Since the founding of George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax, Virginia, the Northern Virginia (NOVA) Alumnae Chapter had dreams and visions of a local collegiate chapter at GMU. Their perseverance paid off when Alpha Phi was chosen following a successful presentation in November 1987. The NOVA Alumnae Chapter has been supportive of the chapter from day one and that special relationship stays true today. For example, in the early days, sororities at George Mason held their preference party at the house of a local alumnae; NOVA alums immediately stepped up and offered their homes to the new chapter.
The Establishment Chairman Terri Ostlund Brooks (Gamma Tau–Willamette), field consultants, extension team, and local alumnae held a successful extension process from February 29 – March 6, 1988. Interviews took place on February 29, 1988, followed by the first open house on March 3, 1988 with Maryland (Delta Zeta) chapter members assisting. The second open house took place on March 4, 1988 with a skit day performed by the Virginia (Zeta Iota) chapter on March 5, 1988. March 6, 1988 included a preference party performed by the Virginia (Zeta Iota) chapter members followed by bid distribution.
The extension team was unsure of the need for another group on campus and wasn’t certain what to expect during the process. When a huge group of amazing young women showed up for the first round, the team was stunned and amazed. And round by round, they kept coming back. On Bid Day, when everyone who was offered a bid walked through the door to join Alpha Phi, the team described a joyful celebration noting they weren’t sure who was more thrilled – the extension team or the new Alpha Phis.
Alpha Phi invited 60 women to join the chapter; the founding class of Eta Lambda included 74 women! The following day, when the field consultants met with Panhellenic Advisor Lori Tiller, they cautiously shared the number of women in the Alpha class. Instead of being upset, Lori smiled and said it was what she expected and exactly what the community needed to create motivation and growth.
The newly established chapter immediately held its first function on March 9, 1988 – a social with Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. The first chapter meeting was held on March 20, 1988, and the women were divided into various committees to begin operations.
The NOVA alumnae members served as “Alum Chums” in the place of “Big Sisters”.
Installation weekend began on October 21, 1988 with the Court of Ivy ceremony performed by Virginia (Zeta Iota) chapter members. Initiation was conducted on October 22, 1988 by International Vice President Alumnae Mary Berkmoes Peterson (Delta Omega-Minnesota State Moorhead) assisted by field consultants, and members of the NOVA Alumnae Chapter. Also in attendance were International President Sally McCall Grant (Gamma-DePauw), Former International Vice President Finance Diane Spry Straker (Delta Alpha-East Carolina). Both ceremonies were held at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Fairfax, Virginia.
Tony Mansfield Killinger (Beta Tau-Indiana) was the installation chairman and helped to make the installation weekend a huge success. Alice Molitor King (Pi-North Dakota), District II alumnae chairman, was toastmistress at the reception honoring the new chapter. International President Sally McCall Grant (Gamma-DePauw) presented the charter to Chapter President Victoria Breault Sledge (Eta Lambda-George Mason), who responded with some touching words including the members’ appreciation for the love and support of their families.
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