Thoughts and Finds While Driving Through Iowa

Yesterday, I drove from southern Illinois to the middle of Iowa. I passed the towns that make up the early history of Pi Beta Phi and P.E.O, Mount Pleasant, Ottumwa, Oskaloosa, Pella, Indianola, and many more. Every now and then I’d be tempted to exit and drive through another town, but I had an appointment set up so I knew I didn’t have the time.

A few months ago, a Pi Phi who is also a P.E.O. contacted me about a 90-year-old Pi Phi and P.E.O. double sister who had some items which might be better suited in the Pi Phi archives. I knew I’d be making the trip to Des Moines in late July and it just seemed easier to see the items in person. The three of us had a lovely visit and I will be dropping a box of items at the Pi Phi archives on my way home.

As I put the box in the back seat, it reminded me that here are items out there that will likely end up meeting an unfortunate end. They will disappear unless someone sees their value and makes arrangements to donate them where they will serve a purpose, tell a story, and show the young men and women who join GLOs today that the world was a different place 50, 75, and 100 years ago. These items from the past can help teach the newest members that the organization does not revolve around them, that they are but one little link in a very long chain of members, that it is their duty and responsibility to leave the organization a bit better than they found it. That under no circumstances are they to sully the name of the organization or have a hand in its demise.

This thought always goes through my mind when I pass Lorado Taft’s Alma Mater statue on the University of Illinois campus. The inscription on the statue reads “To thy happy children of the future those of the past send greetings.”  Sometimes those greetings are conveyed through the items given a safe home to be used and studied.


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Fact or Fiction? – Fraternity & Sorority Edition

The excitement of recruitment season is upon the fraternity/sorority world. Offering examples of men and women who have worn the badges of Greek-Letter Organizations seems like a good selling strategy. Is it?

There are a few questionable social media posts I’ve seen.  Pre-internet chapters could make all sort of spurious claims and no one would ever know whether these claims were true or false. It would take hours or days of research in actual books to refute the statements. Today it takes only a few minutes on the internet to determine whether urban myths are just that or if they have some truth to them. 

Are these recent claims made on social media true or false?

CLAIM: “All but two presidents since 1825 have been Greek.” Variations include “born after 1825” and “all but three.”

FALSE See for an explanation. Of the most recent Presidents, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon were not fraternity men. Others have been honorary members. The number of U.S. Presidents initiated into GLOs while college students is the more impressive list. 

Ronald Reagan loved meeting members of his fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon.


CLAIM: “Both female Supreme Court justices are sorority women.”

FALSE. Never mind that four women have served as U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Only one, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Alpha Epsilon Phi, is a member of a National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organization. Although there are many rumors to the contrary, Sandra Day O’Connor is not a sorority woman. She attended Stanford University when there were no NPC chapters on campus.

Ruth Bader Cornell University yearbook)

Ruth Bader as a student at Cornell University

As an aside, the newest member of the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, is an initiate of the Columbia University chapter of Phi Gamma Delta.


CLAIM: “Every Apollo 11 astronaut was a fraternity man.”

FALSE. There were three men aboard Apollo 11, Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.; Collins and Aldrin went to West Point where there are no social fraternities. Aldrin was elected to Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society. Armstrong was a fraternity man having been initiated into the Phi Delta Theta chapter at Purdue University.


CLAIM: “At least one fraternity badge has been to the moon.”

TRUE. The first fraternity badge which made its way to the moon was the one belonging to Neil Armstrong, an initiate of the Phi Delta Theta chapter at Purdue University. He was the first man to walk on the moon. Upon his return to Earth, he presented the badge to Phi Delta Theta and it is on display at the fraternity’s headquarters in Oxford. However, contrary to rumor, he never pinned it on the American flag on the moon, nor did he pin his wife’s Alpha Chi Omega badge to the American flag.

Kappa Sigma Edgar Mitchell, an initiate of the Carnegie Mellon University chapter wore his badge to the moon during Apollo 14. The Kappa Sigma badge resides at Kappa Sigma’s Museum in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Gene Cernan, an initiate of the Phi Gamma Delta at Purdue University, had his badge with him on a 1966 space walk and then again as a member of the Apollo 10 mission.

Gene Cernan’s Phi Gamma Delta badge.

Phi Delta Theta’s documentation about Neil Armstrong’s badge.


CLAIM: “The first American woman in space was a sorority woman.”

FALSE. Sally Ride was not a sorority woman, but there have been many other female astronauts who are sorority women. See for that list.

