History of Greek Life at Miami

For almost 190 years, fraternities and sororities at Miami University have contributed to campus tradition, success, and pride. This rich heritage benefits both fraternity and sorority members and the broader university community.

In 1833, the first fraternity to be established at Miami was Alpha Delta Phi, an organization that originated as a literary society at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. With the formation of the Miami chapter, Alpha Delta Phi became the first fraternity to establish a chapter west of the Appalachian Mountains, a distinction of importance in those years before the rapid expansion of the western part of the United States. Following this, five social Greek-letter organizations were founded at the University: Beta Theta Pi (1839), Phi Delta Theta (1848), Sigma Chi (1855), Delta Zeta (1902), and Phi Kappa Tau (1906). The founding of these fraternal organizations has earned Miami University the nickname "Mother of Fraternities."

Today, the University hosts almost fifty fraternity and sorority chapters. Each chapter is committed to the Principles of the Greek Community: Scholarship & Learning, Service & Philanthropy, Leadership, Community, and Brotherhood & Sisterhood.

Approximately one third of the undergraduate student population are members of the fraternity and sorority community. Members are involved in all areas of the University, including events, programs, and student organizations.

Miami University Greek History Walking Tour

Take a look into Miami's history and how Fraternities and Sororities have helped shape the Miami we all love today!

Central Campus

Exterior view of the front of Shriver Center, red brick building with tall tan columns.

Shriver Center

The Phillip R. Shriver Center is the former Miami University student union, once catering to the needs of students with a bookstore, food court, and offices for student organizations. Though replaced by the Armstrong Student Center in January of 2014, Shriver Center once hosted offices for the Interfraternity Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Panhellenic Association. These three groups serve as the student governing boards for Miami's fraternities and sororities.

The Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life was also originally located in the Shriver Center. Three professional staff members, one graduate student, and an administrative assistant advise the Greek community from this office, the only one of its kind in the nation to be endowed.

Philip R. Shriver, a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, served as President of Miami from 1965-1981.

7 concrete benches making a U shape behind the Shriver Center

Shriver Center Commemorative Benches

Behind the Shriver Center are a number of concrete monument benches. These commemorate various anniversaries of the Miami chapters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Pi Beta Phi, and Zeta Tau Alpha.

This seating area the golden anniversary gift of Beta Delta Chapter Zeta Tau Alpha 1976

Shriver Center Benches - Zeta Tau Alpha

 

This seating area gift of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Celebrating 75 years. Miami University. November 4, 1919. November 4, 1994.

Shriver Center Benches - Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Exterior view of Sesquicentennial Chapel

Sesquicentennial Chapel

Sesquicentennial Chapel at Spring and Maple was a gift from alumni and friends in observance of Miami's 150th anniversary in 1959. The chimes were a gift of Delta Zeta sorority, the first sorority on campus. Services are held weekly during the academic year. 

Plaque in elegant cursive font that reads The carrillonic Bells here Given By Delta Theta Sorority as a memorial to the founders of Delta Zeta and Delta Sigma Epsilon.

Delta Zeta and Delta Sigma Epsilon Merger Plaque

Located inside the Sesquicentennial Chapel is a special plaque commemorating the merger of two sororities, Delta Zeta and Delta Sigma Epsilon, founded at Miami in 1956.

Central Quad

MacCracken Hall and Central Quad

Central Quad

Central Quad is bordered by five residence halls housing primarily sophomore students and framed by the grand MacCracken Hall at the south end. When fraternities began renting and building houses for chapter use at the turn of the 20th Century, sororities never moved to off-campus living. Today sororities are granted corridors and lease chapter suites in the residence halls bordering Central Quad. The Sorority Living-Learning Community allows almost twenty sororities to build community through programming and service.

It should be noted that despite popular belief, there has never been a law or policy prohibiting sororities from having off-campus sorority houses like fraternities. Rather, as with most universities, women were required to live on campus until the late 1960s. Once that policy changed, sorority chapters found that it was more cost effective to remain on-campus.

Sundial in front of central quad

Delta Delta Delta Sundial

The Delta Delta Delta Sundial was dedicated in 1962 as an anniversary monument and tells the correct time four times a year. Delta Delta Delta was established at Miami University in 1911. At the time, there were several sororities on campus, but only Delta Zeta and Tri-Delta were national sororities.

