Alpha Phi Chaper History
Alpha Gamma Rho is a social as well as professional organization for young men pursuing an undergraduate or post-graduate degree in agriculture, food, fiber, life sciences, natural resources, forestry, environmental or related agricultural fields. There are over 800 AGR alumni at SDSU.
Founded in the fall of 1956 by Charles Benrud, Mu Beta Beta (meaning “to make the best better”) was located at 812 4th Avenue. The house was designed as a college home for men of past 4-H backgrounds. In the fall of 1957, the 4-H stipulation was dropped, and the house name was changed to Hobo Hall. It was discontinued in the spring of 1958 due to complaints of rowdiness.
In the fall of 1958, the Ag. House Society was formed again by Charles Benrud (Lambda) and his wife. Nineteen members were initiated, and Merle Peterson was elected president. In 1960, they moved to 903 3rd Street, still retaining the name Ag. House Society.
A petition was submitted and Alpha Phi became a colony in 1959. The chapter was officially granted a charter on Founder's Day, April 25, 1964. The nineteen members of the colony, along with seventeen pledges, were initiated. On June 15, 1964, the house moved to 1212 3rd Street. As the house capacity was 28, some actives and pledges lived in nearby apartments. The house remained there until 1976.
The current chapter house is located at 1929 East 8th Street. Construction began in 1974. Actives moved in the fall of 1976. The house has a capacity of 47 men. The Alumni of Alpha Phi provided financial backing, along with a loan from the National Fraternity House Loan Fund. It was SDSU's first fraternity to be built on Greek Row.
The history of Alpha Gamma Rho reflects the character of the organization today – friends coming together across varied walks of life, finding common interests and a common cause, and pursuing a passion for bettering themselves and the industry that they love. It’s a great story.
More than a century ago a group of seven college friends at what is now The Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, decided to “bind together their cords of friendship” and organize a fraternity. Plans developed slowly, and on the first Sunday in October, 1904, Alpha Gamma Rho was born.
While the agricultural group at The Ohio State University was developing a fraternity, a similar vision was taking shape at the University of Illinois. During the fall of 1905, the students at Illinois discussed forming an agricultural club. By the spring of 1906 the idea had sprouted and Delta Rho Sigma came into being.
Interactions between these two fraternities first occurred at the International Livestock Show in Chicago during the fall of 1906. Men from each university serving on their respective livestock judging teams met and discovered they had a common bond. A correspondence ensued, and in April 1907 the Illinois fraternity invited two delegates from Ohio to visit. Over time, the relationship strengthened, and on April 4, 1908, they formally united the two groups in a ceremony at the Claypool Hotel in Indianapolis.
Records show that the University of Illinois took the name of the Ohio State organization, Alpha Gamma Rho. In turn for giving up their namesake, the Illinois men received the distinction of Alpha Chapter.
Brother A. B. Sawyer was initiated by Delta Rho Sigma in 1906 and participated in the joining of Alpha Gamma Rho and Delta Rho Sigma. Fortunately, he kept the minutes of the first meeting. This important record documents the time and place of the first convention, as well as the names of the first National officers.
According to Brother Sawyer, the minutes were written on two paper place mats bearing the name of the Hofbrau, Chicago. The first page was written by H. E. Allen, Beta, temporary secretary, and the second page by Brother Sawyer, after he had been elected Grand Secretary. At this first National Convention on November 30, 1908, Brother Sawyer recorded the rest of the first official officers as: Grand President, Brother Charles A. Stewart, Alpha; Grand Vice President, Brother S. S. Hart, Beta; Grand Secretary and Treasurer, Brother A. B. Sawyer, Alpha and General Registrar, Brother C. P. Trotter, Alpha.
And thus, the journey began. We invite you to come along and help us write the story of our next 100 years.