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Phi Iota Alpha

Phi Iota Alpha
85 years ago
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Type Social
Scope National
Mission statement
Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity is a brotherhood dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Latin American Culture.
Motto Semper Parati
Semper Juncti
Colors      Gold
     Navy Blue
Symbol Lion
Flower Red Carnation
Publication The Phiota!
Chapters 61 chapters, 19 colonies[1]
Nickname Phiota, PhiA
Headquarters 9322 3rd Avenue
Suite 412

Brooklyn, New York, USA
Homepage .info.phiotawww

Phi Iota Alpha (ΦΙΑ), established December 26, 1931, is the oldest and the first Latino Fraternity in existence,[2] and works to motivate people, develop leaders, and create innovative ways to unite the Latino community. The organization has roots that stem back to the late 19th century to the City of New York.

After ΦΛA was organized, other societies joined it: the "Club Latino-Americano" founded in 1919 at Colorado School of Mines; the "Federación Latino-Americana" founded in 1926 at Columbia University which joined in 1928; the "Club Hispania" founded in 1929 of Cornell University which joined in 1931; the "Club Hispano-Americano" founded in 1921 of Tri State College in Angola which joined in 1929 and the Alfa Tenoxtitlan Militant chapter founded in 1929 made up of members of the old ΦΛA in Mexico.[9]

Meanwhile, in the Louisiana State University. In 1912, recognizing the benefit of the disciplinary background of a Greek system, the society transformed itself into Sigma Iota (ΣI) and became the first Latin American–based fraternity in the United States.[10] Between 1912 and 1925, Sigma Iota expanded rapidly in the United States, Central America and Europe. As a result of this, Sigma Iota became the first international Latin American–based fraternity.[11] By 1928, Sigma Iota had lost many of its chapters and therefore sought to stabilize its operations by consolidating its chapters in the United States with a more stationary and well-rooted organization.

Phi Lambda Alpha was seeking to expand throughout the United States and to promote the ideology of Pan Americanism. Sigma Iota Fraternity was in search of revitalizing some of its defunct chapters. Thus both organizations complemented each other and began to work towards the creation of the fraternity now known as Phi Iota Alpha.[7]


In December 1931 in Troy, New York, delegates from Phi Lambda Alpha and Sigma Iota assembled with the objective of forming a unified fraternity to address the needs of Latin American Students in universities in the United States.

"Fuerza, Integridad, y Amistad."

Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity Creed

On December 26, 1931, the first day of a three-day convention, Phi Iota Alpha was born as both groups agreed to the merger.[12] They resolved to unify under one name, one banner, one organization and one ideal. The next day of business was dedicated to preparing the details of revising the constitution, working on the creation of a shield to represent the newly formed national Latino brotherhood. On December 28, by the end of the three-day convention, the majority of the merger was completed. The last step in the merger was the ratification of some of the chapters of Sigma Iota that were not represented at the convention.

The fraternity was incorporated as a national organization on October 28, 1936, under the laws of the State of Louisiana, under the name and title of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity.[13]

International Expansion

After the unification of Sigma Iota and Phi Lambda Alpha, Phi Iota Alpha goal was to expand on the national level and develop a plan for it existing and its potential international possibilities. Phi Iota Alpha sponsored the 1932 convention in New York City with the purpose of forming the Union Latino Americana (ULA)[2][14] with hopes of expanding its ideals internationally. The ULA was a Pan American governing body of Latino fraternities which provides the framework for the implementation of Pan-American ideology. The ULA organized Latin America into 22 zones with each of the 21 Latin American countries constituting a zone, and Phi Iota Alpha representing the 22nd zone in the United States. By 1937, the ULA had several well-established and functional zones including:

In September 1938, the Phi Sigma Alpha zone decided to separate from the ULA and eventually, to form Phi Sigma Alpha Fraternity of Puerto Rico which exists to this day.[16] Twelve years later, Phi Tau Alpha Fraternity established itself, in Mexico, at the Juarez Institute.

