At the University of Arkansas in 1895, four female students began meeting with their professor, Dr. Charles Richardson, to discuss a new idea. The four ladies, Ina Mae Boles, Jean Vincenheller, Jobelle Holcombe, and Alice Simonds, wished to form a women’s organization based upon friendship, personal integrity, service to others, academic excellence, intellectual pursuits, community & campus involvement, and personal & career development. Dr. Richardson, himself an initiate of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, was well-acquainted with the benefits of Greek-letter organizations, and knew that this would be the perfect forum for the four women to fulfill their vision. On April 5, 1895, all their hard work came to fruition with the founding of Chi Omega (Chi O).
Since the early days of Chi Omega, the founding four members have evolved into the largest fraternal organization for women in the world, with 173 active chapters, more than 16,000 undergraduate members, and over 310,000 lifetime initiates. The ideals of the founders have helped shape the lives of countless generations of women, encouraging them to reach their full potential, for this reason, many Sisters have gone on to leave a lasting mark on history, including Angela Kinsey (actress, The Office), Natalie Allen (CNN Anchor), Lucy Liu (actress, Charlie's Angels, Ally McBeal, Kill Bill), Harper Lee (author, To Kill a Mockingbird), and Blanche Lincoln (United States Senator, Arkansas). With Sisters like these, it is not surprising that many women want to wear the Chi O Cardinal and Straw.
Since 1895, the ladies of Chi Omega have given their time and talent to provide service to others throughout their respective communities, this commitment to philanthropy was solidified in 2002 when they announced the official Chi Omega/Make-a-Wish alliance. Since beginning this alliance, Chi Omega has raised more than $9.5 million and has given more than half a million service hours for Make-a- Wish. The Sisters understand that childhood is a time to be happy and care-free, which is why it’s particularly sad when that time is cut short by serious illness. A wish granted through the Make-a-Wish foundation not only provides hope, strength and joy to a child and their family, but it can provide the child with the ability and willingness to comply with difficult medical treatments, and the hope gained by that wish often improves a child's physical health.
The sisterhood of Chi Omega provides its members with support that goes far beyond the college years through friendship, personal integrity, service to others, academic excellence and intellectual pursuits, community and campus involvement, and personal and career development. If the original four founders could see what Chi Omega has become, they would look upon its accomplishments with tremendous pride, having full confidence that as the years pass, Chi Omega will continue to leave its mark, making the world a better place.