The Divine Nine: A history of Baylor’s National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations
Just off Fountain Mall sits a peaceful garden plot, complete with gorgeous landscaping and bold granite markers. The space is Baylor’s National Pan-Hellenic Garden, a place to recognize historically Black Greek-lettered groups on campus. The markers represent fraternities and sororities within the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), often referred to as the “Divine Nine.”
The NPHC was founded in 1930 at Howard University during an era in which Greek organizations founded by African Americans were, sadly, often banned from being affiliated with Greek organizations founded by whites. The first NPHC organization at Baylor, the Nu Iota chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., was chartered in 1972; other organizations followed over the years, and today, Baylor has active chapters for seven of the Divine Nine organizations.
These groups are an integral part of life at Baylor for many BU students. But who are the members of these groups? What are they passionate about? How do they contribute to the Baylor Family? As part of our Black History Month recognition, today we celebrate Baylor’s Divine Nine:
Nu Iota || Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., was founded on the principles of scholarship, service, sisterhood and finer womanhood at Howard University in 1920. To the five founding women, Zeta was more than an organization; it was a movement to propel women forward.
The Nu Iota chapter was chartered at Baylor in November 1972 as the first multicultural organization at Baylor. Today, the group hosts an annual Stompfest production to raise funds for fighting sickle cell anemia. “It is our goal to bring a spirit of service and diversity to Baylor’s campus,” says one member. “We’re always looking to engage and enrich our fellow peers and the Waco community.”
Pi Mu || Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Since its founding at Howard University in 1908, the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha are firmly bonded by sisterhood and empowered by a commitment to servant-leadership. It is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college-educated women.
The Baylor chapter of AKA, Pi Mu, was established in December 1991. As it has grown, the women of this organization have strived to cultivate high scholastic and ethical standards, promote friendship among college women, and help alleviate problems affecting girls and women. “Although the pandemic has limited some events and meetings, our sorority — our sisterhood — still stays true to our values and mission: to serve all walks of life,” says senior Stacey Clark, chapter president.
The Rho Eta chapter was established at Baylor in 1991. Today, the organization specifically focuses on helping Black communities and encouraging women to pursue higher levels of education.
Tau Alpha || Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is the first intercollegiate historically African American Greek-lettered fraternity. It was initially a literary and social studies club, but later evolved into a fraternity, with a founding date of December 1906 at Cornell University.
The Tau Alpha chapter began at Baylor in 1993. Today, the Alphas focus on developing leadership qualities and academic excellence, while advocating for Waco communities.
Xi Sigma || Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Founded in 1911 at Indiana University, Kappa Alpha Psi has spent 110 years focusing on one word: achievement. As the second oldest existing collegiate Black Greek letter fraternity, members of this organization are dedicated to providing community service, supporting social welfare programs, and encouraging academic scholarship.
The Xi Sigma chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., was chartered in May 1994 by 10 Baylor Bears. Since then, the Kappas have continuously worked to foster community. “The Kappa men are committed to developing the Baylor and Waco community,” says one member. “Even through the pandemic, we have hosted multiple (virtual) career development events that were very well-received.”
Xi Chi || Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Sigma Gamma Rho was organized in November 1922 at Butler University. Since its inception, the dynamic women of Sigma Gamma Rho have built and sustained a reputation for leading positive change to help uplift their communities through sisterhood, leadership and service.
The Xi Chi Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho, was originally chartered at Baylor in 1996, and was recently rechartered in March 2019 by four students. “Though our chapter is small, we are very motivated to help our communities,” says junior Mia Robertson, a chapter member. “Whether it is with children, new mothers, or students, we want to make a difference in the people’s lives that are around us.”
Chi Delta Delta || Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
In 1911, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., was founded at Howard University on the principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance and “uplift.” The organization was the first international fraternal organization founded on the campus of a historically black college. The members of this fraternity recognize friendship as an essential part of life, and bond together to help each other and those in their communities.
The Chi Delta Delta chapter of Omega Psi Phi was chartered at Baylor in 1998, but is currently inactive.
Nu Zeta || Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Phi Beta Sigma was founded at Howard University in January 1914. From its inception, members of this organization have been dedicated to the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship and service.
Nu Zeta, Baylor’s chapter of Phi Beta Sigma, was established in 2000 by four Baylor students. The group is committed to weekly community service activities, and annually hosts events like the “Royal and Pure” homecoming step-show, proud to bring a diverse perspective to the Baylor student body.
Iota Phi Theta
Baylor does not currently have a chapter for Iota Phi Theta, which was founded at Morgan State University in 1963. There is room remaining in the NPHC Garden should a chapter ever be established.
Together, these organizations promote holistic development of their members and work to assist the Baylor and Waco communities in a variety of ways.
Sic ’em, Divine Nine!
[Earlier this month, Baylor Multicultural Affairs hosted the first in a series of Instagram Lives on the NPHC to share more about the organizations and how they’re continuing their work through the pandemic.]