This book about astronauts, had these two female astronauts on the same page. One is a sorority woman and the other is not, The sorority woman is Judith Resnick, Alphe Epsilon Phi, and not Sally Ride.

This book about astronauts, had these two female astronauts on the same page. One is a sorority woman and the other is not, The sorority woman is Judith Resnick, Alpha Epsilon Phi, and not Sally Ride.


CLAIM: “There is one sorority badge which has been voted ‘most beautiful fraternal (or sorority) badge’ and it is on display in American fraternal and sorority collegiate collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.”

FALSE. I’ve seen at least three women’s organizations make this claim. I asked a friend who has been at the Smithsonian for decades to help me track this down urban myth. Is there an American fraternal and sorority collegiate collection? The contact who researched this query responded that the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian does not have any sorority pins and there is no an American fraternal and sorority collegiate collection. There are a few fraternity pins which may have come in as singular items within larger collections.


CLAIM: “It’s acceptable to call new sorority members ‘babies.'”

Do I even have to respond to this one? When the term “pledge” fell out of favor, somehow “babies” seemed, to some chapter members, to be a good substitute. REALLY? Please if you are a sorority woman and are you are calling your chapter’s new members “babies” please stop. Stop now. It’s degrading to call intelligent women that name.


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Hats Off to Fraternity Hat Bands Again and in Color!

My fascination with fraternity hat bands began on May 17, when the Delta Kappa Epsilon facebook page had this post. 

I did some sleuthing and came up with the information I presented below. My friend Lyn Harris, the Chi Omega Archivist, sent me a picture of a Chi Omega hat band. I came across a pdf of an ad that appeared in a Phi Delta Theta magazine. However, it was in black and white and I suspected the original ad was a color-plate. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I was in Urbana researching at the Student Life and Culture Archives for a long overdue commission project. I knew I was cutting it close having only two days to go through the items I needed to peruse. There was a point midday on Tuesday when I thought I would not be able to get through everything. I was elated when I finished about 45 minutes before the archives closed. I asked for the Phi Delt magazines from 1910-11 and after going through several issues, I found the ad! Hence I am reissuing this post with the color photo.

An article in The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta (1910-11) reported:

An extensive business in fraternity hat bands is now done by Jacob Reed’s Sons, 1424-1426 Chestnut street, Philadelphia, whose advertisement appears elsewhere in The Scroll. The firm carries in stock thousands of yards of hat band ribbons which display the colors of 20 leading fraternities. The various designs are shown on the insert in this issue of the magazine. It is a rule of the firm not to sell a fraternity hat band without satisfactory evidence that it is to be used by some one entitled to wear it. In many instances entire chapters have joined in ordering enough bands to fit out every man at the beginning of the straw hat season. Many alumni also wear thus the colors of their respective fraternities. The designs are in neat rather than ‘loud’ patterns. Being worn on the hat, the band of fraternity colors forms an easily recognizable emblem of membership, and enables members of different chapters to identify fraternity mates who in many cases would be otherwise unknown to them.

In the last two or three years the demand for the bands has been so great that the firm has appointed reputable haberdashers in a number of college towns to act as agents, first exacting from them an assurance that they would exercise every precaution in selling the goods, so as to avoid a possibility of their being purchased by persons who have no right to wear them. Recently the firm has been offering neckties in the same colorings and designs as the fraternity hat bands.

From a Cornell University Alumni News, 1909. The shop was likely one of the habadashers authorized to sell the hat bands.

A hat band advertisment that appeared in the Scroll of Phi Delta Theta. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell colors in black and white.

The fraternity hat band ad in color! Photo courtesy of the Student Life and Culture Archives at the University of Illinois.

Chi Omega has a 1901 Convention hat band in Founders’ Library at the Psi Chapter, Chi Omega’s founding chapter at the University of Arkansas. There were 15 delegates at that convention so it is truly amazing this hat band has survived!


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In Mount Hope Cemetery, So Many GLO Connections

Yesterday morning, I found myself taking the 7:30 a.m. train to Champaign so that I could get some research done for a project I committed myself to early in the year. It needs to be off my to-do list.

However, as with most of my trips to the Student Life and Culture Archives at the University of Illinois, I know there will be tangents to follow. One of yesterday’s tangents was a trip to the Mount Hope Cemetery to find the grave of a FarmHouse founder.

