History

Highlights from 125 years of the Iowa Beta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Tau Omege Fraternity

Founded in April of 1885 as the first ATO Chapter west of the Mississippi. The founding fathers were six Simpson College students.
The first Beta Alpha initiate was Henry Loft who went on to become a lawyer in Cherokee, Iowa.
  • The first member of Iowa Beta Alpha to attend an ATO Congress was Bill Buxton, Jr. who went to Atlanta, Georgia in 1889.
  • The first reported ATO Chapter House was on the site of the current Kappa Kappa Gamma House in 1908.
  • Iowa Beta Alpha has initiated 1,405 men since 1885.
  • After opening in 1885, this chapter, along with all other Greek organizations at Simpson, was closed in the 1890’s because of strong anti-Greek sentiments within the Methodist Church in Iowa. Beta Alpha was reopened in 1905 with 23 members from a local fraternity called Alpha Iota Phi.
  • ATO has been in at least six other houses prior to this current house which we moved into the second semester of 1963.

  • Beta Alpha can lay claim to the only Simpson College alumnus to win a Pulitzer Prize. Frank Luther Mott ’05 won the Pulitzer Prize in literature in 1939 for his book, The History of the American Magazine, while he was Dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Mott pictured right.

National Fraternity Service and Recognition
  • ATO’s at Simpson have won five “True Merit Bowls” which means that the Chapter has been recognized at least five times as being in the top 10% of all Chapters nationwide. The latest Bowl was received in 2004 at the Atlanta Congress.
  • One Beta Alpha member has been recognized as the top undergraduate member of ATO during his time at Simpson. Dr. Steve Van Buren ’91, now a surgeon in Marshalltown, received the Thomas Arkle Clark Award in 1993.
  • Five members of this Chapter have served on either the ATO High Council or its modern counterpart, the National Board of Directors. Jim Spooner is currently serving as National Treasurer.
  • Nine ATO’s from Simpson have served as staff members of ATO, including Eric Christensen’90 who served as Interim Executive Director of the fraternity from 1996-97.
Two Beta Alpha members have been honored with the ATO Worthy Grand Chief Award for their outstanding volunteer service to the national fraternity. Wendell Tutt ’26 received the first-ever WGC award in 1971 and Bob MacKenzie ’67 received the award in 2003. Wendell Tutt pictured right.

Simpson Service and Recognition

  • The Simpson Board of Trustees has had many many ATO’s as members over the past 120 years. Currently there are six ATO’s on the college’s Board, including the current Board Chair Steve Weeber ’62, and immediate past Chair, Bob Downing ’60.
  • Twenty-six have received the Alumni Achievement Award
  • Five have received the Recent Alumni Achievement Award
  • Eleven have received the Alumni Loyalty Award
  • Three have received the Recent Alumni Loyalty Award
  • Twenty percent of the S Club Hall of Fame members are ATO’s
  • Three men are listed on the Names that Live Forever at Simpson – Frank Luther Mott ‘07, Bill Buxton III ‘28 and Jim Weinman '46.

  • Buxton Hall and Bill Buxton Stadium are named in honor of the Buxton Family and Bill Buxton III ‘24, left.
  • Pote Theater in the Blank Performing Arts Center is named after Harold Pote ‘12.
  • The Varsity Locker Room in Hopper Gym was named in honor of Harold “Jug” Fawcett ’24.
  • The Weinman Apartments, known as "Weinman House," are named for Jim '46 and Maxine Weinman.
  • The Coaches Locker Room in Hopper Gym is named for Charles “Chick” McCoy ’24.
  • The Weight Room in the Wayne Carse Fitness Center is named for Jymm Oplt ’69 and Kathy Oplt.
  • The newly remodeled Simpson tennis courts were named The Dick & Nancy Buxton Courts. Dick was a '56 Beta Alpha initiate.