Hyman I. Jacobson

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Founder Hyman I. Jacobson was an early driving force in Sigma Alpha Mu. David Levinson said of that first meeting, "We simply talked it over and proposed to…call it a club. But Hyman Jacobson—clever man, brilliant student—said ‘no, we're going to call it a fraternity.' " Jacobson's leadership that day bespoke his zeal to make the new effort succeed, almost as if he knew he had little time. His interests at CCNY were many. He excelled in mathematics, in which he won honors, but was involved in seven major activities including class poet and vice president. According to good tradition he got himself temporarily suspended "for hanging the class numerals on the steeple and locking the door of the bell tower preventing the janitor from removing them." Shortly after graduation, he took an accounting course at Pace College, became a CPA, wrote for an accounting journal, and was a part-time instructor at Pace until his death. He was a scholar all his days. But his first love was Sigma Alpha Mu. His widow (who was a sister of a frater) once wrote, "next to his family and home, the fraternity comprised his entire existence."

 

Hij, as he was called, became the first Supreme Recorder in 1912. As with all things, he took it seriously. He published the first Sigma Alpha Mu directory. He founded and edited The Octagonian and used it assiduously to prod the growing body of fraters to help the Fraternity to grow and to prosper and thrive, to pay dues, attend fraternity functions and installations, to suggest Sigma Alpha Mu to college-bound younger brothers, sons, nephews and friends, to propose and develop new chapters and get them populated with the best men and to send news for The Octagonian. He wrote to fraters constantly (postcards were then a penny). His son Fra Dr. Jerry Jacobson, NYU ‘47, who was only seven when his father died, said one of his vivid memories was accompanying his dad to his office to do Fraternity work. Hyman was the first Sigma Alpha Mu executive (without pay) and his accounting office was the first Fraternity headquarters. Of those early days, he wrote, "I have coaxed, I have cajoled, I have bullied, I have begged, I have threatened, I have dunned—and I have paid the bills." He was Supreme Exchequer for six years, and the seventh Supreme Prior. His fire burned brightly, but then he passed away before his 40th birthday. In the entire fraternity world, few if any have had more influence on their fraternity's earliest development than Hyman I. Jacobson. And the first to show appreciation were his fellow Founders. The Fraternity's first undergraduate award—given annually to the top senior scholar—was established in Fra Jacobson's memory.