The Kappa Sigma Legacy
A Brotherhood Born in the Renaissance
Tau Chapter – A Legion of Accomplished Men
The Tau Chapter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, chartered on September 18, 1884, was one of the first three fraternities established on the University of Texas campus.
The original house on West 19th Street, now Martin Luther King Blvd., was the first fraternity house built west of the Mississippi River. It was Kappa Sigma’s home for nearly 70 years until relocating to West Campus on San Gabriel in 1972, and then to 1002 West 26th Street in 1996, where the Kappa Sig house stands today.
The Tau Chapter boasts a distinguished list of alumni, including international leaders in the fields of medical technology, aviation, business development and the arts. Several legendary Tau Chapter members -- Governor Beauford Jester, Harry Ransom and Frank Erwin, Jr., to name three -- helped make the University of Texas the world-class university that it is today.
A fine tradition of academic and athletic achievement and, above all, brotherhood, sustains the fraternity and is manifested in each new pledge class.
European Origins – From the Land of Dante and Galileo
The history of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity began at the University of Bologna in Italy, Europe’s first university, at the start of the 15th Century. Founded by Greek scholar, statesman and university teacher Manuel Chrysoloras, along with five of his most devoted disciples, Kappa Sigma began as an ancient society of students.
The society was founded for mutual protection against the corrupt governor of the city, former pirate Baldassare Cossa, who often ordered the physical attacks and robberies of university students in the streets of Bologna.
The students used secret words and signs to protect their ranks from betrayal. These forms and rituals became the basis of their organization. It embodied their ideals and allowed for both the safety of their members and the strong unity of the society.
Slowly, the society increased its numbers, taking in those students who desired the protection it could offer. With a strong foundation built on the good character of its members, the ancient order flourished. Over time, its strength and unity transformed the order from a protective society against Cossa into something much greater --- a true brotherhood.
History holds that the society expanded to the great universities of Europe, but, sadly, by the mid-19th century, the order was barely active.
As providence would have it, an American traveler visiting Europe in the mid-1800s was inspired by his noble host -- a Kappa Sigma member lamenting his beloved society’s demise -- to bring the great legacy of Chrysoloras across the Atlantic.
And from there it was, the University of Bologna, the center of learning in Europe, to the University of Virginia, the centerpiece of education in the United States, that the Kappa Sigma Fraternity found its home in North America.
A National Fraternity Begins
On December 10, 1869, five students at the University of Virginia founded the National Fraternity of Kappa Sigma. Adopting the traditions of their Renaissance forbearers of Bologna, William Grigsby McCormick, Frank Courtney Nicodemus, Edmund Law Rogers, John Covert Boyd and George Miles Arnold bound themselves together by an oath and preserved their union with secret work.
The five friends and brothers, none older than 19 and the youngest under 17, drafted a constitution, naming the Fraternity “Kappa Sigma,” providing a description for the badge and giving significance to the emblems appearing on it.
Philosophy: The Star and Crescent, Kappa Sigma's ideals, are centered on four pillars: Fellowship, Leadership, Scholarship, and Service.
Kappa Sigmas are taught to live their lives by the Star and Crescent, which are the symbols of the Fraternity that make up the official badge: "The Star and Crescent shall not be worn by every man, but only by him who is worthy to wear it. He must be a gentleman... a man of honor and courage... a man of zeal, yet humble... an intelligent man...a man of truth... one who tempers action with wisdom and, above all else, one who walks in the light of God."
Kappa Sigma was the first southern fraternity to extend a chapter north of the Mason Dixon line, and today there are nearly 200 chapters at major universities and small colleges throughout the United States and Canada.