Our Founding and Earning Our Charter
The Sigma Epsilon colony at the University of Tennessee at Martin was started March 7, 1993. The reason the colony was founded was based on a preliminary expansion visit by Brother Mark Davis at the request of then District Governor, Craig Diller. Brother Diller chose UTM because it was the fastest growing four-year institution in District 13 (Tennessee and Kentucky).
The Regional Director at the time, Mark Sutton, and Brother Davis scattered flyers across campus and held an informational meeting followed by interviews. Sutton and Davis extended a total of thirty-two invitations to membership, twenty-nine of which were accepted immediately. Next, Sutton and Davis appointed men to all executive and committee positions.
The new colony immediately began participating in intramurals and carrying out community service projects. Numbers steadily began to grow. Sigma Phi Epsilon was well received on the campus by both faculty and student body because of its commitment to balanced programming, personal development, and overall advancement of the university. The expanded definition of “social fraternity” was a breath of fresh air in a rather stale fraternity system. The continuing theme of excellence and balance in its members is the hallmark of SigEp brothers on campus.
The fraternity’s first triumphs were seen in the fall of 1993. The fraternity participated in homecoming with the Chi Omega sorority and placed second in the float competition. Community activities included activities with one of our local philanthropies, D.A.R.E., a drug prevention program for junior high students. Sigma Phi Epsilon held the highest G.P.A. on campus after only one semester at UT Martin. The following spring semester of 1994 marked Sigma Epsilon Colony’s first anniversary. During this time, the fraternity continued its focus on community service, all the while maintaining the highest G.P.A. on campus.
The following fall of 1994 marked a renewed focus on finding and befriending the Balanced Man to join the fraternity. Over the course of the semester, 30 new members were recruited, and the chapter moved to fourth largest on campus. The fraternity’s perseverance in intramural and other Sound Body events paid off with a second place in the Homecoming Rope Pull competition.
In the spring of 1995, a little over two years since the decision was made to start a colony at Martin, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s UT Martin colony earned its Charter. The new Tennessee Kappa Chapter was welcomed in grand style with a banquet in honor of the men who had brought the ideals of the nation’s largest fraternity to our West Tennessee home. The event was attended by fellow fraternity and sorority members, parents, campus administrators and professors. Every spring, the Tennessee Kappa chapter hosted Family Day as a time for alumni and parents of our undergraduates to come together and celebrate the accomplishments of our brothers. Our history at UT Martin may be short, but the future is bright with the promise found in the hearts of each of our brothers.
The Chapter Today
Tennessee Kappa will celebrate our 25th anniversary on campus in the spring of 2020. The college experience for our undergraduate members has changed a great deal in our more than quarter century on campus. The chapter was the only one at UT Martin to eliminate the "pledge" model in favor of our Balanced Man Program which promotes equal rights and responsibilities from a member's first day with the chapter. SigEp has also introduced the Carlson Leadership Academy, Ruck Leadership Institute and Tragos Quest to Greece to our leadership continuum to offer a chance for those truly exceptional campus leaders to hone their skills for both their chapter leadership roles and life after college.
Sigma Phi Epsilon's Grand Chapter, comprised of undergraduate members from across the country, voted in the summer of 2017 to mandate substance-free facilities nationwide. It marked a turning point for the SigEp experience to be one that truly focuses on developing the Balanced Man instead of "fraternity as usual" that far too often leads to poor academic performance and dangerous behavior. We believe this decision creates a safer and more conducive environment to learn and grow into a Balanced Man.
Tennessee Kappa is a member of the UT Martin Intrafraternity Council.
The Tennessee Kappa Alumni & Volunteer Corporation owns two pieces of adjacent property near UT Martin, across the street from University Village I. The main Chapter House accommodates four residents.