Laura Miller, on the Mount Hope Cemetery website, wrote about the cemetery’s history:

Mount Hope Cemetery, located on the southern edge of the University of Illinois campus on the Champaign/Urbana line, is the oldest operating cemetery in Champaign-Urbana. Mt. Hope began interment in 1856, twenty-three years after the official incorporation of Champaign County with Urbana as its county seat and eleven years before the Illinois Industrial College, later University of Illinois, opened its doors. Walking through this cemetery, you will see over 150 years of local history reflected in the names and designs on the grave markers and the organization and the architecture of the cemetery. In this cemetery are graves with names that can also be found connected to local streets and buildings named after pioneer families: Busey and Cunningham. The evolution of grave-marker styles from the early symbolic stones to the more recent flat stones can be traced. The cemetery is also reflective of the diversity of people and burial customs in Champaign-Urbana over the years with ethnic and veteran burial sections as well as a potters field. The cemetery has had many additions since its establishment in 1856. Mt. Hope currently consists of 52 acres between Florida and Pennsylvania Avenues.

On my last visit, I was on a quest in the same cemetery to find the grave of Gamma Phi Beta founder, Frances Haven Moss. In the process, I came upon the family plot of Lois Franklin Stoolman, a Pi Beta Phi Grand Council member whose husband, Almon Winfield, built, in the early 1900s, many of the fraternity and sorority houses on campus, some of which are still standing.

The gravestone of Frances Haven Moss and her husband Charles.

The family plot of Lois Franklin Stoolman

This was going to be a much easier search. I had been told that FarmHouse founder Henry Ruck’s gravestone was on the 45-yard line across from Memorial Stadium. Since I rode the train and I was without wheels, my trusty sneakers and I headed south from the Illini Union. I get sidetracked easily looking for new things and adventures and while heading south, I meandered a little too much to the east, so much so that I noticed the Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Nu houses to my left. Two of the Lexington Triad chapters built similar houses at about the same time on the east side of campus during the time when the President’s house was being built. I know these random facts because I’ve written several histories of the University of Illinois GLOs for the Society for the Preservation of Greek Housing. It’s totally useless information rattling around in my brain.

I then headed west to the stadium walking on the edge of the cemetery. There, as I glanced through the fence, I saw the name “Swannell” on a large headstone. Was it Dan Swannell, the University of Michigan Phi Kappa Psi who was considered the father of the Phi Psi chapter at the University of Illinois? He was also an influential figure in the history of Phi Psi, serving as National President and he was instrumental in the establishment of its endowment fund (now Foundation). I found an opening in the fence to backtrack and explore. It was the Swannell family plot!

I finally made my way to the stadium and then began searching for Henry Rusk’s plot. The first sweep through yielded nothing. So I started back this time moving about 10 feet off the street.

I then spied the gravestone of Dike Eddleman, overlooking the stadium where he spent many football Saturdays. His name has been familiar to me ever since I wrote a history of the Kappa Kappa Chapter of Sigma Chi in the early 2000s. Thomas Dwight “Dike” Eddleman was gifted with the moniker, “the greatest athlete” in U of I’s history of athletics. During his undergraduate years in the late 1940s, he earned  11 varsity letters in basketball, football, and track and field.

In his later years, he served as a fundraiser for the athletic department. After his death in 2001, a portion of Fourth Street on the east side of Memorial Stadium between Peabody Drive and Kirby Streets was designated Honorary Dike Eddleman Way.

Honorary Dike Eddleman Way

I finally came across Henry Rusk’s gravestone, just where I was told it would be. Rusk was a professor in U of I’s Department of Animal Husbandry. He headed the department from 1922–1939 and also served for 13 years as the Dean of the College of Agriculture. As an student at the University of Missouri, he was one of the founders of FarmHouse Fraternity.

The gravestone of FarmHouse founder, Henry P. Rusk, and his wife Edith

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5 Bs of Sorority Recruitment

My advice to those who are going through recruitment this year.

Be open to all organizations. Believe me when I tell you that you will have the same experiences in any of the 26 NPC organizations. When you strip away the colors, badges, symbols, songs, flowers, etc. you will see that we have much more in common than we have differences. The values and basic tenets of the organizations are very similar.

