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In the 1850s, women had few options for bettering themselves through higher education, as most educators at the time believed women to be less intellectually capable than men. One of the few forward-thinking institutions at the time was Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, who was the first college to grant bachelor’s degrees to its female students. Among the student body at Wesleyan were three women who desired the support and friendship that could be afforded to all female students in the form of a fraternal organization for women. Mary Ann Dupont, Mary Elizabeth Myrick, and Martha Bibb Hardaway set out to build an organization centered around the principles of love, honor, and truth, which they founded as the Philomathean Society on March 4, 1852. Though much has changed since the early days, including the name, the ideals of the founding three are still honored by “The Faithful Sisters” of Phi Mu.
Since its founding all those years ago, Phi Mu has become a national women’s organization laying claim to over 11,000 undergraduate members and 122 active chapters. The intrepid attitude and tenacity of the founding Sisters are traits found in Phi Mu’s members even today, making it easy to see why so many have gone on to lead very successful lives, including Joyce Carol Oates (author, We Were the Mulvaneys), Anna Bryan (Miss Alabama 2012), Jerrie Mock (first woman to fly solo around the world), Pat Mitchell (president, PBS), Kathryn Stockett (author, The Help), and Betty Montgomery (first female Attorney General of Ohio). With Sisters like these, it is no surprise that many women want to wear the Phi Mu Rose and White.
Phi Mu's interest in philanthropy is expressed in the first line of its Creed, "To lend to those less fortunate a helping hand," a guiding principle for every Phi Mu Sister. As the only women’s fraternity corporate sponsor for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN), Phi Mu is committed to raising over $500,000 for CMN every year. The money raised and donated is used locally to support one of the 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals nationwide. In total, Phi Mu has contributed over $8.5 million and countless hours in an attempt to improve the quality of life for sick children and their families throughout the country.
It is fitting that the motto of Phi Mu is “Les Soeurs Fideles” (The Faithful Sisters), as the Phi Mu’s of today are as faithful and unwavering in their devotion to the organization’s ideals as the founders back in 1852. As a women's organization, Phi Mu provides personal and academic development, service to others, and lifelong friendship, promoting vibrant living and encouraging each and every member to achieve her personal best.