theta Kappa Nu in 1924, and in recruiting some 30 local fraternities to become chapters of Theta Kappa Nu during its first two years. No mention was made in print of his work at the time (obviously a sensitive issue); but he was listed, along with the Four Founders of Theta Kappa Nu, as one of the first five to have a lifetime subscription to the fraternity’s magazine.[47] . Having chartered 55 chapters, Theta Kappa Nu merged with Lambda Chi Alpha in 1939.[48]

Historical ties with sororities[edit]

Phi Delta Theta has the distinction of having close connections with two sororities: Delta Gamma and Delta Zeta.[49] George Banta Sr., a Phi Delt from Franklin-Indiana, was instrumental in expanding the Delta Gamma sorority. For his efforts, he was the only man ever initiated into Delta Gamma.[50] Banta would later perform initiation ceremonies for new members of the sorority, including Lillian Vawter, his fiancée. Guy Potter Benton, a graduate of the Phi Delt chapter at Ohio Wesleyan University, was president of Miami University in 1902 when he helped with the founding of Delta Zeta. Dr. Benton aided in the preparation of a ritual, badge, and colors.[50] He was a great assistance to Delta Zeta and at one point chased down a man who stole the newly formed ritual of the sorority. For his work, Delta Zeta named him the Grand Patron of the sorority and is the only man to ever wear the Delta Zeta badge. To this day, an amiable friendship exists between Phi Delta Theta and these two sororities.[51]

Famous firsts[edit]

Phi Delta Theta instituted several policies and traditions that are not only still used by the fraternity today, but have also become standard among almost all fraternities, as well as sororities.[27][52]

  • First fraternity to adopt a pledge pin – adopted by the 1894 convention in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • First fraternity to adopt an alumnus pin – adopted by the 1894 convention in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • First fraternity to adopt a pledge manual – authored by Walter B. Palmer in 1886
  • First fraternity to adopt a National Day of Celebration – adopted by the General Council in 1889
  • First fraternity to adopt life subscriptions to the fraternity magazine – instituted by William Bates, the first editor of The Scroll in 1875
  • First national fraternity to expand west of the Mississippi River – a charter was given to Austin College in 1853
  • First fraternity to have a member walk on the moon – Neil Armstrong

Current issues[edit]

North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC)[edit]

In 2002, Phi Delta Theta, along with Kappa Sigma and Phi Sigma Kappa left the North-American Interfraternity Conference due to ideological differences.[53] Fraternity officials had been concerned of the direction of the conference for six years before leaving. Phi Delta Theta officials believed that the conference had been placing too much emphasis on individual undergraduates through specific programs such as leadership conferences rather than focusing on the fraternity movement as a whole. Phi Sigma Kappa has since re-joined the NIC.[54]

Alcohol free housing policy[edit]

In 1997, Phi Delta Theta spearheaded the initiative of having alcohol free housing within its chapters by the year 2000.[31]The policy has since been adopted by other fraternities including Theta Chi and Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), although Theta Chi has discontinued their Alcohol Free Housing Policy as of July 2010.[55] However, unlike Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Delta Theta has no exemption policy allowing chapters that meet certain standards, such as a cumulative GPA higher than 3.0, to have alcohol in the chapter house.

Concern and criticism[edit]

When Phi Delta Theta announced the inception of an alcohol free housing policy, the announcement was met both by hope and skepticism. While some saw the banning of alcohol in housing facilities as a welcome return to the principles on which the fraternity was founded, others felt the drastic cultural shift would hurt social dynamics. The General Council and GHQ had expected resistance from both alumni and undergraduate members when it was first proposed.[31] Among the most vocal chapters against the policy were the University of Virginia chapter, where a faction split off from Phi Delta Theta and chose to form a separate local fraternity known as the Phi Society, and the University of the South chapter, which formed the Phi Society of 1883 rather than adopt the policy. Phi Delta Theta returned to the University of Virginia one year later and formed a new chapter. Phi Delta Theta has not returned to the University of the South.[56]

Alcohol free housing five year progress report[edit]

In 2005, the fraternity issued a progress report. Significant improvements have occurred in many areas of fraternity life and operations. Since the implementation of the alcohol free housing policy, the all undergraduate grade point average rose from 2.77 in 2000 to nearly 3.00 in 2005.[57] The insurance premiums of individual members have also gone down as risk management violations have decreased. Perhaps the most telling area is in membership, where Phi Delta Theta showed an increase of new members. In 2004, Phi Delta Theta had 3,102 new members while other fraternities averaged 2,415.[57] In 1990, chapters of Phi Delta Theta were 18% larger than the typical fraternity chapter. In 2004, they were 30% larger.[57]Also, in 2004, Phi Delta Theta was one of only 13 national/international fraternities to show an increase in total undergraduates from the previous year with an increase of 4.2%.[57] The significance of this is highlighted by the fact that Phi Delta Theta had fewer chapters than other fraternities. Competitively, Phi Delta Theta has remained a constant among others. In terms of new members, it ranked ninth in 1990, eighth in 2000, and ninth in 2004.[57] Many alumni members have credited the alcohol free housing policy in continuing this trend.[57]

Recent events[edit]

Events branch from community service orientation to philanthropy efforts.


Membership to Phi Delta Theta is open to all qualified men without concern for race, religion, or ethnicity. Initial membership to the fraternity is contingent upon receiving an invitation to an interested individual by members of an active chapter. A pledge of Phi Delta Theta is called a Phikeia. The typical pledge period lasts a minimum of eight weeks, although occasionally it is shortened or lengthened to fit university requirements or by approval of the General Council.[58] The pledge period is a time where the prospective member learns about the fraternity history, structure, traditions, organization as well as social etiquette. Phi Delta Theta has a strict policy against hazing and does not tolerate chapters who violate the policy.[59] Once initiated, a brother is entitled to all rights and privileges of fraternity membership unless he formally resigns or is expelled.[58]

Notable alumni[edit]

See List of Phi Delta Theta members
Famous Phis
Benjamin Harrison
23rd President of the U.S.
Neil Armstrong
First man to walk on the moon

Members of Phi Delta Theta have held numerous political positions in the United States, including the presidency, vice-presidency, and speakership of the House of Representatives. In Canada, fraternity members have served in many levels of government. Members have won major awards in science and entertainment, and have also gained prominence in areas such as architecture, medicine, and sports. Throughout the years, many prominent members have kept a vested interest in the events and operations of Phi Delta Theta. President Harrison, for example, participated in three Phi Delt banquets during his presidency while Medal of Honor recipient General Frederick Funston was the guest speaker at certain chapter installations.[60][61]

By the numbers[edit]

The number of members who have either been involved in armed conflict or have achieved prominence in their respective professions have been documented throughout the years.[62] As of November, 2014,[63] the following statistics are the involvement of its members in various fields:

14,000+ (initiated) members served in World War II 8 members have won a Pulitzer Prize
5000+ members served in World War I 9 members have won an Emmy Award
400+ members have played professional football 6 members are enshrined in the MLB Hall of Fame
286 members served in the Spanish–American War 6 members are enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame
281 members served in the American Civil War 3 members have been NASA astronauts
200+ members have obtained the rank of General or Admiral 3 members have won an Academy Award
117 members have been United States Congressmen 3 members have won a Heisman Trophy
34 members have been state governors 3 members have served as justices of the Supreme Court of the United States
33 members have been United States Senators 2 members have been Canadian Premiers
15 members have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame 1 member served as President of the United States
9 members have received the Medal of Honor or Victoria Cross 1 member served as Vice President of the United States
1 member has won the Nobel Prize

Sports awards named after members[edit]


Undergraduate chapters[edit]

See List of Phi Delta Theta chapters

Since 1848, Phi Delta Theta has granted nearly 260 charters across the United States and Canada. Today, there are over 196 chapters and colonies. To be granted a charter, a colony must complete certain requirements set forth by the General Council. Chief among these are recruiting a certain number of members and achieving a respectable cumulative grade point average among its members. Phi Delta Theta also has the longest continuous chapter of any fraternity in the United States, that chapter being the Kentucky Alpha-Delta Chapter at Centre College, which was established in 1850 and is still active today.[64] In 2011, Phi Delta Theta awarded the Outstanding Chapter House of the Year award to the California Delta chapter at the University of Southern California. The largest chapter of Phi Delta Theta is at the University of Florida with, on average, 150 active brothers and over 3300 initiated since the chapter was founded in 1925.

