The Order of the Golden Fleece was founded in 1904 at the suggestion of philosophy professor Horace Williams, who was worried that the university was becoming too factional. Williams, along with faculty members Edward Kidder Graham and Eben Alexander, wanted to promote service to the university. The order was open to all students, faculty, and alumni, though new members were primarily rising seniors. Women began to be admitted starting in 1972. The name comes from the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece. The president of the club is known as the Jason, while the members are called Argonauts.
The induction or "tapping" ceremonies are now private but used to be held in a dramatic public ceremony. In the 1930s students would gather in Memorial Hall to hear a lecture on the subject of character, followed by a ritual in which current members of the Golden Fleece, wearing black hooded robes, would walk among the audience and select the students to be inducted into the order. The Order of the Golden Fleece continues to add new members every year. The Golden Fleece typically works in a quiet way through individuals and other organizations to promote unity and address timely issues. On rare occasions, the order has worked publicly on campus issues such as hazing and the student honor code. The organization remains private, but the names of members are not kept secret and have included many well-known UNC—Chapel Hill administrators and alumni.
Date Established: 1904
Date Range: 1904 – Present