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Sigma Tau Gamma

Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity (ΣTΓ) also called "Sig Tau" is a U.S. college social fraternity founded on June 28, 1920 at University of Central Missouri (then known as Central Missouri State Teachers College). The fraternity was born out of the desires and aspirations of seventeen men in the belief that all men are social creatures and that friendships of college men are lasting ones. It rose as a result of friendships made while in the service of their country during World War I in France. By dedicating themselves to the highest ideals of manhood, brotherhood and citizenship, they would inspire thousands of men from all parts of the country who would follow in their footsteps.[1]

In accordance with the founding of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity at Central Missouri State Teachers College, the fraternity created new chapters on the campuses surrounding teachers colleges (at the time also called "normal schools"). Since the fraternity's beginnings in 1920, they have since spread to more than 140 university campuses across the United States.[2]

Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity is an active member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference.[3]


Four of the Founders; Emmett Ellis, Leland Thornton Hoback, Edward George Grannert, and William Glenn Parsons, had enlisted and served their country together during the First World War in France. Parsons commented that in founding the Fraternity they wanted to sustain a "sense of service, responsibility and affection for their companions." These four, together with Allen Ross Nieman, Edward Henry McCune, Carl Nelson Chapman, Buell Wright McDaniel, George Eugene Hartrick, A. Barney Cott, Chiles Edward Hoffman, Rodney Edward Herndon, William Edward Billings, Clarence Willard Salter, Frank H. Gorman, Alpheus Oliphant Fisher, and Daniel Frank Fisher, were the 17 founders of the Fraternity.[4]

When they returned to school in the summer of 1920, the Normal School they knew had been elevated by the Missouri legislature to a 4-year college granting bachelor's degrees.

Several of the founders were members of the Irving Literary Society, but they wanted to cut across the boundaries of this and other literary societies to form their new fraternity. They wanted the most desirable men from each to join. On the morning of June 28, 1920, "at an unusually early hour" according to the original minutes, a list containing the names of about thirty men was posted on the college bulletin board by Emmett Ellis with a request to meet that afternoon for what was, to them, an unknown purpose.[1]

According to the minutes, "the notice had the proper effect and, as requested, there appeared a goodly number of men to learn what was in store for them." Founder Nieman, who had become familiar with fraternities while attending William Jewell College, was the principal organizer of the meeting. He explained the purpose of the meeting and told them what such an organization could mean to the men of the college. The men elected Leland Hoback temporary chairman and Emmett Ellis temporary secretary. They agreed to begin crafting the organization and adjourned until July 7, 1920.

The Founders were accompanied by Dr. Wilson C. Morris to present their petition to the faculty. Dr. Morris was a Sigma Nu in his college days and his influence was significant and the new Fraternity received recognition. Dr. Morris became the Fraternity's first honorary member and served the Alpha chapter at Central Missouri as patron, counselor, and advisor until his death in 1947.[5][6]

In the fall of 1920 a ceremony for initiation of new members was written and the chapter of 17 grew to 31 by its first anniversary in 1921. Founder Edward H. McCune recalled later that, "from the very beginning, Sigma Tau Gamma prospered, both in membership and service. Its challenge to students to live well and promote the spirit of brotherhood was continually being met by those who were seeking membership."[7]

Fraternity organization

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Ribbon Cutting at the opening of the new Alpha Psi chapter house at Pennsylvania State University.

College chapters

The principal unit in the organization of the Fraternity is the college chapter. Delegates from the college chapters comprise the major part of the Grand Chapter, having the ultimate authority and responsibility for the Fraternity.[8]

Alumni chapters

Alumni members living in a geographic area may organize an alumni chapter for the purpose of maintaining social ties with other members and continue their activity in the Fraternity. Alumni chapters are chartered by the Fraternity and send a delegate to the Grand Chapter. Unlike an alumni association, which includes alumni from a single college chapter, an alumni chapter includes alumni in a particular region, from any college chapter.[9]

Grand Chapter

Sigma Tau Gamma is organized into a Grand Chapter. The body of the Grand Chapter meets biennially and is the supreme legislative authority of the Fraternity. Representatives of the collegiate chapters, alumni chapters, alumni associations, members of the Board of Directors, past presidents of the Fraternity, and members of the Society of Seventeen are voting delegates of the Grand Chapter.

The Grand Chapter has the authority to legislate for the good of the Fraternity and to adopt and amend the Constitution and Laws. Through the acts voted upon at the Grand Chapter meeting, voting delegates determine the broad policies of the Fraternity.[8]

Board of Directors The Board of Directors is the governing body elected by the Grand Chapter, and is made up of the president, president-elect, four directors at large, and the two immediate past presidents.[8] An executive vice president is employed by the Board of Directors and is the chief executive officer. He directs the professional staff of the Sigma Tau Gamma Headquarters who in turn direct the efforts of volunteer staff that support the regions, advisors, and chapters of the Fraternity.[9]

The Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation exists to support the programs of the Fraternity. It is governed by an 18-member Board of Trustees that is elected by the Fraternity Board of Directors. The Executive Vice President of the Fraternity serves in a similar role for the Foundation.


