Phi Sigma Kappa

Phi Sigma Kappa

Infobox Fraternity | name = Phi Sigma Kappa
letters = ΦΣK
crest =
founded = birth date and age|1873|3|15
birthplace = Massachusetts Agricultural College flagicon|USA
type = Social
motto = Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
free_label=Cardinal Principles
free=To Promote Brotherhood, To Stimulate Scholarship, To Develop Character
colors = Silver and Red
symbol = The Triple T's
flower = Red Carnation & White Tea Rose
chapters = 73+
scope = International
address = 2925 East 96th Street
city = Indianapolis
state = Indiana
country = USA
nickname = 'Phi Sig'
homepage = []

Phi Sigma Kappa (ΦΣK) is a fraternity devoted to three cardinal principles: the Promotion of Brotherhood, the Stimulation of Scholarship, and the Development of Character. It was founded on March 15, 1873 by Jabez William Clay, Frederick George Campbell, Joseph Franklin Barrett, Xenos Young Clark, William Penn Brooks, and Henry Hague at Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst (now the University of Massachusetts). Phi Sigma Kappa merged with Phi Sigma Epsilon in 1985.


Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst-now the University of Massachusetts-is the setting for the founding of Phi Sigma Kappa. Among its other students in the early 1870s, it had attracted six men of varied backgrounds, ages, abilities, and goals in life who saw the need for a new and different kind of society on campus. These, the Founders, were very intelligent and creative. It is then recalled that Henry Hague suggested that, since the six were close and were not interested in the fraternities on campus, they create their own.cite book
last = Rand
first = Frank Prentice
coauthors = Ralph Watts, James E. Sefton
title = All The Phi Sigs - A History
publisher = Self-published
date = 1993
] They banded together in their sophomore year (1873) to form a "society to promote morality, learning and social culture."

The Founding Fathers

Jabez William Clay

Frederick George Campbell

Joseph Franklin Barrett

Xenos Young Clark

William Penn Brooks


The six founders were typically active college students, members of literary and academic societies and athletic groups, and editors of campus publications. Hague and Brooks even ran the college store. On March 15, 1873, they met in secret. Brooks had already prepared a constitution and symbolism, and Hague had designed a ritual. The first meeting seemed destined to succeed for they all had done their work well. The ritual has been changed only six times since, and never drastically. Clay was elected president of the group which for its first five years had no name. Its cryptic characters could not be pronounced, either (a problem which they had not really considered since it was a secret society). Outsiders referred to them by names such as "T, double T, T upside-down," "The Huddlers," and others.

The Grand Chapter

The Grand Chapter was organized in 1878, to tie alumni and undergraduates in a continuing relationship, and Charles Sumner Howe, an 1876 initiate, was elected its first Grand President (at the age of 20). Phi Sigma Kappa was adopted as the group's official name that same year after four years of debate and the work of seven committees. It is organized much like the Federal Government into three branches: Legislative, Executive, and Juidicial powers. Under the Laws of the State of Delaware, the legislative branch comprises officers from each chapter who serve as delegates at the General Convention. Depending on the size of a particular chapter, each has a number of votes at the Convention to decide on amendments to the Charter, the Constitution, and the Bylaws of the Fraternity. They also have the authority to veto policies made by the Grand Council. The executive branch comprises this Grand Council, which includes the Grand President and his Board of Directors. They serve as the main policy making body of the fraternity. The Judicial Power, known as the Court of Honor, comprises all living past Grand Chapter/Phi Sigma Epsilon Presidents. The presiding officer is the Chancellor, and the Court serves as an advisory committee to the Grand President and the Council, as well as the court of impeachment for any officer of the Fraternity.


Originally, only one chapter was contemplated by the founders. And although the germ of expansion arrived early, its period of gestation consumed 13 years. As early as 1875 an inquiry had been received from a group at Maine Agricultural College, and a few years later there was an unexpected letter from the University of New Mexico-but nothing came of either "feeler." In 1878, John A. Cutter was inducted into the group, a man destined to have much to do with the preservation of the order's early records and with its expansion beyond the confines of the Massachusetts campus. He later attended Albany Medical College (in 1873 merged with Union College) and established a group, which became Beta Chapter. Cutter was also instrumental in the establishment of Gamma at Cornell. The transition to a national order was accomplished. These same early years saw the pin (or badge) adopted essentially as it is today; an induction ritual, which embodied the concept of universal brotherhood and expanded the order's horizons beyond Massachusetts, was written in 1890; and the first chapter out of the Northeast came into being at West Virginia University (1891).

