History of ASN

On June 4, 1915, John Danihy, S.J., Dean of Journalism at Marquette University, held the first initiation of eleven undergraduate men and inaugurated Alpha Sigma Nu. Father Dahihy was quite a dynamic leader; besides founding ASN, he was responsible for establishing the Marquette Press, the Marquette Tribune, and the college yearbook, the Hilltop. In the first half of the 20th century, administrators of Catholic institutions of higher education complained that their students were being systematically locked out of the traditional honor societies especially Phi Beta Kappa.

John Danihy, S.J.

Father Danihy believed ASN members exemplified a dedication to scholarship, loyalty to the cause of Jesuit education and service in promoting all activities of students and student organizations. With much anticipation that the society would prosper and spread to other schools, Father Danihy announced that this vision for the Society took it beyond the walls of Marquette towards the creation of a national Jesuit organization. The first national convention of Alpha Sigma Nu was held in 1025 where the first Board of Directors was elected. The Constitution was passed, calling for the President of each university or college to appoint a member of the Society of Jesus as Faculty Advisor to its Alpha Sigma Nu Chapter.

April 6, 1925, saw the first induction of Gamma Pi Epsilon. They chose Women For the Glory of the School, to stand as their motto, and the Greek letters Gamma Pi Epsilon were adopted to represent this theme. Gamma Pi Epsilon became a national organization in 1947 when St. Louis University granted permission to organize a chapter on campus.

From day one Alpha Sigma Nu encouraged the creation of alumni clubs to help foster continued loyalty and service to Jesuit education. The Club was seen as an integral part of the student chapter in Marquette.

ASN leaders strove to keep their organization open to anyone who was qualified to enroll in a Jesuit institution. Alpha Sigma Nu membership has never been restricted to members of the Catholic Church.

By 1943, Alpha Sigma Nu had come a long way from the days as a little-known group of honor students. Creighton, St. Louis, University of Detroit Mercy, Loyola New Orleans, Spring Hill, Loyola Chicago, John Carrol, Boston College, Gonzaga, Xavier, Loyola Marymount, St. Joseph’s Seattle, Holy Cross, University of San Francisco, Santa Clara, Loyola Maryland, and Scranton had chartered students Chapters. The Society was now moving into the new decade sure of itself and its mission as the vanguard of Jesuit action and ideals.

The 1960’s saw great growth in the Society despite the student unrest on many American campuses. The 50th anniversary of Alpha Sigma Nu took place at 1965 Convention. Father General Pedro Arrupe, in his keynote address, expressed a desire for the laity to become more involved in Church issues and saw Alpha Sigma Nu as an ideal group for this purpose.

“This is a historical evening for you and me, he said, “celebrating together the completion of fifty years of continuous and ever expanding scholarship, loyalty, and service. I looked forward to being with you to show my respect for your achievements for the past but more especially to join with you in charting the future.”

Father General Pedro Arrupe