History: 1939–1983

The outbreak of World War II greatly hindered the growth Phi Iota Alpha in the United States. After the war the Fraternity drafted and implemented a new expansion strategy. As a result, the post war period saw positive internal growth for the Fraternity. In the early 1950s, Phi Iota Alpha eradicated any remnant of its political agenda. With only a few chapters, the Fraternity continued to pursue its mission. The Fraternity was again incorporated as a national organization on January 9, 1953, when the Secretary of State of New York accepted the incorporation of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity.[17]

The 1960s were very challenging years for Phi Iota Alpha. The effects of the

  • Phi Iota Alpha National Website

External links

  1. ^ "Chapters & Colonies - Phi Iota Alpha". 
  2. ^ a b Baily, Harold J. (1949).  
  3. ^ a b Ricketts, Palmer C. (1934). A History of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1824–1934. New York, New York:  
  4. ^ "Phi Iota Alpha Latino Fraternity::: Membership". Retrieved March 29, 2007. 
  5. ^ Fine, Elizabeth C (2003). Soulstepping: African American step shows. Urbana, Illinois:  
  6. ^ "Universities and World Affairs". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 1952.  
  7. ^ a b c d "Phi Iota Alpha Latino Fraternity::: Fraternal History". Retrieved December 4, 2006. 
  8. ^ University of California Berkeley Blue & Gold Yearbook. Berkeley, California: University of California Berkeley. 1922. p. 600. 
  9. ^ "Sigma History" (in Spanish). Retrieved May 1, 2008. 
  10. ^ Brown, Tamara L.; Gregory S. Parks; Clarenda M. Phillips (2005). African American Fraternities And Sororities: The Legacy And The Vision. Lexington, Kentucky:  
  11. ^ Anson, Jack L.; Robert F. Marchesani, Jr. (1991).  
  12. ^ Staff writer (January 8, 1932). "Phi Lambda Alpha and Sigma Iota To Unite" (PDF). The Tech ( 
  13. ^ "Louisiana Office of the Secretary of State". Retrieved December 3, 2006. 
  14. ^ Johnson, Clyde Sanfred (1972). Fraternities in our colleges. New York, New York: National Interfraternity Foundation. pp. 42–43. 
  15. ^ Baird, William Raimond (1940).  
  16. ^ "Fi Sigma Alfa" (in Spanish). Retrieved December 4, 2006. 
  17. ^ "New York Office of the Secretary of State". Retrieved December 3, 2006. 
  18. ^ Crowley, Cathleen F (October 16, 2006). "Latino solidarity marks 75 years". Albany Times Union (Capital Newspapers). Retrieved December 3, 2005. 
  19. ^ "National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations". NALFO. Retrieved December 2, 2006. 
  20. ^ "North-American Interfraternity Conference". NIC. Retrieved December 1, 2006. 
  21. ^ "NALFO: Uniting Latino Fraternities and Sororities". Association of Fraternity Advisors. Retrieved December 4, 2007. 
  22. ^ a b "Phi Iota Alpha Latino Fraternity::: Who We Are". Retrieved December 4, 2006. 
  23. ^ a b c d e Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity Bylaws. 2006. pp. 28–30. 
  24. ^ "José de San Martín – Wikiquote".  
  25. ^  
  26. ^ Byers, Paula Kay; Suzanne Michele Bourgoin (1998). Encyclopedia of World Biography. Farmington Hills, Michigan:  
  27. ^ Staff writer (December 9, 1997). "New Honduras chief an LSU grad". The Advocate (Capital City Press). p. 14-A. 
  28. ^ a b "Presidencia de la Republica de Colombia". Bogota- Casa de Narino. Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  29. ^ a b Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Transit Yearbook. Troy, New York: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 1960. 
  30. ^ University of Miami Ibis Yearbook. Miami, Florida: University of Miami. 1955. 
  31. ^ Oltuski, Enrique (2000). Vida Clandestina: My Life in the Cuban Revolution. New York, New York:  
  32. ^ "Latin American Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee". CLAAF. Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  33. ^ "The Nobel Peace Prize 1985". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  34. ^ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Transit Yearbook. Troy, New York: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 1917. 
  35. ^ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Transit Yearbook. Troy, New York: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 1956. 
  36. ^ Adam, Michelle (February 26, 1999). "Greeks Empowering Latino". Latino Outlook in Higher Education. pp. 17–19. 
  37. ^ "My TV20 Detroit". My TV20 Detroit. Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  38. ^ "BLTV: Omar Cabrera". BLTV. Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  39. ^ Sanchez, Jose (2000). From Hell to Hell.  
  40. ^ "Orleans Draws Latin Americans Seeking Culture". New Orleans, Louisiana: The New Orleans Times-Picayune. January 3, 1931. p. 20. 