Alumni chapters[edit]

Currently, Phi Delta Theta has over 100 active alumni clubs. Although all the clubs are currently in North America, alumni clubs have been found all over the world throughout its history. At one point, there were over 165 alumni chapters, some as far away as China. The most Phis to ever assemble on foreign land for an alumni club meeting, before the fraternity became international in 1902, was in Manila, Philippines when 30 Phis gathered in 1899.[65] The alumni club in the Philippines lasted for nearly 40 years.

Phi Delta Psi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Phi Delta Psi
Founded March 21, 1977; 39 years ago
Western Michigan University
Type Social
Motto All That We Put Into The Lives Of Others Comes Back Into Our Own
Colors Cardinal Red and Aztec Gold
Symbol Blazing Torch
Flower Red rose
Chapters 28
Nicknames Deuces, Flamethrowers, Phi-Men
Headquarters P.O. Box 3088
Southfield, Michigan

Phi Delta Psi (ΦΔΨ) is a social fraternity. It was founded March 21, 1977, on the campus of Western Michigan University.

Organizational philosophy[edit]

Phi Delta Psi was founded on the principles of eternal honor, perseverance, leadership, achievement and brotherhood. The founding fathers of the organization sought to create a fraternity that would meet the social, economic and political challenges of males. Phi Delta Psi places importance on their founders’ mantra of community service for the benefit of their universities, families, communities and the world.

Induction policy[edit]

The founders of Phi Delta Psi felt that an intake process should be conducted for the purpose of developing men capable of supporting the ideals of the organization. It is the policy of the organization to induct members based on “the intelligence of their mind and content of character rather than the thickness of their hide.”[1]

Phi Delta Gamma

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Phi Delta Gamma
Founded 1942
El Colegio,
Type Social
Scope  Puerto Rico
 United States
Nickname la Phi Delta
Headquarters Mayaguez
Puerto Rico

Phi Delta Gamma (ΦΔΓ) of Puerto Rico is the first Puerto Rican organization of Greek letters, which was founded in the western town of Mayagüez,on April 25, 1942.

Phi Delta Gamma originated from a high school fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega, which was founded in 1939.[1] When the brothers of Alpha Iota Omega enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (Colegio de Agricultura y Artes Mecánicas) of Mayagüez, some were offered the opportunity to pledge one of the original Puerto Rican fraternities. The others reunited in the house of the brothers Gilberto Oliver Padilla and Otis Oliver Padilla. They decided to found a new fraternity on April 25, 1942, and to use the Greek letters Phi, Delta and Gamma.

The founding brothers are Gilberto Oliver Padilla, Otis Oliver Padilla, Raúl Romaguera, Ramón Antonio Frontera, Ignacio Beauchamp, José Ramón Ponce de León, Hilton Quintana, Angel Inserni, Rafael Ferrer Monge “El Cubano” (who also developed the shield, the first rulebook, and the motto of the fraternity), Rubén D’Acosta, Edgardo Olivencia, César Arana and Hernán Rodríguez.

These brothers established the first chapter as Alpha in Mayagüez. They had plans to expand the fraternity to all of Puerto Rico. In 1944, the first Phi Delta Gamma clubhouse was established in the Méndez Vigo street of Mayagüez.

In 1945, brother Otis Oliver commended to students Juan Mari Brás and Manuel Portela Lomba to take the Phi Delta Gamma fraternity to San Juan. They began the task of establishing the Beta chapter in the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. Some of the founding brothers of the Beta chapter are Oscar Colón, Juan Mari Brás, Jean García, Ramón Vargas, Manuel Portela Lomba and Angel Amézaga. Thanks to this effort, the first convention of the Phi Delta Gamma was celebrated in 1945, in the Condado Hotel.

The Phi Delta Gamma members are known as “the originals”, because they changed the way a traditional fraternity may be; also, they were the first Greek letter fraternity, which originated in western Puerto Rico: town of Mayagüez. The Phi Deltas are renowned for their friendliness and honesty. Above all, the great brotherhood among its members is very characteristic of their family activities (which involve grandparents, parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren).

Notable members[edit]

  • Juan Mari Brás, lawyer and political candidate for governor for the Puerto Rican Socialist Party
  • Luis Cabrera, actor
  • José Angel “Chiro” Cangiano, lawyer; entrepreneur (Lions of Ponce teams); writer; brother of Milly Cangiano
  • Manuel “Papo” Charbonnier, City of Río Piedras; Puerto Rico Sports Hall of Fame
  • Albert Cruz, WAPA TV sports newscaster
  • Alfredo Lamela Domenech, ex-professional basketball player (BSN) of Piratas de Quebradillas
  • Agustín “Tito” Lara, singer
  • José Ortiz, former Executive President of PRASA
  • Joaquín Porrata, radio sports analyst
  • Miguel Rivera, former member of the government of Puerto Rico
  • Manuel Díaz Saldaña, former comptroller of the government of Puerto Rico
  • Orlando “El Zurdo” Sanchez, aka ” El Playero Mayor”, domino national champion
  • Alfredo J. Santana Velázquez, bodybuilder with international awards
  • José Canals Vidal, retired Colonel, US armed forces
  • Luis “Luisito” Vigoreaux, Jr., television actor and producer
  • Ernesto Quesada Ojeda, Ass. District Attorney

Phi Beta Sigma

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Phi Beta Sigma
Phi Beta Sigma crest.png
Founded January 9, 1914; 103 years ago
Howard University
Type Social
Emphasis Service
Scope International
South Korea
Africa & Worldwide
Motto Culture For Service and Service For Humanity
Colors  Royal Blue   Pure White
Symbol Dove
Flower White Carnation
Publication The Crescent
Chapters 700+
Members 290,000+ lifetime
Nickname Phi Betas
Headquarters 145 Kennedy Street, NW
Washington, D.C.
United States
Phi Beta Sigma Seal.jpg

Phi Beta Sigma (ΦΒΣ) is a social/service collegiate and professional fraternity founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students with nine other Howard students as charter members. The fraternity’s founders, A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse, and Charles I. Brown, wanted to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would exemplify the ideals of Brotherhood, Scholarship and Service while taking an inclusive perspective to serving the community as opposed to having an exclusive purpose. The fraternity exceeded the prevailing models of Black Greek-Letter fraternal organizations by being the first to establish alumni chapters, to establish youth mentoring clubs, to establish a federal credit union, to establish chapters in Africa, and establish a collegiate chapter outside of the United States, and is the only fraternity to hold a constitutional bond with a predominantly African-American sorority, Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΦΒ), which was founded on January 16, 1920, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., through the efforts of members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.

The fraternity expanded over a remarkably broad geographical area in a short amount of time when its second, third, and fourth chapters were chartered at Wiley College in Texas and Morgan State College in Maryland in 1916, and Kansas State University in 1917. Today, the fraternity serves through a membership of more than 200,000 men in over 700 chapters in the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. Although Phi Beta Sigma is considered a predominantly African-American Fraternity, its membership also consists of diverse college-educated men of African, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American and Asian descent. According to its Constitution, academically-eligible male students of any race, religion, or national origin may join while enrolled at a college or university through collegiate chapters, or professional men may join through an alumni chapter if a college degree has been attained, along with a certain minimum number of earned credit hours.

Phi Beta Sigma is a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the North-American_Interfraternity_Conference (IFC or NIC). The current International President is Jonathan A. Mason, and the fraternity’s headquarters are located at 145 Kennedy Street, NW Washington, D.C.


