Alpha Sigma Tau

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Alpha Sigma Tau
Symbols crest.png
Founded November 4, 1899; 116 years ago (1899-11-04)
Michigan State Normal College, (Ypsilanti, Michigan)
Type Social
Scope National
Motto Active, Self-reliant, Trustworthy
Colors      Emerald Green      Gold
Symbol Anchor
Flower Yellow Rose
Jewel Pearl
Publication THE ANCHOR
Philanthropy Pine Mountain Settlement School,
Habitat for Humanity
Chapters Over 90
Headquarters 3334 Founders Road
Indianapolis, Indiana 46268, USA

Alpha Sigma Tau (ΑΣΤ) is a "social sorority with the purpose to promote ethical, cultural, and social development of its members"[1] and is a Panhellenic sorority founded on November 4, 1899 at Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University). It is the third-oldest educational sorority, and has more than 90 active chapters and colonies nationwide.


In 1899, eight women founded Alpha Sigma Tau Alpha Chapter: Helene M. Rice, her sister Adriance Rice, Mayene Tracy, Eva O’Keefe, May Gephart, Mabel Chase, Ruth Dutcher, and Harriet Marx. There were three other sororities on campus at the time: Pi Kappa Sigma, Sigma Nu Phi and Zeta Phi (now inactive). The name "Alpha Sigma Tau" was chosen, and emerald green and gold were chosen for the colors.

The sorority's next meeting took the form of a small party at the home of Mrs. Depew on Forest Avenue, where Helene and Adriance Rice, Eva O'Keefe and Harriet Marx roomed. The party was festively decorated with gold and purple for the occasion; even the cake was golden with purple icing. It was decided that the newly created sorority would be revealed to the student body the next day. Accordingly, all members attended chapel together the next morning wearing purple and gold; however, to their surprise and chagrin, the members of the Zeta Phi informed them that these colors were already taken. The group then chose emerald green and gold, which remain their signature colours today.

Mrs. Effie E. Polyhamus Lyman was chosen patroness. During the first year of its existence, the sorority did not display any marked activity. The charter was not received until the second year, when Edith Silk, Myrtle Oram, Zoe Waldron, Grace Townley, Marie Gedding, Louise Agrell and Mable Pitts had joined the organization and, with the organizers, were the charter members. On the suggestion of Mrs. Effie E Polyhamus Lyman, Miss Abigail Pearce and Miss Ada A. Norton were asked to be patronesses.[2]

Just six years later, in 1905 the Beta Chapter was founded at Central Michigan Normal College, which is now Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. From here over 90 new chapters were created across the country.

National Presidents[edit]

Years Name Chapter
1925–1928 Grace Erb Ritchie Alpha
1928–1934 Luella Chapman Sigma
1934–1949 Carrie Washburne Staehle Alpha
1949–1955 Dorothy Bennett Robinson Pi
1955–1964 Mary Alice Seller Peterson Iota
1964–1972 Elizabeth Wilson Pi
1972–1984 Lenore Seibel King Psi
1984–1986 Gail Shockley Fowler Alpha Lambda
1986–1992 Patricia L. Nayle Phi
1992–1996 Mary Charles Ashby Chi
1996–2002 Martha Drouyor DeCamp Alpha
2002–2008 Patricia Klausing Simmons Delta
2008–2014 Christina Covington Alpha Lambda
2014–present Tiffany Street Delta Mu

The late Lenore Seibel King and Carrie Washburne Staehle have been recognized as Presidents Emerita.



To invest in women by instilling the skills necessary to navigate life, and inspire members to enrich their own lives and the lives of others.

Core Values[edit]

Graciousness, Respect, Intellect, Connections, Excellence


As a member of Alpha Sigma Tau

I believe in the permanence and loveliness of its ideals

I believe in the values of friendship and fidelity to purpose

I believe in the fulfillment of self and will strive to contribute my share to the progress of mankind

I believe in cultivating beauty of spirit and graciousness of living with all my contacts with others

I believe that faithfulness to these ideals will help me to live joyously and valiantly.



