In 1953, a group of men in Zeta Kappa chapter, Alpha Phi Omega, a National Service Fraternity, decided they were in need of another organization to help them with service projects on campus and in the city of Bowling Green, Ohio. These men met with the deans of the various departments of the University to decide whether or not another sevice fraternity would be advisable for Bowling Green State University. Then, an inquiry was made to see if any interest existed on campus. Many women attended this inquiry. Realizing the need for more varied projects, plans were made to reorganize a women's service sorority.
Since the objectives of the two organizations were to be the same - Friendship, Leadership, and Service - a similar name was chosen: Omega Phi Alpha. Membersip was open to University women who had been Girl Scouts or Camp Fire Girls (This ruling changes in 1958).
At first, many people were interested in the sorority and what it was doing. In 1958, Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti wrote to Bowling Green State University and obtained information on how to form their own Omega Phi Alpha Chapter. The material was sent to Michigan, and the group held their first meeting on April 22, 1958. The women of Eastern Michigan's new OPhiA chapter conducted several service and fundraising activities. They took their first pledge class the following fall. Communication began between the two groups about the possibility of becoming a national organization, but the formation of a national sorority did not materialize.
In late 1962, a group of women at the Univeristy of Bridgeport in Connecticut communicated with the group in Ypsilanti about becoming an Omega Phi Alpha Chapter. The Bridgeport and Ypsilanti groups continued communication, with the women in Ypsilanti acting as "big sisters" to the women in Bridgeport for an induction ceremony. The new group was designated Betal Chapter, Omega Phi Alpha. The Ypsilanti group called itself Alpha Chapter, Omega Phi Alpha.
At Bowling Green, a lack of common ground in the requested projects and background of the members led to a great decline in the chapter. But in September 1964, Maureen Weldon, Joan DeMuth, and others decided there was still a need for Omega Phi Alpha on the campus of BGSU. They met with Dr. J.E. Timm, the original advisor, to see what could be done to reorganize. In order to obtain active membership, they decided to pledge any interested women in good standing with the University.The response was tremendous. The fall 1964 pledge class had 105 women. Sixty seven gained active status. Officers from the prior group remained in office to give the new members an opportunity to become aquainted with the organization.
In the spring of 1966, BGSU's dean of women, Fayette Paulsen, notified the chapter that a letter was received from the Omega Phi Alpha chapter in Ypsilanti. The letter stated that the Michigan chapter had combined with the chapter in Connecticut and were now a national sorority. They wanted Bowling Green to affiliate with them. Bowling Green's chapter president, Pam Gabalac, immediately contacted Dr. Decker, the chapter's legal advisor. It was discovered that the chapters in Ypsilanti and Bridgeport were not legally registered as a national sorority. As a result, Omega Phi Alpha in Bowling Green registered their petition first. Bowling Green asked the two other chapters to affiliate.
Thirteen months of hard work and organization began. Through correspondence, a national organizing convention was scheduled to be held in Bowling Green in June, 1967. At the convention, the three groups discussed ideas and compromises that led to the formations of Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority. It was decided that the group at Bowling Green would become the Alpha chapter. It had been in existence the greatest number of years and had filed the proper papers first to register the Omega Phi Alpha name nationally. Bridgeport retained the name of Beta chapter and Ypsilanti became Gamma chapter. The consolidation of the three groups was finalized on June 15, 1967, and the dream of many years became a reality.
Alpha, Beta, and Gamma chapters continued for several years as a national sorority until women at Texas A&M University formed the Delta chapter in 1971. A concerted expansion effort was made and since 1973, and several chapters have been added.
(The original history of Omega Phi Alpha was compiled by Sharon Carnes, Becky Duchro, Suzanne Fehlner, Mary Gossman, Mary Ann McKeever, Janet Tolhurts, Sharon Woolf, Pam Gabalac Westman, and Jan Luallen. The history was revised in 1978 by Melissa McDonald Combs, with help from Karen Knoppow. It was updated again in 1989 by Bonnie Sue Edmund and in 1989-90 by the National Executive Board.)