The Creed and Cardinal Principles

The 1934 Convention in Ann Arbor brought more changes for the fraternity. Brother Stewart W. Herman of Gettysburg wrote and presented the Creed, and Brother Ralph Watts of Massachusetts drafted and presented the Cardinal Principles. More than a half-century later they stand as Phi Sigma Kappa's heritage personified, as much a part of the Fraternity's individuality as any of its more ancient rituals and symbolism.

World War II

The 1938 Convention adopted the six-degree membership structure to honor the six Founders, especially as a tribute to Founder Brooks, who had died only a few weeks earlier. The first professional manager of the Fraternity was hired that same year, marking still another organizational response to growing need in a critical period. The hardships of World War I and the Great Depression were scarcely overcome when World War II arrived. The extraordinary efforts by which the Fraternity survived are another and longer story; the important fact is that Phi Sig did survive. The 1948 Convention in Boston marked the 75th anniversary of the founding. There were 52 active chapters; the Phi Sigma Kappa Foundation had been established, primarily to reward good scholarship among brothers; and the Signet was guaranteed to all members for life under a plan that had few parallels in the Greek world at that time.

Turbulent Times

The post World War II era saw the Fraternity recover from the worst consequences of that crisis, after which Phi Sigma Kappa and all Greek organizations had to address issues related to membership restrictions, hazing, and the need for responsible programming which complements the educational mission of our host institutions. Phi Sigma Kappa responded to these challenges by removing unwarranted restrictions on qualifications for membership, acting in concert with other NIC fraternities to eliminate hazing, and revising the membership education program to reflect its purpose of building a true appreciation of the fraternal principles. Still, another challenge to fraternities occurred with the anti-Greek feeling which spread throughout the country in the late 1960s and 1970s. Membership in Greek organizations declined significantly during these years, and a number of chapters were lost.

Civil Rights & Phi Sigma Kappa

Although the Grand Chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa had never previously provided restrictions on membership in its written charter or regulations, an informal "Gentleman's Agreement" encouraged local chapters not to admit minorities to membership. In a letter dated June 28, 1954, D.R. "Spec" Collins, the then-President of Phi Sigma Kappa, announced that from his point of view, "the entire fraternity system-which is truly an American institution engaged in the service of building good American citizens–is being challenged. Challenged by those subversive elements who, by encouraging us to quarrel among ourselves may cause us to destroy ourselves. The 'divide and conquer strategy' that might well eliminate a great American institution."cite paper
author = Scobie, Richard
title = A fraternal revolution: the birth of Phi Tau fraternity, as told by one of the principles: Richard Scobie.
date = 1956
url =
format = Typewritten
] According to President Collins, members should be warned that an anti-discrimination issue would be raised at the next Phi Sigma Kappa convention, and that members should guard against "subversive elements."

At Phi Sigma Kappa's 1952 General Convention in Roanoke, Virginia, Phi Sigma Kappa's formerly unofficial "Gentlemen's Agreement" was written into the national organization's bylaws as the Bedford Resolution and was adopted by a small majority. The Bedford Resolution read, "That the fraternity's tradition be maintained in the sense that there be no pledging or initiating of Negro men until such time as they are acceptable to all chapters." Later that year the Alpha Triton Chapter at Wesleyan University disaffliliated itself rather than de-pledge a black student it had pledged in good faith and reformed as Gamma Psi. Chapters at Boston University and Knox College were both expelled from the Grand Chapter in 1953 for pledging an African-American student. The Tau Chapter at Dartmouth College disaffiliated from Phi Sigma Kappa, citing racist membership policies of the fraternity as its motivation. It became a local fraternity, keeping the "Phi" of Phi Sigma Kappa" and the "Tau" from being the Tau Corporation of Phi Sigma Kappa, becoming the new organization of Phi Tau, in May 1956. Phi Sigma Kappa repealed the Bedford Resolution at its next General Convention in 1954. Despite the repeal, the former Alpha Triton Chapter at Wesleyan received no invitation to reaffiliate.

