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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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SIGMA DELTA PSI. Sigma Delta Psi was a national honorary fraternity for athletes. It was intended to be for athletics what Phi Beta Kappa was for academics. In 1914 the following article appeared The Cornell Daily Sun: (1)

            Sigma Delta Psi...will not be much of a success...The new 
            organization is for the purpose of making athletic prowess 
            significant. In the East the endorsement of Yale — now that 
            Columbia has frowned upon it—is about as far as the backers 
            of the movement have been able to get...Columbia, Harvard, 
            Princeton and Pennsylvania had not been very enthusiastic...

Bill Miller, a graduating senior of Cleveland, Ohio became the first UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE student to win the honor for three successive years. He was the first man in 1935 to achieve this honor since 1931 when Al Newburg of Dubuque passed the tests. Bob Peterson a freshman in 1937 was the first freshman athlete to win the honor while at the university. Don Emory, a student from Des Moines, was a sophomore in 1937 when he won for the first time. Al Newburg in 1931 became the first athlete at the university to achieve the prize. (2)

Membership in the organization was small due to the tests that needed to be passed. These included equaling or bettering: (3)

1. 100-yard dash in 11.6 seconds

2. 120 yard low hurdles in 16 seconds

3. high jump of 5 feet

4. broad jump of 17 feet,

5. 20-foot rope climb in 12 seconds

6. baseball throw of 250 feet

7. 40-yard football punt

8. 100-yard swim in one minute, 45 sec.

9. mile run in six minutes

10. front-hand spring

11. hand stand for 10 seconds

12. fence vault

13. maintain average scholarship

In 1937 although the university had hosted a chapter for many years only seven men had passed all the requirements--Cliff Malin, Don Schroeder, Fred Kirk, Al Newburgh, Bill Miller, Bob Peterson, and Don Emery.



1. "Cornell Daily Sun," Online: https://cdsun.library.cornell.edu/?a=d&d=CDS19140413.2.35.4&

2. "Three Spartan Athletes Pass in Fraternity Test," Telegraph-Herald, August 3, 1937, p. 16

3. Ibid.