Our History

Sigma Nu was founded by three cadets at the Virginia Military Institute during the Reconstruction period after The Civil War. The system of physical abuse and hazing of underclassmen at VMI inspired James Frank Hopkins, Greenfield Quarles, and James McIlvaine Riley to form the “Legion of Honor,” or Sigma Nu; a radical departure from the times.


Rho Chapter House in 1917 before the sunroom addition.

Over the past 140+ years, Sigma Nu has grown into one of the largest fraternal organizations in the world. Over 230,000 men have been initiated into Sigma Nu from over 275 chapters all over the United States and Canada.

Rho Chapter was the sixteenth charter granted by Sigma Nu, the eleventh oldest active Sigma Nu chapter, and the second fraternity at the University of Missouri Columbia. George R. McVey traveled to Columbia in the first week of January 1886 with the expressed intent of forming a new chapter. John A. Howard financed McVey’s trip and later provided the charter for the chapter.

Seated: George R. McVey, Epsilon, Founder; Charter members: Robert E. Downing, P4; William D. Magruder, P5. Standing: Julian H. Pearson, P2; George L. Belcher, P3; John M. Evans, P1.

Seated: George R. McVey, Epsilon, Founder; Charter members: Robert E. Downing, P4; William D. Magruder, P5. Standing: Julian H. Pearson, P2; George L. Belcher, P3; John M. Evans, P1.

George McVey met with the five charter members: John M. Evans, P1; Julian H. Pearson, P2; George L. Belcher, P3; Robert E. Downing, P4; and William D. Magruder, P5. Because of opposition to “secret societies” by the faculty and a possible outright ban of them, the group decided to wait a bit longer before officially forming the chapter. The faculty, later that month, decided not to ban these “secret societies.” McVey returned to Columbia to initiate the members and start the chapter.

On January 26, 1886 the first five members of Rho Chapter were initiated. While the group still felt some hesitation about revealing their actions, the five charter members and McVey decide to parade down Broadway wearing the badge of the fraternity to show their commitment to Sigma Nu. Thus began Rho Chapter’s glorious history.

Plans for a new, permanent chapter house began circulating in the early 1900s, with construction for the new house starting in 1914. Rho’s chapter house at 710 South College Avenue was completed in 1915. The sunroom addition was completed in 1921. In 1962, Rho alumni funded a significant renovation and addition that doubled the size of the original house, adding more rooms, bathrooms, and a dining room to the rear of the house.

After 101 years at 710 South College and the house showing its age, the alumni of Rho Chapter embarked on a campaign to construct a new chapter house in 2014. Construction was started in 2016 to be completed in August of 2017.

Notable Rho Chapter Alumni

Joseph Paxton P7 (1886) — First commander of Rho Chapter.
Hamilton M. Dawes P46 (1890) — Elected regent at the 9th Grand Chapter in 1898; Sigma Nu Hall of Honor.
Louis L. Roth P306 (1915) — Past president of the National Interfraternity Conference, as well as Regent, Division Inspector and advisor; inductee in the Sigma Nu Hall of Honor.
Flavius B. Doc Freeman P587 (1929) — Served for over 40 years in various offices of Sigma Nu including Regent, Grand Marshall, Jurisprudence Committee Chairman, Division Inspector and Advisor; Sigma Nu Hall of Honor.
Richard S. Kinder P1197 (1963) Founder and Chairman of Kinder Morgan Inc., one of the largest energy transportation, storage and distribution companies in North America. A former Rho Chapter Commander.
Ted Saussele P1228 (1964) All-Big Eight conference football player.
Joe L. Moseley P1322 (1968) Served as Boone County Prosecuting Attorney for 14 years (4 ½ terms) and was elected to the Missouri Senate in 1992. Currently Vice President of Public Affairs for Shelter Insurance Company.

Don Tomlinson P1317 (1968) All-Big Eight conference basketball player and NBA draft choice.
Timothy C. (Craig) Ligibel P1317 (1968) The “L” in VML Advertising. He is a founding partner in KC’s third largest advertising agency and a Top 100 interactive agency in the U.S.
Allen D. Eberhard P1451 (1973) All-American basketball player and first round draft choice of the Detroit Pistons.
William T. (Tom) Reeves P1487 (1974) President of the Pulaski Banks of St. Louis and a former Rho Commander.
Jon Dalton P1627 (1980) Mayor of Town and Country, Missouri.
Lamar B. Graham P1723 (1984) Managing editor of Parade magazine.
Paul Terry P1742 (1984) Contributing writer for the Wall Street Journal.
Kris E. Peck P1756 (1985) Producer on HBO’s “Not Necessarily the News” — an assistant on the movie “The Rock” with Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage.
Marc H. Ellinger P1771 (1986) Currently the youngest member of Missouri’s Electoral College — which casts the official state votes for U.S. President.