Our Patronesses & Alumnae Advisors

Loyal and True Blue: Our Theta Patronesses and Alumnae Advisors

As we reflect over the past, we look with pride to the women who have guided the sorority throughout the years – our patronesses and alumnae advisors. All are women of the highest character, each giving of herself in her own unique way to make the sorority the best it could be.

In the early years of Theta, patronesses also served as faculty advisors yet this meant that while patronesses were always faculty members of the University, they were not always Theta alumnae. Our first patroness was Edith Hill, a professor of romance languages for the University of Redlands. She assisted the sorority until the early 1950s. Ms. Hill graciously opened her home each year for tea, garden, dinner, slumber, and rush parties. In 1920, Frances Annette Cartlidge (1871-1951), faculty member in the College of Fine Arts, joined Ms. Hill and gave willingly to the sorority until the late 1940s.

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Elizabeth Hidden (1886-1968, ’12/Θ), a charter member of Alpha Theta Phi and a member of the University of Redlands’ first graduating class, joined Ms. Hill and Ms. Cartlidge in 1928. In 1954, Ms. Hidden retired from the University as a professor of education. Several years before her death, she recorded the talk that she gave annually to the sorority concerning the high ideals of Alpha Theta Phi. She continued to serve the active circle with her inspiration and occasional visits until her death in 1968.

The 1950s brought several wonderful ladies: Dr. Rhea Applewhite (1917-1988), instructor of ceramics and sculpture; Elizabeth Cady (1906-2006) and Betsy Poston (1914-1988). All were wives of University professors and were so willing to give of their time and their homes for the sorority. Other patronesses and faculty advisors from this era included: Eleanor Sykes Bartlett (1894-1990, ’18/Θ), Martha Logan Fox (1910-2006, ’31/Θ), Edyth Gregory (1895-?), Alice Hardy (1886-1967), and Thelma Rollo Jones Schneblin (1912-1991, ’33/Θ). 

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During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Theta had many irreplaceable patronesses who offered words of wisdom and encouragement. From 1961 to 1964, Lois Fair Wilson (’45/Θ), a professor of education at Redlands, was a faculty advisor who gave invaluable guidance and advice to actives. Iola Tillett Threatt (1921-2009) served the sorority from 1964 until 1982 when she retired as a professor of education. Her warmth and concern for Theta was felt by both actives and alumnae.  Ann Burdette Leonard (’73/Θ) was a faithful patroness for over 10 years and then served for over 10 years as president of Panhellenic Alumnae (formerly Alumni for Greeks but today known as the Greek Alumni Council). Gigi Murtaugh Garcia (’80/Θ) became a patroness in 1983 and led the sorority through the process of revising and creating our current new member process and Constitution.  In spring 2012, she was awarded the ‘Patroness of the Year’ award by the University.  As a patroness for 23 years, Gigi shepherded 40+ new member classes and served as a patroness while over 400+ young women became part of our sisterhood. Other patronesses and faculty advisors from these decades included: Jan Marsh Davis (1933-2012, ’54/Θ), Nancy Van Dorin De Maggio (’62/Θ), Barbara Cram Riordan (’62/Θ), Marcia Perry Mehl (’65/Θ), Sally Bauman Trost (’70/Θ), Connie Jonson Zahniser (’70/Θ), Teri Forst Moffat (’77/Θ), Barbara Clark Smith (’78/Θ), and Danica West (’79/Θ). During the 1980s and early-2010s, respectively, Rhonda Hoenisch (’79/Θ), an instructor in the physical education department, and Sara Falkenstein (’96/Θ), the Mozley Director of the Salzburg Program, served as faculty advisors.

In the 1990s, it was thought best to divide the roles of patroness and faculty advisor as to keep our traditions close to the sorority. While typically no longer alumnae of Theta, faculty advisors were/are, nonetheless, faithful supporters of the sorority. They oversee the academic side of the sorority, act a liaison with the University’s administration, and guarantee the active circle is meeting their scholastic goals. Patronesses are then free to continue their vital roles as guides to the active circle by ensuring the traditions of Theta are being upheld and through offering sage advice to its members along the way.  Patronesses from this time included: Regina Miller Black (’79,’03/Θ), Vandra Lochridge (’97/Θ), Kate Bartells Pearne (’97/Θ), Beverly Knaub (’98/Θ), Katie Cure Hernandez (’97/Θ), and Michelle Saffon Cappasola (’99/Θ).

 In 2014, the Alpha Theta Phi Alumnae Association retired the title of patroness with a final group of four dedicated women who together served a collective 45+ years: Gigi Murtaugh Garcia (’80/Θ, patroness from 1983-2014), Regina Miller Black (’79,’03/Θ, patroness during the 1990s and 2008-2014), Jan Claxton Negron (’83/Θ, patroness from 2011-2014) and Andonia Papastathis Carter (’02,’08/Θ, patroness from 2012-2014). Under their leadership a set of Core Values (respect, sisterhood, loyalty & tradition, personal development, unity and trust) and the member expectations were established and a public relations handbook was created.  With a focus on continuous process improvement, these four patronesses conducted entrance and exit interviews for all collegiate members and established a standards board to ensure internal accountability.  Our collegiate members and the Alpha Theta Phi Alumnae Association would not be as well established as they are today if not for their selfless sacrifices.  On behalf of all alumnae, we thank our last “patronesses” for tirelessly serving Alpha Theta Phi.

The title of alumnae advisor is now used to better reflect the advisory function of the position. Our current alumnae advisors are Lori Elmore Horter (’88/Θ), Stephanie Wilson Noble (’94/Θ), Carolyn Hawkins Brooks (Θ), and Ruth Sotomayor  (’90 ’02/Θ) and our faculty advisor is Art Svenson, the David Boies Endowed Chair of Government.

– Text adopted from the 75th Anniversary booklet. Please email us if you see any errors or have additional information to add to this page.

Honoring our Patronesses in 2014 (from left to right): Cathy Gage Curtis, Vonda Koch Matthews, Mel Howe Lyons, Mary Ann Garcia Kelly, Ann Burdett Leonard, Lori Horter, Katie Cure Hernandez, Stephanie Noble, Vandra Lochridge, Ruth Silvas Roberts, Jean Sommerville, Regina Miller Black, Cindi Wudyka, Rhonda Hoenisch Fouch, Shirley Collins Rieger, Cindy Clamp, and Sally Bauman Trost

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