History of Beta Sigma Psi
Beta Sigma Psi (ΒΣΨ), commonly known as Beta Sig is a United States-based fraternity. Founded at the University of Illinois in 1925, ΒΣΨ has more than 7,500 initiated members. With 11 chapters and colonies in 7 states, there are currently over 300 undergraduate members active on each of our college campuses. Beta Sigma Psi is centered on three S’s: Spiritual, Scholastic, and Social.
Beta Sigma Psi was founded as a national fraternity for Lutheran male students on April 17, 1925. The Fraternity had its origins for students at the University of Illinois and has since spread across the United States, primarily to schools in the mid-west United States.
The Rev. Frederick William Gustav Stiegemeyer, the son of a pastor, was born on January 16, 1878, in a parsonage in Dubuque, Iowa. In 1911, he accepted a call to St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Champaign, Illinois. As part of his ministry, he was to serve the students at the University of Illinois. In the fall of 1919, he organized the Lutheran Illini League with a combination of ten students. At that time their intentions were to do no more than meet once or twice a week for religious instruction and discussion on contemporary issues. In the fall of 1920, now with twenty members, the Lutheran Illini League rented a house, and in early 1921 was reorganized as the Concordia Club.
By 1923 the group regularly participated in campus activities; so much so that they began being referred to as the “Concordia Fraternity.” This was the spark that encouraged some of the members to give serious thought to once again reorganizing the organization and making it part of the university’s fraternity system. Meetings were held, and plans were laid to organize as a new national fraternity.
Those men who worked on these plans were convinced that they would create a National fraternity that would maintain all the noble aspirations of the early Concordia Club founders. These young leaders who founded our great organization were:
- Harold Ahlbrand
- Wilbur E. Augustine
- Norbert W. Behrens
- Herman H. Gilster
- Arden F. Henry
- Russell Henry
- Julius J. Seidel
- Rev. Stiegemeyer
- William H. Welge
These men, considered the founding fathers of Beta Sigma Psi, decided to act in the spring of 1925. Incorporation papers were filed for Beta Sigma Psi National Fraternity on April 17, 1925, in Springfield, Illinois.
The organization of Beta Sigma Psi National Fraternity is unique. In order to divide the duties and services, three separate corporations or entities were formed, each with a specific mission, purpose, and Board of Directors. The three corporations are the National Fraternity, the Education Foundation, and the Housing Foundation.
- Edgar J. Friedrich, 1925–1927
- Arden F. Henry 1927–1928
- Edgar J. Friedrich 1928–1929
- Harold C. Ahlbrand 1929–1930
- Weldon O. Kertschmer 1930–1932
- Carl M. Sauer 1932–1936
- William H. Welge 1936–1938
- Harold C. Ahlbrand 1938–1940
- Herman H. Jost, Jr. 1940–1941
- Harry A. Hagar 1941–1946
- Norman Mankey 1946–1949
- Harold M. Lapp 1949–1952
- John Hingst 1952–1967
- Larry R. Edwards 1967–1972
- Douglas G. Peter 1972–1974
- Dennis H. Stelzer 1974–1978
- Richard Newman 1978–1980
- Ralph C. Folkerts 1980–1982
- Robert E. Hillard 1982–1986
- Delbert F. Karmeier 1986–1988
- Steven K. Janssen 1988–1992
- David Jackson 1992–1994
- Matthew P. Homann 1994–1996
- Craig R. Varner 1996–2000
- Kirk M. Meyer 2000–2002
- Chad Winterhof 2002–2004
- Chad Pfister 2004–2010
- Rick Meyer 2010–2012
- Art Giesler 2012–2013
- Larry R. Edwards 2013–2014
- Rudy Ristich 2014-present
Luther’s Emblem or seal consists of a black cross inside of a red heart inside of a rose and represents the Lutheran faith that is represented strongly in the men of Beta Sigma Psi. It is incorporated into the coat of arms and the badge.
The Badge of Beta Sigma Psi consists of black cross contained in a heart which is superimposed on a gold rose (Luther’s Emblem). The emblem is placed on a shield with the Greek letters Beta Sigma Psi in an arc above the rose. The variation of the badge includes eighteen pearls bordering the shield. The badge is worn by activated members of Beta Sigma Psi.
The Flag of Beta Sigma Psi consists of the Coat of Arms set upon a field of Cardinal red and white with the letters in the upper left quadrant.
The Banner of Beta Sigma Psi consists of the Coat of Arms set upon a field of Cardinal red and white.
The Gold Rose
The Gold Rose is the official flower of Beta Sigma Psi. The fraternity’s national publication and yearly national formal are also named after the flower.
Awards of Beta Sigma Psi
The objective of the National Awards program is to encourage excellence in chapter and colony management and to recognize the achievements of our members and alumni.
Presented to the chapter or colony who exhibits the best overall management. The award is named after Larry Edwards, an alumnus of Zeta chapter.
