Gamma Iota Sigma is a registered 501(c)(3) educational organization and is the only international business fraternity for students of insurance, risk management and actuarial science. GIS pursues a mission to promote and encourage student interest in the industry as a profession while encouraging the high moral and scholastic attainments of its members. Since its incorporation in 1965, GIS has chartered 72 chapters across North America and boasts an annual membership of more than 4,000 students and an alumni population of over 25,000.
The idea of a national scholastic insurance fraternity actually started to become a reality when the Griffith Foundation for Insurance Education filed for incorporation in 1965. The following year, the OSU Insurance Society, which started at The Ohio State University in the early 1960’s, petitioned and was chartered as the first Gamma Iota Sigma Chapter, thereafter called Alpha Chapter. At Bowling Green State University, Beta Chapter received its charter in 1967, and in 1969, the University of Cincinnati was chartered as Gamma Chapter. There’s the beginning of what has now grown into a nucleus of 69 chapters located from California to Connecticut, and from Canada to Florida.
A Grand Chapter or Executive Committee of Gamma Iota Sigma was formed from the original fraternity planning committee, appointed by the Griffith Foundation.
The first Grand Chapter President was Warren L. Weeks, then a Griffith Foundation trustee. It was his commitment to the concept of a national student organization that lead to the eventual formation of Gamma Iota Sigma. (There currently exists a Warren L. Weeks, Sr. Scholarship presented each year to a student member. Nominations for the award are made by local chapters.)
The rationale behind establishing a national student organization, as envisioned by the founders was:
- A national fraternity has more prestige than a local society or club;
- It would facilitate communication and participation with chapter members throughout the country;
- By combining with others, the impact of the fraternity name as a visible entity would be enhanced;
- By emphasizing scholarship and leadership qualities, ties between the college membership and industry leaders would be developed; and
- There would be a synergism of academic creativity beyond the boundaries of any given university.
The Annual Management Conference was first held in 1973. Since then, many of the local chapters have hosted the conference at least once.
The Grand Chapter, initially consisting solely of Griffith Foundation trustees, has now evolved to a distinctly separate organization of insurance professionals and insurance educators, most of whom were members of Gamma Iota Sigma chapters while attending college.
Additional Fraternity History
Within these symbols lay the foundations of Gamma Iota Sigma and the future of this fraternity.
In England during the early days of fire insurance, the use of fire marks came into being. The fire marks were used to identify those risks accepted and insured by the fire insurance companies. These fire marks bore the trademark of insurers. Two of the oldest of these were the “Hand in Hand Fire Insurance Society” and the “Friendly Insurance Society.”
The fire mark was molded of metal, generally iron, and secured in a prominent place to the exterior of insured buildings. The purpose of the fire mark was to identify an insured property which in case of fire would be served by a specific fire fighting company. The fire mark was evidence that the ‘marked’ property was insured.
The Hand In Hand Fire and Life Insurance Society fire mark consisted of two clasped hands emblazoned upon a shield. This fire mark identified the property as that of a member of the society. The clasped hands, signifying a contract, were adopted by Gamma Iota Sigma as a symbol marking the beginning of friendship, the beginning of a pledge.
The triangle or shield is an inverted triangle with rounded points. These three points of the triangle represent friendship, knowledge and integrity.
The Greek letters Gamma Iota Sigma represent the letters C. I. S. for Collegiate Insurance Society. Gamma Iota Sigma however has a more complex meaning. These letters in Greek spell earth. Inasmuch as all life, all material things subject to insurance have their origin in earth. Gamma Iota Sigma is well dedicated to the insurance industry.
The Union Insurance Society was organized in London, England, in the year 1714. The fire mark of this society was composed of Four Clasped and Crossed Hands. Some of these fire marks portrayed crossed left hands. One of these, perhaps the oldest of all other such marks, portrayed Four Clasped Right Hands. Gamma Iota Sigma selected its emblem from this fire mark of The Union Insurance Society. These four clasped hands signify the four purposes of the Fraternity: Knowledge, Friendship, Fidelity, and Integrity. The four clasped hands are molded to a golden shield and this shield signifies Protection. Being of gold, the shield signifies Durability.
Insurance is a social science, designated to assist mankind in overcoming the potential losses inherent to civilization. It has contributed to further advancement. The services the industry may yet render will be born in research. The study of insurance will continue to open new avenues of thought, new gateways to progress. You are encouraged by Gamma Iota Sigma to study, engage in research and to advance in all fields of insurance endeavor. Your membership in Gamma Iota Sigma is only the beginning, and the associations you make will contribute greatly to your progress.
Video: Attracting and Developing Tomorrow’s Insurance Stars. Courtesy of A.M. Best.
Read: “Mind the Talent Gap: Attracting Students and Young Professionals to the Wholesale Insurance Industry,” by Noelle Codispoti, ARM. Courtesy of AAMGA and WIN Magazine.