It is a Miami tradition before an exam to rub the turtle heads at the base of the sundial for good luck.

Plaque with shadow blocking some of the text. Text reads This armillary sundial was a gift to the university in 1962 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its founding by the Miami chapter of Delta Delta Delta.

Delta Delta Delta Sundial Plaque

The Delta Delta Delta Sundial tells the correct time four times a year as indicated on the bronze plaque below the monument.

Semicircle patio around a water fountain in the center.

Delta Sigma Epsilon Fountain and Patio

By 1914, Miami boasted more than a dozen sororities. Dr. Harvey Minnich, Dean of the School of Education, saw the opportunity to create a co-curricular sorority that would advance both the personal development of its members and the field of education. Minnich himself selected seven female students to form Delta Sigma Epsilon. DSE quickly became a national organization by spreading to numerous institutions with strong teacher education programs. 

At the time of its merger with Delta Zeta in 1956, Delta Sigma Epsilon had chartered 52 chapters and initiated over 13,000 women.

In 1941, Delta Sigma Epsilon alumnae donated this outdoor drinking fountain, no longer operational, and patio to Miami.

Metal base of a public water fountain that reads vertically Delta Sigma Epsilon

Delta Sigma Epsilon Fountain

Close up image of the Delta Sigma Epsilon Fountain and the inscription of the sorority's name on the pedestal.

Metal base of a public water fountain that reads vertically Delta Sigma Epsilon

Delta Sigma Epsilon Fountain and Patio

A stone marker commemorates the dedication of the Delta Sigma Epsilon Fountain and Patio.

 

Slant Walk

Phi Delt Gates entrance to campus

Phi Delta Theta Gates

The Phi Delta Theta Gates, donated by the fraternity in 1973 to commemorate the 125th anniversay of the chpater founding at Miami, stand at the historic entrance to campus. They replaced the brick Centennial Gates the fraternity also donated in honor of the university's centennial celebration in 1903.

In the nineteenth century, Oxford could only be reached by a horse drawn carriage or by train. The Omnibus from Hamilton and Cincinnati disembarked passengers at the corner of Main Street and High Street at the old Mansion House Hotel. Similarly, the Oxford train station was at the track crossing on Elm Street. As a result, all campus visitors and students had to pass first through Oxford before reaching this corner at the top of Slant Walk which leads to campus.

Today, with the entrances to campus by road to the south and east of Oxford, the Phi Delta Theta Gates no longer serve as the main entrance to the university, but they remain a high traffic area between campus and Uptown and are a popular place for student organization and community events. The international headquarters for the Phi Delta Theta fraternity is located directly across the street at the corner of High Street and South Campus Avenue.

Plaque with seal that reads This gateway is given to Miami university by Phi Deta Theta A century and a quarter after the fraternity's founding here on December 26, 1848.

Phi Delta Theta Gates Plaque

This plaque commemorates the founding of Phi Delta Theta on December 26, 1848 at Miami University.

Tan kiosk with a roof - with hundreds of staple holes and tiny bits of paper, indicating age and use.

Delta Gamma Kiosk

Along Slant Walk you will find an advertising kiosk that Delta Gamma donated to commemorate the sorority’s 50th anniversary.

Metal plaque with text This Kiosk, the golden anniversary gift of Delta Gamma 1924-1974.

Delta Gamma Kiosk Plaque

This plaque on the Delta Gamma Kiosk, commemorates the chapters Golden Anniversary in 1974.

Large circular seal atop what appears to be a large round pedestal.

Kappa Kappa Gamma Memorial

The Kappa Kappa Gamma centennial marker sits on top of the remains of Thobe’s Fountain, a prominent early twentieth century Miami landmark. Learn more about Henry Thobe and his fountain from the Miami Alumni Association.

Wood slatted bench on a brick patio outside of King Library

Alpha Delta Pi Memorial Bench

King Library sits to the Southwest of the Slant Walk. Opened in 1966, it is the main hub of five libraries on Miami’s campus. South of the King Library entrance is the Alpha Delta Pi memorial bench, celebrating the sorority’s 150th anniversary.

