The Founding of Sigma Chi
The fundamental purpose of the Sigma Chi Fraternity is to cultivate an appreciation of and commitment to the ideals of friendship, justice and learning. These ideals and objectives have been at the heart of Sigma Chi since its founding by seven men at Miami University of Oxford, Ohio on June 28, 1855.
These seven men believed that the principles they professed were imperfectly realized in other fraternal organizations. Their vision of Sigma Chi was based upon the notion of shared ideals, they believed that true brotherhood would thrive best among men of different temperaments, talents and convictions.
These guiding principles, unchanged for almost 150 years, continue to define the essence of Sigma Chi.
The History of our Chapter at the University of Maryland
The Sigma Chi Chapter at the University of Maryland was installed on May 16, 1942. The new chapter was designated as Gamma Chi. This was the 100th undergraduate chapter installed by Sigma Chi.
Sigma Chi started at the University of Maryland as the Sigma Phi Sigma fraternity in 1916. The first fraternities and sororities were established at the University in 1914.
The Maryland Sigma Phi Sigma Chapter in the 1930s disaffiliated from their national organization and reverted to an independent local fraternity by the name of Iota Sigma Fraternity. The Iota Sigma local fraternity built the Chapter House at 4600 Norwich Road in 1939. Iota Sigma became a Sigma Chi Chapter shortly after the outbreak of World War II in May of 1942. The design and layout of the original Sigma Chi Chapter House was used by prominent architect and Sigma Chi ’51 alum Hugh Jacobsen, when he was commissioned to design Fraternity Row and the 14 Chapter Houses in the early 1960s.
During the war, most of the Active Brothers joined the military, as did millions of young men at that time. As a result, the Sigma Chi Chapter House was rented to the Delta Phi Epsilon (DPhiE) Sorority, as their Chapter House for a time, during the war years.
The Chapter was a prominent fraternity on campus during the post-war years, the 50s, and the 60s. The majority of our Alumni in the University’s Alumni Association Hall of Fame, Athletic Hall of Fame, and Centennial Honor Roll, as well as Sigma Chi’s Order of Constantine and Significant Sigs were Actives in the 50s and 60s.
The Chapter House on Norwich Road was expanded in the mid-60s and the White Cross was installed on the lawn in front of the Chapter House in the mid-60s as well.
The Chapter during the 1970s and 1980s was an intramural sports dynasty. Sigma Chi won the Inter-Fraternity Intramurals Championship every year but two during those two decades.
Sigma Chi initiated the Peterson Award in 1963 to recognize overall excellence in Chapter operations. The Chapter won the coveted Peterson Award four out of five consecutive years between 1972 and 1977. Moreover, the Chapter won 5 consecutive Peterson Awards between 1981 and 1986.
The Chapter won in 1996-97 both the Peterson Award, as well as the Presidents Cup. The Presidents Cup is awarded by the University to the most outstanding fraternity on campus. The Presidents Cup award began in 1996.
The Chapter lost their Sigma Chi charter in 2001 after being on campus for nearly 60 years. The Chapter House on 4600 Norwich Road was vacant after early 2002. The House structure rapidly deteriorated during these years and took on all the characteristics of an abandoned urban building.
The Chapter successfully recolonized in the spring of 2008. The Chapter was granted a charter again by Sigma Chi on September 27, 2009. The Chapter Alumni decided to pursue an on-campus Fraternity House given the estimated multiple million dollar cost of renovating the Norwich Road property and bringing it up to current building codes. The Chapter moved into #14 Fraternity Row in August 2010. The Norwich Road property was sold to the University in 2015 and the old House was razed as a part of the sale. The White Cross was moved from 4600 Norwich Road to the front of the current Chapter House in January 2015.
The proceeds from the sale of the Norwich Road property along with a large bequest from the estate of Brother Jack Stringer ’57 have endowed the Gamma Chi Education Foundation. The Foundation creates and oversees initiatives with the Chapter to reward and promote academic excellence.
The Chapter post-recolonization quickly has reestablished Sigma Chi as an outstanding campus organization. The Chapter won the Peterson Award four out of five years between 2010 and 2015 and again in 2019. Moreover, the Chapter won the Peterson Award, as well as the Presidents Cup in 2019 for the third time in the same year!
The Chapter celebrated its 75th Anniversary the weekend of May 19-20, 2017 and over 200 alumni attended the weekend events.
Gamma Chi also won the Peterson Award in 2021-22.
A Look Back at the First 75 Years of Gamma Chi
In 2017, Gamma Chi Chapter celebrated their 75th anniversary. In honor of the milestone anniversary, this video was created to document our first 75 years.