Take 109 years of history and tradition and combine it with the ambitious spirit of two collegians and you have the first women’s fraternity to be installed at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The breaking of the coed barrier just ten years earlier at formerly all-male Johns Hopkins was celebrated with the installation of Alpha Phi’s Zeta Omicron chapter on Sunday, April 5, 1981.
It was December 6, 1979, when Cindy Bishop Hill (Beta Upsilon-Oregon State), Alpha Phi Extension Field Representative, met with Nina Esaki and Jackie Dyer, two Johns Hopkins undergraduates. The lines of communication were opened, and on February 20, 1980, seventeen women from The Johns Hopkins University were formally welcomed as a new chapter of Alpha Phi International Fraternity.
From that day forward, the new chapter was under the constant watch/care of Nancy Wittgen Burks DeVoe (Gamma-DePauw), Vice President-Extension, Joan Kelly (Epsilon Kappa-West Chester), Extension Director, Diana Spry Straker (Delta Alpha-East Carolina), District Governor, and an alumnae Advisory Board. The five Alpha Phi alumnae who committed themselves to assisting the new chapter in their pursuit of a chapter charter were Beth Johnson Bishop (Epsilon-Minnesota), Chapter Advisor, Debbie Saidman (Gamma Rho-Penn State), Fraternity Training Adviser, Lindy Harry Utermohle (Beta Kappa-Denison), Program Adviser, and Nancy Gormley (Beta Gamma-Colorado), Recruitment Adviser.
After months of preparation by Phyllis Johnson Daeschner (Beta Beta-Michigan State), Installation Chairman, the fanfare was ready to begin. Thanks to Phyllis and her committee (Lindy Utermohle, Sharon Baldwin, Martha Cockey Hladish and Ann Levinstein Unruh, all Delta Zeta-Maryland, and Jody Spears (Gamma Nu-Miami) the installation weekend was a flawless celebration.
The weekend festivities began on Saturday, April 4, with the arrival of Executive Board members Mary Carr Boyd (Missouri-Omicron), International President, Nancy Wittgen Burks DeVoe (Gamma-DePauw), Diane Findley (newly appointed Vice President Finance), and District Officers Alice Molitor King (Pi-North Dakota), Alumnae Chairman III, Mary Martell Mason (Beta Beta-Michigan State), Alumnae Chairman II, and Sharon Horton Rowe (Beta Iota-West Virginia) and Joan Dunlop Mitchell (Gamma Rho-Penn State), Governors II.
Zeta Omicron’s weekend was also highlighted by the arrival of 19 collegians from Zeta Iota chapter, University of Virginia, and 34 collegians from Epsilon Kappa chapter at West Chester University. Saturday evening the sisters from Zeta Iota conducted the Court of Ivy Ceremony. The following morning, the sisters of Epsilon Kappa initiated the 37 founding members into the sisterhood of Alpha Phi.
After the initiation ceremonies, the initiates were honored at a banquet at the Cross Keys Inn. Many parents and friends of the initiates were in attendance. The banquet festivities were directed by toastmistress Nancy DeVoe. The banquet was concluded with the Loving Cup Ceremony, conducted by DAC Alice King.