The Alpha Tau Chapter of Beta Theta Pi was established at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1888 nearly fifty years after Beta Theta Pi was founded in 1839. Among the great old fraternities, Beta Theta Pi was established on August 8, 1839 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Early on, Beta earned a reputation as a pioneer by being the first fraternity founded west of the Allegheny Mountains and the first to locate a chapter west of the Mississippi River. Today, Beta has more than 135 chapters and colonies in the United States and Canada. Recently, Alpha Tau was part of the first group of chapters to adopt the Men of Principle initiative in 1998. Being a Beta means many things: Brotherhood, Excellence, Tradition, and Academics.
From the beginning, brotherhood has served as the cornerstone of Beta Theta Pi. This lasting bond of friendship is cultivated by being a part of a group of individuals who share the same goals and values, constantly supporting each other in the pursuit of social, moral and cultural excellence. Founder John Reily Knox described it as:
What a few men who are united in common purpose and effort are determined to do, can be done. More than that, such associations teach us just how far human friendships can carry us.
The Alpha Tau Chapter expresses this strong feeling of Brotherhood in many areas of day to day life. The active members spend much time cultivating the knowledge and experience of their predecessors.
Excellence is stressed during the undergraduate years and beyond. After graduation, many Betas go on to make significant contributions in their fields. With more than 85 Rhodes scholars, nearly 200 Congressman and nine Supreme Court justices, the Beta roll reads like a “Who’s Who” of influential people in the world. A few notable Betas include:
- Coaching Legend John Wooden
- Wal-mart Founder Sam Walton
- Prime Minister John Turner
- Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt
- Astronaut Colonel Ken Cameron
- Senator Richard Lugar
- Representative Richard Gephardt
- Nike Founder Bill Bowerman
In 1839, the founders of Beta Theta Pi selected three great principles that have defined members for more than 150 years. These principles have maintained their brilliance despite the tests of war and a changing society. This foundation has proven to be as powerful and reliable now as when it was established. The Beta legacy has been handed down for generations, and Betas today continue to pass it on to those who follow.
Beta Theta Pi’s objective is to help undergraduate men overcome the obstacles of collegiate life, thus preparing them for the challenges faced as a graduate. As a Beta, one has the advantage of being able to seek the advice of upperclassmen and to study with others who share similar goals and aspirations.
Beta expects its members to accept the challenge of developing their academic and leadership skills. Beta was the first fraternity to establish higher academic standards for its chapters than required by their host institutions. The Fraternity awards more than 50 scholarships annually, and nearly $500,000 is spent each year to further develop our members. Today, Beta Theta Pi continues to reaffirm its dedication to the cultivation of the intellect.