Genesis and founding (1910–1916)[edit]

The birthplace of SIGMA: the 12th Street YMCA in Washington, D.C.

In the summer of 1910, after a conversation with a recent Howard University graduate in Memphis, Tennessee, A. Langston Taylor formed the idea to establish a fraternity and soon after, enrolled into Howard University in Washington, D.C. Once there, Taylor began to set his vision of a brotherhood into action. In October 1913, Taylor and Leonard F. Morse had their initial conversation about starting a fraternity. As a result, Charles I. Brown was named as the third member of the founding group. By November 1913, a committee was established to begin to lay the foundation of what was to become Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Soon after the first committee meeting, Taylor, Morse, and Brown chose 9 associates to assist them with the creation of the fraternity. Those men were the first charter members of the organization.

On January 9, 1914, the permanent organization of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was established in the Bowen Room of the 12th Street Y.M.C.A Building in Washington, D.C. On April 15, 1914, the Board of Deans at Howard University officially recognized Phi Beta Sigma and the following week The University Reporter, Howard University’s student publication, made known the news.

The first two years of the fraternity’s existence would see them organize and maintain a Sunday school program, led by A.H. Brown, open a library and art gallery to the public, the foundation of the Benjamin Banneker Research Society, and also the Washington Art Club.[1] In addition to their impact to the Washington, D.C. Community, the members of Sigma were also impacting the campus of Howard University. Abraham M. Walker was elected associate editor of the Howard University Journal. The following year, Walker and Founder A. Langston Taylor, were elected Editor-in-Chief and circulation manager respectively. Other members were also taking leadership positions as W.F. Vincent, William H. Foster, John Berry, Earl Lawson, among others, were presidents of the Debating Society, the college YMCA, the Political Science Club, and the Athletic Association respectively. On the athletic field, captain John Camper and J. House Franklin were standout football players for Howard University.

In the spring of 1915, the fraternity was seeking to further its intellectual pool. As a result, several affluent African-American scholars Dr. Edward P. Davis, Dr. Thomas W. Turner, T.M. Gregory, and Dr. Alain Leroy Locke, were inducted into the Fraternity. On March 5, 1915, Herbert L. Stevens was initiated, in turn making him the first Graduate member of Phi Beta Sigma.[2]

Founding photo of Alpha Chapter, Howard University, circa 1914

A year after the establishment of Phi Beta Sigma, the Fraternity saw that the scope of Sigma needed to be expanded beyond just Washington, D.C. and Howard University. On November 13, 1915, Beta Chapter was chartered at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas by graduate member Herbert Stevens. Beta chapter became the first chapter of any African-American Greek-lettered organization to be chartered south of Richmond, Virginia.[2] As Phi Beta Sigma continued its expansion in the Eastern and Southern United States, other national fraternities were beginning to take notice.

On December 28, 1916, Phi Beta Sigma hosted the fraternity’s first conclave in Washington, D.C. 200 members representing three collegiate chapters, Alpha, Beta and Gamma (established at Morgan State College) were in attendance. As a result of the 1916 conclave, an official publication for the Fraternity was authorized and member W.F. Vincent was elected as the National Editor.

World War I and the Sigma call to arms (1917–1919)[edit]

Phi Beta Sigma responded to a “Call to Arms” in 1917 as the United States entered the First World War. No definite study has ever been made as to the participation of Sigma brothers in World War I. However, the extent of their activity may be suggested by the fact that the Alpha chapter had about seventy members in uniform.[3] The troubles of membership, not only affected the Alpha Chapter. Other chapters of Sigma were so depleted that only the Alpha Chapter showed any signs of activity and the National Office ceased to function. The General Board was forced to re-organize as a result of death and other dislocations brought on by the war. Fraternity President I. L. Scruggs would ask Founder, and now the fraternity’s National Treasurer, A. Langston Taylor to contact the Brothers as soon as they re-appeared in civilian clothes.[4] It was through the efforts of Taylor that the fraternity was able to continue and proceed to operate financially as numerous Sigma men served on the European battle front.[4]

Incorporation and the founding of Zeta Phi Beta (1920–1933)[edit]

By February 1920, Phi Beta Sigma had expanded to Ten active chapters; including the Eta Chapter at The Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina (now North Carolina A&T State University).[5] As a result of the December 1919 Conclave, Phi Beta Sigma’s first conclave after the war, fraternity founder A Langston Taylor was given approval from the General Board to assist in the organization of what was to become the sister sorority to Phi Beta Sigma.

The creation of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority[edit]

Main article: Zeta Phi Beta

In the spring of 1919, Sigma Brother, Charles Robert Samuel Taylor shared with Arizona Cleaver his idea for a sister organization to the fraternity. Cleaver then presented this idea to fourteen other Howard Women; and with the help of Charles Taylor and Sigma Founder A. Langston Taylor, work began to establish the new sorority.[6] With permission from the Howard University administration, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority held its first official meeting on January 16, 1920. The founders and charter members of the Sorority consisted of Arizona Cleaver (Stemons), Viola Tyler (Goings), Myrtle Tyler (Faithful), Pearl Anna Neal, and Fannie Pettie (Watts). The five founders chose the name Zeta Phi Beta. The similar names of both Sigma and Zeta are intentional in nature as the ladies adopted the Greek letters ‘Phi’ and ‘Beta’ to “seal and signify the relationship between the two organizations”.[7]

“Arizona Cleaver was the chief builder and she asked fourteen others to join her. I shall never forget the first meetings held in dormitory rooms of Miner Hall. Miss Hardwick, the matron, never knew I was about until I was escorted out by Arizona, who was her assistant. I was Miss Hardwick’s favorite boy.”

Sigma Brother Charles R. Taylor
(On Arizona Cleaver & the organization of Zeta Phi Beta)[8]

The newly established Zeta Phi Beta Sorority was given a formal introduction at the Whitelaw Hotel by their Sigma Counterparts, Charles R. and A. Langston Taylor. The two Sigma Brothers had been a source of advice and encouragement during the establishment, and throughout the early days. of Zeta Phi Beta[9] As National Executive Secretary of Phi Beta Sigma, Charles Taylor wrote to all Sigma Chapters requesting they establish Zeta chapters at their respective institutions. With the efforts of Taylor, Zeta added several chapters in areas as far west as Kansas City State College; as far south as Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia; and as far north as New York City.[10]

Phi Beta Sigma’s contributions to the Harlem Renaissance[edit]

The literary works of Sigma Brother James Weldon Johnson, such as God’s Trombones, played a significant role in the Harlem Renaissance.
Sigma Brother A. Phillip Randolph was seen as a key intellectual player during the Harlem Renaissance.

The 1920s also witnessed the birth of the Harlem Renaissance- a flowering of African-American cultural and intellectual life which began to be absorbed into mainstream American culture. Phi Beta Sigma fraternity brother Alain LeRoy Locke is unofficially credited as the “Father of the Harlem Renaissance.” His philosophy served as a strong motivating force in keeping the energy and passion of the Movement at the forefront.[11] In addition to Locke, Sigma brothers James Weldon Johnson and A. Philip Randolph were participants in this creative emergence led primarily by the African-American community based in the neighborhood of Harlem in New York City.

On January 31, 1920, Phi Beta Sigma was incorporated in the district of Washington, D.C. and became known as Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.

In November 1921, the first volume of the Phi Beta Sigma Journal was published. The journal was the official organ of the fraternity and Eugene T. Alexander was named its first editor. The following month, the fraternity held its 1921 Conclave at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia. This conference saw the first ever inter-fraternity conference between Phi Beta Sigma and Omega Psi Phi. This would lead to the first inter-fraternity council meeting between the two organizations the following spring in Washington, D.C.

“When Taylor left the center of the stage, the main theme of the plot had been introduced. It would, of course, be developed, embellished, and varied in the years to come.”

