Alexander Lowy's Involvement in Sigma Alpha Mu
It seems apparent that Alexander Lowy played a key role in Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity during its earliest years and this continued up to the year 1941. Because he attended the College of the City of New York between 1908 and 1910 it was passed down in his family the likelihood he knew some if not all of the now famous eight students who founded the Alpha chapter at CCNY in November of 1909. He then transferred to Columbia in late 1910 for his senior year and in 1911 became the first pledge of SAM’s third chapter - Gamma. After his post-graduate work at Columbia was completed Lowy left NYC in 1918 to join the Chemistry Department of the University of Pittsburgh. There he helped create and install the Pitt Psi chapter in 1919. At Pitt he was highly respected as the Sigma Alpha Mu Faculty Advisor for over 20 years. He became "its guide and patriarch". This is well-documented in material that was uncovered from research to develop this alexanderlowy.com website.
In 1931 the new Psi pledges presented him with a Scholarship Cup. A portion of Lowy's acceptance speech includes the following "I accept this cup but on the condition that it be presented to the entire alumni body. There is no one man that is the fraternity, and for that reason, I accept this cup on behalf of the entire fraternity." He soon entered the National scene of SAM Fraternity and was elected to the Octagon (governing body) in 1935. He served as Consul in both 1935 and again in 1936. We know now that he was awarded the position of National Scholarship Chairman in 1937 and he fully embraced this honored responsibility. In 1938 it was written "to him more than any other individual can go credit for Sigma Alpha Mu being second in scholarship of all national fraternities with 20 or more chapters for the last school year". After his tragic death at the young age of fifty-two it was again written "few men ever came closer to the heart of the Fraternity than did Al Lowy".
Alexander Lowy died of pancreatic cancer on Christmas Day 1941 and following this the Interfraternity Scholarship Cup was renamed the Dr. Alexander Lowy Scholarship Cup in order to perpetuate his memory. That Cup was then awarded yearly to one of the chapters for over twenty years more until the mid-1960s.
In the March 1938 issue of the magazine Octagonian the Scholarship Cup can be seen and that picture has been helpful with the modern day search for its location. The Scholarship Cup is considered a historic treasure by the fraternity and it is now being earnestly sought after.
With three generations of Sigma Alpha Mu members, the family boasts (1) Alexander Lowy - Gamma 1911, (2) Alexander Lowy, Jr - Psi 1941, and (3) Darryl Fleishman - Psi 1985. Darryl was very instrumental in re-activating the Psi Chapter in the mid-1980s after it had been inactive for about fifteen years. Darryl became Secretary and then lived there at the house during his last two years at Pitt. Darryl recounts the following story of the reorganization of the SAM Psi Chapter at the University of Pittsburgh. It was formally reorganized in 1985, but it began as per the story below:
“Grandma Muriel Fleishman and I were sitting at her kitchen table on Neville Street in Oakland in the fall of 1983, when I mentioned about fraternities at Pitt and my desire to join one. Grandma mentioned that Great Grandpa Alexander Lowy (her father) was one of the founders of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity at the University. Sigma Alpha Mu no longer existed at the University of Pittsburgh. I stated that I should try to get SAM again started at Pitt, and that is exactly what I did. I spoke initially to approximately eight people. The first two were Dave Shapiro and Dan Wendroff. We ended up having our first meeting to reinitiate the chapter of the fraternity at Pitt. I had asked at the main office to be given keys to Clapp Hall, because I frequently studied in the Lowy Room, and was the great grandson of Alexander Lowy. This is where I decided to have that first meeting (in the Lowy Room). We met and eventually re-established the Psi chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity at Pitt.”
“Reactivation of the Dr. Alexander Lowy Cup was approved by the Octagon at its 2011 Spring Meeting. The Awards Committee determined that the award should be in the form of a plaque so that it no longer has to "travel" among the chapters. Each chapter can keep their award if/when they win it. Each award will carry the winning chapter's name.
The national bylaws of Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity show the official name of this award as the Dr. Alexander Lowy Scholarship Award. The winner will be listed in the Fall Octagonian each year and also on the Fraternity website www.sam.org”