See also


Fraternal dates of celebration



  • Ernesto E. Blanco, P.E.- Professor of Mechanical Engineering Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tomas L. Lopez-Gottardi- Professor of Architectural Design, Urban Design, Drawing and Theory/History University of Miami- School of Architecture
  • Juan R. Guardia, PhD- Director of Multicultural Affairs and Adjunct Faculty, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Florida State University
  • Christopher MacDonald-Dennis, Ed.D.- Dean of Multicultural Life, Macalester College
  • José Luis Solache- President of Lynwood, California School District
  • Osvaldo Velasquez- Professor of Medicine of The Universidad de Panamá
  • Roberto Antonio Gordillo- President of the National Association of Librarians and Archivists of Mexico & Director of the National School Librarians and Archivists of Mexico & Deputy Director of Libraries and Archives of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit of Mexico.



  • Eduardo Vallarino Arjona- Former Ambassador of Panama to the United Nations
  • Guillermo Chapman Jr.[32] – Latin American Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee member, Chairman/CEO of INDESA and current Board of Director of the Panama Canal Authority
  • Harry A. Diaz- Current Ambassador of Panama to the Russian Federation & Community of Independent States
  • Osvaldo Velasquez- Former Council Member of Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.[33]


Carlos Lleras Restrepo
Former President of Colombia with former President Richard Nixon
Former President of Colombia, Mariano Ospina Pérez
Former President of Honduras, Carlos Flores with former President Bill Clinton


Notable members

Phi Iota Alpha's membership is predominantly Latino and Hispanic American in composition. Members come from the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. As Phi Iota Alpha expanded, the ranks of membership grew to include a plethora of prominent and accomplished, educators, politicians, businessmen, and four former presidents of Latin American countries.

"I only want Lions in my regiment"


The Fraternity insignia, coat of Arms or crest, consists of a blazon composed of an Or (gold) Shield, Gules Chevron lowered a third charged with six argent stars, three dexter, three sinister. At the fess point, under an oval azure field, the Latin American Map in Or, surrounded by a steel chain made of twenty-one links. The Greek Letters Phi Iota Alpha in azure in dexter, fess point and sinister of the chief, occupying a third part of the canton. At the base, a Phrygian Cap in gules facing dexter. The principal bordure is double in azure and argent, respectively. The shield is crowned with a frontal steel helm with nine bars and adorned with argent lambrequins falling at dexter and sinister. The crest is formed by a Roman fasces in Or, in vertical position, and a Double-edged Ax. A pair of Lions Rampant with sanguine tongues supports the shield. The riband for the motto at the Lions' feet, in argent, with azure letters states: Semper Parati Semper Juncti.[23]

Coat of Arms

The official flag consists of three bands in or, azure, and gules of equal height. The Greek letters ΦΙΑ in Or are located on the azure field at the center outlined with argent. The chapter letter is carried on the Gules band sinister in argent.[23] The flag is modeled after the flag of Simón Bolívar's Republic of Gran Colombia. The short-lived republic that consisted of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama.