Brother I.L. Scruggs[12]

In 1922, Founder Taylor called for the assembly of the Black Greek Lettered Organizations of Howard University to discuss the formation of a governing council. Although, the efforts of Taylor failed on that particular day, they would sow the seeds for what was to become the National Pan-Hellenic Council eight years later.

In March 1924, the name of the fraternity’s official publication, The Phi Beta Sigma Journal, was changed to The Crescent Magazine. The magazine’s name change was suggested by members of the Mu Chapter at Lincoln University, PA to reference the symbolic meaning of the crescent to the fraternity. At the 1924 conclave, the concept of the Bigger and Better Negro Business was introduced by way of an exhibit devoted to the topic. This would lead to the establishment of Bigger and Better Business as a national program at the 1925 conclave. At the 1928 Conclave, held in Louisville, Kentucky, the tradition of branding the skin with a hot iron, as a part of the initiation process was officially frowned upon.

Sigma and the Great Depression[edit]

At the 1929 Conclave held in New York City, Dr. Carter G. Woodson was invited as a guest speaker and saw the creation of The Distinguished Service Chapter. The fall of 1929 saw the crash of the nation’s stock markets. Like many others during this period, Phi Beta Sigma also suffered a common fate. With brothers faced with financial worries, some members were forced to leave their respective institutions and chapters became inactive. The Fraternity saw its income drastically shrink to the point of nearly disappearing completely. As a result of the bank closures, the remaining funds of the Fraternity were frozen.

“Negroes would warrant and get Support and Patronage from other races as well as the Negro race”

Arthur W. Mitchell[12]
6th International President of ΦΒΣ

As the nation came to terms with the Great Depression, Phi Beta Sigma and its members continued to implement programs to support the black community. In February 1930, the General Board met in New York City and appointed then vice president of the Eastern Region Dr. T. H. Wright as head of the new Bigger and Better Business program. The first objective of Phi Beta Sigma’s new program was to call upon colleges to provide business courses for its students. The fraternity went forward with its plans to implement the bigger and better business program and aid as many financially strapped chapters as possible through scholarships for brothers.

Later that year, at the 1930 Conclave held in Tuskegee, Alabama, northern region vice president C.L. Roberts suggested that instead of a yearly meeting, the annual conclaves should be held once every two years. It was also at this conclave that brother George Washington Carver delivered an impassioned and emotional speech to the brothers in attendance.

Social action and international expansion (1934–1949)[edit]

A porter for the Pullman Company Under the leadership of Sigma Brother A. Phillip Randolph, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was able to gain rights under federal law.

Fraternity brother A. Phillip Randolph, who organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, played a role in the amendments to the Railway Labor Act in 1934. As a result, railway porters were granted rights under federal law. This victory and the continuing work of Randolph and the BSCP led to the Pullman Company contract with the union, which included over $2 million in pay increases for employees, a shorter workweek, and overtime pay. 1934 also marked the birth of Social Action as a national program and the return of founder A. Langston Taylor to the forefront of Sigma. Brother Emmett May was elected as the first director of the social action initiative.

The 1935 Atlanta Conclave saw yet another meeting between Sigma and Omega Psi Phi fraternities. Omega founders Edgar Amos Love and Oscar James Cooper brought greetings to the brothers in attendance of the conference on behalf of the members of Omega Psi Phi. The following year, the general board approved the fraternity’s affiliation with the already established National Pan-Hellenic Council. in continuation of Sigma’s Social Action initiative, brothers of Sigma were actively involved the Chicago meeting of the National Negro Congress.

We live in daily hope that we shall one day learn the fate of our beloved brother and founder.

Founder Leonard F. Morse – 1949
(On The fate of Founder Charles I. Brown)[13]

As Phi Beta Sigma prepared for the Silver (25th) Anniversary, a special search was made for lost founder Charles I. Brown. The search would yield no results as to the fate or location of Founder Brown. The 1939 conclave marking the 25th anniversary of the fraternity was held on the campus of Howard University.

At the 1941 Conclave in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fraternity became a permanent member of the National Negro Business League. At the same conclave Brother A. Phillip Randolph announced a proposed march on Washington, D.C., to protest racial discrimination in defense work and the armed forces. This proposed march would lead then president of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt to create the Committee on Fair Employment Practice and issue Executive Order 8802 which barred discrimination in governmental and defense industry hiring.

Due to the outbreak of the Second World War no Conclaves were held, although some brothers in various regions were able to assemble independently of the General Board. At the fraternity’s first spring conclave in 1944, the fraternity voted to support the United Negro College Fund. 1949 would mark the reunion of two of the founders of Sigma: A. Langston Taylor and Leonard F. Morse.

The 1940s and 1950s would show the continued expansion of Phi Beta Sigma. In 1949, the fraternity became an international organization with the chartering of the Beta Upsilon Sigma graduate chapter and the Gamma Nu Sigma graduate chapter in Monrovia, Liberia. The fraternity would extend its international chapters into Geneva, Switzerland, with the chartering of the Gamma Nu Sigma graduate chapter in 1955.

Sigma and the Civil Rights Movement (1950–1969)[edit]

Sigma Brother & Co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Huey P. Newton—Alameda County Court House Jail, Oakland, September 26, 1968

As the struggle for the civil rights of African Americans renewed in the 1950s, Sigma men held positions of leadership among various civil rights groups, organized protests, and proposed the famous March on Washington of 1963. In Atlanta, A. Phillip Randolph helped with the establishment of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957. Randolph and fraternity brother John Lewis would later be involved with the 1963 March on Washington, Randolph as a key organizer and Lewis as a speaker representing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

In 1961, Phi Beta Sigma brother James Forman joined and became the executive secretary of the then newly formed Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. From 1961 to 1965 Forman, a decade older and more experienced than most of the other members of SNCC, became responsible for providing organizational support to the young, loosely affiliated activists by paying bills, radically expanding the institutional staff, and planning the logistics for programs. Under the leadership of Forman and others, SNCC became an important political player at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

During the Selma to Montgomery marches, Brothers Hosea Williams and John Lewis (U.S. politician) led a 54-mile protest march from Selma to the capital of Alabama: Montgomery. Lewis became known nationally for his prominent role in the marches and became a Congressman as a Democrat from Georgia. During police attacks on the peaceful demonstration Lewis was beaten mercilessly, leaving head wounds that are still visible today.

Phi Beta Sigma brother Huey P. Newton helped establish the revolutionary left-wing Black Panther Party. Originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, their goal was the protection of African-American neighborhoods from police brutality in the interest of African-American justice. As one of the many advocates of The Black Power Movement, the Black Panthers were considered part of one of the most significant social, political, and cultural movements in U.S. history. “The Movement[‘s] provocative rhetoric, militant posture, and cultural and political flourishes permanently altered the contours of American Identity.”[14]

History (1970–2000)[edit]

In 1970, brother Melvin Evans was elected the first governor of the United States Virgin Islands. In 1979, Phi Beta Sigma celebrated its 65th anniversary Conclave in Washington, D.C. In 1983, Sigma brother Harold Washington became the first African-American mayor of the city of Chicago, Illinois. In 1986, the Fraternity opened the Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union which is open to members of the Fraternity, members of the sister sorority, Zeta Phi Beta, their families, and their respective Regions and Chapters. With the establishment of the credit union, Phi Beta Sigma became the first NPHC organization to offer such an entity to its members.[citation needed]

In 1989, the Fraternity celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in Washington, D.C. Also in that year, brother Edison O. Jackson became the president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. In 1990, two Sigma brothers made significant firsts in their respective fields as Brothers Charles E. Freeman and Morris Overstreet were elected the first district judge of the Illinois Supreme Court and first African-American elected by popular vote to a statewide office in the state of Texas respectively. In 1995, the fraternity was the only NPHC organization involved with the planning and support of the Million Man March as brother Benjamin Chavis Muhammad served as national coordinator of the March.[citation needed]

21st century[edit]

Sigma Brother John Lewis speaks during the final day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

