Alpha Chi Sigma was founded at University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1902. The nine founders were:

  • Raymond Tracy Conger
  • Harold Everett Eggers
  • Joseph Gerard Holty
  • Alfred Emil Kundert
  • Joseph Howard Mathews
  • Edward Gustav Mattke
  • Bart Eldred McCormick
  • Frank Joseph Petura
  • James Chisholm Silverthorn


Tau History

This history is in no way a complete record of the Tau Chapter. Most of this information has been pieced together from fraternal records in old chapter histories. It is our hope that our fellow brothers will add to this history, correct any inaccuracies, and share their memories with us.

The Tau Chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma was founded on February 1, 1913. Olin Library is named after one of the founding members of the Tau Chapter, John M. Olin, '13. Incidentally, Olin Hall is named after Olin's father, and S.T. Olin Lab is named after his brother. All three studied at Cornell. The original Tau house was bought on April 6, 1921, and was located at 113 Oak Avenue. The fraternity had been living in the house for two years prior to this date and was finally able to purchase the house in 1921. In 1955, the chapter bought its current house, located at 425 Wyckoff Avenue. The house was purchased from a sorority and originally built during the silent film era, when Ithaca was the silent film capital. The house initially was a two-story building, with the third floor of rooms being added some time prior to the chapter's purchase. 

The original Tau newsletter, the Tau Letter, was first published on December 18, 1917. In April 1921, the alumni newsletter changed its name to Tau Topics. Tau Topics is currently published once a semester; copies can be found on this web site (Tau Topics). During the 1950s and 1960s, the chapter was responsible for many devious acts across the Cornell campus, including dyeing Beebe Lake green with florescence, an action for which photographic proof still remains. 

From 1963-64, Charles Brantigan carved the coat of arms that now hangs at the house. In the 70s, it was stolen by the Nu Chapter at Penn State. The Tau brothers noticed the loss immediately and spent several years recovering it. (Corrected by Nicholas J. Gimbrone, Tau '74.) 

In 1971, Alpha Chi Sigma became a co-ed fraternity. Tau soon after began to recruit females and was the first Greek organization at Cornell to be co-ed. At this point, Tau was a member of the IFC and remained so until the 1980s. The undergraduate community lost interest in our fraternity around this time and the chapter became mostly grad brothers. Tau lore suggests that the brothers nominated a dog to be their IFC representative at one point during this era. 

In the 1980s, the fraternity entered a period where the chapter became a graduate student hangout instead of a mostly undergraduate organization, and the house was rented out to boarders. This hurt the chapter, as the drive to pledge new members dwindled during this period. Consequently, when the graduate brothers graduated at the end of the decade, the ranks of the chapter became nearly nil. 

In 1994, the neo-founding of Tau occurred, thanks to Glen Kowach (Alpha) and Pete O'Connor (Beta Nu). They were able to recruit numerous undergraduate pledges to keep the fraternity alive, and the chapter has slowly been rebuilding itself since then. 

The 85th anniversary of the chapter's founding was celebrated with a display in the Chemistry Department at Cornell University on February 2, 1998. Also in 1998, Tau undertook the task of reactivating the Nu Chapter at Penn State. Brothers made weekly trips to Penn State and initiated 29 brothers in the first pledge class. As of April 2000, the Nu Chapter at Penn State was officially active and had regained its charter. Sadly, this chapter is now inactive (as of 2010). 

As of 2017, the Tau chapter now numbers over 70 active brothers. Recent activities include outreach events, such as Bring a Child to Work Day, the USA Science and Engineering Fair, and working with local Boy Scouts troops.
Nobel Prize-Winning Tau Brothers

Petrus (Peter) Josephus Wilhelmus Debye (Tau '40) 
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to him in 1936 for his contributions to our knowledge of molecular structure and for his investigations on dipole moments and on the diffraction of X-rays and electrons in gases. He was inducted into the Alpha Chi Sigma Hall of Fame in 1982.

Paul J. Flory (Tau '50) 
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to him in 1974 for his fundamental achievements, both theoretical and experimental, in the physical chemistry of macromolecules. He was inducted into the Alpha Chi Sigma Hall of Fame in 2002.


The Northeast District
The Northeast District consists of all chapters in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The current active chapters in our district are: 

Mu - University of New Hampshire
Pi - Syracuse University
Tau - Cornell University
Beta Sigma - Rochester Institute of Technology
Delta Alpha - University of Rhode Island
Delta Epsilon - Boston University

Our District Counselor for the 53th biennium is Taylor Perkins. The Tau Chapter annually makes visits to many other chapters around the Northeast district.