Alpha Phi marks centennial celebration

The celebration drew more than 600 students and alumnae.
Sorority sisters of Alpha Phi view a plaque dedicated to the group's centennial celebration Saturday at the Alpha Phi house. The plaque stands on the front lawn of the Alpha Phi house on Providence Road.

More than 600 Alpha Phi collegians and alumnae flooded the sorority’s house on Providence Road this weekend to celebrate the Omicron Chapter’s Centennial Anniversary.

The weekend featured events including the “Move Your Phi’t” Heart Walk through campus, benefiting women’s heart health and a tented gala and banquet with entertainment by current members of the sorority as well as alumni.

But the event drew more than just Alpha Phi women. Mayor Bob McDavid spoke Saturday morning on the lawn of the Alpha Phi House in a ceremony. McDavid, an MU alumnus, studied at the MU School of Medicine, and noted he delivered some of the babies who are now members of the Omicron Chapter of the Alpha Phi sorority. After McDavid read a proclamation from the City of Columbia, a plaque, which stands in the front yard of the house, was revealed to dedicate to the house. The plaque notes the history of the house, as well as distinguished alumnae, including Carrie Francke, who is the first woman president of the Missouri Students Association and Melodie A. Powell, who is the former national president of the Mizzou Alumni Association.

Besides allowing alumnae sorority sisters a chance to reconnect with former classmates, the event was a way for sisters to hear stories from graduates.

Juniors Kristen Schmitt and Stephanie Swanson sat in the living room of the Alpha Phi house, asking alumnae about college life for women 50 years ago, touching on issues like marriage age and campus safety.

“We really did pave the way for graduates,” Sara Cleaver Green, who graduated with the class of 1962, told them. Cleaver Green noted how different college was when she was a student as compared to now.

“You were kicked out of nursing school if you were married, divorced or African American,” Cleaver Green said. But her generation also brought change for women to the campus.

“We made it so that divorced women with children could live in university housing,” she said. “We took children to class with us.”

Also on display at the house was the Sub-Rosa from the Alpha Phi chartering members, which was created in 1910. It includes pictures of the founding members, as well as the founding values of the sorority.

“Greek organizations were very secret in those days,” said Deborah Hacker Serra, who graduated with the class of 1975.

The book had been lost for 20 years, but was recently found under a sister’s bed by family members who were cleaning out the space, Hacker Serra said.

“The book is now held under lock and key. This is our history,” she said.

MU’s Omicron chapter is the 15th chapter of the Alpha Phi International Women’s Fraternity, which was founded at Syracuse University in 1872. As the fifth sorority established at MU, it has included more than 3,000 MU women. It is currently the second largest chapter of Alpha Phi International and has more than 230 undergraduate members.

“It really is sort of an amazing testament to the longevity of a really meaningful organization with incredible values that develops leaders -- that develops women into professionals,” Drouin said. “It’s an organization about friendship and loyalty and sisterhood. This weekend is truly a celebration of those things.”

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