The badge is the most prominent symbol of membership. The Official Badge of the Fraternity is a gold pin in the shape of a Roman fasces topped with a double-edged ax and crowned in the superior of the fasces of six stars, each star with an argent pearl at its centre. The fasces are held together by two ropes in gold that tie the fasces at the top and at the bottom and in which the middle is tied in the form of an x-shaped cross. In the middle of the fasces, above the ropes lies an argent riband in which engraved to it are the Greek Letters Phi Iota Alpha. The badge dies at the bottom with a golden sphere that culminates the fasces.[23]


The Colours of the fraternity in Spanish Heraldry are oro, azur, gules and plata.
The Colours of the fraternity in English Heraldry are or, azure, gules and argent.
The Colours of the fraternity in Spanish are oro, azul marino, rojo and blanco.
The Colours of the fraternity in English are gold, navy blue, red and white.[23]


Phi Iota Alpha chose to use Pan-American symbolism to be more representative of the goals and ideals of the organization. Phi Iota Alpha utilizes motifs from the Pan-American revolutionary period and uses images and colours depicting the time of Latin American revolutionaries and thinkers to represent the organization. This is in contrast to most other Latino fraternities that traditionally echo themes from the Pre-Columbian period of Latin American history. Phi Iota Alpha's constant reference to Pan-American ideals in hymns and poems are further examples of Phi Iota Alpha's mission to imbue with a Pan-American cultural perspective.

Phi Iota Alpha chose to use Pan-American symbolism to be more representative of the ideals of the organization, as evidenced in this painting of San Martín's proclamation of Peruvian independence.

Pan-American symbolism


The organization has five pillars, respected historical figures from Latin America:


  • Intensification of contact between Pan-American Countries with the intention of forming a unified network of professional and economic contacts in order to ultimately achieve the unification of Latin America;
  • Conservation of the integrity of the Latin American character.
  • Rejection of war and violence as a means to achieving unification.[22]

"The Unification of Latin America"

Fraternal Vision of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity
  • Promotion of personal, community, and Pan-American development through the ideals of Simón Bolívar and José Martí as well as other Pan-American intellectuals and their philosophies;
  • Creation of a Latin American consciousness,
  • Intensification of education with a Latin American character;
  • Economic and social mobilization of Latin American communities globally;


The fraternity instills in its members a Global Latino perspective. This is an orientation that transcends the existing national boundaries that have separated Latin America. It builds on the spirit and traditions of Pan-Americanism, and supports and promotes actions leading to an eventual unification of all the countries of Latin America.[22]

Members of Phi Iota Alpha share a lifelong commitment to Latin American culture. Involves intellectual development, cultural consciousness, personal growth, personal achievement and social awareness. Members of Phi Iota Alpha believe that the Latin American community in the United States and in the Latin American countries are in need of new sources of intellectual capital to identify, address and solve the difficult challenges they face. Therefore, the organization is dedicated to developing in its members an awareness of the common values and traditions of the nations of Latin America and to preparing them to become active participants in the process of advancing the social and economic conditions of all Latin Americans.


Fraternal Ideology

Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was recognized as the National Fraternity of the Year in 2011 and in 2012 by the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO)

  • Fraternity of the Year
  • National Philanthropic Organization of the Year
  • Organizational Leadership Excellence of the Year
  • Campus Leadership Excellence of the Year
  • Professional of the Year
  • Rising Professional of the Year

As a member of NALFO, Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has earned the following awards:

NALFO Awards

Phi Iota Alpha is also a member of the NIC Latino Fraternal Caucus. One of the only four Latino fraternities that are part of the NIC.[21] Prior to joining NALFO, Phi Iota Alpha was a member of the Concilio Nacional de Hermandades Latinas.

The NIC serves to advocate the needs of its member fraternities through enrichment of the fraternity experience; advancement and growth of the fraternity community; and enhancement of the educational mission of the host institutions.[20]

NALFO is composed of 19 Latino Greek-letter sororities and fraternities, of which Phi Iota Alpha is the oldest member. The association promotes and fosters positive interfraternal relations, communication, and development of all Latino fraternal organizations through mutual respect, leadership, honesty, professionalism and education.[19]

The fraternity maintains dual membership in the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC).


United Nations Children's Fund (or UNICEF) was created by the United Nations General Assembly, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. UNICEF provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.


Phi Iota Alpha asserts that through community outreach initiatives, the fraternity supplies voice and vision to the struggle of Latino and Hispanic Americans in the United States and Latin America. The fraternity provides for charitable endeavors through its Foundations, providing academic scholarships and support for community development projects.

