Tau Epsilon Phi

Tau Epsilon Phi
Founded October 10, 1910 (1910-10-10)
Columbia University
Type Social fraternity
Motto Friendship, Chivalry, Service[1]
Colors      Lavender and      White[1]
Flower Lily of the Mountain and Violets in combination[1]
Jewel Emeralds and Pearls[1]
Chapters 13
Colonies 3
Homepage www.tep.org

Tau Epsilon Phi (ΤΕΦ, commonly pronounced TEP) is an American fraternity with 13 active chapters and 3 active colonies, and 20 official alumni clubs[2] chiefly located at universities and colleges on the East Coast. The national headquarters is located in the New Jersey township of Voorhees and the official colors of the organization are lavender and white (although most chapters use purple instead of lavender).[3]


The organization's creed asserts its governing ideals as "friendship, chivalry, service." TEP attracts and accepts brothers of all religions and ethnicities who agree to be bound by these ideals. Chapters uphold these ideals through participation in various social, academic, athletic and charity events.


The organization was founded on October 10, 1910 by ten Jewish men at Columbia University, as a response to the existence of similar organizations which would not admit Jewish members.[3] The first pledge, Maximillian Nemser, was initiated in 1911 and, in 1912, the first new chapter was founded at New York University.[3] Continued expansion led to the adoption of a national constitution in 1916.[3]

In 1920, the opening of a chapter at McGill University in Canada's then-largest city, Montreal, made TEΦ an international fraternity.[3] The McGill chapter has since been disbanded. The oldest remaining chapter, as of 2015, is the Nu chapter at University of Georgia. Beginning in 1923, the organization has published a nationally distributed magazine, The Plume.[3]

TEΦ began as exclusively Jewish, but began admitting non-Jewish members (predominantly Catholics) in the 1950s.[3] President Dwight D. Eisenhower was inducted as an honorary member during his administration.[3] Washington, D.C. mayor Vincent C. Gray was the first black member of Tau Epsilon Phi and was elected president of his local chapter for two consecutive terms.[4]

In 1986, Sidney Suntag, who served as Executive Secretary from 1946 to 1979, published the book The History of Tau Epsilon Phi: 75 Years of Friendship 1910–1985 recounting the national history of the fraternity.[3]

In September 2010, a group of fraternity members filed a civil lawsuit against the national Tau Epsilon Phi organization. The plaintiffs alleged that the board of directors and national executive director had been operating the fraternity for personal financial gain and that they drove chapters away by making unreasonable financial demands on them. They further argued that the executive director failed to hold elections for the position for over 10 years, even though the fraternity's constitution required it biannually. The executive director stated that elections could not take place because none of the chapters were in good standing due to failure to pay dues, and thus there was no one who could legitimately vote.[5] While the judge in the case ordered a new election overseen by an independent party,[5] that order was automatically stayed after the national organization filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January 2011.[6] In May 2011, all allegations were rescinded,[7] the parties settled all outstanding cases and the fraternity agreed to hold new national elections.[8]


Grand Chapter

As of October 25, 1997, the Constitution of Tau Epsilon Phi required that a Grand Chapter meeting be held every two years. The Grand Chapter consists of delegates from each local undergraduate and alumni chapter. The Grand Chapter serves as the supreme legislature with sole responsibility for electing the Grand Council. The Grand Chapter, while in session, also serves as TEP’s Board of Directors, authorizing or approving all fraternity business, including any modifications to the Constitution and Statutory Code.[1]


Notable alumni

Some notable alumni:[9]

Arts and entertainment:

Sports and athletics:

Politics and government:

Business, science, and engineering:


See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Constitution of Tau Epsilon Phi
  2. "Chapter List".
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Suntag, Sid (1986). The history of Tau Epsilon Phi: 75 years of friendship, 1910-1985. TEP Foundation. ASIN B0006EW86Y.
  4. G'Town Gravyboat. "Herb Miller says he wants to join Mayor Gray administration" in The Georgetown Dish, September 27, 2010.
  5. 1 2 Eligon, John (November 21, 2010). "Tau Epsilon Phi, Founded 100 Years Ago at Columbia, Is Convulsed by a Lawsuit". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  6. Eligon, John (January 28, 2011). "A Fraternity's Fight Could Lead to Its End". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  7. Eligon, John (22 July 2011). "Settlement Ends Bitter Infighting at a Fraternity". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  8. "Notice of Settlement". Tau Epsilon Phi. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  9. Famous Alumni
  10. Obama Nominates Rabbi to Religious Freedom Post, Time.com, July 28, 2014, Retrieved 19 December 2014
  11. US Senate approves rabbi as freedom of faith envoy, Times of Israel, 15 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2014
  12. Rabbi David Saperstein confirmed as U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom, AL.com, 17 December 2014, Retrieved 19 December 2014
  13. Illio. Champaign, Illinois. 1929. p. 52.
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