June 28th - July 4th

June 28, 1855

Sigma Phi is founded at Miami University when six members split from the Kappa Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon to found what later became Sigma Chi.  A dispute had arisen between the twelve members of Kappa Chapter who were equally divided about the support for the poet for the Erodelphian Literary Society.  A number of the members of the Chapter were members of that Society and a member of the Fraternity was nominated for the position of poet.  He was supported by five of his Brothers but four others (Brothers Caldwell, Jordan, Runkle and Scobey) felt that their brother lacked the required poetic talent.  These four chose to give their support to a man who was not a Deke. The matter came to a head in February 1855 when, in an attempt to seal the rift, Brother Runkle and his companions planned a dinner for their other Brothers.  Only Brother Whitelaw Reid from the Chapter arrived and brought with him Brother Minor Millikin (Kappa’54) who lived in nearby Hamilton, Ohio.  Brother Reid had advised Brother Millikin about his side of the dispute and it was clear that the two were present to lay down punishment on the four Brothers and by expelling Brothers Runkle and Scobey from the Fraternity.  At the announcement of the punishment, Brother Runkle stepped forward, pulled off his Deke pin and tossed it on the table, stating:  “I didn’t join this fraternity to be anyone’s tool.  And that, sir, is my answer!”  Brother Runkle then stomped out the door with the five brothers following him. One final Chapter meeting was held, but the Chapter remained divided six to six on the issue of expulsion.  The six dissenting men associated themselves with William Lewis Lockwood, a student from New York who had not joined a fraternity and, on the commencement date at Old Miami, the new fraternity was founded.  The theft of the Constitution, the Ritual, the Seals and other records of the new fraternity from the room of Mr. Lockwood in January 1856 necessitated the change of the name of the Fraternity to Sigma Chi.  In this regard, this action would have been forced upon the group any way as there was already a Sigma Phi society which had been founded on March 4, 1827 on the campus of Union College as part of the “Union Triad”, being the second oldest Greek fraternal organization in the United States and the oldest in continuous existence.  In the publication, “The Miami Years, 1809-1969”, Walter Havighurst writes:

“... the trivial question of electing a poet for the Erodelphian Society divided the Dekes right down the middle, six on one side and six on the other.  The leader of the loyal six was Whitelaw Reid of Xenia, Ohio – destined for fame as a Civil War correspondent, newspaper editor, and diplomat.  Leader of the opposition was Benjamin Piatt Runkle, who would become a Civil War general, newspaper editor, and clergyman.  A final strained meeting of the twelve members was held in February 1855, in Reid’s room in present Stoddard Hall.  Four months later, meeting in Ben Runkle’s room over a drugstore in the village square, the six rebels formed the Sigma Chi Fraternity – at first named Sigma Phi.  By this time, it was an accepted idea that a fraternity should spread.  Said the Sigma Chi Constitution, drafted by Ben Runkle at his student’s desk:  “The Fraternity shall consist of Chapters which may be established in such places as the Fraternity may deem fit.”

Initially, the Coat of Arms of Sigma Chi contained many of the symbols of Delta Kappa Epsilon including two hearts linked by a chain, a scroll, and an eye looking out over two hands clenched in secrecy.  That Coat of Arms which is pictured above was subsequently replaced.

June 29, 1906

An act was passed providing for the establishment of the Grand Canyon Game Preserve of Arizona which now comprises 1,492,928 acres of land.  The act was passed at the instigation of President Theodore Roosevelt (Alpha-Harvard University) who first went riding in the Grand Canyon on May 6, 1903.

June 29, 1906

President Theodore Roosevelt (Alpha-Harvard University) signed Congressional Bill No. 353, setting aside Mesa Verde in Colorado as a National Park.  This Park features some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the world.  In the words of Brother Roosevelt, it will “preserve the works of man”.  The Park occupies 81.4 square miles near the Four Corners area and contains over 4,000 archeologist sites and over 600 cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people at the site.  The Park is a United States National Park as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

June 29, 1915 at 2:00 p.m.

