In 1904, 11 bold, intelligent, beautiful women joined together to form a fraternity with a Purpose.
"We shall ever be proud of that splendid group of girls that made the growth of Alpha Gamma Delta possible." - Helen Reinherr Copeland, chartering member of Zeta Chapter-Ohio University in 1908
Behind that splendid group of Founders stood a man named Dr. Wellesley Perry Coddington, a professor at Syracuse University who was instrumental in the early development of Alpha Gamma Delta. Jennie Titus Smith Morris said that Dr. Coddington's interest and assurance of the need of more women's fraternities was her reason for becoming a founder of the Fraternity.
Without Dr. Coddington's belief in the power of women, would Alpha Gamma Delta exist today? In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg writes about the importance of young women finding mentors who will extend a hand and help them navigate their professional environment. Unfortunately, there still aren't enough women at the top to mentor all of the other women currently climbing the career jungle gym. Until women are equal leaders in the world, we will still need champions like Dr. Coddington to help make a way for us. (Because we'll never have more women at the top if women only mentor women and men only mentor men.)
Founder Georgia Dickover once said, "I believe in wisdom, as revealed in human lives as well as in the pages of printed books; in lessons taught not so much by precept as by example; in ability to work with the hands as well as to think with the head; and everything that makes life larger and lovely."
Like our Founders, find your champions, be them men or women. Find the people who will teach you needed lessons through their example, and don't forget to return the favor. Reveal our Ritual through your lives. Be the women who build other women up, mentoring those who look up to you and creating a way for more women to reach their dreams.
Can you imagine the potential ridicule Dr. Coddington may have faced at that time, as a man willing to fight for young women leaders? As courageous as our 11 Founders were to meet together and build this Fraternity we are so proud of, so too was Dr. Coddington in his efforts to support and guide them. We are grateful for the inspiration and leadership he gave to our Founders and their purpose.
109 years later and Alpha Gamma Delta is stronger than ever, thanks to the many women and men who have championed our Purpose along the way. Thank you to our members, friends, families, campuses and communities who have helped to make Alpha Gamma Delta who she is today.
Happy Founders Day.