What is now the largest North American Greek-letter social fraternity, started out with only eight friends at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on March 9, 1856. These eight men were united by the common goal of creating an organization based upon the highest standards of friendship, scholarship, and service, all qualities they felt should be embodied by “a true gentleman.” Though founded during a tumultuous time in our nation’s history, the bonds of brotherhood proved strong in the proud members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE).
Since its founding more than 150 years ago, SAE has grown into the foremost fraternal organization in North America, with more than 305,000 lifetime initiates, including 190,000 living alumni, 13,000 undergraduate members, and 246 chapters and colonies across the United States and Canada. Among these numbers are many SAEs who have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, such as William Faulkner (Nobel-Prize winning author), Nick Lachey (singer), Sam Elliot (actor), Chris Sullivan (founder of Outback Steakhouse), and William McKinley (25th President of the United States). With Brothers like these, it is easy to see why so many men want to wear the SAE royal purple and old gold!
Service to others is of the utmost importance to the Brothers of SAE and all chapters are encouraged to become involved in their campus and community through various organizations. The Fraternity’s preferred philanthropy is the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals because of its great capacity to impact children’s lives and the proximity of numerous hospitals to local chapters. On April 6, 2002, SAE also launched its “True Gentleman Day of Service,” with more than 35 chapters participating in various community service programs, and in partnership with the National Youth Service Day, this event has grown to include hundreds of chapters.
It is fitting that SAE should have a diamond-shaped Badge, as all members were, at one time, young men starting out in college, in effect, diamonds in the rough. Through the timeless ideals of their founders, and guidance of their Brothers, these young men are shaped and polished into the very finest members of society, into “True Gentlemen.”