Alpha Omicron Pi

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Alpha Omicron Pi
Founded January 2, 1897; 122 years ago (1897-01-02)
Barnard College
(New York, New York)
Type Social
Scope International
Mission statement "Women Enriched through Lifelong Friendship.", "Exceed the Expectation."[1]
Colors      Cardinal
Symbol Sheaf
Flower Jacqueminot rose
Jewel Ruby
Mascot Panda (unofficial) , Angel
Publication To Dragma
Philanthropy Arthritis Research and Education
Chapters 204
Members 151,000 + collegiate
Headquarters 5390 Virginia Way
Brentwood, Tennessee, USA

Alpha Omicron Pi (ΑΟΠ, AOII) is an international women's fraternity promoting friendship for a lifetime, inspiring academic excellence and lifelong learning, and developing leadership skills through service to the fraternity and community. ΑΟΠ was founded on January 2, 1897 at Barnard College on the campus of Columbia University in New York. Its founders were Stella George Stern Perry, Helen St. Clair Mullan, Elizabeth Heywood Wyman, and Jessie Wallace Hughan. The four founders met in the Columbia Law Library to begin their fraternity and to forever seal their friendships and the friendships of all future members. The philosophy which the founders guided their principles included membership to women who share their belief in lifelong friendship, service and love. Membership is offered to women regardless of ethnicity, religion or socio-economic background.[2]

Today, Alpha Omicron Pi is an international women's fraternity, with 204 collegiate chapters and 320 alumnae chapters in Canada and the U.S.A.[3] Its international headquarters is located in Brentwood, Tennessee, and it is a member group of the National Panhellenic Conference, which is the governing council of the 26 member women's fraternities and sororities. It is the only member to the NPC to have one official color (cardinal), as all the other members have two to four official colors.

Like many other Greek organizations for women, Alpha Omicron Pi is a fraternity, not a sorority, although both terms are often used. The term sorority was not yet in widespread use at the time of Alpha Omicron Pi's founding, and therefore it is officially a "fraternity for women." The fraternity promotes the values of service, scholarship, and leadership.


The Alpha chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi was founded January 2, 1897, by four women: Jessie Wallace Hughan, Helen St. Clair Mullan, Elizabeth Heywood Wyman, and Stella George Stern Perry. Within one week of the founding of Alpha Omicron Pi, the four founders used their initiation Ritual for the first time, initiating Anne Richardson Hall.

National expansion of the women's fraternity began almost immediately in 1898. The resulting chapter was Pi Chapter at New Orleans' Sophie Newcomb College (part of Tulane University). Stella George Stern Perry, who was then the President of Alpha Omicron Pi, contacted a New Orleans classmate, Evelyn Reed, who expressed compatible ideas about fraternities. Evelyn's sister, Katherine Reed, became the first pledge of Pi Chapter. After being initiated by Stella, she found others to initiate.


Alpha Omicron Pi has only one color, cardinal (it is the only member of the National Panhellenic Conference to only have one official color).

Alpha Omicron Pi has only one jewel, the ruby. The occasional use of pearls or diamonds in special badges has no significance or special meaning.

A sheaf of wheat is a common symbol in AOΠ, found in the new member pin, the rings for the chapter president, alumnae chapter president, and International president. The binding together of wheat into a sheaf in the new member pin represents individuals bound by the common bond of Alpha Omicron Pi. The wheat indicates usefulness in its harvest.

The nineteenth-century French rose, 'Général Jacqueminot', a deep red rose, was chosen as the flower of Alpha Omicron Pi because its color is the symbol of the central and essential virtue of the fraternity. Its choice had no connection with any legend, poem or story. This strong red rose, with its overtones of courage and vigor, was selected for its richness of color and fragrance, combined with softness and modesty of bearing. The Jacqueminot rose is not available at most florists, so any deep red rose which is available may be used.

While not an official symbol, the fraternity and its chapters consider the giant panda to be its mascot.

The Alpha Omicron Pi badge comprises the Greek letters, Α (alpha), Ο (omicron), and Π (pi) superimposed on each other with a ruby at the apex of the A (alpha). Badges may be worn by initiated members only. If it is worn with another pin, it is to be placed above it and to the right. No other pin, badge, insignia, such as a fraternity pin, Greek letter indicating the name of a chapter or a symbol denoting an office, may be attached to the badge in any way, whether by a chain or by hanging it on the fastener.

