Miller’s Meanderings – Fraternities Founded at Miami University

RJMBy Robert J. Miller, Historian

I suspect the average person will tell you that three, maybe four, fraternities were founded at Miami University. Of course, Phis are not average persons, and many of them would promptly correct that statement for, actually, there were eight fraternities founded at Miami. (The Greek affairs office at Miami University claims that forty, or more, fraternities were born on the campus. If accurate, the other thirty-two-or more did not amount to any historical importance.) It is interesting that not a single fraternity in the Honor, Recognition and Professional categories was founded at Miami.

The first fraternity founded at Miami was Beta Theta Pi (male) in1839, followed by Phi Delta Theta (male) in 1848 and Sigma Chi (male) in 1855. ( Actually, the founding name was Sigma Phi until the members learned that a fraternity by that name had been established at Union College in 1827.) The three became widely known as the “Miami Triad”  just as the first three fraternities founded at Union College became the “Union Triad.”

In 1902, a women’s group was created by the name of Delta Zeta. Brother Phi, Guy Potter Benton (Ohio Wesleyan ’86), was president of Miami University at the time. He assisted the young ladies to the extent that he helped them write the ritual, thus he was considered a member of the Fraternity. (It was standard procedure in those days for the women’s groups  to be known as women’s fraternities.) To this day, he is revered as the Grand Patron of Delta Zeta. If you are interested in the rest of the story, check out Miller’s Meanderings #3.

In 1906, Phi Kappa Tau (male) came along. This was the fifth and final organization founded at Miami that is in existence today, although others live on as part of Delta Zeta. Delta Sigma Epsilon (female) came to life in 1914 and it was headquartered in Oxford, on Campus Avenue, a couple blocks from the Phi Delta Theta Headquarters. Its 52 chapters were merged with Delta Zeta in 1956.

In 1921, five young men founded Delta Sigma Rho, the name of which was changed to Sigma Delta Rho to avoid confusion with a recognition society of the same name. Fourteen years later(1935), it disintegrated. Three of its nine chapters joined Alpha Kappa Pi and one went with Pi Kappa Phi. The other five gradually disappeared.

The final founding (I know you will appreciate the name) was Pi Delta Theta (female) in 1925-26. Several alumnae of other sororities met to form this new group in 1925 but it was 1926 before the first chapter saw the light of day. In 1941, the nine chapters of this organization merged with Delta Sigma Epsilon and were part of that organization when it became part of Delta Zeta.

Now you know the real story.