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ATO fraternity returns to campus

Jan. 30, 2004

By Kacy Sudduth, reporter

After being off Baylor's campus for 10 years, Alpha Tau Omega, one of the largest national fraternities, is back and has begun redeveloping the Theta Nu chapter that once was one of the largest fraternities on Baylor's campus.

ATO's Web site says its foundation is based on servant leadership and self-sacrifice for the good of others. The group defines its self as America's leadership development fraternity, is focused on developing leadership skills and providing leadership.

Last summer Lance Jones, director of expansion for the national fraternity, and Kevin McCord, IFC coordinator for fraternities, discussed the possibility of bringing ATO back to Baylor. Jones and McCord continued to explore the options for ATO throughout the fall semester, and in November 2003 a group of seven Baylor students approached IFC looking for a fraternity based on Christian principles as well as leadership development.

McCord put Jones in contact with the seven students, who formed an interest group, and after meeting with the IFC expansion committee, the process of recolonizing the Theta Nu chapter began.

'We [ATO] have been interested in redeveloping the chapter at Baylor for numerous years,' Jones, said. 'After conversations with ... [McCord] ... the university and the IFC, it was decided that Alpha Tau Omega would be able to return to campus and participate in IFC recruitment this spring.'

ATO national fraternity sent Jones to help re-establish this chapter. Jones is at Baylor to help recruit, coordinate events, contact potential members and work with alumni as he promotes the redevelopment of the chapter. He also works closely with the interest works closely with the interest group.

ATO got off to a good start with its first IFC recruitment event, a dinner at Gratziano's Italian Grill. ATO alumni traveled to Waco for the event, including two ATO national fraternity representatives, the interest group and 63 rushees.

Responsibilities of rebuilding this fraternity will be taken on by those in the interest group and others who are chosen to join at the completion of IFC recruitment.

'We will have the unique opportunity, as re-founding fathers, of bringing Alpha Tau Omega back to campus,' Aditya Malhotra, a Sugar Land sophomore, said. 'This semester we will set the precedent of what this fraternity will be at Baylor.'

Interest group members, national members and alumni hope as the group develops, it will find its place in campus and Greek life.

'Our purpose, as individuals and the fraternity as a whole, will be to add to the greater good of Baylor and the Waco community,' Kirk Marshall, a Houston sophomore, said.

During its time on campus between 1977 and 1994, ATO was one of the top fraternities. In 1994, ATO was at its peak, receiving the fraternityäwide service award and having the largest pledge class on campus. The chapter was closed by the national fraternity in 1994, after an investigation for risk management violations.

ATO has a strong Baylor alumni network offering guidance as the chapter is reborn. They're ready and willing to do what it takes to help the chapter survive.

Alumni already have shown their support by providing financial assistance for recruitment events. And a soon-to-be-formed board of trustees will focus on the vision of the fraternity, provide leadership, strategize and help educate the group.