To Dragma, translated as "the sheaf", is the name of the fraternity's magazine. The name was selected for three reasons: because it is a reminder of the common interest which unites all AOIIs, because it is a record of accomplishment, or harvest, and because it fittingly describes the purpose of such a publication, the uniting of members through communication. It is published three times per year, and has won numerous awards since its inception. Most recently, in 2008, To Dragma received the Fred F. Yoder Award for overall excellence.

Believing in their beginnings in Greek tradition, ΑΟΠ does not have a coat of arms, but uses a Jacqueminot rose as their symbol. A coat of arms is a medieval or masonic tradition, and therefore has no roots in the Greek tradition. ΑΟΠ is the only Greek organization without a coat of arms.

The fraternity awards an annual prize to the organization's outstanding chapter, the Jessie Wallace Hughan Cup.[4]


Since 1897, Alpha Omicron Pi has initiated over 151,000 members in 204 collegiate chapters across the United States and Canada. The oldest continuously open ΑΟΠ chapter was installed at The University of Tennessee Knoxville (founded 1902). The second oldest is Zeta at University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska (founded 1903) and third oldest is Sigma at University of California in Berkeley, California (founded 1907); Theta at DePauw University (founded August 23, 1907), followed by Delta at Tufts University (founded 1908) and Gamma at University of Maine in Orono, Maine (founded 1908).

Alpha chapter at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City closed in 1914 when Greek Life was abolished at the school, however, the chapter has been recolonized and was reinstalled on May 5, 2013 at Columbia University.[5]

AOII's chapter names are unique compared to other Greek groups. Most sororities and fraternities are named sequentially, with the first chapter being Alpha, the second Beta, and so on. Breaking from this tradition, ΑΟΠ does not dictate its chapter designations. Each colony of the fraternity selects its own chapter name and corresponding sub-motto. In this way, chapter designations have special meaning for the members. The first four chapters were Alpha at Barnard College of Columbia University, Pi at Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University, Nu at New York University and Omicron at the University of Tennessee. Of these four, only Alpha and Omicron remain active.


Alpha Omicron Pi's official philanthropy is Arthritis Research. This cause was chosen because it is the leading cause of disability for women. It can affect women of all ages. Since adopting Arthritis Research as its international philanthropy in 1967, Alpha Omicron Pi has raised over $2 million for grants and research. Collegians are encouraged to participate in annual "Strike out Arthritis" fund-raisers. In 2011, AOII established a partnership with The Arthritis Foundation to further their philanthropic goals. AOII is the official corporate sponsor of the 2014 Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis.

Though Arthritis Research is the international philanthropy, chapters often support other local or national causes, especially those benefitting women's causes.

AOII's original philanthropy was the Frontier Nursing Service which brought essential health services to the poor in Appalachia.

The Alpha Omicron Pi Foundation

Established in 1977, the Alpha Omicron Pi Foundation was created to support the philanthropies and members of the fraternity. The foundation provides scholarships, educational grants and aid to sisters while providing the fraternity with leadership grants and providing arthritis grants. The mission of the foundation is to fund programs that promote intellectual, ethical and leadership development.

The Alpha Omicron Pi Foundation offers support in the following areas:

  • Diamond Jubilee Scholarships
  • Educational and Leadership Grants
  • The Ruby Fund
  • Endowment Fund
  • Arthritis Research

Alpha Omicron Pi's values

Alpha Omicron Pi has the following values:

  • "Trusting and respecting each other;
  • Building lifelong friendships;
  • Contributing time, talent and financial resources;
  • Promoting integrity;
  • Developing leaders;
  • Striving for excellence;
  • Encouraging innovation and creativity;
  • Using teamwork and collaboration;
  • Acting philanthropically;
  • Being a living example."[1]

