History of Phi Sigma Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta
(The International Headquarters of Phi Gamma Delta in Lexington, Kentucky)
In the fall of 1965, Carl Pennington, Fla. '52, invited FIJI Graduate Brothers in the Tallahassee area to meet with a representative of the International Headquarters of Phi Gamma Delta to discuss possible establishment of a colony of the Fraternity at Florida State University. Several brothers who would eventually become instrumental to the development of the future colony attended these early meetings, held at the Silver Slipper. Included among the nurturing group were:
- Dr. Milton Carothers, Dean Emeritus, College of Education and then interim President of FSU, Ala '19;
- Jeff Crew, transfer FIJI from Syracuse U; Harper Field, Fla. '53;
- Colonel Robert Shoemaker, Commander AFROTC at FSU, Ind. '43.
Colonel Shoemaker and his wife Rusty, our then honorary Housemother who has since passed away, have given support to the Phi Sigma Chapter to this day in nearly all respects: Colonel Shoemaker serving as Purple Legionnaire and member of housing Corp, Rusty as painter, curtain hanger, hostess, and even as a teacher of social graces in an effort to make Phi Sigma more of a "home away from home." Colonel brought his love of the fraternity with him from his days as a student at Indiana, where the Zeta Chapter to this day remains a prestigious house on campus and one of the most impressive of all FIJIdom.
Phi Gamma Delta Headquarters, assured the graduate support would be forthcoming, approved colonization based on the results of countless, late into the night meetings at the Silver Slipper. Word was spread around campus that Phi Gamma Delta was indeed colonizing at Florida State and that potential prospects interested in being considered for membership should present themselves for interview. And so Dr. Carothers, Jeff Crew and Robert Shoemaker conducted FIJI's first "rush" at FSU. In this fashion in early 1966 a "pledge class" of 13 members was selected as the nucleus for the new colony. Jeff Crew was elected President, Pledge trainer, etc, and the colony members quickly began working towards the goal of meeting Fraternity requirements for Chapter Status. Working diligently, the colony succeeded in demonstrating to Nationals they were worthy and on November 4, 1967, Phi Sigma was awarded it's Charter in the 119th year of the Fraternities existence.
Suitable housing was one of the requirements for chartering as a chapter. So it was that the colony took up residence (6 brothers maximum allowed to live in-house) in our first house: renting 524 Palm Court. Directly behind our sister sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. The Delta colony House Corporation rented the house for one trimester, August-December 1966. In January of 1967, the expanding colony moved to considerable more impressive surroundings, a large university owned house at 930 West Park Avenue. It was while residing here that Phi Sigma received its charter. The young chapter resided here until July of 1968. In August of the same year, the House Corporation purchased the residence of Dr. Mode Stone, co-founder of the Southern Scholarship Foundation, at 922 West Jefferson Street. This was to be our chapter house for the next 27 years. While it was a great house, containing the many memories of the life-long friendships forged there, the house began to fall into disrepair and was deemed too small to serve the Fraternity's needs. So in the spring of 1995, the House Corporation found a new home for Phi Sigma, purchasing the property at 526 West Pensacola Street. In 2003, the opportunity arose to have a much larger, newer and more appealing house at FSU's Heritage Grove, and that is currently where the FIJI house is today.
Phi Sigma has never sought to become the largest house on campus. Instead, it has chosen to focus on the tight bonds of brotherhood, unity of purpose, and a true following of the beliefs and ideals in which we were founded. In the early 1970's and into the 1980's Chapter size typically ran about 55 brothers plus pledges. The greatest number in the 1990's was reached in 1992 with 64 brothers, plus pledges. In the 2000s the Chapter has grown and enters the fall this year with 81 brothers.
Topping this list of accomplishments will always be Phi Sigma's proud academic tradition. Beginning our very first trimester on campus, 1966-67, the colony ranked first among all fraternities in scholastics. Since then, with only a few minor lapses, Phi Sigma has remained at or near the top in scholastic rankings. Over the years, FIJI has counted amongst its ranks: a Student Body President, 1973; an IFC President, 1985; and a number of student senators. In 1971-72 our Purple Legionnaire received the Durrance award as the most Outstanding Purple Legionnaire in the Nation. Phi Sigma was recognized as most improved fraternity chapter at FSU for the year of 1995. The list of lapses, its should be noted, is commendably short. Brothers (and pledges) of Phi Sigma can take pride in the reputation of the Chapter at Florida State. We believe that we have the strongest brotherhood: we possess a positive image with faculty and staff, we believe in ourselves and the ideals we have been founded upon: Friendship, Knowledge, Service, Morality, and Excellence. Phi Sigma prides itself on portraying the image of the New Greek: socially responsible and morally upright. Phi Sigma offers all the benefits and more that can possible be desired by young men on the verge of entering into the world, serious in the pursuit of a good education as well as a good time, enjoying the easy give and take that only can be found among brothers.