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Sigma Chi Timeline 1956-1980


Year Sigma Chi World*
  • The 51st Grand Chapter met in Toronto June 25-28, the first time such an event occurred outside the United States.
  • To mark the celebration of the International Geophysical Year, the former Soviet Union orbits the world's first artificial satellite--Sputnik. This event marked the dawn of the Space Age and the start of a Cold War struggle between that country and the United States for supremacy on the final frontier.
  • All 134 active chapters participated in the Leadership Training Workshop at Bowling Green State University, the first to have all chapters represented.
  • President Kennedy establishes the Peace Corp.
  • Soviet Cosmonaut, Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin becomes 1st person in space aboard Vostok 1. Five weeks later, Alan Shepard becomes 1st American in space aboard Freedom ).
  • East Germany begins erecting 5' high wall along the border with the west to replace the barbed wire put up Aug 13
  • Four Assistant Executive Secretaries (AESs) from the Headquarters Staff conducted an extended chapter assistance program, visiting each undergraduate chapter at least once.
  • London trolley buses go out of service.
  • 1st transatlantic TV transmission via satellite (Telstar I).
  • The U.S. House of Representatives passes bill requiring equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.
  • Sigma Chi had its first U.S. presidential candidate in 72 years. Arizona Senator and Significant Sig Barry Goldwater, Arizona 1932, won the Republican nomination. Hundreds of Sigma Chis took an active part in his spirited though unsuccessful campaign.
  • The Fraternity presented the J. Dwight Peterson Significant Chapter Award for the first time. Named for Past Grand Consul Peterson, who endowed it, the award recognizes each chapter in the Fraternity that meets a thorough yet attainable set of standards. The first winners, for the 1963-64 school year, were the chapters at DePauw, MIT and Sam Houston. Beginning with the 1969-70 academic year, the Sigma Chi Foundation presented a cash donation to the counseling and tutoring programs of institutions of the winning chapters.
  • France & Great-Britain sign accord to build the channel tunnel. It would take nearly 1/4 century to begin construction, but the tunnel (now affectionately know as the 'chunnel') opened to commercial rail service in 1994. It is now possible to board a train at London's Victoria station and ride all the way to Paris.
  • In the same year the United States passed the Civil Rights Act, race riots erupt in several U.S. cities.
  • On Oct. 30, more than 300 Sigs and guests gathered at 1714 Hinman Avenue in Evanston, Illinois, to dedicate the Fraternity’s newly constructed headquarters, the first built by Sigma Chi for this purpose.
  • First official meeting after 400 years of Catholic & Anglican Church.
  • First horror soap opera, "Dark Shadows," premieres on ABC-TV and "Star Trek" premieres on NBC TV.
  • After a disastrous setup when a launchpad fire in the Apollo 1 command module in 1967, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to set foot on another world when the lunar module of the Apollo 11 mission sets down on Earth's moon.
  • The Grand Chapter marked the climax and resolution of nearly 15 years of internal strife in the Fraternity over the proposed initiation of members of minority groups. Grand Chapter delegates voted to remove restrictive passages in the Fraternity’s Governing Laws, validating the 1970 decision of the Executive Committee and granting active chapters increased autonomy in membership selection.
  • John W. Graham, Q.C., Toronto 1933, became the first Canadian to be elected Grand Consul.
  • 200,000 anti-Vietnam War protesters march on Washington, DC.
  • Great Britain abandons 12-shilling system and the pound goes decimal.
  • The Executive Committee authorized a program to provide General Fraternity and staff participation and assistance in the initial creation of new local fraternities as prospective future chapters. The first such group was established at Florence State University in Alabama (now known as the University of North Alabama).
  • The committee authorized the new Erwin L. LeClerg Outstanding Chapter Advisor award. The first recipient was Dr. Elton B. Hill, Michigan State 1915, a longtime advisor to the Gamma Psi Chapter.