The “Deke Convention Special” Train left from Grand Central Terminal Station in New York on a “Transcontinental Tour” to the 69th Annual Stated Convention of the Fraternity to be held in San Francisco.  After leaving New York, the Train made stops in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Toledo before  arriving  in Chicago on June 30 at 5 p.m.  On arrival in Chicago, the entire party left by automobiles for the Deke House where they were entertained by the Northwestern Alumni Association at dinner, followed by a theater party.  At 11:30 p.m., the train left Chicago for Kansas City where a delegation from St. Louis joined the Tour.  The Train arrived in Denver on July 2 at 10 a.m. and the entire day was spent in Denver where a local Alumni “in that far-famed mountain city” showed the delegates “the interesting sites of their town” and entertained the delegates at the theater.  A picnic was also arranged at the site of the University of Colorado.  On July 3, the Train arrived at Colorado Springs where the delegates visited Manitou Springs and floated the Deke flag from the top of Pike’s Peak.  Leaving from Colorado Springs at 7 p.m., the delegates arrived in Albuquerque at 11:20 a.m. on July 4 where a short stop was made so that “all may see the real Hopi Indians, a visit to Harvey’s Museum in this typical Spanish-American city”.  July 5 was then spent at the Grand Canyon.  This description of the activities: “Immediately upon our arrival here, we start on a trip down the Angel Trail on the backs of burros.  This will, indeed, be a novel treat to those from East who have never had the privilege of traveling on these diminutive mounts.”  The delegates stayed overnight at the El Tovar Hotel.  The delegates arrived in Los Angeles on July 6 where they were to attend “a typical California Smoker at the Washington Hotel”.  On July 7, the delegates left for San Diego in order to attend at the Panama-California Exposition.  Also included were trips to the City and the world-famous Coronado Beach.  After spending overnight at the U.S. Grant Hotel, the delegates left for Los Angeles where they stayed overnight.  On July 10, the delegates made a trip through the City to Pasadena where they went through “a large ostrich farm”.  They also went to the Maier Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley for “the annual Deke Barbecue”.  The day at the Maier Ranch was described as follows:  “absolute freedom prevails, and the athletic games and contests of all sorts, as well as the amateur play and other entertainments provided exclusively by our own talent, will alone make the trip worthwhile.  The Bonfire Party at night will be brought to a conclusion by the “Bull’s Head Breakfast”, when the entire head in a great Spanish Bull, killed the preceding day ,is baked in the earth, and enjoyed with many other Spanish and Mexican dishes.  The delegates left by train on July 11 and then spent the night at Hotel Potter in Santa Barbara.  Arriving the next day in Palo Alto, the delegates were entertained by the Sigma Rho Chapter at Stanford University before proceeding to the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.  The delegates attended business sessions on July 13 and 14, and also had time to attend at the Panama-Pacific Exposition.  On the morning of July 17, the delegates left San Francisco on the steamer Great Northern and arrived in Portland, Oregon that night.  The delegates left on July 19 for Seattle in order to have dinner at the new Kappa Epsilon Chapter House at the University of Washington which was to follow by “entertainment lasting well into the night”.  July 20 was spent on a tour of the City of Seattle before boarding the Great Northern Railroad car at 7:10 p.m..  The train arrived at Glacier Park where the delegates spent three days in the “American Alps” at the Glacier Park Hotel. Included within the tour was an “auto trip the length of the Park and into the Canadian Rockies”.  As well:  “An opportunity will be given to the disciples of Isaac Walton, conducted by Indian guides, to angle for the game mountain lake trout which abound in the cold waters of the lakes.  Canoeing and mountain scaling will also be enjoyed by the brothers so inclined.  Conventionalities here will be unpopular: old clothes and stout shoes will be the fashion.  The crisp mountain air combined with the physical exercise while assure us a hearty appetite three times a day and restful sleep at night.”  The delegates left Glacier Park on July 24 and arrived in Minneapolis the morning of July 26 where they were entertained by the Phi Epsilon Chapter.  On July 27, the delegates arrived in Chicago and on July 28 arrived in New York “thus ending our great trip to the Pacific Coast”.  The total expense for the trip was $225 from New York and return and $205 from Chicago and return. In the elegant brochure that was prepared for the Trip, there was a detailed map setting out the various destinations.

June 29, 1930

The Minutes of the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Council of the Fraternity reflected the recommendation that Brother William W. Elder (Epsilon-Williams College) be hired as “Field Secretary”.  His salary was to be $2,500 per year but on the basis that he would have three months leave of absence during the summer in order to conduct his “summer camp”.  Brother Elder would serve as the Field Secretary until 1936, when he became Secretary of the Council replacing James Anderson Hawes (Phi-Yale University).  Brother Elder was referred to by his nickname, “Dutch”.

