History of Phi Sigma Phi

Phi Sigma Phi National Fraternity founded 1988

The history of Phi Sigma Phi begins not so much with an actual date, but rather with the evolution of ideals and dedication to independence and freedom of choice. On July 30, 1988, in South Bend, Indiana, Phi Sigma Phi National Fraternity was formally organized to serve as a national organization, uniting college men who wished to share in the spirit of true friendship and brotherhood. Years of fraternity experience and know-how laid the foundation of this new national fraternity.

The Founding Seven

The group of alumni and undergraduate college men who were the driving force behind the formation of Phi Sigma Phi were alumni and former chapter members of Phi Sigma Epsilon who elected not to participate in a merger between Phi Sigma Epsilon and Phi Sigma Kappa in 1985. Seven chapters and select alumni supported this new and independent organization. The undergraduate chapters which became “The Founding Seven” of Phi Sigma Phi were: Lambda Chapter, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan; Omega Chapter, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin; Phi Beta Chapter, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Phi Iota Chapter, Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin; Phi Kappa Chapter, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, West Virginia; Phi Mu Chapter, Concord College, Athens, West Virginia; and Sigma Zeta Chapter, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, River Falls, Wisconsin.

Leadership and Survival

Leading this small group of chapters into the formation of a new national fraternity were former Phi Sigma Epsilon alumni who were elected to serve as Phi Sigma Phi’s first National Council: Harry Parker (National President), Mark Helling (National Vice-President), Rick Facemire (National Vice-President), Dan Foster (National Vice-President), and George Perry (National Vice-President). David Prueher (Regional Director), John Lecco, and Ken Siverling (Chapter Consultants) also served as members of the National Staff. In addition, long time supporters and former Phi Sigma Epsilon National Presidents Dean Rockwell (1950-1958) and John Sandwell (1978-1984) added their advice and experience to all areas of Phi Sigma Phi’s new operations.

Although there was strong support for this new fraternity from many campuses and alumni, the first years of Phi Sigma Phi’s existence were difficult. During the years of 1988 through 1990, the National Fraternity struggled for survival, and expansion was nonexistent. Establishing new national programs, publications, visitations, and a new financial program were top priorities and took most of the new National Fraternity’s energy and efforts.

National Determination and Support

The dawn of the 1990′s saw Phi Sigma Phi settle into its position as that of a strong and determined new national fraternity. The National Council and Staff of Phi Sigma Phi were determined to chart a course for this new national fraternity where the emphasis was on superior service and support for the membership. The initial turmoil of the late 1980′s gradually settled, and the desire and drive for expansion was put into action.

The first new colony of Phi Sigma Phi was founded at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. In 1989, a Lambda Chapter brother transferred from EMU to MSU, and began a colony. This colony was formally chartered as Epsilon Alpha Chapter by the National Council of Phi Sigma Phi on March 2, 1991. Forty-three brothers became the first new chapter initiates into the new National Fraternity. On November 18, 1995, the Xi Chapter at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, was chartered and became the ninth chapter of Phi Sigma Phi. In 1996, Epsilon Beta Chapter, at Wright State University in Dayton/Fairborn, Ohio joined. Epsilon Delta Chapter, at Bluefield State University in Bluefield, West Virginia became the fourth new chapter in April, 1998.

In 1997, Phi Sigma Phi was officially recognized as the 66th member fraternity of the National (now North-American) Interfraternity Conference (NIC).

A Different Experience

In 2004, Phi Sigma Phi found new strength when it gained a colony at York College in York, PA. The new colony, dubbed Sigma Epsilon Colony, was a welcome addition to the Fraternity. After under a year as a colony in Phi Sigma Phi, Sigma Epsilon was chartered as a chapter of on March 19, 2005.

The former Phi Sigma Epsilon chapters and alumni believed in a unique and different fraternity experience. Their dedication and vision live today in Phi Sigma Phi brothers who perpetuate our great National Fraternity!

The Legend of the Phoenix

This magical, mythical bird has long been a part of legends and lore, dating back to the ancient civilizations. In today’s culture, the phoenix’s legend is still going strong, with a major city in the United States named after the resurrecting beast and popular books and movies, including the phenomenally successful “Harry Potter” series encompassing the bird into characters and plots.

Since the story has come down to us through the oral tradition, there is no single version of it. It varies from teller to teller – each adding something of their own and changing tiny aspects of it. How the story originated in the first place is also widely debated. It’s impossible to put down a specific place or time to its origin. Over the centuries not only the story has changed, but also the origination of the story.

Nonetheless, the main facts of the legend of the Phoenix remain intact, even though the myth has been adulterated. According to the legend, the Phoenix is a supernatural creature that has an incredibly long life span, stretching to at least a thousand years. It cannot fall sick or get injured at any point in its lifetime. However, some believe that it does get affected by disease or drought, which leads it to prematurely enter the next phase of its life.

The phoenix continues to live for a hundred years, or could succumb to an injury or disease. At this juncture in its lifespan, it gathers twigs, braches and woods not to create a nest, but an ancient funeral pyre. This pyre was used in ancient cultures to dispose of the dead, and some cultures continue the practice even today. In some cultures, personal artifacts are also burned with the dead body and some require that the spouses burn themselves at the pyre of their mate.

After the pyre has been built, the phoenix ignites and begins to burn. This part of the story has changed and some believe the bird does not need to gather items to create a pyre, but rather self ignites and the flames burn without any fuel. The alteration to the story is not the only one, as there is great debate what happens after the bird is burned.

The traditional story goes that the phoenix ignites himself, burns to ash, and then rises again from the ashes to live another thousand years. This triumph over adversity has caused the bird to become the mascot or symbol of many groups and organizations. Once the bird is born from ashes, the cycle begins anew.

Another version of the story is that before the fire consumes the bird, it lays an egg, which hatches a new phoenix. This phoenix will live to be a thousand years old before having an offspring in the same method, thus continuing the life cycle of the bird. There is no way of ascertaining which version of the story is true, but all of them express the same theme: the triumph over adversity.

No one knows how this story began in the first place. Some believe that a story was created around a fire-colored bird that was captured long ago, while others say the phoenix was actually a raven that used to dance in the embers of a dying fire.