Tri Sigma celebrates 85 years at Radford


President Kyle addresses members of Sigma Sigma Sigma during the luncheon celebrating the Alpha Theta Chapter's 85th Anniversary.

Greek Life has flourished and thrived on the Radford University campus for 85 years and that story starts with one sorority: Sigma Sigma Sigma.

Tri Sigma, Alpha Theta chapter, was the first sorority to form at RU and sisters, new and old, gathered to celebrate their anniversary at the Tri Sigma 85th Anniversary Luncheon on Saturday, April 5, in the COBE Multipurpose Room.

The luncheon united Radford's current sisters with their predecessors for a celebration of the history of the sorority and its many accomplishments. RU President Penelope W. Kyle joined the sisters for the event and offered remarks in praise of the sorority's legacy. "You are one of the major pieces of the fabric of Radford University," Kyle said.

Tri Sigma was established at Radford (then called the State Teachers College) in 1929 with 25 students. The sorority's arrival heralded the beginning of a new social era of sororities and societies. The strong traditions of excellence in the school's Ingles and Pocahontas Literary Societies were carried over into Greek life.

Kyle discussed several present day experiences she has had with Tri Sigma during her tenure. When she arrived in 2005, the Hurlburt Student Center had just been opened. The building, one of the most prominent on campus, is named for a Tri Sigma, former Dean of Students Bonnie Hurlburt. Additionally, the president offered glowing praise for Tri Sigmas Mary Ann Hovis '65 and Linda K. Whitley-Taylor '86, former and current rectors of the RU Board of Visitors respectively, both of whom she has worked with personally.

"You have produced leaders," Kyle said. "We're proud of you today and we're proud of what you do here on campus."

In a special presentation following the president's remarks, Adrienne Rodrigues announced one of the latest accolades bestowed upon the sorority, the Radford City Council's declaration of April 5, 2014, as Tri Sigma Day.


Members, past and present, of Sigma Sigma Sigma

"This is amazing," said Jessica Finn, Tri Sigma president. "I feel like it's heartwarming and empowering to see so many sisters here for this. It makes me feel so proud."

On the evening of Friday, April 4, RU's current Tri Sigmas had the chance to attend an informal panel with their alumni sisters before the luncheon, who offered advice on careers and life after college. Jessica Ordona '05 traveled from Northern Virginia to join the panel. Ordona has held careers in a variety of fields including fashion, small business ownership and real estate.

"Personally, I've had an interesting career path," Ordona said. "I wanted to share my story with the sisters and inspire them to think big."

Ordona was not the only alumna to make the trip back to Radford. Former Alpha Theta presidents Shannon Stepp '00 and Kim Andronaco '03 were also in attendance.

"It's definitely surreal to see how everything changes," said Andronaco, who traveled from Atlanta for the event. "But it's even more exciting to meet the new girls and see how they are continuing the legacy."

Stepp agreed with her fellow former president. "I've been pleasantly surprised at the caliber of the women here today," she said. "Our standards are still high and I'm sure it will be a great 85 more years."

Bonds of sisterhood and friendship were renewed and rekindled during the luncheon as the Tri Sigma family reflected on its history. Family isn't just a metaphor for Radford's Tri Sigmas, however; there are legacy students continuing on supporting the sororities like their mothers, sisters, aunts and other relatives.

Francine Burton-Willis '86 joined her daughter Chelsea Willis, a current RU student and Tri Sigma vice president of new member education, for the event.

"Chelsea is a legacy Tri Sigma and I couldn't be more proud to celebrate here with her." Burton-Willis said.' It's so beautiful to see over 50 alumnae as well."

"And I feel the same," Willis said. "This is unforgettable."

The RU Greek community is comprised of over 20 general fraternities and sororities. The organizations fall under the governance of three different coordinating councils - Interfraternity Council (IFC), National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the Panhellenic Council (PC). Greek students at RU gain leadership experience, forge lifelong friendships, Academic Success and Support and enjoy many opportunities for community service and philanthropy.

Apr 8, 2014