Society & Culture

UGA to recognize historically Black fraternities, sororities

Rendering of campus markers on the Tate Student Center West Lawn.

Markers will be installed near the Tate Student Center

At the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community, President Jere W. Morehead has approved the installation of campus markers to recognize the nine historically Black fraternities and sororities that are members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). Located on the West Lawn of the Tate Student Center, this project will bring significant recognition to these important organizations.

Established in 1930, the primary purpose of the NPHC remains community awareness and action through educational, economic, and cultural service activities. Throughout their history, these organizations have helped to build community among Black students at colleges and universities across the country.

“This project will support our ongoing efforts to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment at the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am excited about the opportunity to recognize our historically Black fraternities and sororities in this meaningful way.”

The nine member organizations of the NPHC include: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. The establishment of campus recognition for these organizations has long been a goal of NPHC members at UGA.

“This has been a project that Black students at UGA have worked on for quite some time as I became aware of this goal well over 43 years ago when I first arrived on campus,” said Victor K. Wilson, Vice President for Student Affairs, who served as chair of the Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community. “I can still recall many of these conversations as a student at UGA. To be a part of this becoming a reality will rank as one of my proudest moments as a graduate of this institution as well as a sitting vice president at my alma mater.”

Student leaders in the Greek community expressed their strong support of the action:

“I have been a student at the University of Georgia since 2016 and humbly entered office as the NPHC President in 2018,” said Justin Nixon, 2019-2020 NPHC President and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. “In my two years of service, I have longed for there to be markers present that would represent historically black fraternities and sororities.  The construction of markers on our great campus will physically and symbolically represent our respective organizations’ presence for current members, alumni, and future members to come.  The deep history that our organizations represent will forever be tied to this campus.”

“I am proud and excited to see NPHC gain the physical recognition long deserved,” said Brennan Cox, 2020 Interfraternity Council President and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. “These markers deliver a message to non-Greeks and Greeks that fraternity and sorority life is not limited to Milledge Avenue, Panhellenic, or IFC and are a necessary step in building a more welcoming and inclusive community at UGA. This timely initiative and the organizations it seeks to acknowledge will better our University for decades and centuries to come.”

In May 1969, the Zeta Pi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. became the first NPHC member organization to establish a charter at the University of Georgia. This was followed shortly thereafter by the Zeta Psi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in November 1969. As the first two NPHC organizations on the UGA campus, they are also the fraternity and sorority, respectively, of Dr. Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the first two Black students at UGA and two of our most iconic alumni.

Leaders within the Greek alumni community have enthusiastically endorsed the action:

“While some will simply see these as markers, what I will always see is a gathering place for members of our NPHC Fraternities and Sororities, young and old, to share fond memories of our college days,” said Jeff Brown, President of the Black Alumni Leadership Council President and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. “This is a place where alumni will bring their children and students will bring their parents. This place is a sign of a welcoming environment, a place that will be a depiction of a more inclusive UGA.”

“As we approach the 60th Anniversary of desegregation at UGA, recognition of our National Pan-Hellenic Greek organizations on campus is significant,” said Yvette Daniels, Vice President of the UGA Alumni Association and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  “NPHC has been a part of the fabric and culture of the University of Georgia for over 50 years and marking their presence on campus shows, in a permanent way, that we are a part of the University of Georgia and add to its accomplishments daily in our work and service.”

“Having witnessed the dedication and loyalty of UGA’s historically black Greek organizations over the years, I celebrate with the UGA alumni who will be represented in these placards,” said Meredith Johnson, Executive Director of Alumni Relations. “These organizations have created communities of leaders at UGA that continue to achieve excellence together on and off campus.”

Similar projects have been launched at numerous other institutions including the University of Florida, University of Tennessee, and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. The Office of University Architects is managing the project, which will be completed in the Spring of 2021. Although the project was recommended by the Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community, other members of the University community have been involved including students, faculty, staff, and alumni.