Nu Sigma Phi celebrates 75th anniversary

Kean University’s Nu Sigma Phi fraternity celebrated its 75th anniversary on Oct. 25 with a gala event that drew approximately 100 alumni and current student members to the atrium of the university’s STEM building in Union Township.

The event included a silent auction and presentations by the fraternity’s alumni leaders, including a historical retrospective of Nu Sigma Phi’s founding and subsequent three-quarters of a century of “Strength, Nobility, and Progress Through the Ages” (the fraternity’s tagline). Current students conducted a pinning ceremony for this fall’s inductees during the program.

“The purpose of this event was to celebrate our 75-year legacy on campus, and to reconnect our brothers with their alma mater,” said Michael Delicio ’82, the event’s primary organizer. “I would hope that attendees walked away knowing that brotherhood is timeless, and that there is much that they can contribute to both the current fraternity and Kean University.”

The program was punctuated several times by energetic chants and cheers from the audience, particularly its younger members, who at one point started a rousing repetition of one of Nu Sigma Phi’s signature catchphrases—“Who’s Got Your Back?”

This particular chant directly refers to one of Nu Sigma Phi’s central precepts: that its brothers are committed to actively supporting each other in all endeavors, and particularly in situations where a brother may be in need of either financial or emotional support. The pledge that new members take upon admission to Nu Sigma Phi includes the stated obligation to “come to the aid of brothers in need.”

“Brotherhood is not a given right,” said Dan DeWeever ’84, chairman of the fraternity’s alumni association. “It’s a two-way street. The active support of our members, by our members, is our only guarantee of success.”

The philosophy of mutual support derives directly from the circumstances of the fraternity’s founding at then-New Jersey State Teachers College at Newark. (The college would not take the name “Kean” until 1973; starting in 1959, it was known as Newark State College.)

In 1939, a group of 15 students, frustrated by their inability to pledge existing college fraternities due to reasons that included religion, ethnicity, and/or choice of academic focus, decided that they would create a new fraternity founded on principles of democracy, integrity, mutual respect, and inclusion. They successfully petitioned the college administration, and Nu Sigma Phi was born as one of the first nonsectarian fraternities to be granted a charter in the state of New Jersey. Its first advisor was Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences John C. Hutchinson Jr., who would serve in that capacity for the next 25 years and became the namesake of Kean’s Hutchinson Hall.

“We were founded by a small group of students who experienced discrimination firsthand,” said Delicio. “They overcame adversity to create an organization dedicated to diversity, inclusion, service to others, and most importantly the true spirit of brotherhood. Our story and philosophy are as relevant today as they were in 1939, which is why brothers like Henry Niemira keep coming back.”

Delicio was referring to Henry Niemira ’41 one of two of the original 15 founders who, remarkably, are still alive. Niemira was proudly present at the gala, holding court at his table near the front of the room, the multicolored braid around his shoulders signifying his position of high honor within the fraternity.

The 75th anniversary gala was especially meaningful for alumni who lived through some of the fraternity’s more difficult times. Nu Sigma Phi ran into problems with the university during the mid-1990s and ceased to be an active organization on campus. But by 2008, a core group of dedicated alumni had managed to bring the fraternity back from the brink.

“As our motto is ‘Progress Through the Ages,’ it was important that our brothers, especially those who have been less than engaged over the years, understand and be proud of the fact that our organization and the university have accomplished much and continue to grow,” said Delicio. “Many of our older brothers were not aware of the fact that we stopped being an active organization about 20 years ago, or of the remarkable story of our subsequent renaissance.”

That renaissance includes the establishment of the Nu Sigma Phi Annual Scholarship at Kean, which provides financial assistance to academically talented Kean students and to brothers of Nu Sigma Phi.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Buy T-MobilePhones and Save. | Thanks to Highest CD Rates, Credit Card Offers and UK Loan