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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 prominence.

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 team.

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 from UCLA!

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 ATO.

Alpha Tau Omega at USC