A Fraternity Is Born 
On January 26, 1897, Miss Charlotte N. Malotte, the professor of Latin and French, spoke to a student group at the chapel hour. She spoke on the subject of “College Fraternities” which sparked the interest of several students. Then, on the afternoon of February 26, a new fraternity had its first meeting. When, after a long session, the meeting adjourned, a literary society had been born, though it was yet unnamed. 

The founders of the Fraternity, all cadets at Vincennes University, were William Raper Kennedy, James Thompson Kingsbury, George Martin Patterson, and Rolin Rosco James. The first three were seniors; James was a freshman.

Sigma Pi Founders - George Martin Patterson, Rolin Rosco James, William Raper Kennedy, James Thompson Kingsbury

Samuel and Maurice Bayard were the first initiates. They were made members of the Fraternity before a name was selected or a constitution adopted. Many of the first meetings of the Fraternity were held at the old Bayard home. At the Bayard house, the constitution was written and the first ritual was developed and used in the loft of the family’s carriage house. 

The Old Bayard HouseAccording to history, the mother of the first two initiates, Mrs. Bayard, took a deep interest in the organization and used her influence to steer Tau Phi Delta in the right direction. On one occasion she entered the library of her home to find a meeting of the Fraternity in progress. The business of the hour was the adoption of an appropriate motto. No satisfactory agreement on the subject had been reached. Taking a volume of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poems from a shelf, she turned to A Death In The Desert, and read:

Progress, man’s distinctive mark alone, 
Not God’s, and not the beasts’; 
God is, they are. 
Man partly is and wholly hopes to be.

“That,” Mrs. Bayard said, “would make an excellent motto for your organization.” With this remark she left the room, and her suggestion had accomplished its purpose. A motto had been found. 

Sigma PiFebruary 11, 1907, is a significant date in the Fraternity’s history. It was then the members last assembled as Tau Phi Delta and first assumed the name of Sigma Pi Fraternity of the United States. Tau Phi Delta had had limited ambitions for expansion. Soon after the name change, Sigma Pi embarked on a program of establishing chapters on other campuses. In 1984, the Fraternity again changed its name. At the 37th Biennial Convocation, Sigma Pi became an international fraternity by accepting its first Canadian chapter. This international status required the Fraternity to become Sigma Pi Fraternity, International. 

Today, Sigma Pi is comprised of over 110 active chapters, 12 colonies, and over 77,000 alumni.

Famous Alumni

  • Walter Marty Schirra, Jr. (Alpha Mu Chapter, NJIT 1944): Astronaut: Project Mercury, Project Gemini, and Project Apollo.

  • Tracy Lawrence (Epsilon Kappa Chapter, Southern Arkansas University 1989): Country music star.

  • Bill Harsha (Lambda Chapter, Kenyon College 1943): Congressman (OH).

  • William I. Troutman (Nu Chapter, Franklin & Marshall 1927): Congressman (PA).

  • Herman Fisher (Theta Chapter, Penn State 1921): Co-founder of Fisher-Price toys.

  • John T. Myers (Beta Gamma Chapter, Eastern Illinois University 1951): Congressman (IN).

  • Willard Kiplinger (Gamma Chapter, Ohio State 1912): Founder of the Kiplinger Washington Letter.

  • Lewis Grizzard (Alpha Phi Chapter, University of Georgia 1968): Syndicated columnist, author, and southern humorist.

  • Carlton Mobley (Alpha Epsilon Chapter, Mercer University 1928): Congressman (GA) and Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.

  • Barry Weiss (Mu Chapter, Cornell University 1982): President & CEO of Jive Records.

  • Mike Beebe (Alpha Pi Chapter, Arkansas State University 1968): Arkansas Attorney General and current candidate Governor.

  • David W. Hopkins (Sigma Chapter, Iowa State University 1920): Congressman (MO).

  • Frank T. Bow (Zeta Chapter, Ohio Northern University 1923): Congressman (OH).

  • Sherdrick Bonner (Epsilon Iota Chapter, California State University-Northridge 1991): AFL Champion quarterback.

  • H. Lawrence Fuller (Eta Chi Chapter, DePaul University): CEO of Amoco Oil Company.

  • Guy “Red” Mackey (Eta Chapter, Purdue University 1929): Athletic director of Purdue University and namesake of Mackey Arena.

  • John R. Gregg (Alpha Chapter, Vincennes University 1974): Speaker of Indiana House of Representatives.

  • James Reston (Phi Chapter University of Illinois 1932): Author, journalist, and Pulitzer Prize (1945 & 1957) winner.

  • Tony Romo (Beta Gamma Chapter, Eastern Illinois University 2001): NFL quarterback and winner of the Walter Payton Award.

  • Rudy Feldman (Upsilon Chapter, UCLA 1953): AFL and Superbowl Champion (1969) with the New York Jets.

  • Charles Bayless (Gamma Xi Chapter, West Virginia University Institute of Technology 1968): President of West Virginia Tech.

  • Judson C. Ward (Psi Chapter, Emory University): Dean of Emory University.

  • Curtis Shake (Alpha Chapter, Vincennes University 1906): Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court and Presiding Judge at the Nuremberg Trials.