In 2001, Sigma brother Rod Paige became the first African American Secretary of Education. At the 2003 conclave, in Memphis, Tennessee, the fraternity added Projects S.W.W.A.C & S.A.T.A.P as national programs in attempts to combat cancer and teenage pregnancy.[15] In addition to those projects, the fraternity added Project Vote and the Phi Beta Sigma Capital Hill Summit under the social action umbrella.[15]At the 2007 conclave in Charlotte, North Carolina the fraternity introduced the Sigma Wellness initiatives as the latest national programs. The 2009 Conclave in New Orleans saw former President William Jefferson Clinton accept honorary member invitation to Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.”[16]

Purpose of the fraternity[edit]

The founders deeply wished to create an organization that viewed itself as “a part of” the general community rather than “apart from” the general community. They believed that each potential member should be judged by his own merits rather than his family background or affluence… without regard of race, nationality, skin tone or texture of hair. They wished and wanted their fraternity to exist as part of even a greater brotherhood which would be devoted to the “inclusive we” rather than the “exclusive we.” The fraternity’s defiance of stereotypes that have plagued other organizations indeed goes back to the founders themselves with their careful and deliberate building of the fraternity by promoting a membership with diverse backgrounds.

From its inception, the Founders also conceived Phi Beta Sigma as a mechanism to deliver services to the general community. Rather than gaining skills to be utilized exclusively for themselves and their immediate families, the founders of Phi Beta Sigma held a deep conviction that they should return their newly acquired skills to the communities from which they had come. This deep conviction was mirrored in the Fraternity’s motto, “Culture For Service and Service For Humanity.”

Today, Phi Beta Sigma has blossomed into an international organization of leaders. The fraternity has experienced unprecedented growth and continues to be a leader among issues of social justice as well as proponent of the interests of minority communities, the needy, the oppressed, and the youth. No longer a single entity, the Fraternity has now established the Phi Beta Sigma Educational Foundation, the Phi Beta Sigma Housing Foundation, the Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union, a notable youth auxiliary program, “The Sigma Beta Club,” and the Phi Beta Sigma Charitable Outreach Foundation.


Phi Beta Sigma’s Constitution states that race, religion, and national origin are not criteria for membership. Membership is predominantly African-American in composition, with members in over 650 collegiate and alumni chapters in the United States, District of Columbia, Germany, Switzerland, The Bahamas, Virgin Islands, South Korea, Japan and countries in Africa. Since its founding in 1914, more than 150,000 men have joined the membership of Phi Beta Sigma.[citation needed]

“Each one, was different in temperament, in ability, in appearance; but that was why they were chosen by the three founders. We felt that a fraternity composed of men who were all alike in habits, interest and abilities would be a pretty dull organization.”

Sigma Co-Founder Leonard F. Morse
(On The First Initiated Brothers of Phi Beta Sigma)[17]

A chapter name ending in “Sigma” denotes a graduate chapter. No chapter of Phi Beta Sigma is designated Omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, and deceased brothers are referred to as having joined The Omega Chapter.

Pledging and hazing culture[edit]

Through the years, members of Phi Beta Sigma have been involved in incidents related to hazing, although now denounced by the fraternity, incidents have been discovered of pledges being subjected to activities which in some case have resulted in serious injury and even death. Prior to 1990, the Crescent Club was the official pledge club of Phi Beta Sigma and potential candidates interested in becoming a member of the fraternity would join the pledge club before being fully initiated. In response to the increasing number of lawsuits stemming from allegations and incidents related to hazing, Phi Beta Sigma and other members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council jointly agreed to disband pledging as a form of admission.[18] In an attempt to eliminate Hazing from these organizations, each revised its orientation procedures and developed the Membership Intake Process.

In 2012, then Phi Beta Sigma International President Jimmy Hammock, along with the National Action Network, led by Sigma member Al Sharpton, launched a coalition whose aim was to combat hazing culture not just within the black Greek Lettered Organizations, but also the broader community at large. The coalition, also pledged their support of federal anti-hazing legislation that was being spearheaded by former United States House of Representatives member Frederica Wilson.[19][20] As part of the campaign, the fraternity developed anti-hazing training materials, held a town hall meetings, facilitated workshops and encouraged local chapters to participate in the annual National Anti-Hazing Awareness Day.[21]Phi Beta Sigma’s efforts to eliminate hazing from the fraternity continue as local chapters are now mandated to participate in anti-hazing awareness workshops.

Notable hazing incidents[edit]

In 1992, a pledge at Southern University (Baton Rouge) went blind after being intentionally hit on the head with a frying pan by a member of the fraternity.[22]

In 1998, a pledge at Southern Illinois University was struck in the chest by several members of the fraternity which caused him to suffer from a severe asthma attack.[23]

In 2006, seven Sigmas were arrested for beating pledges from the University of South Carolina.[24] One known pledge was hospitalized due to the severe beatings and torment.

In 2009, Donnie Wade Jr., a student at Prairie View A&M University, died of extreme exhaustion due to illegal hazing activity while he was pledging the fraternity. His family filed a $97 million lawsuit against the fraternity and the chapter was temporarily expelled from campus for several years.[25][26]

In 2014, a former Francis Marion University student won a $1.6 million lawsuit against the fraternity after suffering acute renal failure due to being severely beaten throughout his pledge process. Nine Phi Beta Sigma members were arrested.[27]

In 2015, the fraternity was kicked off the campus of Salisbury University until Spring 2017. The university had received several anonymous complaints of pledges being beaten with paddles, forced to drink alcohol, and being harassed.[28]

Notable members[edit]

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity’s membership includes many notable members who are involved in the fields of arts and entertainment, business, civil rights, education, health, law, politics, science, and sports. The fraternity’s membership roster includes heads of state Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, William Tolbert, and William V.S. Tubman, the past presidents of Nigeria, the Republic of Ghana, and Liberia respectively. Other notable members include world-famous scientist George Washington Carver, the first black Rhodes Scholar Alain LeRoy Locke, co-founder of the Black Panther Party Huey P. Newton, organizer of the Million Man March Benjamin Chavis Muhammad, civil rights activists Hosea Williams and the Rev. Al Sharpton, musicians The Original Temptations, actor Terrence Howard, television personality Al Roker, professional athletes Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward, Richard Sherman and Ryan Howard, the Philadelphia Phillies first baseman and award-winning actor Blair Underwood.[29]

International Presidents[edit]

Listed below are the thirty-four International Presidents[30] since the 1914 institution of the office

  • Abram Langston Taylor, 1914-1916
  • Ivorite L. Scruggs, 1917-1919
  • William S. Savage, 1920-1921
  • Walter M. Clarke, 1921-1922
  • John W. Woodhous, 1923-1925
  • Arthur W. Mitchell, 1926-1934
  • Jesse W. Lewis, 1935-1936
  • James W. Johnson, 1937
  • George W. Lawrence, 1938-1940
  • Richard A. Billings, 1941-1944
  • George A. Parker, 1944-1947
  • Ras O. Johnson, 1948-1950
  • Felix J. Brown, 1951-1953
  • George L. Hightower, 1954-1955
  • George D. Flemmings; 1955-1957
  • Hutson L. Lovell, 1958-1959
  • Roswell O. Sutton, 1960-1962
  • Maurice A. Moore, 1963-1965,
  • Alvin J. McNeil, 1966-1970
  • Parlette L. Moore, 1971-1973
  • John E. Westberry, 1974-1976
  • Richard M. Ballard, Jr., 1977-1979
  • Charles B. Wright, 1980-1981
  • Demetrius Newton, 1981-1984
  • James T. Floyd 1984-1987
  • Moses C. McClendon, 1987-1989
  • Carter D. Womack, 1989-1993
  • William E. Stanley, Jr., 1993-1995
  • Carter D. Womack, 1995-1997
  • Peter M. Adams, 1997-2001
  • Arthur R. Thomas, 2001-2005
  • Paul L. Griffin, Jr., 2005-2009
  • Jimmy Hammock, 2009-2013
  • Jonathan A. Mason, Sr., 2013–Present


The city of Little Rock, Arkansas served as the location of the Phi Beta Sigma’s 2015 Conclave.