The Merger

The merger of Phi Sigma Kappa with Phi Sigma Epsilon was first discussed in 1984. The two organizations were placed next to each other during conferences by virtue of the names' similarity, but discovered that they had more in common than the first two letters of their names. PSE's beliefs in justice, wisdom, and honor closely paralleled PSK's cardinal principles of brotherhood, scholarship, and character. Phi Sigma Epsilon was in the midst of difficult administrative and financial circumstances and most chapters were in the interior of the contiguous United States. Phi Sigma Kappa, although relatively strong both administratively and financially, was concentrated on the east and west coasts of the country. They were finding it difficult to expand throughout other parts of the country while seeing chapters close within their base. It was found that both organizations had similar rituals upon the report of a brother of Phi Sigma Epsilon who had become a faculty adviser of a Phi Sigma Kappa chapter. That chapter had allowed the faculty adviser to view the rituals of Phi Sigma Kappa. It was of great benefit to the idea of a merger and answered questions that could not otherwise be easily asked. It seemed natural that the two groups come together, and on August 14, 1985, the merger was formalized. At the Convention in 1987 in Long Beach, California, two years following the merger, the crest and flag were changed in order to incorporate the symbolism of Phi Sigma Epsilon.

The Fraternity Today

Many new challenges have faced Phi Sigma Kappa over the last decade, including risk management, the decline in interest in joining fraternities, and changes in the whole face of higher education. Differences in opinion led the fraternity to leave the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). After an absence from the NIC, Phi Sigma Kappa rejoined in 2006 and continues to play an active role in that organization's leadership.

Organization of Phi Sigma Kappa

Phi Sigma Kappa is divided into three distinct entities: Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa Foundation, and Phi Sigma Kappa Properties. The Phi Sigma Kappa International Headquarters is staffed by administrators who handle many of the day-to-day operations in the fraternity as well as coordinate and plan many events, meetings, and other programs held by the Grand Chapter and the Foundation. [cite web
last = Phi Sigma Kappa
title = FAQs
publisher = Self-Published
url =
accessdate = 2008-05-28

The Grand Chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa

The Grand Chapter is a non-profit corporation that was incorporated in the state of Delaware in 1959. The Grand Chapter is the legislative and mostly-elected organization of the fraternity.

The Phi Sigma Kappa Foundation

The Foundation, incorporated as an entity separate from the Grand Chapter in 1947, serves as the financial backbone of the fraternity. It is facilitated by a Board of Trustees which appropriates funds for various programs and scholarships administered by the Grand Council. The money for this comes from member dues, pledges, and donations. The Foundation is immensely important to the growth and maintenance of the Fraternity. Some of the programs it funds are Leadership School, Undergraduate Scholarships, the Grand Chapter website, and Regional Conclaves. [cite web
last = Phi Sigma Kappa
title = Relationship With The Fraternity
publisher = Self-Published
url =
accessdate = 2008-05-28

Phi Sigma Kappa Properties

Phi Sigma Kappa Properties (PSKP) is the newest of the three Phi Sigma Kappa entities but plans to become a full service real estate management and development corporation. PSKP held a long-range planning meeting in August 2005, which was facilitated by Grand Council Director Tim Vojtasko. The organization developed a set of five long-range goals for the next five years and beyond. Those goals include:
*To become the largest (assets owned and managed) property management organization in the Fraternity world
*To double the number of houses owned by a PSK related entity; also 40 houses (owned and managed) in 5 years
*To hire an executive director/CFO with a complete staff of 5 within 5 years
*To develop a world-class model for owning, managing and financing fraternity properties
*To be able to offer all PSK related properties the opportunity to be owned and/or managed by PSKP [cite web
last = Phi Sigma Kappa
title = Goals
publisher = Self-Published
url =
accessdate = 2008-04-28

Written Ideals of Phi Sigma Kappa

The Phi Sigma Kappa Creed

In the firm conviction that my Fraternity demands of me a life of Faith and Purpose

I hereby solemnly declare My Faith in the wisdom and love of God; in the dignity and worth of my fellowmen; in the strength and beauty of true Fraternity; in the history and future of my Country; and in the traditions and program of my Alma Mater.

