Founding Fathers

Phi Sigma Kappa

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. 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. They banded together in 1873 to form a "society to promote morality, learning and social culture."

Phi Sigma Kappa Founders

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,".

Phi Sigma Kappa Epsilon

Then came the real birth of Phi Sigma Epsilon, for it was during a cold Kansas evening, on February 20, 1910, that the Constitution and Bylaws were adopted. This eventful meeting took place after dinner at the Ed Leisch home at 810 Constitution Street in Fred Thompson's room. In the words of Orin M. Rhine, "This was the first of the Fraternity. We had completed the Ritual that afternoon and the first Phi Sigma Epsilon man was Fred M. Thompson." He was followed by Raymond Victor Bottomly, Robert C. Marley, W. Roy "Drommie" Campbell, Orin M. Rhine, W. Ingram Forde, and Humphrey Jones. Phi Sigma Epsilon elected Fred Thompson and its first President; Raymond Victor Bottomly, Vice President and Treasurer; Robert C. Marley, Secretary and Scribe; and W. Roy Campbell Sergeant-at-Arms. Professor Buelich, Head of the Music Department, was chosen as sponsor. That spring, Phi Sigma Epsilon sponsored its first fraternity dance in an upstairs hall at the northeast corner of Merchant and Sixth in Emporia. During that infant year, membership grew to a total of thirteen.

Phi Sigma Epsilon Founders

The early years of Phi Sigma Epsilon were stormy ones for there was much opposition to secret societies, and the fraternity had to exist as an underground organization until 1912. Phi Sigma Epsilon was considered an outlaw organization and frowned upon by many of the college autorities and citizens. However, the fraternity's willingness to cooperate, and its program of scholastic and social improvements, soon won support and admiration. Finally, in 1913, Phi Sigma Epsilon was officially recognized on campus, and Prof. C. R. Phipps became the sponsor. It is noteworthy, however, that even then, feelings against the fraternity were so strong that Professor Phipps was dropped from the membership of the Y.M.C.A.

The Merger

In 1984, National President James Whitfield was approached by Grand President Anthony Fusaro of Phi Sigma Kappa with a suggestion that the two fraternities consider the possibility of a merger. The negotiations which followed resulted in the joining of the two fraternities at the 50th General Convention of Phi Sigma Kappa in Washington, D.C. on August 14, 1985.