Purpose and History
Sigma Phi Alpha is a national dental hygiene honor society, founded for the purpose of promoting, recognizing and honoring scholarship, service, and character among dental hygiene students. The Supreme Chapter of Sigma Phi Alpha was founded in 1952 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Dental Schools. However, very little progress was made for the next five years until Dr. Dorothy Hard was elected chairman of the Dental Hygiene section.
She appointed Dr. Ester Wilkens of Washington University and Margaret Bailey from Temple University as co-chairmen with the purpose of drawing up a constitution and by-laws. In 1958 their task was completed and the constitution and by-laws were adopted. At the first Supreme Chapter meeting, Dr. Hard petitioned for a charter in order to establish a chapter at the University of Michigan. Thus, Nu Chapter was founded in April, 1959. The first annual meeting of Nu Chapter was held in June of that same year with nine women initiated as active members and Dr. Dorothy Hard as honorary member.
The Sigma Phi Alpha key pin was designed by Patricia McCullough of the University of Washington. Illustrated on its face are the three Greek letters Sigma, Phi, and Alpha each superimposed on a symbol to further expound upon their meaning. The pin is the official insignia of Sigma Phi Alpha.
- Sigma is the letter representing the Greek work “Sophia” which means wisdom, or scholarship. This letter is superimposed on a ball to show that there are many aspects to making a decision.
- The second letter, Phi, represents the Greek word “philanthropia” which means human feelings and actions, or service to others. This letter is superimposed on a circle, co-joined by a lozenge, a geometric diamond-like figure. Each side of this symbol depicts one of the four aspects of philanthrophy – physical, mental, spiritual and emotional.
- “Arete” is the Greek word in which the letter Alpha represents. Superimposed on a pentagon, Alpha symbolizes the five cardinal virtues – prudence, fortitude, temperance, justice and faith.