During the 1903 – 1904 school year at Syracuse University in New York, Marguerite and Estelle Shephard discussed the lack of new women’s organizations on campus. The two sisters had noticed that university enrollment had doubled in the past four years, but only one addition had been made to the women’s fraternity system, thus many otherwise worthy women were being denied membership. The Shephard sisters contacted one of their highly respected professors, Dr. Wellesley Coddington, and proposed their wish to create a new fraternity. Dr. Coddington was very supportive and offered much assistance in making their dream a reality. With the addition of nine other friends – Jennie Titus, Georgia Dickover, Grace Mosher, Ethel Brown, Edith McConnell, Mary Snider, Georgia Otis, Emily Butterfield, and Flora Knight – a new sisterhood was founded at the home of Dr. Coddington on May 4, 1904: Alpha Gamma Delta (Alpha Gam).
Since the days of the first eleven founders over 100 years ago, Alpha Gamma Delta has grown to include 109 active chapters, over 6,400 undergraduate members, and more than 150,000 lifetime initiates. Following the fraternity’s vision to “live with purpose,” many Sisters have gone above and beyond to truly become noteworthy in their chosen fields, including Rita Coolidge (singer), Karen McCullah Lutz (screenwriter & author, Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You, She's the Man, The House Bunny), Brenda Hemann Harris (opera star), and Judy Baar Topinka (first female State Treasurer in Illinois). With Sisters like these, it is no surprise many women want to wear the Alpha Gam Red, Buff, and Green.
Through community service efforts, there's no doubt that Alpha Gams are impacting the world through their chosen philanthropic focus, diabetes awareness and education, and members are encouraged to engage in community service that promotes this worthy cause. Diabetes continues to affect countless numbers of people at an astounding rate, many of whom the Sisters count as friends and family members. The Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation provides grants that support members and other individuals living with diabetes, provides financial support to members in emergency situations, and provides volunteer and leadership training opportunities to help further the foundation’s goals. Overall, the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation impacts and enriches our communities by providing essential support for education, philanthropy and leadership.
The members of Alpha Gamma Delta are assets to their communities, no matter where they may reside, for their lives are guided by “The Alpha Gamma Delta Purpose:” To gain understanding that wisdom may be vouchsafed to me. To develop and prize health and vigor of body. To cultivate acquaintance with many whom I meet. To cherish friendships with but a chosen few and to study the perfecting of those friendships. To welcome the opportunity of contributing to the world's work in the community where I am placed because of the joy of service thereby bestowed and the talent of leadership multiplied. To honor my home, my country, my religious faith. To hold truth inviolable, sincerity essential, kindness invaluable. To covet beauty in environment, manner, word and thought. To possess high ideals and to attain somewhat unto them. This shall be my purpose that those who know me may esteem Alpha Gamma Delta for her attainments, revere her for her purposes and love her for her Womanhood.