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June 29, 1945

Everett D. Barnes (Mu-Colgate University) was appointed as the first President of the American Association of College Baseball Coaches.  Since 1945, Brother Barnes has been the only President of the organization to serve two terms as President.  Brother Barnes also served as the President of the NCAA (the National Collegiate Athletic Association) starting in February 1965.  Brother Barnes was the first athletic director to serve in that capacity.  Brother Barnes had served as either the assistant or the head athletic director at Colgate University starting in 1939.  Brother Barnes played professional baseball with Pittsburgh from 1925 to 1927 and had joined Colgate in 1939 as baseball coach and assistant athletic director.  The “Eppy Barnes Fund” was established at Colgate University to honor his contributions.  Brother Barnes is a member of the American Association of Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and The United Savings Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame. Brother Barnes died on November 18, 1980 at age.78.

June 29, 1995

The United States Post Office issued a set of 20 commemorative stamps showing 16 individuals and four battles of the Civil War.  One of the stamps shows William Tecumseh Sherman (Pi-Dartmouth College) (Honorary) standing with a pair of field glasses and marching troops in the background.

June 29, 1995

The Canada Post Corporation issued a set of ten stamps honoring the 75th anniversary of the first “Group of Seven” exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  One of the stamps features the work of Lawren Harris (Alpha Phi-University of Toronto) entitled “From the North Shore, Lake Superior”, which was painted by Brother Harris in 1923.  Brother Harris is acknowledged as being the leader of the Group of Seven, having encouraged his fellow officers and having provided much of the funding for their endeavors.

June 30, 1930

Clifford Noble sold his shares in the company that would become Barnes & Noble to John Wilcox Barnes (Epsilon-Williams College).  By 1974, Barnes & Noble became the first bookstore to advertise on television and, in 1975, the Company became the first bookseller in America to discount books by selling The New York Times Best-Selling Titles at 40% off the publisher’s list price.  Brother Barnes died on December 15, 1964 at age 62.  Brother Barnes was active in the American Booksellers Association, the American Book Publishers Council, the Antiquarian Booksellers Association, the National Association of College Stores, and the Grolier Club.

June 30, 1946

We salute the contributions made to education of women by Benjamin T. Marshall (Pi-Dartmouth College) who died this day at age 73.  The Reverend Dr. Marshall was the second President of Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut.  The College was founded in 1911 as the Connecticut College for Women in response to the decision by Wesleyan University to close its doors to women.  Brother Marshall served as President between 1917 and 1928.  Each year, the Benjamin T. Marshall Prize is awarded for the “Best Original Poem” submitted to the Department of English.

June 30, 1992

William A. Wise (Gamma-Vanderbilt University) is appointed as President and Chief Executive of El Paso Natural Gas Company, which owns a 20,000 mile network connecting three oil producing regions in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico to buyers primarily in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.  El Paso is the largest supplier of natural gas to the State of California.  Brother Wise retired from El Paso in March 2003.   As a result of a gift from Brother Wise, the University of Colorado at Boulder has named the law library the William A. Wise Law Library.

June 30, 2005

Walter James “Jim” McNerney Jr. (Phi-Yale University) is named as the Chairman, President and C.E.O. of The Boeing Company.  With more than 160,000 employees, Boeing is the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft, with capabilities in rotocraft, electronic and defence systems, missiles, satellites and advanced information and communication systems.  Prior to joining the Board of The Boeing Company in 2001, Brother McNerney was the President and C.E.O. of GE Aircraft Engines and GE Lighting, President of GE Asia-Pacific, President and C.E.O. of GE Electrical Distribution and Control; President of GE Information Services and Executive Vice President of GE Capital.  From 2001 to 2005, Brother McNerney held the position as Chairman of the Board and C.E.O. of 3M, the global technology company with leading positions in electronics, telecommunications, industrial, consumer and office products, health care, safety and other business.  Brother McNerney is also a member of the Board of Directors of Proctor & Gamble and IBM.  In 2007 and 2008, Brother McNerney was the Chairman of The Business Council.  He is a current member of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees, is a Trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and was named by President Obama as the Chairman of the President’s Export Council.

