Our History

How did we get here?

Sigma Phi Epsilon was founded in 1901 on the campus of Richmond College (now called the University of Richmond) in Richmond, Va. The story of its founding by 12 determined men set the stage for the growth and success of one of the country’s premier fraternal organizations. The history of the Fraternity reflects the times, through great wars and profound cultural shifts. Throughout the decades, the men of Sigma Phi Epsilon have practiced their values and embraced the stated desire of the Founders, “This Fraternity will be different.”


SigEp Flag

Today, the University of Richmond campus features the Sigma Phi Epsilon Founders Walk, a path in the center of campus that honors the 12 men who started what would become one of the nation’s largest fraternities.

Facts & Firsts

  • » SigEp was founded on November 1, 1901, at Richmond College.
  • » Over the past two decades, SigEp has recruited more men than any other collegiate fraternity.
  • » Currently, over 15,000 undergraduates are SigEps, more than any other national fraternity.
  • » Over 300,000 lifetime members ranks SigEp among the largest national fraternities.
  • » SigEp maintains a full-time professional staff of over 35 people.
  • » The SigEp Journal has been published continuously since 1904, and is distributed to all members for life.
  • » SigEp hosts the largest biennial convention in the fraternity world: the Grand Chapter Conclave.
  • » SigEp was the first national fraternity to establish a housing trust for all chapters and create a National Housing Corporation.
  • » Sigma Phi Epsilon has the greatest number of fraternity houses, with over 200 chapter homes. Of those, over 115 are owned by local SigEp Alumni and Volunteer Corporations.
  • » The Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation was the first fraternity foundation to build an endowment greater than $11 million.

Carter Ashton Jenkens, Benjamin Gaw, William Carter, William Wallace, Thomas Wright, and William Phillips decided to form their own local fraternity in 1901.


Fifth SigEp Conclave

The six original members found six others also searching for a campus fellowship neither the college campus nor the existing fraternity system could offer. The six new members were Lucian Cox, Richard Owens, Edgar Allen, Robert McFarland, Franklin Kerfoot, and Thomas McCaul.

The 12 met on the third floor of Ryland Hall on campus of what is now known as the University of Richmond, in Richmond, Virginia. These 12 Founders are named as members on November 1, 1901, in the first printed roster of the Fraternity.

Fast-forward to the late 1980s. The fraternity system in America was in decline – from membership totals, to academic performance and public image. Values were fading and negative stereotypes began running rampant. SigEp was the largest fraternity in the nation and used that status to pioneer a new beginning for all fraternities. We set a course to restore the relevance of the American college fraternity. We sought to reconsider the challenge of “This Fraternity will be different…”

SigEp Develops the Balanced Man Program

SigEp Develops the Balanced Man Program

That course traced back to the classical Greek ideal of the Balanced Man – Sound Mind and Sound Body. SigEp undertook a mission to create a continuous development program known as the Balanced Man Program. This development model revolutionized the fraternity movement in America. It has since been implemented in 200 SigEp chapters nationwide, and aspects have been emulated by there national Greek organizations.







SigEp’s bold initiatives have given our undergraduates a blueprint to live their best lives and achieve their goals. Our program build the confidence to lead – now and in the future. We achieve balance through the pursuit of a Sound Mind in a Sound Body. We foster personal growth through SigEp’s member development programs. We do all this as a valued partner in higher education and a pioneer in the development of college men across America.