Notable alumnae

Jessie Wallace Hughan
Name Chapter Notability Ref(s)
McCord, Mary MargaretMary Margaret McCord
Alpha Delta
2013 Miss USA first runner-up (representing state of Alabama)
Bourke-White, MargaretMargaret Bourke-White
Omicron Pi
Photographer and journalist, joined Alpha Omicron Pi while at the University of Michigan. Her works were donated to Alpha Omicron Pi upon her death in 1971, and today are displayed at the international headquarters. [6]
Chamberlin, WendyWendy Chamberlin
Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. [7]
Phillips, MaeganMaegan Phillips
Gamma Alpha
Miss Virginia USA 2009 [8]
Corsaut, AnetaAneta Corsaut
Actress best known for her role as Helen Crump in The Andy Griffith Show and the 1958 film The Blob. [9]
Crow, AshleyAshley Crow
Delta Delta
Actress [citation needed]
Dawson, MaryMary Dawson
Kappa Phi
The current Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner of Canada. She was appointed by the minority Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on July 9, 2007 as the Conflict of Interest Act came into force. Mary Dawson was made a Queen's Counsel in 1978 and was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2007. [citation needed]
Dear, Nancy W. DiehlNancy W. Diehl Dear
Alpha Phi
American Quarter Horse Association's Hall of Fame Inductee and National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Inductee. [citation needed]
Farhat, MercedesMercedes Farhat
Gamma Omicron
2008 Olympic Swimmer. Second woman to swim for Libya in the Olympic Games. [citation needed]
Frayer, Janis MackeyJanis Mackey Frayer
Beta Tau
Television journalist with CTV National News [citation needed]
Goff, AngieAngie Goff
Gamma Alpha
News Anchor and Journalist for WRC-TV To Dragma magazine of AOII
Howorth, Lucy SomervilleLucy Somerville Howorth
Lawyer, feminist, and politician known for her New Deal legislative efforts. [citation needed]
Hughan, Jessie WallaceJessie Wallace Hughan
Founder and first Secretary of the War Resisters League. [10]
Kupets, CourtneyCourtney Kupets
Lambda Sigma
Olympic and World Champion Gymnast at the University of Georgia. [11]
Lubbers, TeresaTeresa Lubbers
Kappa Alpha
Indiana State Senator 1992—2009, current Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education. [12]
Shallow, ParvatiParvati Shallow
Lambda Sigma
contestant on Survivor: Cook Islands, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Winner of Survivor: Micronesia at the University of Georgia. [13]
White, NatalieNatalie White
Sigma Omicron
Winner of Survivor: Samoa [14]
Paracha, NatashaNatasha Paracha
Miss Pakistan World 2008 [citation needed]
Davis, AshleyAshley Davis
Zeta Pi
Miss Alabama 2010 [15]
Layman, KatieKatie Layman
Epsilon Gamma
Miss Colorado 2009
Southard, KatherineKatherine Southard
Epsilon Chi
Miss North Carolina 2009
Mackin, CatherineCatherine Mackin Pi Delta Television personality and actress. {{citation[16]}}
Torre, JaniceJanice Torre
Songwriter, lyricist of song Paper Roses [17]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "About AOII — Ideals". Alpha Omicron Pi. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. To Dragma. Fall/Winter 2012.
  3. FAOII at a Glance
  4. Chapter Locator Indiana Closed - Depauw University
  5. Vigeland, Finn. "Alpha Omicron Pi, Gamma Phi Beta to open chapters on campus". Retrieved 25 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Margaret Bourke-White Papers". Syracuse University. July 20, 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kattan, Lara (May 25, 2007). "Alums in politics reflect on NU's changed political landscape". North By Northwestern. Retrieved 2008-07-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Miss Virginia USA 2009". Miss Virginia USA. Summer 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Aneta Corseaut". Alpha Omicron Pi. Summer 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Mari Jo Buhle, "Jessie Wallace Hughan (1875-1955)," in Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Georgakas (eds.), Encyclopedia of the American Left. New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1990; pg. 339.
  11. "Courtney Kupets: Info: Biography". Archived from the original on 27 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "TeresaLubbers". Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Parvati Shallow". Archived from the original on 8 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Survivor Winner". Archived from the original on 17 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Baxi, Nishita (May 12, 2010). "Ashley Davis-Miss Alabama 2010". Rollins College: Mu Lambda Chapter. Retrieved July 27, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. To Dragma magazine of AOII, 1997
  17. International Motion Picture Almanac - Page 320 - 1951

External links