National Programs

Fraternal Entities

Phi Iota Alpha declared 2006 and 2007 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. Preparations consisted of nationwide activities and events, including the commissioning of intellectual and scholarly works, presentation of exhibits, lectures, artwork and musical expositions, the production of video presentations. The 75th Anniversary Celebration was launched with a pilgrimage to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on October 13, 2006, and culminated with the Demisesquicentennial Anniversary Convention on the weekend of July 27 to July 29, 2007, in New York City.[18]

75th Anniversary

In 1984, a group of young men at RPI, set upon learning about the fraternity that once existed on their campus, re-established Phi Iota Alpha. After the re-emergence of the Fraternity, the last Secretary General instituted the members of the RPI chapter as the Alpha Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha. In the 1980s the Fraternity dedicated its efforts to rebuilding the organizational infrastructure and to expand to several universities in New York State. By 2000, Phi Iota Alpha had chartered chapters across the United States; which include the re-establishments of former Sigma Iota (ΣI) fraternity chapter Syracuse University and former Phi Lambda Alpha (ΦΛA) fraternity chapter Columbia University.[7]

History: 1984–2000

Alpha Chapter, 1984

From 1979 to 1983, the Fraternity witnessed a period of inactivity only at the undergraduate level. Some efforts were made to re-establish Phi Iota Alpha at the undergraduate level, but these efforts were not successful. Throughout this period, brothers continued to maintain communication, and continued to accomplish the mission of the organization. The history, ideals and goals of the Fraternity never diminished; they simply did not have active undergraduate members to cultivate them. Phi Iota Alpha continued to exist with the many Alumni members and Alumni chapters as they continued to develop their professional lives mostly in Latin American countries and in the United States.[7]

Phi Iota Alpha Brother Bolivar DeGracia. (bottom row, second from the right) Member of the IFC Athletic Council at LSU 1972.
Pi Delta Phi established communications with

Monument of Sigma Iota's birthplace on the former LSU Campus


[7] The expansion and growth of the UHA was based on compromise and the ultimate need of similar organizations to unify and become more powerful. In the

The origins of Phi Iota Alpha began at the secret society based on the ideology of Pan-Americanism.[6] The immediate goals of the UHA was to provide a cultural environment for students of Latin America and Spain. The UHA was the first association of Latin American students ever founded in the United States.[3] The UHA expanded to several colleges and universities in the United States; however, due to the secrecy imposed upon its members, not many records were kept.




  • History 1
    • Origins 1.1
    • Consolidation 1.2
    • Founding 1.3
    • International Expansion 1.4
    • History: 1939–1983 1.5
    • History: 1984–2000 1.6
    • 75th Anniversary 1.7
  • Fraternal Entities 2
  • National Programs 3
    • UNICEF 3.1
    • Affiliations 3.2
      • NALFO Awards 3.2.1
  • Fraternal Ideology 4
    • Beliefs 4.1
    • Mission 4.2
    • Pillars 4.3
  • Symbolism 5
    • Pan-American symbolism 5.1
    • Colours 5.2
    • Badge 5.3
    • Flag 5.4
    • Coat of Arms 5.5
  • Membership 6
    • Notable members 6.1
      • Politics 6.1.1
      • Diplomacy 6.1.2
      • Business 6.1.3
      • Education 6.1.4
      • Media 6.1.5
      • Medicine 6.1.6
  • Fraternal dates of celebration 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Membership in Phi Iota Alpha is open to all men regardless of race, creed, colour, or national origin who challenge themselves to develop a strong network for the advancement of Latino people.[4] Phi Iota Alpha's membership includes prominent and accomplished educators, politicians, businessmen, and four former presidents of Latin American countries. Phi Iota Alpha utilizes motifs from the Pan-American revolutionary period and uses images and colours depicting the time of Latin American revolutionaries and thinkers to represent the organization.

culture. Latin American is composed of undergraduate, graduate, and professional men committed towards the empowerment of the Latin American community by providing intensive social and cultural programs and activities geared towards the appreciation, promotion and preservation of brotherhood The [3]

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