The Pilgrim Degree

This article was original run in the spring 2015 issue of the Carnation. It has been updated to reflect the 2017 Convention.

The Pilgrim Degree – It’s For You!

By Loren Mall, Historian


If you ask previous Convention delegates about their favorite part of a National Convention, some of them will say it is the Pilgrim Degree. This ceremony will be presented again at the Baltimore Convention to bring you a fast-paced and fun-filled evening. If you are part of it, you will gain additional best friends and new enlightenment by the time it finishes.

The first Pilgrim Degree was conducted at the 1923 convention in Dallas. It was conceived and presented by Charles Tonsor, the co-founder of our Fraternity. It is awarded only at national conventions, and you will want to be in Baltimore to discover its revelations.

The original program of 1923 was not specific to the Fraternity, and it was not presented again. A revision in 1937 did not generate much enthusiasm either. Twenty-six years passed before the degree was conferred once more. That occurred in 1963 when the witty Harold Pete Winter, destined to become President of the Delta Sigma Phi Foundation a few years later, decided to add activity to the Convention agenda. He introduced his distinctive version of the event for that purpose.

In 1979, then National President Loren Mall accepted the challenge to provide both fun and meaning as a route to a fuller understanding of our Fraternity. This Pilgrim Degree is now presented at each Convention, orchestrated in recent years by former National President Christopher Northern. Judging by the chortles of laughter and smiling faces that pervade the great hall where the event occurs, along with the knowledgeable expressions that emerge when it has ended, it meets both tests. You may have noticed a few members of your chapter wearing a fez at official Fraternity occasions. It is a safe bet they have not told you what it represents.

Whatever your age and Fraternity record, you can show off your own odd hat and make members  regard you with wonder if you take the Pilgrim Degree in 2017. This will be the 20th time the current degree has startled our Convention delegates. Through it, you can master the third sequence in the meaningful enigmas of our Fraternity. You will become one of the more than 5,000 Delta Sigs who have laughed and learned as they made this special journey into the deeper riddles of Delta Sigma Phi.

Interested? Sign up for the class when you register for Convention!

Convention 2017 Chapter and Member Awards

One of the oldest traditions of the Fraternity is recognizing members and chapters for high achievement and excellence in specific areas of chapter operation. Chapters and members receiving these awards represent an ideal that all members of the Fraternity should strive for.

A select number of awards are given on an annual basis, while the remaining are only awarded during Convention years. These Convention awards will be given out during a special ceremony on Saturday, July 8th.

To receive these awards, the member must first be nominated. However, you may fill out the form for yourself for the Outstanding Undergraduate award:


Order of the Sphinx

Nominate an Undergraduate

Recipients will be recognized at our 2017 Convention. Deadline: June 1

The Order of the Sphinx Award recognizes undergraduate leaders of Delta Sigma Phi who have contributed significantly to their campus, chapter and to the Fraternity on a national level.  Chapters, Alumni Corporation Boards and Advisors should determine those members most deserving of this high undergraduate award through nomination and vote.  Candidates must have been a member for at least four terms/semesters.


Outstanding Chapter Advisor

Nominate an Advisor

Recipient will be recognized at our 2017 Convention. Deadline: June 1

First awarded at the 1985 Convention, the Charles G. Bartell Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award recognizes a Chapter Advisor or ACB member for exceptional service in advising or service to one of the Fraternity’s chapters or colonies. The award was named after the first recipient, Charles G. Bartell, University of Idaho ‘54, who served as Chapter Advisor to the Gamma Iota Chapter (University of Idaho) for more than three decades.


Outstanding Undergraduate

Submit your Application

Recipient will be recognized at our 2017 Convention. Deadline: June 1

The highest award the Fraternity bestow to an undergraduate brother is the E. Allen James Outstanding Undergraduate Award. The award is given annually to one undergraduate brother who contributed the most to his chapter and the Fraternity. Selection is based on an application that is submitted to the Fraternity Headquarters and is reviewed by a committee.

The award is named in honor of E. Allen James, North Carolina State University ‘65, whose service to the Fraternity has included the position of Executive Director, member of the Grand Council and president of the Delta Sigma Phi Foundation.

The E. Allen James Outstanding Undergraduate award is either a self-nominated recognition or can be nominated by another brother; please submit the form to apply.


The following awards are also given during the awards ceremony, but are not open for member nominations:


Career Achievement

Recipient will be recognized at our 2017 Convention. Deadline: June 1

The Career Achievement Award is presented to members of the Fraternity who have achieved outstanding success within their chosen professions. First given in 1985, the list of recipients includes two Pulitzer Prize winners, a U.S. Presidential candidate, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s deputy chief of staff, among others.


Francis Pete Wacker Interfraternal

Recipient will be recognized at our 2017 Convention. Deadline: June 1

The Francis “Pete” Wacker Award for Interfraternal Service is presented to either a member or a non-member of the Fraternity who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of interfraternal cooperation or the improvement of his or her own fraternity, sorority or the Greek world in general.

The award is named for past Delta Sigma Phi Executive Director Francis “Pete” Wacker, Penn State University ‘33. He was well known in the interfraternity world and served as president of the Fraternity Executives Association and the College Fraternity Editors Association.


Outstanding Alumni Association

Receiving Association/Chapter will be recognized at our 2017 Convention. Deadline: June 1

The Hugh “Cap” Ryan Outstanding Alumni Association Award is presented to an alumni association or alumni chapter that has shown excellence in support of a local chapter or in strengthening the bonds of brotherhood in a particular geographic region.

The award is named in honor of Dr. Hugh “Cap” Ryan, University of Pittsburgh ’16, whose extensive service to the Fraternity included being National President, Editor of The Carnation and National Historian.


Outstanding National Volunteer

Recipient will be recognized at our 2017 Convention. Deadline: June 1

Given previously to District Governors and Leadership Advisors, the Russell T. Roebuck Outstanding National Volunteer Award is now presented to a national volunteer who has performed exceptional service to the chapters he has advised. The effectiveness the volunteer has shown in working with undergraduate chapters, alumni chapter and alumni associations are the primary criterion for receiving this award.

The award is named for Russell T. Roebuck, Barton College ‘58, who served the fraternity as a member of the Grand Council and as national president.