July 1, 1880

As coxswain, Mun Yew Chun (Phi-Yale University) was part of the winning crew that handily defeated Harvard.  A number of stories have been told about his crew exploits, including one published in the Hartford Courant of 1912:  “Famous in Yale annals as the coxswain of the Yale shell which distanced Harvard in the race of 1880, Chung that was a favorite among his classmates.  He was a bright student who never lost his temper and who was never known to swear, except on one occasion.  That was during the race with Harvard in 1880.  Toward the finish, the little coxswain broke out with ‘Dammit boys, pull!’: the boys did and Yale won the race.”  Brother Chung did not graduate due to the recall of the Chinese Government of students that have been sent to American universities.  After leaving Yale, Brother Chung was loaned to the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai as an interpreter (1883), a translator at the Chinese Ligation in Washington D.C. (1893), Counselor to the Legation in Spain (1903), Consul General to the Philippines (1903-1905), Managing Director of the Shanghai-Nanking Railway (1906-1916), Managing Director of China Merchants Steam Navigation Co. (1907-1910), Managing Director, Shanghai-Hangchow-Ningpo Railway (1914-1916 and 1917-1927), First Secretary of the Special Embassy to Japan, the United States and Europe (1908-1909), Chairman of the National Mint Organization Committee to propose a scheme for establishing a Mint (1920),Director of the Shanghai Mint (1920), Counselor of the Chinese Delegation to the World Disarmament Conference in Washington D.C. (1921), and Chairman of The Shanghai Telegraph Co. (1923).  Brother Chung also served as the President of the China Yale Alumni Association (1913), the World Federation of Chinese Students (1913-15), Boy Scouts Association of China (1915), and the Shanghai Yale Club (1920).  At Yale, Mun Yew Chung Memorial Fellowship was established to provide support for research and writing on China.

July 1, 1952

Colonel Charles F.  Ward (Omega Chi-University of Texas) is appointed as the Superintendent of the New Mexico Military Institute at Roswell New Mexico.  Brother Ward came to the Institute in 1926 as a history instructor and was the eighth Superintendent serving from 1952 until his retirement in 1956.  In naming him to the Hall of Fame of the Institute, The president of the Alumni Association of the Institute stated that Brother Ward “… devoted his life to service to cadets, New Mexico Military Institute and to the community, exemplifying the tenets on which this Institution is founded”.  The Institute is a coeducational military boarding high school and military junior-college with a mission “to educate, train and prepare young men and women to be leaders capable of critical thinking and sound analysis, leaders who possess uncompromising character, and leaders able to meet challenging physical demands”.  At the Institute, Brother and Mrs. Ward established a Memorial Scholarship to be awarded on the basis of scholastic achievement to deserving students interested in humanities who are graduating from the high school division to the college division.  The Colonel Charles F. Ward Room in his honor is contained within the Special Collections of the Learning Centre at the Institute.

July 1, 1877

James Gilfillan (Epsilon-Williams College) is appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes (Delta Chi-Cornell University) (Honorary) to serve as the 13th Treasurer of the United States.  Brother Gilfillan served in that capacity under Presidents’ Hayes, Garfield and Arthur until March 31, 1883.  During the period, Brother Gilfillan was also the Sinking Fund Commissioner for the District of Columbia.  After his service, Brother Gilfillan lived in Colchester, Connecticut.  In November 1928, he was one of only five persons over the age of 90 to vote in the town.  He died on April 8, 1929 at age 93.

July 1, 1898

Theodore Roosevelt (Alpha-Harvard University) distinguished himself by acts of bravery near Santiago de Cuba while leading a charge up San Juan Hill.  As a result of his efforts, Brother Roosevelt was awarded the Medal of Honor.  The citation read:

“Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt distinguished himself by acts of bravery on 1 July, 1898, near Santiago de Cuba, Republic of Cuba, while leading a daring charge up San Juan Hill.  Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt, in total disregard for his personal safety, and accompanied by only four or five men, led a desperate and gallant charge up San Juan Hill, encouraging his troops to continue the assault through withering enemy fire over open countryside.  Facing the enemy’s heavy fire, he displayed extraordinary bravery throughout the charge, and was the first to reach the enemy trenches, where he quickly killed one of the enemy with his pistol, allowing his men to continue the assault.  His leadership and valor turned the tide in the Battle for San Juan Hill.  Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”

The Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Brother Roosevelt in 2001.

July 1, 1904

Victor Howard Metcalf (Phi-Yale University) is appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt (Alpha-Harvard University) as the Secretary of Commerce and Labor.  Brother Metcalf served in that capacity until December 12, 1906 when he was appointed Secretary of the Navy and served in that position until November 13, 1908.  During his term as Secretary of the Navy, Brother Metcalf oversaw the world cruise of the “Great White Fleet” which was ordered by Brother Roosevelt to circumnavigate the globe.  The Fleet consisted of sixteen battleships divided into two squadrons along with various escort vessels.  The exercise was undertaken at the instigation of Brother Roosevelt to demonstrate growing American military power and blue-water navy capability. Beginning with just over 90 small ships with over one-third of them wooden, the fleet grew to include new modern steel fighting vessels.  The hulls of these ships were painted white, giving the armada its nickname.  Brother Metcalf also served as a Republican member from California in the U.S. Congress between 1899 and 1904.

