Chapter History

picture of early members of Tau Mu Omega Chapter

The New River Valley consists of several rural communities in Southwest Virginia, and includes the counties of Montgomery, Giles, Floyd, and Pulaski. The New River Valley is also home to three institutions of higher education: New River Community College, Radford University, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Despite the presence of these institutions in the area with nationally and internationally recognized programs and faculty, the New River Valley lacks great ethnic and cultural diversity. In 1990, African-Americans and blacks were only 4% of the population in the New River Valley (US Census, 1999). With very few outlets geared toward African-American and black culture, individuals would travel to other cities such Washington, DC, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia to partake in black cultural events. Active sorority and fraternity members would travel to Roanoke, Virginia (40 miles away) to participate in their respective organizations.

In the summer of 1990, Mary Calloway, Donna Cooper, Judy Bishop Diggs, Melva McNeil, and Gloria Smith met at Asbury United Methodist Church in Christiansburg, Virginia. Their mission was to put together a list of local women, who might be interested in forming a chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®. The women felt a strong need for a graduate chapter to address some of the cultural deficiencies in the community and to

  1. Encourage the continued activity of women who were initiated at the undergraduate institutions of the area and who chose to reside in the New River Valley following graduation;
  2. Accommodate displaced women who moved to the New River Valley to live and who found the commute to Roanoke to be difficult and limiting in terms of the level of sorority participation;
  3. Allow the women of the New River Valley to be full contributors to the purpose of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, by fostering goodwill and community service in their hometowns;
  4. Enable the women of the New River Valley to develop real working relationships and sisterly bonds with other women in the community and abroad;
  5. Provide more immediate accessibility of graduate mentorship to women in the undergraduate chapters in the area;
  6. Tap the potential pool of qualified, professional women residing the New River Valley.

In January 1992, the interest group submitted the required chartering packet to the International Office of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, and requested approval for the establishment of a local chapter. In April 1992, the group received approval from the International Office and the Directorate to establish a chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® in the New River Valley. On May 17, 1992, under the guidance of Maxine Black, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, the following 16 women chartered the Tau Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated:

  1. Juanita Bowens
  2. Sharon E. Ferguson
  3. Marilyn Evans Rigby
  4. Mary Campbell Calloway
  5. Clementine Hansley-Hurt
  6. Renay Ringgold
  7. Judy Bishop Diggs
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Gloria Threadgill Smith
  10. Beverly Dean Odom
  11. Marvetta Dooley
  12. Bernadette Shade Jones
  13. DeFayne Rogers Stunson
  14. Susanne Yvonne Evans
  15. Michelle Morris-Walls
  16. Monica Moton Williams

The chartering ceremony and reception was held in Colonial Hall in Squires Student Center at Virginia Tech. Members of Beta Chi Omega in Roanoke, Virginia and other chapters helped to welcome Tau Mu Omega to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® family!