The Conclave is the legislative power of Phi Beta Sigma. During a conclave year, delegates representing all of the active chapters from within the seven regions of the Fraternity meet in the chosen city. The Conclave-or fraternity convention- is currently held biannually and usually co-hosted by the alumni and collegiate chapters of the chosen city. During the convention, members of the General Board – the administrative body of the fraternity-are elected and appointed. The General Board may act in the interest of the Fraternity when the Conclave is not in session. In addition, seminars, social events, concerts, an international Miss Phi Beta Sigma Pageant, Stepshow, and oratorical contests are also held during the week-long conference. Throughout the years, notable individuals such as George Washington Carver, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, and NFL quarterback Charlie Batch were speakers at past Conclaves.

The Current General board is composed of The International President, First Vice-President, Second-Vice President, Treasurer, General Counsel, a Distinguished Service Chapter Representative, the regional directors, the immediate past-president, two collegiate members at large, and director of collegiate affairs. The offices of Second-Vice President and collegiate member at large are reserved positions on the general board for collegiate (undergraduate) members to hold. In addition, the Editor of The Crescent Magazine, Director of publicity, and the National Executive Director make up the members of the General Board. The latter-mentioned members are appointed to their positions and do not hold voting powers.

Distinguished Service Chapter members[edit]

Established at the 1929 Conclave, the Distinguished Service Chapter is the highest honor bestowed on a member of Phi Beta Sigma. Membership in the Distinguished Service Chapter must be recommended and approved by the awardees Chapter, Region, and by the General Board of the Fraternity prior to entry. One must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for this honor:

  • Active in the Fraternity for at least ten years
  • Has distinguished himself in the Fraternity and/or in his respective communities for extending exemplary service.

Brother Jesse W. Lewis holds the distinction of being voted in as the DSC’s 1st member (1929).


The seven regions of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity both within the United States and Internationally.

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity organizes its chapters according to their regions in the United States and abroad. The seven regions are each led by a regional director and a regional board. A comprehensive list of regions is shown below:[31]

  • Eastern (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, the United States Virgin Islands, Africa, and Europe)
  • Great Lakes (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa)
  • Gulf Coast (Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas)
  • Southeastern (North Carolina, South Carolina and all of Tennessee east of the 86th Longitude)
  • Southern (Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and the Bahamas, )
  • Southwestern (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and all of Tennessee west of the 86th Longitude)
  • Western (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Japan, South Korea and Kuwait)

The national programs[edit]

Phi Beta Sigma National Programs[32]
Bigger and Better Business Project Vote
Project S.E.E.D. Phi Beta Sigma Capitol Hill Summit
National Program of Education Project S.A.T.A.P.P.
Project S.E.T. Sigma Wellness Project
Project S.W.W.A.C. The Sigma Beta Club
Clean Speech Movement Sigma Academy
Sleepout For The Homeless HIV/AIDS Awareness
Project S.A.D.A. Project S.A.S
Project S.E.R. Phi Beta Sigma National Marrow Donor Program
Sigma I.D. Day Phi Beta Sigma – “A Fraternity that Reads”
Phi Beta Sigma – “Buying Black and Giving Back”

Phi Beta Sigma aims their focuses on issues that greatly impact the African American community and the youth of the nation. The Phi Beta Sigma national programs of Bigger and Better Business, Education and Social Action are realized through the Fraternity’s overarching program, Sigma Wellness, adopted in 2007.[33]Through its national mentoring program for males ages 8–18, the organization provides opportunities for the development of young men as they prepare for college and the workforce.

The organization’s partnerships with the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Boy Scouts of America and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund speaks to its mission to address societal ills including health disparities and educational and developmental opportunities for young males.

Bigger and Better Business[edit]

As told by Dr. I.L. Scruggs (excerpts from Our Cause Speeds On):

“Philadelphia, 1924, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity ‘arrived’. We had a mob of people at this Conclave. There were representatives from twenty-eight chapters -and all the trimmings. The introduction of the Bigger and Better Negro Business idea was made by way of an exhibit devoted to this topic.
The Bigger and Better Negro Business idea was first tested in 1924 with an imposing exhibition in Philadelphia. This was held in connection with the Conclave. Twenty-five leading Negro Businesses sent statements and over fifty sent exhibits. The whole show took place in the lobby of the YMCA. Several thousand visitors seemed to have been impressed. The response was so great that the 1925 Conclave in Richmond, Virginia voted unanimously to make Bigger and Better Negro Business the public program of the Fraternity, and it has been so ever since.”
Phi Beta Sigma believes that the improvement and economic conditions of minorities is a major factor in the improvement of the general welfare of society. It is upon this conviction that the Bigger and Better Business Program rests. Since 1926, the Bigger and Better Business Program has been sponsored on a national scale by Phi Beta Sigma as a way of supporting, fostering, and promoting minority owned businesses and services.[34]

The Bigger and Better Business serves as an umbrella for other national initiatives involving business. The program’s goals include supporting minority businesses, increasing communication with sigma brothers involved with business, and instilling sound business principals and practices to members of the community. Project S.E.E.D. (Sigma Economic Empowerment Development) is the foremost Bigger and Better Business Program. The program was developed to help the membership focus on two important areas: Financial Management and Home ownership.


The founders of Phi Beta Sigma were all educators in their own right. The genesis of the Education Program lies in the traditional emphasis that the fraternity places on Education. During the 1945 conclave in St. Louis, Missouri, the fraternity underwent a constitution restructuring which led to the birth of the Education as a National Program.

The National Program of Education focuses on programming and services to graduate and undergraduates in the fraternity. Programs such as scholarships, lectures, college fairs, mentoring, and tutoring enhance this program on local, regional and national levels.[35]

Project S.E.T. (Sigma Education Time) is focused on increasing grade point averages and graduation rates of collegiates throughout the nation. The program aims to help with job readiness, choosing a career path {3–5 year outlook}, interviewing techniques, negotiating and entrepreneurship.

The Sigma Beta Club provides mentoring, guidance, educational tutorial assistance and advise to young men between ages 6 to 18. Created in 1950, it was the first youth auxiliary group of any of the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations.

Social action[edit]

Phi Beta Sigma has from its very beginning concerned itself with improving the general well-being of minority groups. In 1934, a well-defined program of Social Action was formulated and put into action. Elmo M. Anderson, then president of Epsilon Sigma Chapter (New York) formulated this program calling for the reconstruction of social order. It was a tremendous success. It fit in with the social thinking of the American public in those New Deal years.

In the winter of 1934, Sigma brothers Elmo Anderson, James W. Johnson, Emmett May and Bob Jiggets presented the Social Action proposition to the Conclave in Washington, D.C. The idea was adopted as a national program at the same conclave. Anderson is credited as “The Father of Social Action”.[36]

The fraternity’s five main social action programs are Project Vote, Sigma Wellness, Sigma Presence on Capitol Hill, and projects S.W.W.A.C. & S.A.T.A.P.P.

