The meaning of "Phi Alpha", SAE's secret motto, is perhaps the best kept secret in the world of fraternities. The only way to learn its meaning, according to sources, is to be a brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
However, SAE's secret motto, which is supposed to be a secret shared only among members, is being defined on various websites as "Brighter from Obscurity", and you can read a good amount of comments from those claiming to have been a member of SAE, that it is indeed its meaning.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded on March 9, 1856, at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Its founders were Noble Leslie DeVotie, Nathan Elams Cockrell, John Barratt Rudulph, John Webb Kerr, Samuel Marion Dennis, Wade Hampton Foster, Abner Edwin Patton, and Thomas Chappell Cook. Their leader was DeVotie, who wrote the ritual, created the grip, and chose the name. Rudulph designed the badge.
None of the founders of SAE were members of any other fraternity, although Noble Leslie DeVotie had been invited to join all of the other fraternities at the University of Alabama before founding Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
Know more about the history of SAE at www.sae.net.