Duquesne University SPS Chapter History

Did you know? Duquesne University is among only 170 universities to have chartered its Sigma Pi Sigma chapter before the Society of Physics Students was formed! Hence, Duquesne University's Sigma Pi Sigma chapter precedes its SPS chapter, by about three years.

After holding an active physics club for many years under the mentorship of physics faculty Eugene Clothiaux, Duquesne University was granted the Sigma Pi Sigma Chapter Number 148 on June 10, 1965. The new organization advertised its activities in the student newspaper, the Duquesne University Duke.

Duke AnnouncementThe Sigma Pi Sigma chapter was active and held inductions annually for three years, during the tenure of physics chairman Andy Kozora. In April of 1968, when the AIP student sections merged to create SPS, the SPS Chapter Number 1647 was automatically chartered at Duquesne University with a retroactive date to June 10, 1965. Soon after, the SPS chapter and its associated Sigma Pi Sigma chapter went into hibernation and no more activity is found in the record. As the faculty in the physics department changed slowly over the years, the dormant professional and honor society chapters vanished from Duquesne memory.

Many years later, in the late 2000's, a new crop of Duquesne students led by Sean Krupa - now a PhD candidate in photonics at the University of Ohio - proposed the Chair of the department to petition for an SPS chapter. This action prompted an investigation of a cardboard box kept with the memorabilia of the old times, and unceremoniously labeled "physics junk". Physics JunkThe box yielded the record of the original Sigma Pi Sigma charter in pristine condition, including copies of the chapter's annual reports and account books, as well as the articles of agreement for the creation of SPS. No petition was necessary, as SPS National willingly verified the record of our chapter. Thus, in 2009, after a hiatus of about forty years, the Duquesne SPS chapter came back to action under Sean's enthusiastic lead.

It took two more years, and new president Alex Arrico - now a masters candidate in computational materials science engineering at the University of Tennessee, for the SPS chapter to hold a Sigma Pi Sigma induction, its first one since 1967! Presided by Gary White, then Director of SPS National, the induction ceremony welcomed seven new students and four new faculty into Sigma Pi Sigma, and was attended by two Sigma Pi Sigma faculty inducted in 1965 and 1967, respectively: Anna D'Eramo and Shih Chi Chang.


The original Red Book was missing from the "physics junk" box, but was located in safe keeping at the SPS National headquarters and brought back to Duquesne in Gary White's luggage for the 2011 ceremony. The original Red Book is still in use today, and links the current generation of Duquesne students to their peers of the 1960's. We learned that, although much has changed since then, we in the Duquesne physics program are not so very different after all!