All members of Sigma Tau Gamma fall into 1 of 3 classes according to Article 3 of the Constitution: Collegiate Members, Alumni Members, or Honorary Members. Any male student that is regularly enrolled in a college at which a collegiate chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma exists is eligible for membership, provided he is not a member of another North-American Interfraternity Conference fraternity.

Path of Principles

The Path of Principles is the lifelong member development program of Sigma Tau Gamma.

New collegiate members of the Fraternity are titled Associate Members. Associate members will organize themselves into a model chapter, with meetings, officers, events, and standards that parallel that of the full chapter. Using the first four weeks of membership as an opportunity to practice membership.

After the initial four weeks, associate members participate in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree of the Ritual of Initiation ("Initiation" for short) and are elevated to the status of Brother. At this time they become full members excepting one capacity- to hold appointed or elected office in a chapter. Newly initiated brothers may now attend and participate in chapter meetings, but for another four weeks they will also continue practicing good membership in the associate model chapter.

Eight total weeks having past, four as associates and four as brothers, the new members have sufficiently practiced membership to become fully capable members. The 4th Degree of the Ritual of Initiation (the "4th Degree" for short) is conducted and members are elevated to the level of "Leader", the first of 17 levels of the Path of Principles. Having attained the first level, the member may now wear a Ritual stole during appropriate ceremonies

For the remainder of his time as a college member, and throughout his life as an alumnus, a member of Sigma Tau Gamma continues his progress through the Path of Principles by attaining new levels. Titles are bestowed to members that continue quality, principle-based involvement in the Fraternity after reaching new levels. To advance 1 level, a member must complete tasks associated with each of the six principles. While in college, those tasks may include attaining a high grade point average or serving in a chapter office. As an alumnus, they may include advising a chapter or remaining involved with an alumni association.

Level Title Style Chevron Notes
1 Leader Brother - This level marks completion of the first 8 weeks of the Path of Principles.
2, 3 Pilot and Pilot Advanced Brother Pilot Azure
4, 5 Guide and Guide Advanced Brother Guide Yellow
6, 7 Senior and Senior Advanced Brother Senior Red Last title available to collegiate members.
8, 9 Advisor and Advisor Advanced Brother Advisor Grey First title available as an alumnus.
10, 11 Elder and Elder Advanced Brother Elder Blue
12, 13 Chief and Chief Advanced Brother Chief Bronze
14, 15 Commander and Commander Advanced Brother Commander Silver
16 Superior Brother Superior Gold
17 Society of the Seventeen Brother Superior - By election only.


Sigma Tau Gamma utilizes ceremonies, both public and private, to mark the progress of members through important milestones of membership. Ritualists wear the Sigma Tau Gamma Ritual stole during the ceremonies.

  • Association Ceremony This public ceremony, often referred to as "pinning" or "induction" in similar organizations, marks the first step in becoming a members of Sigma Tau Gamma.
  • Initiation Officially the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree of the Initiation Ceremony, this private ceremony is conducted at the fourth week mark and elevates associate members to the status of brother, allowing them all the rights of full membership excepting the authority to hold elected or appointed office in a chapter.
  • 4th Degree Officially the 4th Degree of the Initiation Ceremony, this public or private ceremony marks the completion of formal new member education after eight weeks. Participants are now fully capable members and are authorized to wear the Ritual stole.
  • Chain of Honor Ceremony This private ceremony conducted for graduating collegiate members marks their change to alumni membership.
  • Eternal Light Ceremony This public or private ceremony is conducted in honor of members that have died and marks their move to Chapter Eternal, the Fraternal resting place for all departed members.


The Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation, Inc. was organized December 10, 1966 and established as an educational foundation qualified as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity.[10]

The Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation awards scholarships for undergraduate and graduate study, primarily with restricted funding designated for particular chapters named Chapter Heritage Funds. Alumni Associations help administrate the disbursement of Chapter Heritage Funds.[11]

The Foundation is also particularly active in supporting citizenship and leadership development programs through the use of funding from the Chain of Honor Annual Fund.[12]

The Foundation also awards grants to help collegiate members participate in interfraternity leadership development programs such as UIFI (Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute) sponsored by the NIC.



In 1986, delegates to the Michael J. Steinbeck Grand Chapter in St. Louis, Missouri adopted BACCHUS (Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students) as Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity's official philanthropy.[13]

Dr. Gerardo M. Gonzalez, President and Founder of BACCHUS, was initiated as an honorary member of Alpha Chapter (University of Central Missouri) in 1982. He is an Honorary Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation Trustee.