Be yourself and be true to yourself.  Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be the very best version of yourself that you can be. That said, remember that just because your mom, sister, grandmother, or cousin twice removed belonged to XYZ, it doesn’t mean that you need to follow in her footsteps. While there may have been a time long ago when being a legacy meant an automatic bid, now some chapters have two or more times the amount of legacies going through recruitment than the number of women (quota) to whom they can offer bids. Sometimes the legacy chapters aren’t the best match anyway. Are you chosing the legacy chapter after preference party to make someone else happy? Or is it where you truly want to be? (Moms see

Be hospitable and gracious. Do not talk up or down any organization with the other women going through recruitment. When talk turns to gossip, be the one who stops it. Remember that golden rule; if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

Be at Bid Day. See the process to the end. If you are not invited back to the chapter you had your heart set on, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and visit the chapters that invited you back. Don’t just drop out because the scenario did not play out the way you wanted it to. Sometimes things work out for the better despite the fact that they aren’t as we had anticipated them. I could fill a book with stories of women who could never have envisioned themselves in VWX chapter and yet, on graduation day, they couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. 

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Amelia Earhart’s Connection to Thiel College in Greenville, PA

One summer, while visiting one of my offspring who was then gainfully employed at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania, I found myself on a road called Amelia Earhart Drive. That got me to thinking. Would I end up in the middle of nowhere, never to be seen again, if I followed it to the end? Turns out theThiel College  has a real connection to the famous aviatrix!

Thiel College traces its history to 1866 when five students, three of them women, enrolled in Thiel Hall, an academy located in Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1870, it moved to Greenville and became Thiel College.

Although Amelia Earhart briefly attended Columbia University, she did not graduate from college. In 1932, Thiel College awarded her an honorary Doctor of Science degree. It was “the first of two she would accept,” said Thiel College President Dr. Earl S. Rudisill in 1937. The other honorary degree was from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

In the 1880’s, Earhart’s grandfather, the Reverend David Earhart, helped organize the Pittsburgh Synod which sponsored the college. Earhart’s father, Edwin S. Earhart graduated from Thiel College in 1886.

In 1937, five months after her plane was lost, Thiel College sought to honor her and started a campaign to raise funds. At that time, Dr. Rudisill was quoted in a Pittsburgh newspaper, “Before her last flight, Miss Earhart flew to Cleveland to meet me and expressed a desire…to do something for Thiel College…Apart from her brilliant accomplishments in the science of flight, her devotion to the interest of young womanhood…was a dominant factor of her life.”

There is a road on the Thiel campus named for her and a large photo of her is on display in Thiel’s Langenheim Memorial Library. In 1982, Thiel established an Amelia Earhart Award to honor women of outstanding achievement.

In keeping with the focus of this blog, Thiel College is home to chapters of NPC organizations Alpha Xi Delta, Chi Omega, Zeta Tau Alpha, and Sigma Kappa. The men’s fraternities on campus are Delta Sigma Phi, Kappa Sigma, Phi Theta Phi, and Sigma Phi Epsilon.


An afterthought, by way of the Kappa Alpha Theta Archivist, Noraleen Young. She told me that Theta’s Alpha Chi Chapter at Purdue University had a connection to Amelia Earhart. From the chapter’s history page:

During the 1930’s, Amelia Earhart was a frequent visitor on the Purdue campus. She had been hired to inspire coeds and encourage them to pursue their own careers. The girls loved her and wanted to be like her. So when they saw Amelia putting her elbows on the table during meals, they went to Dorothy Stratton, the Dean of Women at the time, and asked if they could do that too. She replied, ‘When you fly solo across the Atlantic, you can put your elbows on the table!’

Amelia Earhart, seated on the left, with the Purdue Kappa Alpha Theta members.

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Robin Wright, the Michigan Kappa, and a Heartfelt Essay

Yesterday, I read an essay, My Last Conversation with My Father, which a friend recommended. Written by Robin Wright, it appeared in the June 17, 2017 New Yorker (see 

The name rang a bell and after reading it, I knew she was the Robin Wright who joined Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Michigan. I remember hearing about her in the 1980s when I was on the Alumnae Advisory Committee at the University of Michigan’s Pi Beta Phi chapter. I heard about her because her mother, Phyllis Blanchard Wright, was a Pi Phi alumna, an initiate of the University of Oklahoma chapter. Robin’s name was mentioned many times at alumnae club and chapter events. Why I know and remember these things is beyond me.

