Chapter History

A Brief History of Beta Beta Houston:  An unusual feeling of devotion for their college.

By Adrian Melissinos and Sandra Cesario 

Texas Woman’s University (TWU) presented an application for membership in Sigma Theta Tau in April 1969 and received a recommendation of acceptance in October 1969.  The comments in the recommendation read in part as follows: “This University seems almost like an anachronism in this day of student protest and dissent.  The enrollment is approximately 5000 – all girls and with no plans for co-education.  The students look neat, seem serious about their studies, have an unusual feeling of devotion for their college and its traditions.  They are almost starry-eyed in their idealism.  And just this fall an earth-shaking action was taken:  students may now wear slacks outside of their dormitories!”[1] The chapter at TWU was designated Beta Beta, chapter number 048, in 1970.[2]  The chapter roster included members at the Dallas, Denton and Houston campuses.  Members in Denton met with the Dallas campus while Houston members met separately.

The Installation of Beta Beta Chapter was held on May 2, 1970 at the Redbud Auditorium in Denton.  The membership book was signed by 168 Charter members and is among the Beta Beta archives housed at the McGovern Historical Center at the Texas Medical Center Library.

A search through the Beta Beta papers did not uncover a copy of the original Charter from STTI.  The Dallas chapter was contacted but Beta Beta Dallas could not find a copy in their records.  A more than year-long effort to obtain a charter was launched. Cooperative work between Adrian Melissinos at Beta Beta Houston and Tanya Schlemmer at Beta Beta Dallas culminated in a recreation of the Charter by STTI.[3]  Original documents were compared and confirmed to recreate the original list of Beta Beta charter members.  The framed recreated Charter is now on display in the College of Nursing offices in the 7th floor conference room #7427.

 As of June 1990, the Houston chapter became administratively separate and designated as chapter 648 while Dallas/Denton remained 048.  This change enabled the Houston chapter to make independent decisions concerning financial matters, the creation of its own budget, and income derived from new and renewing members.[4]  It now has its own bylaws and officers.  This arrangement is unique in that Beta Beta chapter is the only chapter in STTI that is organized with this framework rather than as an at-large chapter.   It is important to remember, however, that the designation of 648 is for administrative purposes only.  Beta Beta Houston remains part of the Beta Beta Chapter of Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing.[5]  There is one charter for both Beta Beta-Houston and Dallas/Denton.  In addition, since two delegates are assigned to the national convention from TWU, one delegate is from Beta Beta-Houston and one is from Dallas/Denton.[6]

NOTES.  [1] Widmer, Carolyn. Recommendation for the Approval of a Charter. STTI; TWU began admitting men on all three campuses in 1972. Brief History of TWU,; Men have been members of Beta Beta Houston since at least 1979.  Membership list Beta Beta Houston, 1979. Beta Beta Papers, McGovern Historical Center at the Texas Medical Center (TMC) Library. [2] Christensen, Bobbe. The History of Beta Beta ChapterBeta Beta Papers, McGovern Historical Center at the Texas Medical Center (TMC) Library; Dr. Robin Burke Britt Oral History, The TMC Library Women’s History Project, McGovern Historical Center at the TMC Library. [3] Beta Beta Houston Leadership Meeting minutes September 11, 2013 and June 23, 2015. [4] Dr. Robin Burke Britt Oral History, TMC Library Women’s History Project, McGovern Historical Center at the TMC Library. [5] Ibid.; Britt, Robin.  Notes from your PresidentBeta Beta Papers, McGovern Historical Center at the TMC Library; The “at-large” designation is used when multiple universities come together to form a single chapter.  This is not an appropriate designation for Beta Beta Houston since TWU has a single College of Nursing with multiple campuses led by one dean.  Cesario, Sandra.  Email communication, July 4, 2017. [6] Cesario, Sandra.  Email communication June 24, 2017; Vincent, Mary Anne and Jessica Wendorf. Email communication June 24, 2017.

The Lucile Petry Leone Research Grant

Beta Beta Houston established the Lucile Petry Leone Research Grant in 2015. 

Lucile P. Leone was the director of the Cadet Nurse Corps, a program designed to accelerate the graduation of nurses to meet needs both domestically and on the war front during WWII.  Mrs. Leone was also the first woman to serve as assistant surgeon general in the United States Public Health Service.  She joined the faculty of TWU in 1966 and worked on both the Houston and Dallas campuses until 1971. At a ceremony in Denton in 1979 she became the first and only nurse to receive an honorary doctorate from TWU.  She was instrumental in aiding the successful application of TWU to Sigma Theta Tau. The recipient(s) of the annual Lucile Petry Leone Research Grant is announced each year during the Fall Forum. 

A portrait of Lucile Petry Leone is on display near the STTI office area on the 7th floor.



STTI Beta Beta Chapter Charter


In recognition of the 45th anniversary of the founding of Beta Beta, a replica of the original Beta Beta Charter is on permanent display near the STTI office area on the 7th floor.