Sigma Phi has been one of the strongest influences in my life. Hardly a day goes by when I don't recall and use at least one lesson or experience from Sigma Phi in some aspect of my life. Whether it's running my business or interacting with people of diverse backgrounds and interests, I can point to specific experiences at Sigma Phi that influence much of how I think, what I say, and what I do. It is because of those experiences that I have stayed so involved with the organization over the years to ensure, just like others did for me, that future generations of young men are able to learn and grow to be engaged contributors to their families, their careers and society.
Marshall Solem F'79, Chairman
Established in 1827, 182 years have passed since our founders built a Society based on the values of Friendship, Love and Truth. It is unlikely they could have imagined that Sigma Phi would have such longevity, impacting the lives of young men through the decades and into the 21st century.
Almost two centuries later would they recognize modern day Sigma Phi? Would the ideals and values they articulated still be evident? Would their desires for the Society's future be realized?
"Though the picture is different, the frame remains the same.”
Today's picture of Sigma Phi is one which offers many of the same rich opportunities for today's undergraduates. Whether it is the arts, sports, student government, or other student endeavors, Sigma Phi still provides and cultivates leadership in many higher education environments.
Approaching nearly two centuries of illustrious history, we are dedicated to our charge of perpetuating the values and ensuring the existence of Sigma Phi for future generations.
The Sigma Phi Legacy
Sigma Phi Society is a valued and vital influence on the lives of our active members. The rich experiences offered through unique leadership opportunities, along with our caring, involved alumni, serve as the underpinnings of Sigma Phi tradition.
Sigma Phi has shaped the collegiate experience for thousands of alumni, providing an education not found in the classroom. Leadership, compromise, tolerance, and commitment were all tenets advanced in Sigma Phi. Whether in careers, community, or family life, the Sig experience served to make each of us more prepared for life.
Realizing that our existence relies upon the relationship of Sigma Phi to our host institutions, Sig undergraduates and alumni hold leadership positions on many of our campuses. As it has been from the start, Sig influence pervades all aspects of college life. Our commitment of volunteer and financial support of our alma maters is a proud and continuing legacy of Sigma Phi.
In diversity lies strength. Our members have diverse academic interests, extracurricular pursuits, social and political views, home states and countries. But we all share the common bond of the Sigma Phi experience. In this environment upper classmen benefit from the enthusiasm of new brothers, while passing down to the neophytes the traditions, ritual and values which we hold dear.
"to have built oneself into the structure of an
undying institution, to have aided in the development
of a priceless possession of civilization, is to have lived
not in vain but in perpetuity.” Elihu Root H'1860
Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities states that: "While each fraternity claims for itself that its alumni are more than unusually loyal, yet each would probably be glad to see an increase in the strength of the tie that unites its graduate and undergraduate members and Sigma Phi is really entitled to preeminence in this respect.”
This "preeminence” is clearly evident throughout our history. Francis Stuart Viele G'1885 embraced this characteristic when he realized there would be a need to preserve and maintain scholarship within the Society. His loyal and loving endowment set the stage for the Viele Scholarship and the Scholars in Residence Program. These programs continue to provide much needed financial support for our active members' educational pursuits.
Oliver Hewlett Hicks V'1869, enriched the Society by initiating the "Hicks Oratorical” oratory contest which is a regular highlight of annual national Conventions. By his efforts, Hicks ensured that public speaking and the art of oratory would never cease to be part of our legacy. The lively, creative, and entertaining speeches prepared and delivered by actives are always eagerly anticipated and enjoyed.
Sigma Phi has a long and storied history of loyal alumni perpetuating the existence of the Society by contributing in their own unique ways. These acts of loyalty come from alumni corporations, the Standing & Advisory Committee, undergraduates and countless others who have steered us through our history. The common, defining values perpetuating this loyalty have sustained us from 1827 and will serve to preserve our beloved organization far into the future. Drawing upon our core values to guide Sigma Phi in all endeavors will keep the Society a relevant part of collegiate life.
"There is nothing so constant as change.”
Although the Society has experienced and adapted to change throughout the years, the challenges of change abound now as never before. Social scientists say college students have experienced greater change over the last 10 years than in the previous 150 years.
As the student population has changed, so too have our peer Greek organizations. Most have either adapted to the new dynamics, or are in the process of refining their operations and menu of services provided for new 21st century students. In order for Sigma Phi to remain relevant and competitive, we must do the same – and better.
Who are the stakeholders and what do they want?