Diamond shaped concrete seal in the ground that reads Alpha Delta Pi 150th anniversary. 1851-2001.

Alpha Delta Pi Memorial Bench Marker

This marker was placed in 2001 to commemorate Alpha Delta Pi's 150th anniversary. 

King Library's northern exterior wall, red brick with large concrete faux columns

Delta Zeta Memorials

On the north wall of King (the faux column side, facing the Slant Walk) are several concrete memorials for the Alpha chapters at Miami donated by Delta Zeta in honor of its centennial.

Academic Quad

Tall brick tower with an opening for a large bell toward the top.

Beta Theta Pi Bell Tower

Arguably the most recognized structure on Miami’s campus is the landmark Beta Theta Pi campanile. This 128 foot tall, free-standing brick bell tower was designed by Charles F. Cellarius (a Beta at Yale) in 1939 to commemorate the fraternity’s founding. The four bells, each individually inscribed with the letters Beta, Theta, Pi, and Alpha were hung in Old Harrison Hall until the new campanile was completed in May 1941.

The campanile peals every quarter hour and is one of the few free-standing collegiate bell towers in the nation. A second plaque was added for the fraternity’s 125th anniversary in 1964.

 

Plaque that reads The Peal of Bells in this tower was dedicated to the service of Miami University by Beta Theta Pi 100 years after its foundation here, on August 8, 1839.

Beta Theta Pi Bell Tower Plaque

A plaque on the Beta Theta Pi Bell Tower denotes the fraternities founding at Miami on August 8, 1839.

Plaque that reads This tower was presented to Miami University by Beta Theta Pi, The first college fraternity to be founded west of the Allegheny Mountains.

Beta Theta Pi Bell Tower Plaque

An additional plaque on the Beta Theta Pi Bell Tower notes that Beta was the first college fraternity to be founded west of the Allegheny Mountains. 

Plaque that reads a century and a quarter after its founding 1839 the fraternity of beta theta pi gathered here to reaffirm its dedication to cultivation of the intellect, friendship and fidelity. August 1964.

Beta Theta Pi Bell Tower 125th Anniversary Plaque

Another plaque was added to the Beta Theta Pi Bell tower to commemorate the fraternity’s 125th anniversary in 1964.

Plaque that reads Celebrating one hundred fifty years of cherished brotherhood on August 8, 1989, Beta Theta Pi honors here the fraternity’s founders and three great principles – John Reily Knox 1839, Samuel Taylor Marshall 1840, David Linton 1839, James George Smith 1840, Charles Henry Hardin 1841, John Holt Duncan 1840, Michael Clarkson Ryan 1839, Thomas Boston Gordon 1840. “Of Ever Honored Memory”

Beta Theta Pi Bell Tower 150th Anniversary Plaque

A final plaque was added to the Beta Theta Pi Bell Tower in 1989 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the fraternity's founding and lists the names of the original founders.

Concrete abstract scupture atop a pedestal on Academic Quad

Alpha Phi Sculpture

At The Hub, you can view a piece of modern art placed there by the Alpha Phi sorority to commemorate the chapter’s 50th anniversary at Miami. 

Plaque that reads In Commemoration of Alpha Phi Centennial, 1872-1972, Gamma Nu Chapter places this sculpture as its contribution to Miami’s Hub Development

Alpha Phi Sculpture Plaque

A plaque at the base of the Alpha Phi sculpture at The Hub commemoraters the chapters Centennial.

Plaque that reads In recognition of gifts to the original Hub Development Project from members of Alpha Omicron Pi class of 1964. “To think that in such a place, I led such a Life.” – Author Unknown. Beta Theta Pi, Alpha 775.

Alpha Phi Sculpture Plaques for Alpha Omicron Pi and Beta Theta Pi

An additional plaque at the base of the Alpha Phi sculpture located at The Hub recognizes the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority for their work in the development of The Hub. A second section of the plaque was donated by Beta Theta Pi and includes the famous anonymously authored quote and unofficial motto of Miami: “To think that in such a place, I led such a life.”

