American University


Washington, D.C.

American University was founded in 1893. Phi Epsilon Alpha was organized at American University in January 1937. It was chartered as Alpha Iota Chapter of Alpha Kappa Pi in May 1940. Alpha Kappa Pi was the second NIC fraternity to establish a chapter at American. Shortly thereafter, operations were suspended due to World War II. In 1947, the Chapter was revived as Beta Chi of Alpha Sigma Phi by initiating six men, including Dr. Otto Sonder, American ‘47. 

The Chapter operated from a quonset-hut from 1953 until 1959. In 1962, plans to build a three story house on campus were announced. The new house on the American University campus was dedicated in 1964.  Hubert Humphrey III, American ‘62, past Grand Senior President Charles Akre, Iowa ‘28, Karl Mann, American ‘42, Peter Tourtellot, American ‘57, and Lou Petrini, American ‘55, were speakers at the dedication. The Chapter’s bell made from a shell casing gave the name to the chapter newsletter, “The Beta Chi Bell.”

Under the leadership of Tim McProuty, American ‘73, the Chapter rebounded from a low membership of two undergraduates in 1973. Beta Chi was named American University Chapter of the Year in 1986-87. In the late 1980’s the Chapter sought to keep the University from razing its house for building development. In the early 1990’s, the Chapter house was taken by the University for its needs. The former house served as the university police station at times but has since been demolished. The Chapter has had facilities in campus residence halls.

The Chapter hosted the 1990 National Leadership Conference and Convention. It won 1956-58 and 1964-66 Chapter Newsletter Awards.

Brother Dr. Otto Sonder, American ‘47, served as Grand Chapter Advisor at Lycoming from 1959 to 1967, at Hartwick from 1967 to 2000, as Grand Province Chief from 1966 to 1993, as chairman of the National Leadership Conferences of 1971 and 1973, and Principal Architect in bringing Alpha Gamma Upsilon to merge with Alpha Sigma Phi. The Dr. Otto L. Sonder Grand Chapter Advisor Award was created during the 2006 Grand Chapter. The award recognizes a Grand Chapter Advisor who has helped to advance the Vision and Purpose of the Fraternity on a chapter level.

Peter Tourtellot, American ‘57, served on the Grand Council of Alpha Sigma Phi, and Milton Cerny, American ‘54, served as Trustee of the Alpha Sigma Phi Educational Foundation. Ned Adams, American ‘58, served as Field Secretary on the Fraternity Staff in 1960-61.

Records show award name and year(s) received.

Alpha Gamma Upsilon Bronze Cup of Distinction 2015, 2013, 2012 
Phi Pi Phi Silver Cup of Distinction 2014 

Records show brother's name, initiation year, and award received.

Stephen A. Behrer 1973 Delta Beta Xi Award
John R. Benson 1954 Delta Beta Xi Award
William R. Britton 1961 Delta Beta Xi Award
Milton Cerny 1954 Delta Beta Xi Award
Robert L. Denny 1949 Delta Beta Xi Award
James R. Maher 1968 Delta Beta Xi Award
Karl O. Mann 1942 Delta Beta Xi Award
William S. Petrini 1955 Delta Beta Xi Award
Willard H. Scott 1953 Distinguished Merit Award
Robert J. Shaw 1984 Frank F. Hargear Recipient
    Delta Beta Xi Award
Otto Louis Sonder, Jr. 1947 Varner Distinguished Service Award
    Delta Beta Xi Award
Peter L. Tourtellot 1957 Delta Beta Xi Award