Books For Kids

In 1994, under the leadership of past Foundation President, Ken Hoover, charitable project created by the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation that was created as a project that would tie the fraternity back to its educational heritage.

After two successful years, the Board of Directors decided that due to the tremendous success of the Books For Kids project, they would make it the national philanthropy of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity.

As of 2004, Books For Kids has donated over 28,000 books and $30,000 to the public libraries and school districts of the region selected to host the fraternity's annual National Convention.[13]

Special Olympics

On June 30, 2011, the Board of directors announced that Special Olympics is the new national philanthropy of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity.

Recognition and honors

Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity recognizes both individual and group achievement each year at the annual Awards Banquet held as the concluding event to the Grand Chapter (in even number years) and the Strategic Leadership Conference (held in odd number years).

Collegiate member awards

  • Ellsworth C. Dent Man of the Year Award was established in 1966 to honor the most outstanding undergraduate leaders in Sigma Tau Gamma. The award in named in honor of the charter member of Delta Chapter who served as National President for 10 years from 1927–36, the longest term in Fraternity history. Selection for the award is based on leadership, extracurricular activities and scholarship and scholastic service to both his university and chapter.[14]
  • Stan Musial/Eric Hillman Sportsman Award Named after the Hall of Fame baseball player and honorary Sigma Tau Gamma member Stan Musial along with sporting entrepreneur and member Eric Hillman, the Musial/Hillman Sportsmanship award is given to the undergraduate member who not only excels in intercollegiate athletics, but also is a leader in the classroom and community.[15]
  • Michael J. Steinbeck Fellowship Past president and member of the society of seventeen, Michael J. Steinbeck left a legacy of commitment and passion for Sigma Tau Gamma and its members. This fellowship is given to the individuals that best demonstrate this love for ones fellow brother as well as a dedication towards scholastic pursuits and an open embrace of their civic and social duties.[16]
  • Ronald Roskens Scholars The program recognizes all collegiate members that maintain a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) semester grade point average. This program is sponsored by the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation and is named in honor of the Fraternity's first educational advisor who served as National President from 1968-1970. De. Roskens is a 1953 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, where he was a member of the Alpha Eta chapter.[17]

Alumni member awards

  • Winebrenner Medal for Distinguished Fraternity Service The Winebrenner Medal recognizes distinguished service to Sigma Tau Gamma at a national level. The award is named for D. Kenneth Winebrenner, who served the Fraternity as our 3rd National President from 1936 to 1938, and Executive Secretary from 1938 to 1953.
  • Milsap Medal for Distinguished Foundation Service This award recognizes extraordinary service as an alumni leader of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation as exemplified by the Founder of the Wilson C. Morris Fellowship, Marvin Millsap, Alpha '26.
  • "Prof." Grubbs Distinguished Advisor Award Presented annually to the chapter advisor who is judged worthy by evidence of his longstanding and effective service. The award is named in honor of O.F. Grubbs, who served Epsilon Chapter as advisor for more than 40 years.
  • Distinguished Achievement Award Established in 1970 to honor annually an alumnus of the Fraternity who has achieved distinction in his chosen profession. In 2009, the award was given to Eric Hillman, CEO, Europa Sports. In 2008, the award was given to the Honorable Brad Ellsworth, Congressman from Indiana's 8th District.

Chapter awards

Chapter awards recognize those college chapters that exemplify the Principle of Excellence. Most chapter awards measure chapter performance during the academic year. This time period does not coincide with the term of the chapter executive board, as it is generally elected in November and takes office in December. Thus the awards are designed to assess a chapter, and not simply the quality of a particular set of officers. Most awards are not judged by a panel or committee. Rather, they are earned by McCune Metrics score achievement.[18]

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Collegiate members of the Gamma Chi chapter at Michigan Technological University stand in front of their chapter house.