Robin Wright, a contributing writer, has been associated with the magazine since 1988. Her bio on the website reads:

Her first piece on Iran won the National Magazine Award for best reporting. A former correspondent for the Washington Post, CBS News, the Los Angeles Timesand the Sunday Times of London, she has reported from more than a hundred and forty countries. She is currently a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has also been a fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as well as at Yale, Duke, Dartmouth, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In 1969, Kappa’s Indianapolis Alumnae Association conferred a State Day Award on her. The following year, she received a graduate study grant from the North Woodward Alumnae Association in honor of Dorothy Pierson Barton. It helped her fund her graduate studies, also at the University of Michigan. According to The Key of Kappa Kappa Gamma:

Robin was associate editor of the University of Michigan Daily and wrote for the Ann Arbor News. During a summer session at Harvard she also wrote for the Harvard Summer Crimson. In her chapter she served as pledge class president, member of the recommendations committee, and second vice-president. She has received both chapter and province awards for her activities and has participated actively in local, state and national political campaigns as a committed member of the Young Democrats.

Robin Wright from a 1969 Key of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

In 1980, she received Kappa’s Alumnae Achievement Award. The Summer 2003 Key contained an article about her.

The article which appeared in the Summer 2003 Key of Kappa Kappa Gamma.


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July 4th, 67 Years Apart, Coolidge and Gehrig, Phi Gam and Phi Delt

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., the 30th President of the United States, was born on July 4, 1872 in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. He attended Amherst College in Massachusetts where he became a member of Phi Gamma Delta.

The postcard reads “To Phi Gamma Delta, With best wishes” and is signed by the President. He was proud of his affiliation with the Fraternity and he and his wife were the first President and First Lady to have been initiated into GLOs as college students. George W. and Laura Bush were the only other pair to make that claim.

After graduation, while working as a lawyer in nearby Northampton, he met Grace Goodhue, a Pi Beta Phi who had recently graduated from the University of Vermont. She was working at the Clarke School for the Deaf. They married in the Goodhue family home in Burlington, Vermont. Although they spent their married life living in Massachusetts with a side trip to Washington, D.C. , Vermont seemed to be always in their hearts.


July 4, 1939 was “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at Yankee Stadium. On that day, baseball great Lou Gehrig, Phi Delta Theta, became the first major league baseball player to have his number retired. There are still people who were at Yankee Stadium that day, but those who would remember his words are in their 90s. Gehrig’s nickname, the Iron Horse, came from his prowess on the field. He played in 2130 consecutive games, a record which took decades to break.


In the last half of the 1938 season, things seemed a bit off for him. He collapsed at spring training in 1939, and at his wife’s urging he found himself at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After six days of testing, on his 36th birthday, June 19, he received the grim diagnosis. He had Amyotrophic Lateral  Sclerosis (ALS), a disease where motor function slowly fades away while the mind remains sharp. He died June 2, 1941. Today, ALS is better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Phi Delta Theta has a partnership with the ALS Association. Chapters raise funds for the Association and each chapter is encouraged to connect with the local ALS Association chapters to assist area residents suffering from the disease.


Each year since 1955, the fraternity presents the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award to the MLB player who exemplifies Gehrig’s spirit and character. The plaque is located at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY.

Seventy-eight years ago today, in front of a packed house at Yankee Stadium, Gehrig gave his farewell speech. He did it without notes and spoke from the heart. You can see parts of his speech and all the MLB first-basemen reciting it with him. It’s at If you prefer to read the words, here they are.

For the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

When you look around, wouldn’t you it consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such as fine looking a man as is standing in uniform today.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?

Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert; also the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow; to have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow Miller Huggins; then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology—the best manager in baseball today—Joe McCarthy! Sure I am lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift— that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies—that’s something.

When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter, that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body, it’s a blessing! When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed, that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break; but I have an awful lot to live for!”


To read more about President Coolidge’s life as a Phi Gamma Delta member, please visit these earlier posts: and

To read more about his lovely wife, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, a charter member of the Vermont Beta Chapter of Pi Beta Phi, please visit this earlier post: as well as searching the posts using the categories on the right hand of this page.

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Passing Along Authentic Confidence à la Erin Fischer

If you knew me, you’d know that I hate shopping for cars. I don’t care what I am driving, just that it gets me to where I am going in relative comfort. The air conditioning in my car went out last week and that just won’t do in humid southern Illinois. I spent several hours this morning getting the AC fixed. The repair shop is out in the country, a family-owned establishment with a bench outside and a pleasant view. I haven’t been there in a while. The last time I was there, I remember reading about Leland Stanford, Jr.’s mother and her wish to honor the memory of her son with a university. That was when I was writing my dissertation in a day before information was available with a few keystrokes. 

