History of Lambda Phi Epsilon
Ethnic fraternities developed as a result of the need to share and celebrate diversity of cultural experiences. The first Asian fraternity was founded at Cornell in 1916 as Rho Psi, which now exists as an alumni club with chapters in Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and Hong Kong. The concepts of brotherhood and unity aren’t new; however, our dedication and commitment to it is. Here is our story …
Lambda Phi Epsilon was founded on February 25, 1981, by principal founder Craig Ishigo and a group of eighteen other dedicated men on the campus of University of California at Los Angeles. By forming Lambda Phi Epsilon as a new Asian American fraternity, the founders hoped to set new and higher standards of excellence for all Asian interest organizations to follow. The goal of the founders was to transcend the limitations to which traditional Asian American organizations were subject. They sought to draw their membership from all of the diverse segments of the Asian American community. Their vision was that members would eventually become leaders in their respective communities and bridge gaps fragmenting the Asian American community through their affiliation with a common organization. Unknowingly, their efforts had set the stage for the emergence of the largest organization of its kind.
By 1990, six chapters had formed at the Universities of California at Los Angeles, Davis, Santa Barbara, Berkeley and Irvine and at the University of Texas at Austin. The brothers of the first chapters of Lambda Phi Epsilon recognized that rapid expansion loomed. In order to facilitate future growth, these six chapters joined to form what became Lambda Phi Epsilon National Fraternity.
On May 28, 1990, a national governing body was established to coordinate individual chapter efforts at the first National Convention. Robert Mimaki, a Beta Chapter brother, was elected as the first National President and Memorial Day Weekend was designated as the official date for future annual National Conventions. On September 8, 1990, our national organization was admitted to the National Interfraternity Conference (NIC), making Lambda Phi Epsilon the first (and still only) nationally recognized Asian American interest fraternity in the United States. Over the years, Lambda Phi Epsilon has grown tremendously, boasting over 20 chapters by 1995. That same year, our national organization became a California non-profit corporation and was renamed Lambda Phi Epsilon National Fraternity, Inc.
Lambda Phi Epsilon, Theta Chapter, was organized at Stanford in the beginning of 1991. The driving force behind the emergence of the Lambdas at Stanford was a group of six men, Don Chin, Hanns Lee, Ernie Sibal, Alan Tien, Yi-Fang Yen and Michael Yun. The leadership of our six Founding Fathers was instrumental in beginning the first successful Asian American fraternity on campus.
The history of the Theta Chapter can be traced to one late night in the Asian American Activities Center during the winter quarter of 1991. Mike approached Hanns about starting a new fraternity on campus, an organization that might serve the interests of a large and growing Stanford Asian American community better than existing Greek and Asian American student organizations. Hanns concurred, and over the next few weeks, the two approached the other Founding Fathers about starting a Stanford colony. Mike managed to contact Delta Chapter (UC Berkeley) president, Bryan Nobida, and expressed the Founding Fathers’ desire to start a colony at Stanford.
With the support and assistance of Fraternal Affairs Advisor, Michael Ramsey-Perez, the Founding Fathers were quickly able to establish the foundations of Theta Chapter and prepare for the spring rush. After a successful inaugural rush, twelve men joined the fraternity to form the Charter class. With eighteen members, Lambda Phi Epsilon became a viable organization and accomplished much throughout the rest of that spring quarter, completing half of pledge period, obtaining University recognition and obtaining associate chapter status at the 1991 National Convention. At the 1993 National Convention, the Stanford associate chapter received active status as Theta Chapter.