The History of the Theta Omicron Chapter
During the Fall of 1976, a group of young men set out to start a chapter of Alpha Tau Omega on the Marshall University Campus. Beginning without a house, fraternity experiences or large numbers, the interest group progressed through excellent chapter leadership and alumni involvement. The three founding fathers of the chapter were Dr. Patrick I. Brown, Medical School professor and then President of the National Fraternity; Dr. A. Mervin Tyson, retired Vice President for Academic Affairs at Marshall; and Randy King, a graduate of Southern Illinois University, then working on his master’s degree at Marshall.
Within one year, the interest group flourished, acquired a rental house and achieved Colony status by Fall 1977. On April 1, 1978, 32 men were initiated into the brotherhood of Alpha Tau Omega, and Theta Omicron received its Charter as the 150th active chapter of ATO. Much progress characterized the first years of the chapter. ATO, for example, was the first fraternity on Marshall’s campus to successfully integrate with the initiation of Phillip ‘PJ’ Johnson.
The hopes and dreams of eventually obtaining ‘our own house’ predominated throughout the first years. Finally, after several acquisitions, the dream came true in June, 1987, when the Chapter House, Tyson Hall, at 1429 5th Avenue was purchased and became the property of Alpha Tau Omega. This purchase of ‘our own house’ was made possible through chapter savings, a loan from the Alpha Tau Omega National Headquarters and a loan from a local alumnus — tangible evidence of almost fifteen years of progress to that time. After years of wear and tear, in 2003 it was decided that the house was to be remodeled. The remodel was extensive and was finally completed in October of 2004.
In 2008 news came from Nationals that the chapter was in trouble, the Charter was going to be pulled if things were not turned around and quickly. When this news reached the Alumni, many of them came to the rescue. It was with their support and the Active members hardwork that the Chapter was saved. A downside to saving the Chapter was the decision to sell the house after years of struggling to collect rent and stay current with bills. By selling the house to Richmond Property Group, a subsidiary of ATO Nationals, it guaranteed that Theta Omicron would remain the leasee as long as the terms of the contract were met. During this process the Alumni and Chapter also set up a Board of Trustees to assist the Chapter in all future matters.
Since the trouble in 2008, the chapter has flourished as well as alumni support. Recruitment has improved tremendously, bringing in large classes in the spring and fall semesters. Due to the boom in recruitement the house has been able to return to double occupancy in each room. Even with all the recent success the chapter has not become complacent, and are continually striving to be the best chapter possible.