Harrison and Elliott

exterior of Harrison Hall

Harrison Hall 

Harrison Hall is named for Miami University graduate and 23rd President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, who was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. The current building is the second structure named Harrison Hall to be located on the site. The original building was constructed in 1816 with various additions made through 1898. Originally dubbed Old Main, the building was the founding site of Beta Theta Pi, Delta Zeta, Sigma Chi, and Phi Kappa Tau. it was renamed Harrison Hall in 1931 before being condemned in 1956 and razed in 1958. The present Harrison Hall was constructed in 1960.

Plaque that reads In 1839 John Reily Knox and his associates founded here the fraternity of Beta Theta Pi.

Harrison Hall Plaques: Beta Theta Pi

Plaques dedicated to the founding of Beta Theta Pi, Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Chi, Delta Zeta, and Phi Kappa Tau are located inside Harrison Hall. This plaque commemorates the fouding of Beta Theta Pi by John Reily Knox and his associates in 1839.

Plaque that reads 1902 1952. Presented by the members of Delta Zeta to commemorate the founding of the sorority at Miami University Oxford Ohio in 1902 and as a tribute to the six founders, Alpha Lloyd Hayes, Julia Bishop Coleman, Anne Simmons Friedline, Anna Keen Davis, Mary Collins Galbraith, Mabelle Minton Hagemann, and to their patron Dr. Guy Potter Benton. Golden Anniversary Dedication 1952.

Harrison Hall Plaques: Delta Zeta

Another plaque located in Harrison Hall commemorates the founding of Delta Zeta on the occasion of the chapter's Golden Anniversary.

Plaque that reads In this room on March 17, 1906, the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity was founded by Dwight I. Douglass, William H. Shideler, Clinton D. Boyd and Taylor A. Borradaily

Harrison Hall Plaques: Phi Kappa Tau

This plaque in Harrison Hall commemorates the founding of Phi Kappa Tau in 1906 with a list of the founding members.

 Plaque that reads The Sigma Chi Fraternity was founded in this institution June 28, 1855 by Thomas Cowan Bell, James Parks Caldwell, Daniel William Cooper, Isaac M Jordan, William Lewis Lockwood, Benjamin Piatt Runkle, Franklin Howard Scobey

Harrison Hall Plaques: Sigma Chi

Sigma Chi's founding in Harrison Hall is recognized by this plaque with a list of the founding members.

Exterior of Elliott Hall with exterior Plaque that reads within this room Phi Delta Theta was founded December 28, 1848 By Robert Morrison ’49, John M. Wilson ’49, John W Lindley ’50, Robert T Drake ’50, Ardivan W Rodgers and Andrew W. Rogers. Estu Perpetua.

Elliot Hall

Elliot Hall, formerly known as North Dorm, is one of the two oldest buildings still standing on Miami's campus. One of two original dormitories at the university, Elliot was built in 1825 and serves as a residence hall to this day.

On December 26, 1848 a secret society, Phi Delta Theta, was formed in an upstairs room there. The founding room is currently occupied by two scholar leader students funded through Phi Delta Theta scholarships.

Closeup of Elliott Hall Plaque. Reads within this room Phi Delta Theta was founded December 28, 1848 By Robert Morrison ’49, John M. Wilson ’49, John W Lindley ’50, Robert T Drake ’50, Ardivan W Rodgers and Andrew W. Rogers. Estu Perpetua.

Elliot Hall Plaque

A plaque located in the room in Elliot Hall where Phi Delta Theta was founded denotes the fraternity's founding date and founding members.

 Plaque that reads Dikaia Upotheke, Hail. In this hall in March, 1868, there was established the Miami chapter of Delta Upsilon, by John McCurdy Robinson and six other charter members. Robinson had transferred to Miami from Western Reserve University where he had become a member of Delta Upsilon. The last of the fraternities of "old Miami" and the only non-secret fraternity, the chapter was reestablished in November, 1908, by the initiation of sixteen members of Delta Rho, a local fraternity. This plaque is gratefully dedicated in memory of the twelve brothers of this chapter who gave their lives in service of their country in World War II.

Stoddard Hall Plaque

Stoddard Hall is the second of Miami's two original dormitories. Like Elliot Hall it remains in use as a residence hall today. This Delta Upsilon plaque commemorates the founding of the Miami chapter in 1868. The chapter closed when the university did so during the American Civil War, but was re-established in 1908 in the "New Miami" Era. The dedication on the plaque recognizes twelve chapter members who died serving in World War II.

