The Original Alpha Zeta

In June of 1897, Brother Burkett and Brother Cunningham took the fraternal oath. From there, 12 men became the charter members of the first, and therefore the oldest, agricultural fraternity in America. On November 12, 1897, Alpha Zeta was established at The Ohio State University by Charles W. Burkett and John F. Cunningham. For 55 years since its establishment, Alpha Zeta was an all white male organization. In the years of 1940-1952, the issue of deleting the word “white” was brought up at each conclave. In 1950, there was a motion to amend the word “white” and replace it with “any male student”, and motion was finalized in 1952. Additionally in 1952, there was a proposal to admit women into the organization, and in 1972, the word “male” was stricken from the constitution.

A New Beginning

In the year of 1998, The College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences created Alpha Zeta Partners. The partnership consisted of five alumni alpha zeta members, Dr. L. H. Newcomb, Dr. R. Dale Safrit and Dr. Garee W. Earnest. An objective of the new organization was to “Provide potential employers with an exceptional cadre of well-educated graduates with a demonstrated capacity for leadership” (Newcomb, 1998).