National symbols[edit]

Sorority jewelry[edit]

Badge, worn by initiated members:

  • Gold sorority letters on black bordered with gold. The badge may be surrounded by pearls.
  • Variations for national officers:
    • National staff members may have rubies in the pin points
    • National Council members may have emeralds in the pin points
    • Past and present national presidents have diamonds in the pin points
    • As of 2016 Convention, Chapter Advisory Board members may have amethysts in the pin points

Jewelry that can be attached to badge:

  • Charm displaying chapter letters
  • Charm symbolizing office held in chapterΑ
  • Anchor charm symbolizing alumna status

New Member Pin, worn by new members:

  • Gold sorority letters intertwined vertically

Mother's Pin, worn by mothers of initiated members:

  • Gold sorority letters touching diagonally

Sorority Crest[edit]

The crest of the sorority, which was designed by Ruth Mayers Glosser in 1922 [3] is made of symbols important to the organization: an open book, a crown, 6 stars, and an anchor (counterclockwise starting from top right). At the top of the crest there is a candle with glowing rays, and at the bottom there is a banner with Alpha Sigma Tau written in Greek (ΑλΦα ΣΙλμα Ταυ). This crest is to be worn by initiated members only.


Association of Education Sororities[edit]

Alpha Sigma Tau was founded as an educational sorority and soon gained membership into the Association of Education Sororities. In 1947, AES merged with the National Panhellenic Conference, and the sorority became a Panhellenic group.[4]

Pine Mountain Settlement School[edit]

In part due to the Sorority's educational background, Alpha Sigma Tau adopted Pine Mountain Settlement School as its national philanthropy in 1945. Each collegiate chapter supports the school annually, contributing to the success of environmental and cultural education programs.[5]

Order of the Open Book[edit]

Established in 1995, the Order of the Open Book is a national honor society recognizing academic excellence among Alpha Sigma Tau sisters. Members may join as undergraduate or graduate students.[6]

Grade point average[edit]

At the 2008 National Convention, the Sorority raised the minimum collegiate GPA from 2.3 to 2.5 on a 4.0 scale (at B-C average). All sisters who have joined after the fall 2008 semester are required to meet this national standard.[7]

Philanthropy and Service[edit]

Alpha Sigma Tau has a long history of philanthropy and community service. The Sorority's official philanthropy is Pine Mountain Settlement School, and its official service project is Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, individual collegiate and alumnae chapters coordinate local philanthropic fundraisers and service projects.[8]

Pine Mountain Settlement School[edit]

"The women of Alpha Sigma Tau don't realize just how much they mean to us. ... We truly appreciate everything Alpha Sigma Tau has done for Pine Mountain over the years. Not just the financial support, but the goodwill and generosity of its members make a real difference."

Robin Lambert, Executive Director, Pine Mountain Settlement School[5]

Alpha Sigma Tau adopted Pine Mountain Settlement School as its national philanthropy in 1945.

At its founding, Pine Mountain Settlement School was a leader in rural educational standards, creating a forerunner of what is now famously known as the Head Start curriculum.[9] Today, Pine Mountain Settlement School serves as an environmental education center and provides educational outreach services, such as summer reading camps and after-school tutoring, to the poverty-stricken Appalachian community of Harlan County, Kentucky.[5]

On December 4, 1991, Pine Mountain Settlement School became a National Historic Landmark, noted for "[launching] one of the most important efforts to adopt the urban settlement house to a rural community."[10]

Charitable contributions[edit]

The first pledge classes of Alpha Sigma Tau gathered much-needed school supplies for charity. Today, the growing sorority is able to contribute much larger and more significant donations, such as a tractor, a fifteen-passenger van, a walk-in refrigerator, a heavy-duty washer and dryer, a commercial cooking range, furnaces, furnishings, renovations, and thousands of dollars per year.[5]

Habitat for Humanity[edit]

"We're so proud to be affiliated with such an outstanding group of women ... Their service ethic and commitment to making a difference are so strong, and it adds another voice to Habitat's growing chorus that everyone deserves a simple, decent place to live."

Sandra Graham, Director for Special Projects, Habitat for Humanity[11]

Alpha Sigma Tau adopted Habitat for Humanity as its national service project in June 2004.

Alpha Sigma Tau members contribute to Habitat for Humanity in various ways, including partnering to build houses with and for families in need, thus expanding upon the Sorority's creed "to contribute to the progress of mankind."[12] The women of Alpha Sigma Tau also hold fundraisers to help raise money for supplies and houses to be built.

Habitat campaigns[edit]

In 2005, all Alpha Sigma Tau chapters participated in "Hope Through Change"[13] which raised money for Habitat for Humanity International, to help rebuild neighbourhoods after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. After Hurricane Katrina, Alpha Sigma Tau chapters rallied to Operation Home Delivery. In April 2007, Alpha Sigma Tau chapters across the nation supported Habitat for Humanity's Act! Speak! Build! Week.