Parents, our alumni corporations, our undergraduate members, our National insurance carrier, and our host institutions are all stakeholders in Sigma Phi. Societal changes, the legal climate, and the needs of our students have required Sigma Phi to adopt a new paradigm in the hopes that we may continue to provide the very best undergraduate experience for our members.
All of Sigma Phi's stakeholders demand enhanced risk management education. Parents expect their sons to be housed in a safe environment, and insurance carriers want to mitigate or eliminate losses by recognizing and abating hazards which are common to the undergraduate experience.
Our alumni corporations and the undergraduates want and need to be able to recruit the best new members to ensure that our chapters are financially viable, and that our chapters are cultivating the next generation of Sig brothers. Today's college students are savvy consumers, and if high value services are not on offer from Sigma Phi, they will not join our ranks.
The greatest change we have witnessed among our stakeholders comes from our host institutions. Their interaction with Greek organizations and their requirements for us to remain relevant for today's "Millennial Generation” student has clarified Sigma Phi's need to embrace and effect these changes. Our institutions are supportive of Greek life, but only if fraternities are offering programming and opportunities that complement the educational mission of the institution. All of our host colleges and universities expect strong alumni advising and a National organization that provides outstanding programming and support.
Values & Programming
Sigma Phi is a society of principles and values. By embracing our core principles of Friendship, Love and Truth and the values these principles imply, Sigma Phi has always been a society of leaders. Our alumni rolls read like a Who's Who in the fields of law, military, politics, the clergy, education, etc. On campus it is our charge to be
leaders, cultivate the intellect, and develop personal character.
Where our traditional principles and values intersect with the 21st century expectations of students, parents and college officials, there must be a congruence which embraces new operational and programmatic standards. These standards are being developed at the Standing & Advisory Committee with input from our alumni corporations and active members. Perpetuating our values and maintaining Sigma Phi's relevance and vitality are our goals.
The Renaissance Program
As the board of directors of Sigma Phi, it is the Standing & Advisory Committee's responsibility to its alumni and undergraduate members to act in the best interests of the Society. Maintaining relevance and embracing the needs of our stakeholders while adhering to our values will be our challenge. The Renaissance Program is designed to meet this challenge by working with our alumni corporations to implement the measures which will meet our stakeholder expectations.
Renaissance is comprised of three main components:
1. Enhancing alumni and undergraduate programming
2. Developing a National Housing Board
3. Establishing a modern fundraising program
The Standing & Advisory Committee will develop, support, and coordinate programming for leadership development, risk management, recruitment, and career development. By developing strong leaders and teaching strategic planning skills, our chapters will be better managed. Risk management programming will emphasize our policies, and address 21st century issues such as substance abuse, hazing, mental health, and sexual assault prevention. The recruitment programming will emphasize the utilization of year-round, dynamic, values-based recruitment, with the goal of finding the best men on campus. Each chapter will have a separate advisor chosen by that chapter to work with its undergraduate
members on each programming aspect.
The National Housing Board
A board of alumni members with expertise in construction, property management and finance will be established and will meet regularly to advise our chapters on the management of our housing stock. This board will also provide valuable input and advice when the need arises for the Society to purchase housing for our new chapters.
In order to implement the Renaissance program and support these programs financially, a new emphasis is being placed on fundraising. The Renaissance campaign for Sigma Phi will be an ongoing effort to fund the educational aspects of the Renaissance Program. It will also enable Sigma Phi to create and establish endowments for other needs of the Society. The generous gifts realized by this campaign will allow the Society to proactively enhance the undergraduate experience by making our chapters operate at the highest level.
"The future depends upon us…my brothers
it depends upon you.”
The campaign for Renaissance will change the face of Sigma Phi as we push the Society forward into new millennia. The campaign challenges all of our alumni not only to give now out of nostalgia and gratitude, but it also challenges these same alumni to consider a multi-year investment in our future to ensure that the rich college experience we cherished will be available and affordable for future generations. With the generous and caring participation of all of our alumni, each to the extent of his abilities, this campaign will preserve and advance our traditions now and into the future.
Sigma Phi Society was founded in 1827 only 50 years after the founding of our great country. For all Sigs, dedication to family, college and country – which dedication was strengthened by our learning of and living by the Sigma Phi principles of Friendship, Love and Truth – compels us all to support the campaign. Supporting the Campaign for Renaissance will fulfill our present responsibility and create the kind of enduring legacy from which we have all benefited.