Facts and Firsts

Leading the charge


Now More Than Ever

“Alpha Tau Omega holds before the young men of the country an ideal and something greater than a mere intellectual ideal. Alpha Tau Omega stands for heart as well as head. It has given men a true ideal of life.”

-Otis Allan Glazebrook

    • ATO was founded by Otis Allan Glazebrook, Erskine Mayo Ross and Alfred Marshall, at the Virginia Military Institute in 1865 upon Christian-not Greek-principles.


    • ATO was not established in imitation of or in opposition to any existing fraternity.


    • The ATO Foundation was officially recognized in June of 1935 at the 34th Congress in Memphis, Tenn.


    • The LeaderShape Institute, Inc. was created in 1986 by Alpha Tau Omega, and is considered one of the country’s premier leadership development training programs available to college students and young professionals.


    • ATO was honored by the Smithsonian Institute for innovative use of technology with an award for Information Technology in the field of Government and Non-Profit Organizations in June 1995. The award was given for ATO’s innovative use of CompuServe as an online communications tool.


    • After more than 84 years with its national office in Champaign, IL, the ATO National Headquarters moved to Indianapolis, IN, on December 13, 1995.


    • ATO annually ranks among the top ten national fraternities for number of chapters and total number of members. ATO has more than 250 active and inactive chapters with more than 200,000 members and more than 6,500 undergraduate members.



    • Alpha Tau Omega is a participating member in the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), the Fraternity Executives Association (FEA), the College Fraternity Communications Association (FCA), the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, FIPG, Inc., and the Fraternal Risk Management Trust (FRMT).


    • Newsweek announced Alpha Tau Omega as the leader of “The Top Ten of Fraternity Row.”


  • In 1950 Indiana University chapter president Robert Lollar implemented “Help Week” providing the opportunity for new members to doing good deeds around campus and replacing the traditional “Hell Week.”
    • ATO was the first fraternity founded after the Civil War in 1865, striving to heal the wounds created by the devastating war and help reunite the North and South.


  • Alpha Tau Omega was the first fraternity founded on a set of new ideals, and not in response to or opposition of another fraternity.
  • ATO was the first fraternity founded as a national organization, not a local or sectional fellowship.Thomas Arkle Clark
  • Alpha Tau Omega became the first fraternity to be incorporated.
  • The first meeting of ATO was at 114 E. Clay St. in Richmond, Va., where Glazebrook read the Constitution of ATO to Marshall and Ross for the first time.
  • The first chapter north of the Mason-Dixon line, was chartered at the University of Pennsylvania 16 years after the founding of ATO, helping to bring a realization to the founders’ dreams.
  • In 1880, the ATO chapter at the University of the South (Sewanee) became the first of any fraternity in the South to have a chapter house or lodge.
  • ATO’s first fraternity west of the Rockies and first of any fraternity in the Northwest was at Oregon State University in 1882.
  • Thomas Arkle Clark, the first initiate of the Gamma Zeta chapter at the University of Illinois, was the nation’s first collegiate dean of men.
  • The first World War I Medal of Honor was given to Captain C. L. Irwin, Wyoming ’13, as one of the first American heroes mentioned in dispatches to the U.S.
  • ATO was the first national fraternity to start a chapter free of alcohol and tobacco on fraternity property.
  • ATO was the first national fraternity to sponsor and conduct coeducational leadership conferences nationwide in 1992.
  • ATO was the first fraternity to implement a spiritual development program.
  • ATO was the first to develop and implement a member success initiative.
  • The ATO Badge was designed by Otis Allan Glazebrook in 1865 and is worn by the initiate.
  • The Grand Seal was painted in 1872 by VMI Arts Instructor Richard N. Brooke.
  • The White Tea Rose became the ATO Flower in 1892.
  • The Coat of Arms was redesigned and approved by committee in 1910.
  • The ATO Flag was designed by William C. Smiley and approved in 1914.
  • Colors: Azure and Gold.
  • Nickname: Taus, Alpha Taus, ATOs

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