  • On the governmental and international scene, national elections in the United States and Canada increased the size of the delegation of Sigma Chi members in the Congressional and legislative bodies of the United States and Canada to a record number of three United States Senators, one Canadian Senator, and 15 United States Representatives—the largest fraternity delegation in the Greek-letter world.
  • Astronaut John W. Young, Georgia Tech 1952, was one of three astronauts who circled the moon in Apollo 10. In 1972, as commander of the Apollo 16 space mission, he became the ninth man to set foot on the moon. He carried with him to the moon a Sigma Chi badge and flag, which are now on display in the Fraternity Headquarters Museum.
  • One of the high points in 1970s diplomacy, and of the Nixon Presidency, Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to visit China.
  • US, USSR & 70 other nations agree to ban the use of biological weapons.
  • Apollo 17 launches from Cape Kennedy marking the end of Nasa's manned lunar missions.
  • In January, Significant Sig and Secretary of State William P. Rogers, Colgate 1934, represented the United States in signing the long-awaited agreement to end the war in Vietnam.
  • At the Grand Chapter, Past Grand Consul William P. Huffman, Denison 1911, presented the title of the Founding Site property in Oxford, Ohio, to the Sigma Chi Foundation. Huffman had purchased the property from its Oxford owners, and by his generous gesture, assured that the building housing the room known as the "birthplace of Sigma Chi" would be preserved. In 1978, the building was identified as the oldest commercial structure in the town of Oxford.
  • Britain, Ireland & Denmark become 7th-9th members of European Common Market.
  • Following the resumption of the Paris Peace Talks, Pres Nixon suspends all US offensive action in North Vietnam. Later that year, the United States ends the draft.
  • To protest western support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War, OPEC (Oil Producing and Exporting Countries) begin an oil embargo against the west. It lasted until 1974 and prices for petroleum products soared worldwide. In some countries, government officials instituted rationing.
  • The Fraternity created the William T. Bringham House Corporation Officer and Edna Boss Housemother Awards.
  • US President, Richard Nixon, resigns in disgrace in the aftermath of the Watergate Scandal.
  • Last Japanese soldier, a guerrilla operating in Philippines, surrenders, 29 years after World War II ended.
  • 1st extraterrestrial message sent from Earth into space.
  • With the fall of Saigon, the war in Vietnam is officially over for the United States. As in previous wars, Sigma Chis played vital roles in the Vietnam War. More than 40 Sigs lost their lives in the conflict.
  • Construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System begins.
  • Pope Paul VI declares Mother Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton 1st US saint.
  • The Greek-letter fraternity system observed its bicentennial by commemorating the birth of the first fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1776. Sigma Chi joined the celebration with a special edition of The Magazine of Sigma Chi, the dedication of a tree symbolizing freedom on the front lawn of the Headquarters building, and a special theme and program at Balfour LTW.
  • The United States also celebrates its bicentennial.
  • The Apple I desktop computer is unveiled.
  • Sigma Chi reaffirmed its anti-hazing stance by adopting a Statement of Position on Pledge Training and the Ritual.
  • The Fraternity recorded its 150,000th initiate.
  • Pres Jimmy Carter pardons almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.
  • The first "Star Wars" movie is released. The film's special effects revolutionized science fiction entertainment.
  • The Fraternity and Foundation dedicated a $600,000 wing, made possible by alumni contributions, on the Headquarters building.
  • Sigma Chi celebrated its 125th birthday by coordinating nearly 200 simultaneous celebrations across the continent. Most of the groups participated in a special telephone conference call and viewed an anniversary film made for the occasion.
  • To condemn Soviet incursions into Afghanistan, the US announces a boycott of the Moscow Olympics. The Soviets would retaliate by boycotting the 1984 Olymics in Los Angeles.
  • 1st transmission of CNN, Cable News Network.
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*Source of World Events: History Orb Click the years above to see more events in that year.