In the fall of 1885 at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, Professor James Hamilton Howe sought to forge a new sort of fraternity. Professor Howe was the Dean of the School of Music at DePauw, and he believed that the school could greatly benefit from a musical organization especially for female students. He knew of seven young women in particular who were devoted to both friendship and their musical studies, young women who had the potential to form a strong foundation for this new fraternity. After meeting with these students, drafting up the first constitution and by-laws, and agreeing that their common purpose was “to attain the highest musical culture and to cultivate those principles that embody true womanhood,” Professor Howe’s idea was realized with the founding of Alpha Chi Omega on October 15, 1885 (Alpha Chi).
Since its early days at DePauw University, Alpha Chi Omega has grown into one of the largest Greek letter organizations for women, with 135 active chapters, more than 11,500 undergraduate members, and over 200,000 lifetime initiates. Between these impressive numbers and the high standards to which Alpha Chis hold themselves, it is no surprise that many have gone on to lead lives worthy of admiration, such as Condoleeza Rice (former U.S. Secretary of State), Eleanor Coppola (award-winning documentarian), Dawn Wells (actress, Gilligan's Island), and Carol Duvall (host, The Carol Duvall Show). With Sisters like these, no wonder so many women want to wear the Alpha Chi Omega Scarlet Red and Olive Green.
Service to others has always played a significant part of every Alpha Chi’s life, and more than anything, this selflessness is apparent in the time and devotion to a variety of philanthropic causes. Their principal philanthropic cause, domestic violence, is something that impacts countless lives, with nearly three out of four Americans personally knowing someone who has been a victim of domestic abuse. Alpha Chi makes it a priority to educate others about the signs of domestic violence and what to do if you suspect a friend or family member is a victim of abuse. Besides domestic violence, Alpha Chi Omega also encourages their chapters to support local causes and charities that their members feel strongly about, such as breast cancer awareness, Special Olympics, and Big brothers Big Sisters, just to name a few.
For over 125 years, the women of Alpha Chi Omega have worked towards their motto: “Together let us seek the heights.” They have supported each other through friendship, leadership, learning, and service to others, making the organization, and their Sisters, an integral part of their lives, regardless of the paths they may take. Whether a college campus, a charity fundraiser, or your office building, the ladies of Alpha Chi Omega make the world a better place through being real, strong, women.