The history of Gamma Theta Upsilon
Gamma Theta Upsilon owes its origin to the vision of Dr. Robert G. Buzzard. He established an honorary fraternity in the field of geography just prior to World War I, while a student at the University of Chicago. This attempt to form a permanent organization was not successful.
During 1924-25, while a graduate student at Clark University, Dr. Buzzard was influenced by a local organization called the Clark University Geographical Society (CUGS). CUGS was comprised of students in attendance and persons with a graduate degree from Clark University. Dr. Buzzard had a great appreciation for the value and importance of geography student organizations.
The possibility of establishing a geographical fraternity was discussed during the annual meeting of the National Council for Geographic Education in 1925 at Madison, Wisconsin. At that time, academic fraternities representing other disciplines were growing at a rapid pace, and interest in a geography honor society was also increasing.
During the 1920s, Dr. Buzzard established a geography club at Illinois State Normal University, Normal, Illinois, where he was a Professor. On May 15, 1928, the club became Alpha Chapter, Gamma Theta Upsilon, a professional geography fraternity, with thirty-three charter members, chartered under the State of Illinois.
For three years, Alpha Chapter continued as a thriving local fraternity. Interest gradually increased, however, in developing a national organization for Gamma Theta Upsilon. In the Spring of 1931, a determined effort was made to nationalize. This effort was successful, and on May 15, 1931, the Founder's Day of Alpha Chapter, charters were granted to four additional chapters: the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa; Sam Houston State Teachers College, Huntsville, Texas; State Teachers College, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania; and Southwest Missouri State College, Springfield, Missouri. Since that time, more than 200 GTU chapters have been established, and new chapters are added almost every year.
In order to strengthen ties among chapters and among all members of Gamma Theta Upsilon, Regional Divisions were established in 1972. These divisions correspond generally to the regional divisions of the Association of American Geographers.