Sigma Nu's past is a proud and colorful one. Founded by three cadets at the Virginia Military Institute in a period of civil strife known as Reconstruction, Sigma Nu represented a radical departure from the times. The system of physical abuse and hazing of underclassmen at VMI led  James Frank Hopkins, Greenfield Quarles, and James McIlvaine Riley to form the "Legion of Honor", which soon became Sigma Nu Fraternity. So, amidst a backdrop of turmoil, North America's first "Honor" fraternity was established.

The story of Sigma Nu began during the period following the Civil War, when a Confederate veteran from Arkansas enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington Virginia. That cadet was James Frank Hopkins, and it is to him and two of his classmates, Greenfield Quarles, from Arkansas, a Kentuckian by birth, and James McIlvaine Riley from St. Louis, Missouri, that Sigma Nu owes its existence. When Hopkins enrolled at VMI, the south was in a state of turmoil and just beginning to recover from the devastating military defeat it had suffered. Hopkins had experienced military subservience during the war, and was willing to tolerate a reasonable amount of constraint intended to induce discipline. However, Hopkins was unwilling to accept any amount of hazing then being allowed at VMI. Not one ounce of hazing was he willing to suffer and he was doggedly adamant about eliminating it.

These three men began a movement to completely abolish the hazing system at VMI. Their efforts climaxed on a moonlit October night in 1868 when the three met at a limestone outcropping on the edge of the VMI parade ground. Hopkins, Quarles and Riley clasped hands on the Bible and gave their solemn pledge to form a brotherhood of a new society they called the Legion of Honor. The vows taken by these three Founders bound them together to oppose hazing at VMI and encouraged the application of the Principle of Honor in all their relationships. That the founders should adopt Honor as a guiding principle was a natural move since a rigid code of Honor was already an established traditon of the VMI Corps of Cadets. Sigma Nu's existence was kept secret until the founders publicly announced their new society on the first day of January 1869, the accepted birthdate of Sigma Nu.

Today, our mission continues by developing ethical leaders for society through the development of the mind, heart and character of our members. To achieve this mission, Sigma Nu, as a fraternity, must continually pursue excellence. Likewise, Sigma Nu believes that individual members should pursue this same excellence in every aspect of their lives. Whether on the intramural field, in the classroom, or through campus involvement Sigma Nu members enjoy the pursuit of excellence.

The pursuit of excellence is searching for opportunities that will allow an individual and his Brothers to develop in mind, heart and character. Improving the academic environment in the chapter house, more involvement in campus organizations, and community service projects are all examples of ways that Sigma Nus pursue excellence for the lives of individual Chapter members and for the entire Fraternity.

From the beginning of Sigma Nu in 1869 through the present, Sigma Nu has initiated over 200,000 members. Sigma Nu has over 150,000 living alumni, 9,200 active collegians, and millions of dollars in assets and resources all committed to the betterment of Sigma Nu members throughout the United States and Canada. Sigma Nu truly is an international brotherhood.

For more information on the history of Sigma Nu, visit the Sigma Nu Nationals website.

The Creed of Sigma Nu


Written by Walter J. Sears (Nu Kansas), The Creed defines what Knights in the Legion of Honor stand for. The full version of our Creed is frequently shortened to the following:

To believe in the Life of Love,
To walk in the Way of Honor
To serve in the Light of Truth-
This is the Life, the Way, and the Light of Sigma Nu;
This is the Creed of our Fraternity.


The Mission Statement of Sigma Nu

- To develop ethical leaders inspired by the principles of Love, Honor and Truth.

- To foster the personal growth of each man's mind, heart and character.

- To perpetuate lifelong friendships and commitment to the Fraternity.