Henceforward, therefore, it shall be My Purpose to remain forever true to this, my fraternity's faith in me and in turn to preserve and promote courageously and unselfishly the chosen ideals of our mutual affection and common endeavor.

To this end I dedicate My Life to the maintenance of this Faith and the pursuit of this Purpose so that the ideals of Phi Sigma Kappa, being embodied in me, may be fulfilled in my Character and Conduct, and be known and honored by all men.

By these things I stand.

The Phi Sigma Kappa Cardinal Principles

To Promote Brotherhood.

Justice, harmony, and brotherly love are essential to the spirit of fraternity. We promise to set an example of true brotherhood not only in our relations with each other, but in our association with people everywhere.

To Stimulate Scholarship.

Wisdom comes with learning. Complementing the mission of higher education, we seek to help our members to combine formal and informal learning experience; to more fully appreciate the importance of both theoretical and practical knowledge; and, by broadening their understanding of human relationships, to produce men of wisdom who will be better prepared to make positive contributions to society and all mankind.

To Develop Character.

Honor is the basis of fraternal relationships. We resolve to instill in each member a devotion to those values which will guide him to ends that are noble and right, so that in all that he represents and in all that he does, he shall be known as a man of honor who inspires others by his example and thus wins admiration and respect for himself and for Phi Sigma Kappa.

Emblems of Phi Sigma Kappa


The official flag is 5x7 feet in dimension and includes three horizontal bars of equal height. The bottom bar is red and symbolizes First and Second Degree members, the foundation of the fraternity. The middle bar is silver for Third and Fourth Degree members, indicative of the field of fraternal service. The Greek letters ΦΣΚ are located in the center of this bar. The top bar, also red, commemorates Fifth and Sixth Degree members, who are those of Grand Chapter recognition. The silver and red tumbling T's logo inscribed in a triangle of silver is located at the left end of the upper bar.


Membership in Phi Sigma Kappa is available to male students attending a college, university, technical institute, or community college with a Phi Sigma Kappa chapter provided the man is not a member of a nationally-recognized social collegiate fraternity. This opportunity extends not only to undergraduates but also faculty, graduate students, and former students. Membership is also possible at a chapter elsewhere than the man's place of higher education if that place lacks a chapter. Additionally, honorary membership is provided for in the Constitution and Bylaws of the Grand Chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa. Specific requirements for membership may vary between places of higher education and chapters but minimum requirements are nationally legislated. Membership in Phi Sigma Kappa can be dissolved only by death or expulsion.cite book
last = Phi Sigma Kappa
title = The Constitution and Bylaws of the Grand Chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa
publisher = Self-Published
date = 2007
url =

Degrees of Membership

*First Degree: members of undergraduate chapters
*Second Degree: members elected to symbolic offices
*Third Degree: alumni and those initiated as graduates, former students, faculty, or honorary members
*Fourth Degree: members appointed to an office by the Grand Council or Grand President
*Fifth Degree: members elected to the Grand Council
*Sixth Degree: members who have been elected Grand President

Local Chapter Executive Board Structure

Each chapter's executive board is composed of six officers according to the ritual of Phi Sigma Kappa:

*President - Presides over the entire chapter and other executive board members
*Vice President - Manages chapter committees
*Secretary - Records the minutes and handles correspondence
*Treasurer - Works with the chapter's finances
*Sentinel - Guards and presides over chapter rituals and also manages risk.
*Inductor - Presides over the current class of associates

Other Officers & Committee Chairman

Depending on their specific size and needs, many chapters have a number of chairmen assigned to a variety of tasks. The specific titles, duties, and organization of these chairmen are suggested by the Grand Chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa, but are not regulated and differ greatly between chapters.

Notable Brothers



ee also

*Phi Sigma Epsilon
*Phi Tau, former Tau chapter at Dartmouth College

External links

* [ Phi Sigma Kappa National Website]
* [ Phi Sigma Kappa, Rho Deuteron Chapter Papers at Gettysburg College]

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