July 1, 1936

We salute the contribution to publishing and to education made by George Arthur Plimpton (Sigma-Amherst College) who died this day at age 81.  Brother Plimpton created the publishing house, Ginn and Company.  Brother Plimpton was also a Founding Trustee of Barnard College and served as its Treasurer from 1893 until his death.  He was a founding member of the Friends of the Columbia University Libraries, serving as its Chair from 1928 until his death.  He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Phillips Exeter Academy.  Brother Plimpton was the father of Calvin Hastings Plimpton (Sigma-Amherst College) who served as the President of Amherst College and American University of Beirut, and the grandfather of George Ames Plimpton, the noted journalist and sports writer.

July 1, 1970

Howard J. Burnett (Sigma-Amherst College) is appointed as the President of Washington & Jefferson College.  Prior to serving in that capacity, Brother Burnett served as the 8th President of the College Centre of the Finger Lakes (1964-1970).  During his presidency, Washington & Jefferson College admitted its first female students, hired its first female faculty members, and hired a woman to be the Associate Dean of Student Personnel.  The College also acquired and renovated the W.& J. Alumni House, restored and renovated Thompson Memorial and McMillan Halls, and opened the Student Resource Centre.  Student enrollment grew from 830 in 1970 to 1100 by 1998.  Brother Burnett stepped down as President on June 30, 1998.  The Howard J. Burnett Centre (pictured) on campus is named in his honor.  The Centre houses the Departments of Economics and Business, Modern Languages, and Education.  The Howard J. Burnett Presidential Scholarship, having a maximum value of $17,000, is awarded each year based upon academic qualifications, civic involvement, employment or organizational affiliation, experience, hobbies, letters of recommendation, student activities, and talent.

July 1, 2001

Robert J. Bruce (Xi-Colby College) stepped down as the 8th President of Widener University after serving in that capacity since July 1, 1981.  Widener was founded in 1821 as a school for boys.  It later became a military academy (The Pennsylvania Military College) and then an academically diverse institution under Brother Bruce. Brother Bruce later became the Chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.  The Robert J. Bruce Graduate Center on the campus of Widener College is named in his honor.  On May 1, 2008, Brother Bruce published:  “Acting on Promise:  Reflections of a University President”.

July 2, 1932

We applaud the business and civic contributions made by James Norris Gamble (Lambda-Kenyon College) who died this day at age 95.  Brother Gamble was the son of James Gamble, the founding partner in Proctor & Gamble.  Brother Gamble is credited with laying the foundations for the most successful product of Proctor & Gamble – Ivory Soap.  As a chemist at the Company, Brother Gamble developed the formula for a mild, white bar of soap called “P&G White Soap”.  It is said that an accident brought a remarkable change to his formula as another employee left one of the soap-making machines running too long, which allowed too much air into the process.  As a result, the finished batch of soap floated.  Brother Gamble also served as the Mayor of Westwood, Ohio and as a member of the Board of Parks Commission of Cincinnati.  When Proctor & Gamble became a public company in 1890, Brother Gamble was named Vice President of the Company and sat on its Board of Directors.  Brother Gamble retired from the Company in 1912 to concentrate on his other interests which included involvement in Cincinnati politics, religious groups, and charitable organizations including donations that he made to the YMCA and the University of Cincinnati.  Brother Gamble was instrumental in forming the Christ Hospital Institute of Medical Research in Cincinnati.

July 3, 1856

Lafayette College was in financial trouble when it came to publish its annual catalogue for 1856-1857.  When the Class of 1857 offered to publish the catalogue at their own expense, the College foolishly accepted.  A committee of the faculty was appointed to oversee the project but did not do its job.  The students secretly included the emblems and membership of Delta Kappa Epsilon and Phi Kappa Sigma fraternities in the final printing.  When their prank was discovered, Lafayette College recalled the catalogues and a new catalogue without the fraternal listings was published by the faculty at the expense of the Senior Class . The faculty resolved that future college catalogues would be published by the faculty alone.  A wise decision.

July 4, 1999

Vincent Lardo (Nu-C.C.N.Y.) published McNally’s Dilemma, which was an instant bestseller.  Brother Lardo has since published five more in the McNally series, all of which have been on the N.Y. Times Best Seller list.  Brother Lardo is the successor writer to Lawrence Sanders who started the McNally series.