This award is given to a chapter or colony exhibiting the best scholarship program. It is named after the late John Hingst, an alumnus of Beta chapter.
This award is given to the chapter or colony producing and displaying the best scrapbook or digital record. The award is named after Professor William H. Baehr, an honorary member of Zeta chapter.
This award is given to the chapter or colony with the best recruitment program. The award is named after William H. Welge, one of Beta Sigma Psi’s founding fathers who served as National President.
Annually given to the chapter or colony with the best membership education program. This award is a traveling trophy.
This award is given annually to the chapter that displays the best philanthropic program. This award is named for Larry Erickson, an advisor to Zeta Chapter.
Given annually to the collegiate member who exemplifies the Three S’s on a daily basis by serving his chapter, community and local church. This award is named after long-time Pastoral Advisor to Delta chapter.
This award is presented members who demonstrate Christian leadership and personal interest in the spiritual well-being of his fellow fraternity brothers. The award is named after Timothy Kettler an active member of Eta Chapter who passed away in 1990 in a tragic car accident.
Junker Georg Award
This award is given to a member who gives his time and effort to colonize a new chapter.
The origins of the Educational Foundation trace back to the Erck Memorial Scholarship Loan Fund, which was incorporated in the State of Nebraska on May 4, 1960. The organization was established to celebrate the life of the Reverend H. Erck, one of the founders of Delta Chapter and first National Pastoral Advisor, who died in 1959. The original incorporators and directors were: John Hingst, Eldo Schornhorst, Del Lienemann, Donald M. Froelich & Larry Edwards.
On March 22, 1968, with Bill Bunte serving as President of the corporation, a resolution was adopted to change the name to the Erck Foundation. The name change was filed with the Secretary of State on April 30 of that year. In late 1981, National President Ralph Folkerts contacted fellow alumnus Lloyd Karmeier and asked that he attempt to pursue Internal Revenue Service charitable status for the foundation. Directors of the Erck Memorial Scholarship Loan Fund and Erck Foundation had previously attempted to gain charitable status but without success. Internal Revenue Service regulations made changing the foundation’s status very difficult – so difficult that it would be easier to start with a new foundation. So, in a letter dated January 29, 1982, Ralph announced that plans were to be made to create a new foundation, the Beta Sigma Psi Educational Foundation. On March 1, 1982, Lloyd filed the necessary papers with the Illinois Secretary of State and the Beta Sigma Psi Educational Foundation was officially created. The Erck Foundation funds were transferred as the first “donation” to the new foundation. The original directors of the Beta Sigma Psi Educational Foundation were:
- Al Panhorst, Chairman
- Bob Hillard, Vice Chairman
- Kevin Christ, Secretary/Treasurer
- Bill Bunte, Director
- Ralph Folkerts, Director
- Lloyd Karmeier, Director
The IRS acknowledged the filing of the application on October 18, 1982, and provided the directors with a list of requirements and requests for additional information on November 22, 1982. On April 5, 1983, Kevin Christ received a telephone call from the IRS indicating approval of the exemption application on a probationary basis, subject to final review of the actual operations of the foundation at the end of three years. The first fundraising activity was conducted in order to satisfy the IRS “test of public support” requirement, which is based on the number of donors, not the number of dollars donated. So, a campaign was launched, soliciting a $1 donation from each Beta Sigma Psi member.
Over 1,100 alumni responded with a donation. By a letter dated April 25, 1985, the Beta Sigma Psi Educational Foundation received its final tax-exempt approval letter, becoming qualified as a non-profit charitable organization as defined by section 501(c)3 of IRS regulations. Therefore, contributions are tax-deductible, to the extent allowed by law.
The first of what would become annual Educational Foundation phone-a-thon fundraisers was conducted in 1985. Keith Dierberg envisioned the phone-a-thon as an opportunity for alumni members to support the on-going programs of Beta Sigma Psi. Generous alumni support has made the annual phone-a-thon a huge success. To date, over $1,200,000 has been raised through the phone-a-thon, of which over $600,000 is now (permanently) endowed.
- Al Panhorst, 1982-1984
- Keith Dierberg, 1984-1988
- Scott Gesell, 1988-1989
- David Johnson, 1989-1990
- Kevin Christ, 1990-1991
- Paul Mellring, 1992 (interim)
- Steve Panhorst, 1992-2002
- Keith Dierberg, 2002-2005
- Kirk Meyer, 2005-2011
- Steve Hollrah, 2011-present
The Beta Sigma Psi Educational Foundation was founded to promote educational activities and programs that reflect the purposes of Beta Sigma Psi Fraternity. It is an instrument through which alumni can help younger members lead richer, fuller lives, and produce positive results for our society. The future of the Educational Foundation, and of Beta Sigma Psi Fraternity, will be determined by each of us, through our donations and our time commitment.