SigEp History

The Origin:
The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity was founded at Richmond College, a Virginia college where many attended to become Baptist ministers. The men that would eventually form the fraternity did so because they felt a need to belong to a brotherhood that would hold Judeo/Christian principles as its ideals.

The Founding of the Fraternity:
The founder of the fraternity is Carter Ashton Jenkins. He had originally been a member of the Chi Phi fraternity, but wanted to found a new organization when he transferred from Rutgers University to Richmond College. He soon recruited eleven other men from the campus who shared his ideals and hopes. The men had to fight for the right to colonize the fraternity, and were allowed to do so after changing the name from Sigma Phi to Sigma Phi Epsilon. The first SigEp chapter, Virginia Alpha, was thus formed.

The founding fathers faced difficult times in those early years. They met in an unheated, unfurnished single room in one of the halls of the college. The room was covered in wallpaper that had purple violets and red roses on it (the flowers and colors that would later officially mark the fraternity.) The men were particularly poor at the time: they could only afford 25 cents a month for dues, and had considered taking out an insurance policy on a member’s life so that they could borrow money off of the policy to rent a house for the fraternity.

The fraternity also suffered recruitment problems. In their second year, the members were only able to recruit a single person. In a last ditch effort to save the fraternity; the members drafted a state charter for the fraternity that would allow them to spread outwards at a national level. They also merged with the TO fraternity to add its members and chapters to our roster. These proved to be the saving factors for our fraternity. We soon spread to many other states and colleges to eventually become the largest social fraternity in the nation.

However, the hard times were not over. Though our numbers did not suffer throughout World War I, all fraternities in the nation were essentially crippled by World War II as many college age men left to join the Allied forces. Though we eventually recovered, the anti-organization movements of the sixties continued to damage the national fraternity system.

This trend continued until the early 1990’s, when Sigma Phi Epsilon underwent a dramatic change in its structure, policies, and even rituals. These changes would later be grouped under a policy known as the Balanced Man Program. This new program emphasized improvement of the individual in the areas of academics, leadership skills, mentoring, and community service.


The Founding of the Texas Delta Chapter:

The Texas Delta Chapter at the University of Houston was born from the local fraternity Alpha Kappa Pi founded in February 24, 1951 at the house of Jay Pappadas. Alpha Kappa Pi served to instill Brotherhood and promote school spirit.

The Golden Nugget Casino was created during the early years of Frontier Fiesta- one of the University of Houston’s biggest traditions.

In 1956, University officials, national and local Greek leaders and students worked together to bring national Greek organizations to the University of Houston campus. Thus on February 1, 1956, 24 men were initiated and on the 4th, the 152nd Charter of Sigma Phi Epsilon was presented to the Texas Delta Chapter.

However, in the summer of 1972, with fewer men joining fraternities and a changing student body across the nation, the Texas Delta Chapter was closed.
In 1981, an interest group from the Hotel & Restaurant Management school tried to re-establish the chapter but as a failed attempt. Later in 1983, the group tried once more and successfully gained colony status. The Texas Delta Chapter was reborn on April 26, 1984 with 34 charter members including UH Professor Dr. Richard Butler.

Since our rechartering, the chapter has had many successes and many barriers to overcome, yet we still stand here today to continue our “Lifetime Journey of Brotherhood”.