Project S.W.W.A.C. (Sigmas Waging War Against Cancer) is a concentrated and coordinated effort to reduce the incidence of cancer in the African American community. Through a partnership with the American Cancer Society, the goal of Project S.W.W.A.C. is to increase awareness, with a strong emphasis on early detection and prevention of prostate and colorectal cancer.[37] Project S.A.T.A.P.P. is a collaborative venture with the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation to address the alarming rise in teenage pregnancy. The Sigma Wellness Project is focused on living healthier lifestyles through education. The goal of Project Vote is to register and educate citizens and encourage members of the community to participate in the democratic process. The Sigma Presence on Capitol Hill Program is focused on presenting Sigma members the opportunity to discuss many of the critical issues facing our communities with members of the U.S. Congress.[37]

The Sigma Beta Club[edit]

In the early 1950s, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity developed a youth auxiliary group. Under the direction of Dr. Parlett L. Moore the Sigma Beta Club was founded. While as National Director of Education, Brother Moore was concerned about our changing needs in our communities and recognized the important role that Sigma men could play in the lives of our youth. On April 23, 1954, the first club chapter was organized in Montgomery, AL. Throughout its existence, Sigma Beta Club has been an essential part of the total organizational structure of many of the Alumni chapters of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and offers men of Sigma a unique opportunity to develop wholesome value, leadership skills, and social and cultural awareness of youth at a most critical stage in the youth’s personal development. The Sigma Beta Clubs’ principles of focus emphasize Culture, Athletics, Social and Educational needs. Sigma Beta Club programs are geared to meet the needs of its members, but at the same time provide them with a well-rounded outlook that is needed to cope with today’s society. Phi Beta Sigma is confident that investing in our youth today will produce effective leaders of tomorrow. Sigma Beta Clubs also provide services to youths in their communities. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.’s interest in fostering the development of youth into effective leaders has been realized in the establishment of strong and productive Sigma Beta Club all across the country.

The Phi Beta Sigma History Museum[edit]

The Sigma History Museum was a traveling exhibition created in 2001 by Sigma brothers Mark Pacich, Louis W. Lubin, Jr. and Ahab El’Askeni. The museum’s initial goal was to dispel the discrepancies of the Fraternity’s history, by collecting as many newspaper articles, Crescent Magazines, Conclave Journals, autographs, pictures, etc., as possible. With the help of many Sigma members, in addition to families and friends of Sigmas brothers, some impressive artifacts of the history of the Fraternity were discovered. Among those artifacts, pictures of Sigma Founder A. Langston Taylor; historical pictures from the 1914, 1915, and 1916 yearbooks at Howard University; original letters; Conclave banners; and interviews with Sigma Brother Decatur Morse, son of Sigma Founder Leonard F. Morse, Samuel Proctor Massie II, son of a Alpha Chapter charter member, Samuel P. Massie, Robert L. Pollard II, son of Sigma brother Col. Robert L. Pollard who joined Sigma in 1919, and Dr. Gregory Tignor, son of Sigma brother Madison Tignor who also joined Sigma in 1919. The exhibit has been displayed in many cities including; Orlando, Philadelphia, Detroit, Memphis, and Las Vegas.

“Culture For Service and Service For Humanity”

Phi Beta Sigma Motto

On July 16, 2014, as part of the fraternity’s centennial celebration, a permanent museum was opened at the Phi Beta Sigma International Headquarters in Washington D.C. As a result, Phi Beta Sigma became the first Historically Black Greek Lettered fraternity to open its own museum.[38]

The assets of the museum have grown since the initial display in 2000. The most coveted possession yet to be acquired are the first 2 issues of the Phi Beta Sigma Journal. The museum is only 14 issues away from having every Crescent magazine ever printed.[39]

Omega Psi Phi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Omega Psi Phi
Founded November 17, 1911; 105 years ago
Howard University
Type Social
Emphasis Service
Scope International
Motto Friendship is Essential to the Soul
Colors      Royal Purple
Old Gold
Symbol Lamp
Publication Oracle and Clarion Call
Chapters 750+
Cardinal Principles Manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift
Headquarters 3951 Snapfinger Parkway
Decatur, Georgia
United States of America
Homepage Omega Psi Phi Fraternity website

Omega Psi Phi Founders

The Alpha chapter of Omega Psi Phi in 1911.

Omega Psi Phi (ΩΨΦ) is an international fraternity with over 750 undergraduate and graduate chapters. The fraternity was founded on November 17, 1911 by three Howard University juniors, Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper and Frank Coleman, and their faculty adviser, Dr. Ernest Everett Just. Omega Psi Phi is the first predominantly African-American fraternity to be founded at a historically black university.[1]


Since its founding in 1911, Omega Psi Phi’s stated purpose has been to attract and build a strong and effective force of men dedicated to its Cardinal Principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. Throughout the world, many notable members are recognized as leaders in the arts, academics, athletics, entertainment, business, civil rights, education, government, and science fields. A few notable members include Bill Cosby, Benjamin Mays, Bayard Rustin, Langston Hughes, Roy Wilkins, Benjamin Hooks, Vernon Jordan, Dr. Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Dr. Mack King Carter, William H. Hastie (U.S. Virgin Islands) and L. Douglas Wilder, Representative James Clyburn, Earl Graves, Tom Joyner, Charles Bolden, Ronald McNair, General William “Kip” Ward, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Shammond Williams, Vince Carter, Steve Harvey, Rickey Smiley, Ray Lewis, Stephen A. Smith, and numerous presidents of colleges and universities. Over 250,000 men have been initiated into Omega Psi Phi throughout the United States, Bermuda, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, South Korea, Japan, Liberia, Germany, and Kuwait.[1] On the 2013 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, six players and GM Ozzie Newsome are members.[2]

In 1924, at the urging of fraternity member Carter G. Woodson, the fraternity launched Negro History and Literature Week in an effort to publicize the growing body of scholarship on African-American history.[3] Encouraged by public interest, the event was renamed “Negro Achievement Week” in 1925 and given an expanded national presence in 1926 by Woodson’s Association for the Study of Negro Life as “Negro History Week.”[3] Expanded to the full month of February from 1976, this event continues today as Black History Month.

Since 1945, the fraternity has undertaken a National Social Action Program to meet the needs of African Americans in the areas of health, housing, civil rights, and education. Omega Psi Phi has been a patron of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) since 1955, providing an annual gift of $350,000,000 to the program.

Omega Psi Phi is a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), which is composed of nine predominately African-American Greek-letter sororities and fraternities that promote interaction through forums, meetings, and other media for the exchange of information, and engage in cooperative programming and initiatives throughout the world. The (NPHC) currently represents over 2.5 million members.[4]

Centennial Celebration[edit]

Omega Psi Phi celebrated its centennial during the week of July 27–31, 2011 in Washington D.C., becoming distinguished as only the third African-American collegiate fraternity to reach the century mark.[4] The Centennial Celebrationrecognized the impact of the Fraternity in communities over the past 100 years, honored Omega Men for achievement in all walks of life, reiterated Omega Psi Phi’s commitment to providing unparalleled community service and scholarship, and charted the Fraternity’s future activities.

Internationally Mandated Programs[edit]

Each Chapter administers Internationally Mandated Programs every year:[5]

Achievement Week – A week in November that seeks to recognize individuals who have made notable contributions to society. During the Achievement Week, a High School Essay Contest is held and the winner usually receives a scholarship award.

Omega Psi Phi chapter members marching in an Independence Day parade, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Scholarship – The Charles R. Drew Scholarship Program encourages academic progress among the organization’s undergraduate members. A portion of the fraternity’s budget is designated for the Charles R. Drew Scholarship Commission, which awards scholarships to members and non-members.

Social Action Programs – All chapters are required to participate in programs that uplift their society. Many participate in activities like: voter registration, illiteracy programs, mentoring programs, fundraisers, and charitable organizations such as American Diabetes Association, United Way, and the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation.

Omega Psi Phi chapter members at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Talent Hunt Program – Each chapter is required to hold a yearly talent contest, to encourage young people to expose themselves to the Performing Arts. Individuals who win these talent contests receive an award, such as a scholarship.

Memorial Service – March 12 is Omega Psi Phi Memorial Day. Every chapter of the Fraternity performs a ritualistic memorial service to remember members who have died.

Reclamation and Retention – This program is an effort to encourage inactive members to become fully active and participate in the fraternity’s programs.

College Endowment Funds – The fraternity donates thousands of dollars to Historically Black Colleges and Universities each year.

Health Initiatives – Chapters are required to coordinate programs that will encourage good health practices. Programs that members involve themselves in include HIV/AIDS awareness, blood drives, prostate cancer awareness, and sickle cell anemia awareness programs.

