Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded on March 9, 1856, at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Its founders were Noble Leslie DeVotie, Nathan Elams Cockrell, John Barratt Rudulph, John Webb Kerr, Samuel Marion Dennis, Wade Hampton Foster, Abner Edwin Patton, and Thomas Chappell Cook. Their leader was DeVotie, who wrote the ritual, created the grip, and chose the name. Rudulph designed the badge.
By the end of 1857, the fraternity numbered seven chapters. Its first national convention met in the summer of 1858 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with four of its eight chapters in attendance. By the early 1960’s, fifteen chapters had been established.
None of the founders of SAE were members of any other fraternity, although Noble Leslie DeVotie had been invited to join all of the other fraternities at the University of Alabama before founding Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon reached a historic milestone on March 9, 2014, with the elimination of pledging and the membership classification of pledges. Instead, we have implemented a holistic education known as the True Gentleman Experience. It provides education throughout a member’s collegiate tenure and fosters both personal and professional development. We are the first large national fraternity to eliminate pledging for all of our chapters.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the first North-American Interfraternity Conference fraternity to hire a Director of Diversity and Inclusion, who is responsible for overseeing the development, promotion and implementation of strategies that lead to enhanced diversity within our organization.