I took a book with me this time, too. It’s a book I purchased recently at the Pi Phi Convention. The book, Radically Unfinished: One Woman’s Project to Find Authentic, Uncomplicated Confidence, was written by Erin Fischer, a Phi Mu who is always welcome among the Pi Phis. She’s spoken at Pi Phi conventions, officer workshops, and had a major hand in creating the Leadership Institute which debuted last summer. She has also keynoted at many GLO events and is in demand for her genuine and far-reaching messages.

From the “A Big Reminder” page in Fischer’s book:

I have been drawn to this topic for years, and I am honored to share my journey with you. My hope is that you use your new knowledge and authentic confidence, but also you pass it on to the other women in your life who need authentic confidence, too. Please, I beg you, don’t let the topic rest just with you in your own space. Talk about it, debate it, ruminate on it, let it rattle in your brain, and then, pay it forward. Help another woman find her authentic confidence so she can do more in the world than she ever imagined.

My view as I read this book while waiting for my car to be repaired.

The book is an enjoyable, worthwhile, and thought-provoking read. For information on obtaining your own copy see

Erin Fischer at the 2017 Pi Beta Phi convention with her Pi Phi friends Brittany White and Sis Mullis.

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Happy Canada Day @CanadianGreeks

One of my favorite Canadian Pi Phis, Oriana Bertucci, serves on Pi Phi’s NPC delegation, and I offer my best wishes for a special 150th Happy Canada Day to her and all Canadian fraternity and sorority members.

Greek-letter organizations have been a part of Canadian higher education since 1879. Zeta Psi became the first fraternity in Canada when its chapter at the University of Toronto was chartered on March 27, 1879. Zeta Psi’s Grand Chapter met in 1877 and it was agreed that the fraternity should venture into Canada. The Xi Chapter at the University of Michigan was given the task of founding a chapter at the University of Toronto. It was a challenging task given what travel and communications were like in the 1870s, but the Michigan Zeta Psi’s were successful. The chapter designation, Theta Xi, honored the efforts of the Michigan chapter by incorporating the “Xi” into its name.

The chapter remained the sole fraternity on the University of Toronto campus until the 1890s when it was joined by Kappa Alpha Society, Alpha Delta Phi, Phi Kappa Sigma, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Delta Upsilon, and Delta Chi. The first National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) women’s organization at the University of Toronto was Kappa Alpha Theta. According to Theta’s 1956 history, We Who Wear Kites,  “A letter from M.R Robertson of the University of Toronto explained that ‘one of the Zetas’ had given the seven girls of a local group ‘information about society matters and also your address.’ After favorable action by the Convention in 1887, Anna Louis Benham of Iota (Cornell University) was sent to Toronto to initiate the seven.”

The Sigma Chapter was chartered in 1887 giving Theta the distinction of being the first women’s fraternity in Canada. The faculty had a strong feeling against the Greek-letter organizations and the seven women who were initiated kept their membership a secret. By 1899, the chapter became dormant.  In 1905, Sigma Chapter was revived. It was soon followed by Alpha Phi in 1906 and Pi Beta Phi in 1908. Together the three created a Panhellenic Council at the University of Toronto.

In 1883, McGill University’s fraternity system came to life when Zeta Psi chartered a second Canadian chapter.  Again, as in the case of the University of Toronto, Zeta Psi was the only fraternity there in the 1880s. In the 1890s, it was joined by Alpha Phi Delta, Delta Upsilon, and Kappa Alpha Society. In 1922, Delta Phi Epsilon became the first NPC group to establish a chapter at McGill.

In 1898, Chi Omega’s third chapter was established at Hellmuth Ladies’ College, located in London, Ontario. The college closed a year later and the chapter ceased to exist at the school.

Today, there have been more than 150 chapters of North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) men’s fraternities and more than 75 NPC organization chapters at Canadian institutions. About three-quarters of those chapters are currently active

Many fraternity and sorority conventions have taken place in Canada. The Bigwin Inn, Lake of Bays, Ontario was the site of many of those conventions including: Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma in 1925; Phi Kappa Tau in 1927; Zeta Tau Alpha, Alpha Xi Delta, Delta Zeta’s Silver Anniversary convention in 1928; and Sigma Phi Epsilon in 1930, to name a few.  Some of the other Canadian convention locations include: the Empress Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia; Lake Louise, Alberta; and Jasper Park, Alberta

5750 - Bigwin Inn


2658 - lake of bays fwl iss jht

I get most of my Canadian GLO news from @CanadianGreeks.

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