Voter Registration, Education and Motivation – Coordination activities that promote voter registration and mobilization.

NAACP – A Life Membership at Large in the NAACP is required by all chapters and districts.[6]


Omega Psi Phi recognizes undergraduate and graduate membership. College students must be working toward a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution, have at least 31 semester credits, and maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average. For the graduate chapter, an applicant must already possess a bachelor’s degree.[7] The fraternity grants honorary membership to men who have contributed to society in a positive way on a national or international level. For example, Charles Young (March 12, 1864 – January 2, 1922) was the third African American graduate of West Point, the first black U.S. national park superintendent, the first African American military attaché, and the highest ranking black officer (Colonel) in the United States Army until his death in 1922.

National Pan-Hellenic Council membership[edit]

In 1930, Omega Psi Phi became one of 5 founding members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). Today, the NPHC is composed of nine international black Greek-letter sororities and fraternities and promotes interaction through forums, meetings, and other mediums for the exchange of information, and engages in cooperative programming and initiatives through various activities and functions.[8]

Grand Basileus[edit]

Omega Psi Phi shoulder bag

Name Order Time in Office Ref.
Edgar Amos Love 1st Grand Basileus 1911–1912 [9][10]
Oscar J. Cooper 2nd Grand Basileus 1912–1913 [9][10]
Edgar Amos Love 3rd Grand Basileus 1913–1915 [9][10]
George E. Hall 4th Grand Basileus 1915–1916 [9][10]
James C. McMorries 5th Grand Basileus 1916–1917 [9][10]
Clarence F. Holmes 6th Grand Basileus 1917–1918 [9][10][11]
Raymond G. Robinson 7th Grand Basileus 1918–1920 [9][10][12]
Harold H. Thomas 8th Grand Basileus 1920–1921 [9][10]
J. Alston Atkins 9th Grand Basileus 1921–1924 [10][13][14]
John W. Love 10th Grand Basileus 1924[a] [10]
George L. Vaughn 11th Grand Basileus 1924–1926 [10][13]
Julius S. McClain 12th Grand Basileus 1926–1929 [10][12][15]
Matthew W. Bullock 13th Grand Basileus 1929–1932 [10]
Lawrence A. Oxley 14th Grand Basileus 1932–1935 [10][16]
William Baugh 15th Grand Basileus 1935–1937 [10][17]
Albert W. Dent 16th Grand Basileus 1937–1940 [10][17]
Z. Alexander Looby 17th Grand Basileus 1940–1945 [10][13][18]
Campbell C. Johnson 18th Grand Basileus 1945–1947 [10]
Harry Penn 19th Grand Basileus 1947–1949 [10]
Milo C. Murray 20th Grand Basileus 1949–1951 [10]
Grant Reynolds 21st Grand Basileus 1951–1953 [10][13][19]
John F. Potts 22nd Grand Basileus 1953–1955 [10][20][21]
Herbert E. Tucker, Jr. 23rd Grand Basileus 1955–1958 [10][22]
I. Gregory Newton 24th Grand Basileus 1958–1961 [10][16]
Cary D. Jacobs 25th Grand Basileus 1961–1964 [10][23]
George E. Meares 26th Grand Basileus 1964–1967 [13]
Ellis F. Corbett 27th Grand Basileus 1967–1970 [24]
James Avery 28th Grand Basileus 1970–1973 [23][25]
Marion Garnett 29th Grand Basileus 1973–1976 [26][27][28]
Dr. Edward Braynon, Jr. 30th Grand Basileus 1976–1979 [25][29][30][31]
Burnel E. Coulon 31st Grand Basileus 1979−1982 [25][30][32]
Dr. L. Benjamin Livingston 32nd Grand Basileus 1982–1984 [33]
Dr. Moses C. Norman 33rd Grand Basileus 1984–1990 [25][30][34]
Dr. C. Tyrone Gilmore, Sr 34th Grand Basileus 1990–1994 [9][25][30]
Dr. Dorsey Miller 35th Grand Basileus 1994–1998 [9][25][30]
Lloyd Jordan, Esq. 36th Grand Basileus 1998–2002 [9][25][30]
George H. Grace 37th Grand Basileus 2002–2006 [25]
Warren G. Lee 38th Grand Basileus 2006–2010 [30]
Dr. Andrew Ray 39th Grand Basileus 2010–2014 [35]
Antonio Knox 40th Grand Basileus 2014–present .

a. Finished unexpired term of Atkins[10]

List of Omega Psi Phi Grand Conclaves[edit]

Notable hazing incidents and controversies[edit]

In 1977, Robert Brazile, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, died at a fraternity house meeting due to injuries and beatings he sustained while pledging the fraternity.[36]

In 1978, Nathaniel Swimson, a student at North Carolina Central University, died during an off-campus initiation activity. He was asked to run several miles before he collapsed and died.[36]

In 1983, Vann Watts, a student at Tennessee State University, died of an alcohol overdose following an initiation party. It was reported that prior to his death, he was severely beaten and verbally assaulted by fraternity members.[37]

In 1984, a Hampton University student was killed during an Omega Psi Phi ritual. The family of the deceased student settled with the fraternity for an undisclosed amount as a result of his wrongful death.[38]

In 1986, Thomas Harold, a student at Lamar University, died as a result of running miles on Lamar’s track as part of a pledging task.[39][40]

In 1993, 24 Omegas were arrested for making pledges from University of Maryland at College Park eat vomit and dog biscuits, dropping hot wax on their necks, and beating them so badly that they needed medical attention.[41]

In 1999, Omega Psi Phi was court ordered to pay a former University of Louisville student nearly $1 million dollars for suffering kidney failure due to hazing activity in 1997.[42]

In 2001, Joseph T. Green, a student at Tennessee State University, died as result of an asthma attack he developed from being asked to run long distances while pledging. In 2002, his family filed a $15 million wrongful death lawsuit against the men of Omega Psi Phi Incorporated.[43] [44]

In 2009, a former pledge at the University of Houston (UH) settled with the fraternity for an undisclosed amount after being hit with a baseball bat, wood board, and TV antenna while pledging. The UH student wanted to join the fraternity because his father was a member. The chapter was placed on suspension following this incident. [45]

In 2014, the chapter at Valdosta State University was banned from campus until at least August 2022 due to severe hazing and violating the school’s code of conduct.[46]

In 2015, six Omega Psi Phi members at Johnson C. Smith University were arrested and charged with assault for severely beating pledges over a two-month span.[47]

In 2015, four Omega Psi Phi members at Saginaw Valley State University were arrested and charged for striking pledges with open hands and paddles. One known pledge sustained a serious injury after losing consciousness one night pledging.[48]

In 2015, a Florida Atlantic University student reported to the police she was gang-raped at an Omega Psi Phi “Oil Spill” step show after party. Inside the party, she stated she was suddenly and forcefully pulled behind curtains and raped by a group of men in a dark area.[49]

In 2016, the fraternity at Florida State University was suspended for severely abusing pledges and violating the university’s code of conduct.[50] Criminal charges are pending for members of the fraternity. That same year, the Cornell University chapter hosted a party to which several hundred people attended. At the end of the night, two visitors were stabbed and one died as they left, amidst several fights that broke out.[51]

Despite Omega Psi Phi taking an official stance against hazing and disorderly conduct, the fraternity continues to be plagued with many lawsuits and serious consequences due to mistreatment of potential members and fraternity misconduct.[52][53]

“Unofficial” practices[edit]

Like many fraternal organizations, Omega Psi Phi has a rich tradition of practices. While some traditions are naturally secret, many are freely expressed in public. A popular one is referring to members as “Que Dogs” or “Ques”. Another is the practice of members voluntarily undergoing branding of the letters, or variations and designs based on them (such as two linked Omega symbols), on their skin. The brands often are displayed in public as a matter of pride; some prospects first learn of the fraternity by seeing members bearing brands.[54]