Phi Gamma Nu was originally founded on February 17, 1924 at the Chicago campus of Northwestern University. Under the leadership of Sylvia Arnold, six devoted women initiated what was to become one of the premier business fraternities in the United States: Phi Gamma Nu. Since then, Phi Gamma Nu has grown to become a national, influential, and dedicated organization, devoted to professionalism, service, and brotherhood.


Written 1936

After receiving my A.B. at George Washington University in 1923, I returned to my home in Chicago, and that fall registered at Northwestern University for graduate work in commerce and journalism. I recognized the need for a commerce fraternity at Northwestern. The University was growing, and activities were inadequate. I discussed the idea of a women’s professional fraternity with Professor A. W. T. Ogilvie, head of the Committee on Student Activities, who agreed that there was a definite need and encouraged me in forming a new group. He was one of our first patrons and a very helpful one. At a party after the first football game in the fall of 1923 I met five students whom I thought had the personality, vitality, spirit and qualifications to form a nucleus for this new fraternity. We attended football games and college functions in a group, and a feeling of friendship quickly developed. They reacted enthusiastically to my idea of founding a professional fraternity. When we definitely decided to organize in February, 1924, the students appointed me president as I was the only one with a university degree and with experience as president of my social sorority at George Washington. During the first two years we held regular business and social meetings at the members’ homes. To create a treasury adequate to carry on our work of expansion, we sponsored dances, which were always successful financially and socially. Cooperation from the faculty, the various fraternities, and the student body was most responsive. Our problems during those early days were to initiate students who met the scholastic requirements and improve our financial status to carry on the work of a pioneering organization. There was a winning spirit and an enthusiasm among those members, which spelled success. Working together harmoniously, our achievements were amazing for a small group.

Phi Gamma Nu Timeline


Phi Gamma Nu Fraternity was established on the campus of Northwestern University.


First Constitution of Phi Gamma Nu was adopted.


The official crest, colors, password, handclasp, and sign were adopted and embodied in the ritual.


Articles of Incorporation were secured for Phi Gamma Nu as a non-pecuniary organization in the state of Illinois.


June 21-24, the first Grand Chapter Congress was held in Chicago at which time our first Grand Officers were elected.

Founders’ Day Celebration was started by the first Grand Council.

The presentation of the Scholarship Key was initiated by the first Grand Council. The first Scholarship Keys were presented in 1931.


In October, the first issue of “The Magazine of Phi Gamma Nu” appeared with Frances Schrampfer as its Editor.


The first Pledge Manual was adopted by the first Grand Council on June 18th.

The first Grand Council established the presenting of the President’s Crest to the retiring chapter President at the time of the Founders’ Day Celebration.

June 18-21, the second Grand Chapter Congress was held at Troutdale-in-the-Pines, Colorado and at this time a Life membership Plan and Fund was established.


An Employment Committee was organized to help our Alumni members in locating employment.


During 1942-1945 Phi Gamma Nu Chapters shifted from their regular activities to those contributing to the war effort. Many of our members entered the women’s services of our country.


The 1944 National Chapter Congress was postponed for one year because of World War II.


The Birthday Pennies Campaign was initiated on Founders’ day 1946 for the purpose of obtaining funds for Phi Gamma Nu’s National Project.

In the fall of 1946, Mrs. W. B. Higgins, former Grand President, accepted the position as National Project Chairman. She suggested that Phi Gamma Nu donate typewriters for hospitalized veterans’ use. The first typewriter that was purchased was donated to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital by the Philadelphia Alumni.


Phi Gamma Nu establishes the Scholarship cup, which was to be presented to one of Phi Gamma Nu’s collegiate chapters for their having the highest two year scholastic average.

Phi Gamma Nu celebrates its 25th Anniversary.


The National Council presented the first Scholarship cup to Iota Chapter located at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.


A Central Office was established for Phi Gamma Nu, located in Chicago, IL


Our first foster child, Lee Jung Sun of Korea, was adopted as our new National Philanthropic Project.


The Scholarship Scroll was presented to each collegiate chapter. The Scroll was to be used as a record of all those students who had won Scholarship Keys from the chapters.


The position of Executive Director was created by the 20th National Chapter Congress.


The United States Government’s Title IX came into effect,  stating that all professional fraternities could no longer operate as a single sex organization. Thus, Phi Gamma Nu began accepting male students into its membership.


The National Chapter Congress changed the name of Phi Gamma Nu Sorority to Phi Gamma Nu Fraternity to comply with Title IX.


The first Phi Gamma Nu archives were displayed at the 24th National Chapter Congress.

A grant was set up in the amount of $300.00 to financially help needy Phi Gamma Nu members in the completion of his/her education. The Student Loan was dispersed with also at the time the Grant was established.

An Executive Director’s Award was established to honor those chapters who have show 100% improvement in their overall chapter administration. The Executive Director presents this award.


Phi Gamma Nu’s 60th Anniversary Celebration was held on February 18, 1984, at Northwestern University with two of its Founders present (Sylvia Arnold and Mary Chard Nalbach.) At the 60th Anniversary Celebration, National President, Carol Tarwater, presented to Dean Donal P. Jacobs of the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, a plaque commemorating the founding of Phi Gamma Nu sixty years ago at Northwestern University.


The National Council restructured from a regional organization to reflect the needs of the chapters, creating the roles of: Internal Vice President, External Vice President, Expansion Vice President, and Vice President of Chapter Presidents.


Phi Gamma Nu celebrates its 90th Anniversary.