Alpha Theta celebrates 101 years at Purdue

In 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong, a Purdue University alumnus, called his first step on the surface of the moon “one giant leap for mankind.” Purdue embraced that moment by celebrating its sesquicentennial with the theme “150 years of Giant Leaps.” So, it was fitting for Alpha Theta Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha to celebrate its centennial as “One Giant Leap for Sisterhood.”

The celebration of 100 years of ZTA at Purdue was postponed in 2021 due to COVID. The rescheduled date fell on the chapter’s 101st anniversary and the day of a home football game, Sept. 10, giving 150 alumnae, 140 collegians and their guests two reasons to celebrate.

Alpha Theta members enjoyed lunch and a group photo on the chapter house lawn.

To begin the day, collegians hosted tours of the house the chapter has called home since the 1950s. Browsing a historical display of chapter memorabilia and posing with the 33rd link in the Chain of Chapters were favorite moments for the alumnae.

Centennial planning chairman Kelly Murray welcomed everyone to brunch on the lawn in front of the house. “Zeta Tau Alpha recognized the potential in all of us,” she said. “As each of us showed up on Bid Day, not quite sure what to expect, our Alpha Theta sisters brought us into the fold and taught us to navigate this complicated world. Purdue’s rich environment developed us into the citizens and leaders of today and tomorrow.”

Chapter President Ellie Acra spoke of the connections made in ZTA. “Alpha Theta has shown me that what makes a chapter special are the relationships it forms and the ties it binds,” she said. “I see those ties as our members do small things with great love every day. We are well on our way to the next giant leap in sisterhood at Alpha Theta.”

ZTA Executive Director Meghan Vicinus Parker shared the founding story of the chapter as Purdue’s seventh National Panhellenic Conference group and the history of its challenges. She thanked the 15 Alpha Theta alumnae who have served ZTA on the national level, including the seven Honor Ring recipients in attendance.

Centennial T-shirts marked the big occasion.

“In its 101 years, Alpha Theta has initiated 2,622 members. We all have just four years as a collegiate member. Then we have the rest of our lives to experience our sisterhood as alumnae,” Mrs. Parker said. “We get to be volunteers, leaders and sisters for life. ZTA offers you the opportunity for service, friendship and a sense of belonging that will remain with you all your life.”

On behalf of the Fraternity, Mrs. Parker presented a Waterford clock, the traditional gift for a chapter’s centennial, to Ellie. Later that day, Purdue gave a shoutout to ZTA’s centennial on the Ross-Ade Stadium scoreboard as the Boilermakers shut out Indiana State 56-0.

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