Sorority Cements its Legacy in Future Students

Theta Delta Pi Expanding Beyond Scholarship


In 1963, Frostburg State College admitted more students in its first-year class than the campus residence halls could manage. To accommodate, 25 students were housed in the Gunter Hotel on the city’s Main Street.

“When my mother dropped me off, it was not my idea of college life to live in an old, broken-down hotel,” said Paula Dixon Martinez ’67. Yet it turned out to be just right, because that was where Martinez met the women who would join her in founding Theta Delta Pi sorority.

Bryson, Macy, Cody and Morgan Brill

“We had a great time. We tended to bond pretty quickly,” she said of the little Gunter group.

As the Main Street students grew more cohesive, they looked around at the existing sororities on campus and didn’t find a good fit. Their group had a strong sense of leadership, service and scholarship. Plus traditional pledging activities seemed too disruptive and uncomfortable, and Martinez didn’t want to ask pledges to do anything she wouldn’t be willing to do alongside them.

They found other women, strong leaders who were already involved on campus, with similar goals, and they started talking about creating their own sorority.

It wasn’t an easy task.

They found other women, strong leaders who were already involved on campus, with similar goals, and they started talking about creating their own sorority.

Dr. Alice Manicur, dean of students, became their “nemesis,” in Martinez’s words, laying down the law and forcing them to pass tough hurdles to create their group. They quickly learned, however, that Manicur was being instructive, not obstructive. The eager young women ended up with a sorority with a solid constitution and all the structures they would need to succeed, and one with clear tenets valuing leadership and service. The initial pledge class had 28 sisters.

Fast forward through a couple of decades of sisterhood and Theta Delta Pi would become a strong part of the Frostburg State community with a unique identity. But as Frostburg State determined that all of its campus fraternities and sororities should have national affiliations, the sisters of Theta decided to disband instead, pledging their last class in 1987.

While that might have been the end of Theta Delta Pi, the bonds of sisterhood endured. Years later, social media created a way to pull together distant members. These online connections, cultivated by Theta Cynthia Changuris ’76, grew into the idea of a reunion to mark the 50th anniversary of the group’s founding.

During that 2015 reunion weekend, the sisters recognized that their history on campus had largely been forgotten, and they wanted a way to preserve the legacy of what they created and to be a part of the future of Frostburg State.

In very little time, scores of sisters raised enough to endow the Theta Delta Pi Legacy Scholarship. It supports students who demonstrate the values that the Theta Delta Pi sisterhood embodied. A preference is given to students who are legacies of Theta sisters, but any student, male or female, may apply. The goal is to help current students and keep Theta’s name, values and spirit alive at FSU for years to come.

Since it was endowed, the scholarship has assisted seven students, and new gifts keep the scholarship fund growing every year, Martinez said.

The group is now looking at other ways to ensure future Bobcats know about the legacy of Theta Delta Pi.

Plans include raising money to name a room in the under-construction Education and Health Sciences Center, and also to recognize the founding sisters on the Wall of Recognition in Bobcat Stadium, similar to the plaques honoring the Founding Fathers and Founders of their brother fraternity, Alpha Delta Chi.

“It’s great to give back to the college in some way. Theta was so important to our experience there,” Martinez said. “It’s a way to keep Theta alive.”

To give to the room naming, visit give.frostburg.edu/theta-delta-pi-room-naming. To support any of the Theta Delta Pi initiatives, call the FSU Foundation at 301-687-4068 or visit foundation.frostburg.edu.

Another reunion is in the works

Theta Delta Pi sisters will meet in Bethany Beach, Del., Sept. 29 to Oct. 2. More details are available in the Theta Facebook group or by emailing Martinez at paulam1008@aol.com.