  • Edward H. McCune Distinguished Chapter Award This award honors the chapters that are judged to have best exemplified the Principles of the Fraternity in all areas of operation. The award is named in honor of Founder Edward H. McCune, who served as national president from 1938-1943. To be eligible for the award, chapters must submit a presentation of their programs, activities and achievements for the preceding academic year using the McCune Metrics program packet.[19]
  • Earl A. Webb Most Improved Chapter Award This award is presented to the chapters that make the greatest improvement over the previous academic year in membership recruitment, management, member education and programs. The award is named in honor of Earl Webb of the Alpha chapter, a past president of both the Fraternity and the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation.[19]
  • Thomas M. Hutsell Chapter Efficiency Award The office of Executive Secretary (now Executive Vice President) was created in 1927 because the delegates to the Third Conclave realized that the Fraternity could not be sustained absent a central office with reliable records. In order to encourage chapters to submit their records and dues on time, Tom Hutsell, the first Executive Secretary, created the Chapter Efficiency Cup. It was the first chapter award in Sigma Tau Gamma. The Thomas Hutsell Chapter Efficiency Award carries on the tradition of the Chapter Efficiency Cup.[20]
  • Emmett Ellis Chapter Scholarship Award Dr. Emmett Ellis was a mathematics professor, and perhaps the greatest scholar among the extraordinary scholars that comprised the Founders. He recruited Dr. Wilson C. Morris, professor of physics, to be the Sponsor of the Founders (the first chapter advisor). At the time, Morris was the unequalled intellect among the faculty at their campus. Ellis believed that a true college fraternity man must be an intellectual as well as a social creature. This award recognizes chapters that achieve intellectual excellence.[21]
  • W.T. Hembree Chapter Leadership Award This is one of the newest of the chapter awards but it recognizes the oldest of our traditions. The founders of virtually every chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma were first campus leaders. Many chapters continue the tradition. It is expected, when visiting a chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma to find among its members the president of the student government association, chairman of the student activities board and even the student representative to the university governing board. This award is named in honor of the Sigma Tau Gamma leader whose more than 50 years record of service is so significant that his name means Sigma Tau Gamma leadership, W. T. (Bill) Hembree.[22]
  • Robert Nagel Jones Charitable Projects Award Anyone who knew Rob Jones knew about unselfish service. Our ninth national president was a highly skilled attorney who never hesitated to donate the considerable value of his knowledge and wisdom to Sigma Tau Gamma. With that wisdom, and vision to accompany it, he created the founding documents for the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation, Inc. This award recognizes the chapters of Sigma Tau Gamma that exemplify the Rob Jones spirit of giving – the Principle of Benefit.[23]
  • Christopher J. Mauer Man-Mile Award The Christopher J. Mauer Man-Mile Award is one of the only chapter awards that is not determined by the McCune metrics. Rather, the award recipient is determined by multiplying the number of undergraduate members registered and participating in a national meeting with the number of miles from the chapter's campus to the meeting location.
    The Man-Mile award has been given for at least 40 years, but it has never been named. On June 9, 2008, the Fraternity Board of Directors voted to name it in honor of Past President Chris Mauer.[24]

Other recognition

  • Wilson C. Morris Fellowship The Fellowship recognizes major donors to the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation and is named in honor of Wilson C. Morris, Ph.D., a highly respected physics professor who was the first faculty sponsor to the Founders of Sigma Tau Gamma. A Wilson C. Morris Fellow is honored with a medallion and scroll and may use the initials WCMF after his name, in Sigma Tau Gamma correspondence.
    Collegiate members are able to become members of the Fellowship and support the Foundation through the Collegiate Sustaining Member program. To qualify, a collegiate member must make a $1000 pledge to the Foundation and an initial payment of $100. The pledge must be fulfilled within 10 years. Participants may style their name with "CSM" until completing the pledge, at which time they become Wilson C. Morris Fellows.[25]
  • W. T. Hembree Guild The W. T. Hembree Guild is named for Bill Hembree, 12th National President of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity and a past president of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation who chaired the first Foundation fund raising campaign. Hembree led the way by making the first major gift to the Foundation and by planning his own deferred estate gift to the Foundation. The W. T. Hembree Guild is an honorary society of brothers, spouses and friends of Sigma Tau Gamma who make a planned estate gift to the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation.
  • Society of the Seventeen An order of distinguished service to Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, the Society of Seventeen was established in 1980 at the 29th Anniversary Grand Chapter in Kansas City. The Society of Seventeen commemorates the number of founders by limiting the membership to 17 living persons. It recognizes continuous and distinguished service and leadership to Sigma Tau Gamma.

Heritage and literature

The Saga

The official magazine of the fraternity, The Saga of Sigma Tau Gamma, is published quarterly by the fraternity. Members are entitled to a lifetime subscription, which provides an important membership link for alumni of the fraternity.


To enhance the worth of belonging
To afford the environment for learning
To develop good leaders for America
To strive for superior performance
To serve Fraternity, college, country
To perfect a structure of honor



From Article 1 of the Fraternity Constitution:

The Purpose of this Fraternity shall be to promote the welfare of its members as provided in this Constitution, and the Laws of the Fraternity, which are based upon it. It shall endeavor to promote the highest ideals of manhood, brotherhood and citizenship according to the Principles of the Fraternity. it shall uphold the tradition and ideals of the institutions in which its collegiate members are students.

Notable alumni


  1. ^


  • Bernier, William P. "A Chain of Honor". Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, Inc., 2004
  • Dinsmore, Keith C. Teacher Immortal: The Enduring Influence of Wilson C. Morris. Warrensburg, Missouri: Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation, Inc., 1984.

See also

External links

  • Sigma Tau Gamma homepage

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