Northeast Campus

Low semicircle wall that reads 1906 Phi Kappa Tau 2006

Phi Kappa Tau Circle

Phi Kappa Tau's history dates to 1906. A group of men met in Old Main to form a "Non-Fraternity Association" to give non-affiliated men a voice in campus affairs, which were then percieved to be dominated by Greek life. They shortened their name to Phrenocon. Their aim wasn't to subvert traditional fraternities, but rather to give non-affiliated men an equal footing on campus. Phrenocon soon acquired a house and began recruiting new members. The group spread to other universities, and after a few changes in operation, Phrenocon changed its name to Phi Kappa Tau in 1916.

The Phi Kappa Tau Circle is an anniversary monument located at the northeast corner of Talawanda and High Streets, the start of what used to be dubbed "Fraternity Row". The original structure and central plaque were dedicated in 1981 for the fraternity's Diamond Anniversary. The wall was constructed later to recognize the organization's centennial.

Circular Seal that reads Phi Kappa Tau 1906. 1981. Presented on the diamond anniversary of its founding at Miami University on March 17, 1906.

Phi Kappa Tau Circle Plaque

This plaque was part of the original dedication of the Phi Kappa Tau Circle during the group's 75th anniversary celebration.

Exterior view of the front of Marcum, with a patio, benches and flowers.

Marcum Hotel and Conference Center

The Marcum Hotel and Conference Center stands on the former site of Fisher Hall. The original building was the home of the Oxford Female College and The Oxford Retreat Sanitarium before being sold to Miami and converted into a men's residence hall. Fisher Hall hosted a US Navy radio training school during World War II and housed the theater department prior to the construction of the Center for the Performing Arts. 

The woods surrounding Marcum played host to early Greeks at Miami, as they held chapter meetings and initiation rituals there. Greek students would meet in this bucolic setting to discuss Poe and Longfellow and debate issues such as slavery and tariff rights, all while voting in new membership and arguing for honorary members.  

When the Oxford Female College was located there, women would occasionally encounter Greek members in the woods. The women never saw anything quite as strange as the Delta Kappa Epsilon coffin processional. As Walter Havighurst reports in The Miami Years, on special nights the Deke’s would carry a coffin down the back stairs of their High Street house and through the deserted streets of Oxford. They would end their processional in the woods near the college where they performed rituals only members of the fraternity knew.

The Marcum Hotel and Conference Center was modeled after the Wren Building at the College of William and Mary, where Greek societies were first conceived. Marcum is also the site of Delta Zeta’s 100th anniversary pavilion in the front of the building, as well as a plaque by Delta Chi on the north (rear) patio. 

Circular Seal that Reads Delta Zeta Sorority. Founded at Miami University October 24, 1902, Diamond Jubilee. In Memory of the founders, Julia Bishop, Mary Collins, Anna Keen, Alfa Lloyd, Mabelle Minton Anna Simmons.

Marcum Hotel and Conference Center Plaques: Delta Zeta

In honor of the sorority's Diamond Jubilee, this plaque in front of Marcum commemorates the founding members of Delta Zeta.

Delta Chi Fraternity 50th anniversary gift 1932 – 1982.

Marcum Hotel and Conference Center Plaques: Delta Chi

A plaque marks the patio behind Marcum, gifted to the university by Delta Chi on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Miami chapter. 

A couple rows of about 10 rosebushes without blooms

Formal Gardens

The Formal Gardens sit behind the Marcum Hotel and Conference Center and feature many benches and other decorative structures donated by Miami fraternities and sororities to celebrate chapter milestones. The 200th anniversary of Greek-letter societies in the United States was celebrated along with the country's Bicentennial in 1976 and was commemorated by the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association with a plaque at the garden's entrance.

Plaque that reads Rose Garden Area The centennial anniversary gift of Beta Epsilon Chapter Gamma Phi Beta. 1874-1974.

Formal Gardens Plaque: Gamma Phi Beta

This is an example of the many dedicated structures and areas in the Formal Gardens. The Rose Garden section was a gift from Gamma Phi Beta in honor of their centennial year on campus.