Iota Chapter History

Iota of New York was organized on April 20, 1887 in Professor Gilmore's rhetorical recitation room in Anderson Hall on the old Prince Street Campus. The attendance at this meeting appears to have been limited to two men, who elected each other to office: Joseph H. Gilmore, president, and H. E. Webster, secretary. These are the only charter members listed. Harrison Webster was professor of geology.

The one man to whom the securing of a charter was chiefly due was Joseph H. Gilmore, in whose memory a chair in the English Department has been endowed. He was head of the Department of English until his retirement in 1908.

By unanimous vote, the national Council granted the charter on January 8, 1887, a high compliment to the scholastic standards of the young university. Iota became the twenty-seventh new chapter to be established.

The Chapter's first expenditure for a public address was made in June 1889 when it brought to Rochester Edward Everett Hale, author of The Man with a Country, and paid him $100 for an oration on 'America.' This first public meeting was held in the new Lyceum Theater, and every one of the 1800 seats was taken.

On a morning in June 1900, the Chapter marched in a body to the home of Major General Elwell S. Otis, Class of 1858, recently returned from serving as military governor of the Philippine Islands. He was at this time duly elected into membership.

In 1903 the first women, three in number, were elected to membership in Iota Chapter. Many of the buildings on the River Campus bear the names of early presidents of the Iota Chapter: William Wallace Gilbert, David Payne Hill, William Carey Morey, Henry Burton, Charles Dewey, George Hollister, Walter Sage Hubbell.

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