Alpha Sigma Tau National Foundation, Inc.[edit]

According to the foundation's mission statement, "The Alpha Sigma Tau National Foundation, Inc. was established to promote the acquisition, development and disbursement of charitable contributions from donors to promote and fulfill the educational and philanthropic programs of the Sorority."[14]

Philanthropic goals[edit]

Incorporated in 1982, the foundation provides a variety of resources, including:

  • Over 30 scholarships[15] and 1 grant per year
  • Opportunity to support a charitable project
  • Permanent headquarters for the sorority
  • Place for the storage and display of Alpha Sigma Tau's historical records
  • Educational programming at the chapter, Regional Leadership Workshop, and National Convention levels


THE ANCHOR is the sorority's magazine, published twice annually. Its articles pertain to Alpha Sigma Tau, Greek life, and issues affecting women today.[16]

Alpha Sig-Nal is a monthly newsletter distributed to National Staff and to chapters, both collegiate and alumnae. This bulletin relays messages from National Council and Staff and discusses upcoming events and other items of importance to the Sorority.[16]

Focusing on alumnae news, The Crest is published at least biannually[17] and is viewable online.[18]

National Headquarters[edit]

National Headquarters is the home of the Sorority's archives and publications. Photographs, awards, and other historical documents are on display. Additionally, Headquarters can connect people with collegiate and alumnae chapters, National Council and Staff, and the Alpha Sigma Tau National Foundation, Inc.[19]

The original location of the National Headquarters was St. Louis, Missouri. This was adopted in 1949 by National President Dorothy Robinson. National Headquarters was relocated to Birmingham, Alabama in 1994 for 16 years.[19] In spring 2010, Alpha Sigma Tau moved its National Headquarters to Indianapolis, Indiana, the home of over 30 other Greek organizations.

Active chapters and colonies[edit]


Notable alumnae[edit]

Alumnae associations[edit]

Alpha Sigma Taus all over the United States participate in alumnae associations. These associations include alumnae chapters, clubs, social teams, support teams, and hope groups.[23]

Anchor Chapter[edit]

Alumnae sisters who live more than fifty miles from an active alumnae association are invited to join the Anchor Chapter or to form their own association with local alumnae.[23][24]

Emerald Chapter[edit]

In addition to joining a local association or the Anchor Chapter, alumnae may be invited to join the Emerald Chapter.[25] The requirements for becoming a member of the Emerald Chapter include serving a minimum of four years as National Council or Staff or attending a minimum of three National Conventions.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alpha Sigma Tau". Retrieved 2016-05-02. 
  2. ^ "Who We Are - History",
  3. ^ "Emblems & Symbols". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2016-05-02. 
  4. ^ "History". National Panhellenic Conference. Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Pine Mountain Settlement School". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-03-18. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Order of the Open Book". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-07-17. [dead link]
  7. ^ "National Convention". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-07-17. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Local Endeavors". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-03-18. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Pine Mtn Settlement School Petition". Kentucky Resources Council. January 28, 2001. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  10. ^ "Pine Mountain Settlement School". National Historic Landmarks Program (NHL). Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  11. ^ "Alpha Sigma Tau chooses Habitat as national service project: Sorority looks to involve its many collegiate, alumnae chapters". Habitat for Humanity International. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  12. ^ "Habitat for Humanity". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-03-18. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Hope Through Change",, 2004.
  14. ^ "Foundation". Alpha Sigma Tau. Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  15. ^ "Why join ΑΣΤ?". Alpha Sigma Tau. Archived from the original on 2008-04-19. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  16. ^ a b "Publications". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-07-17. [dead link]
  17. ^ "THE CREST". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-07-17. [dead link]
  18. ^ "The Crest",
  19. ^ a b "National Headquarters". Alpha Sigma Tau. Archived from the original on 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  20. ^ James, Sheryl (March 1, 1999). "Gwen Frostic: Michigan artist crafts nature into a rich life". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on 2001-05-06. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  21. ^ "Jessica Furrer". Retrieved 2007-04-10. 
  22. ^ "Awards and Involvement". Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau. Archived from the original on February 8, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  23. ^ a b "Establish an Association". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-07-17. [dead link]
  24. ^ "Anchor Chapter". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-07-17. [dead link]
  25. ^ "Emerald Chapter",
  26. ^ "Emerald Chapter". Alpha Sigma Tau. Retrieved 2008-07-17. [dead link]

External links[edit]