In 1974 Matthew Hunter (‘73) and Jerry
Papazian (‘74) set forth to rebuild the chapter’s membership. After several
years of decline and continued struggle, the time was ripe to launch a
revitalized fraternity. These two brothers, along with several others, took
extraordinary steps to see that the Zeta Beta chapter returned to a position of
They introduced the ATO Guest Speaker Program in 1975, inviting California State
Attorney General Evelle Younger to speak at the chapter house. Younger, an ATO
from the University of Nebraska (’37) had played a vital and pivotal role in
obtaining a charter for the USC chapter back in the early 1950’s while
president of the ATO Los Angeles Alumni Association.
The Taus also began their rise to athletic
prowess during the 1970’s. During that time, the Interfraternity Council
decided to separate “large” and “small” houses in the Iron Man athletic
competition. ATO’s decision to
compete in the “large” house division, even though its numbers justified a
“small” house designation, was a symbolic gesture, indicating not only tour
own members but to the rest of the Row that ATO was going to be a large house,
if not now in numbers, then in spirit. And it became a reality.
In 1974, and again in 1975, ATO won the IFC Swimming Championship.
Coached by world class swimmer Chip Furniss (‘72) the team was spearheaded by
Steve Clark, Steve Hamaker, John MacIntyre, Bruce MacDonald, Matt Hunter, Rick
Betts, Jim Spellmire and Dave Bohnett. The ATO’s would soon become one of the
top houses competing in IFC sports, building on the success of this early swim
The fraternity moved into the house at 707
West 28th Street in time for fall rush 1975. On September 17th the
house was dedicated in the name of Gerald W. Bridges, Jr. (’56) who arranged
for the lease of the house from USC. Three years later, in 1978, Alpha Tau Omega
purchased the house from the University, where it remains today.
Zeta Beta of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity won the President’s Award for
Fraternity Excellence in 1976, only the second time the trophy had been
presented since it was first awarded in 1971. Jerry Papazian was instrumental in
landing this prestigious award. Interviewed in a front page story in the Daily
Trojan, he stated that “the ATO’s have reevaluated what a fraternity
should do and be, and then have worked toward those objectives.” Alpha Tau
Omega subsequently won the President’s Award for Fraternity Excellence in
1981, 1983 and again in 1986. In
addition, the chapter has won the comparable True Merit Award from ATO National
in 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1986.
Although Jerry Papazian graduated in 1977, he
made the extraordinary effort to remain close to his college and his fraternity.
Over the past twenty-five years he has provided incredible service and
leadership to both the University of Southern California and Alpha Tau Omega.
Jerry has served as Chapter Advisor for most of those years, and also on several
advisory boards. His involvement with USC has been extraordinary, serving as the
president of the USC Alumni Association and on the USC Board of Trustees.
The late 1970s and 1980s re-energized ATO’s involvement in campus and
community activities. Following in
Noel Hanson’s footsteps, Jerry Papazian (’74) was elected Chairman of
Songfest in 1977, Bryan Lourd (‘79) in 1981 and Steve Mandala (‘82) in 1985. Many of our members became involved in the IFC, Student
Senate, Knights, Squires, Songfest, the Cambridge Summer program and numerous
other campus programs. ATO was a
force to be reckoned with on campus.
The fall 1979 pledge class received much
local press one midnight while looking for the grave of one of our national
founders, Erskine Mayo Ross. The Los
Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald
Examiner and the Daily Trojan, as
well as local television news programs ran stories of fraternity grave robbers
In 1980, Dr. James Appleton, then Vice President of Student Affairs at USC, was
honor initiated into the fraternity. Curtis Westfall, then Worthy Master, was
elected an Undergraduate Representative to the ATO National High Council and
Joan M. Schaefer, USC Dean of Women, was designated the Honorary Sweetheart of