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 http://wp.me/p20I1i-Vb 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 http://wp.me/p20I1i-le 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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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 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 http://wp.me/p20I1i-2VO)

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 http://bit.ly/2tOQlnt). 

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 newyorker.com 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 http://foxs.pt/1lCkcPG. 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: http://wp.me/p20I1i-2L and http://wp.me/p20I1i-gf

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: http://wp.me/P20I1i-16 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 https://www.theleadershipandtrainingstudio.com/radicallyunfinished.

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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The Sesquicentennials Begin!

Indulge me please. Pi Phi’s 71st Biennial Convention celebrating our 150th was one for the record books. On Saturday, at the luncheon where we invited our Panhellenic Conference friends, I was seated next to the Sigma Delta Tau representative. She joked that she was the only SDT not in New York celebrating her organization’s Centennial. Happy 100th Sigma Delta Tau!

Celebrations are on the horizon. P.E.O. will turn 150 in 2019. Kappa Alpha Theta and Kappa Kappa Gamma are planning celebrations in 2020 with more NPC groups to follow them.* I encourage my Panhellenic friends to start saving their pennies in order to attend their organization’s celebration.

My friend Harper Whitten, Alumnae Regional Director – Region 2, wrote from the heart when she penned these words for a Facebook post:

I never before thought about what others think when they see me post about Pi Phi. I just figured non-members and members alike could see what an amazing organization it really is. Maybe it’s not always evident with the non-stop convention pictures of flower arrangements and elaborate desserts. Among those fun pictures though are some serious accomplishments like...

1400 women surpassing our $150,000 goal by raising $239,795 in one weekend for Pi Beta Phi Foundation.

Pi Beta Phi Foundation announcing a capital campaign to raise $28 million for Fraternity operations, leadership training, education and scholarships, literacy initiatives, and collegiate housing.

Pi Beta Phi Foundation announcing $19,772,791 has already been raised for the campaign including $6 million from Pi Beta Phi Fraternity.

40,000 books donated to the St. Louis community in one day bringing our ‘lives impacted’ total to 1,128,156, surpassing our goal of impacting one million lives from convention 2013 to convention 2017.

Five more Signature Fraternity Day of Service events announced for March 2018 which means another 100,000 books will be donated across the United States in one weekend.

Seven incredible women became alumna initiates and one remarkable alumna, Dr. Ellen Stofan, former Chief Scientist of NASA, received our Member of Distinction Award (Did I mention I was privileged to escort her to an event and then sit at her table during the lunch she was recognized at?!)

Our Grand President exemplified servant leadership by placing a $21,000 bid (and winning) for our Ring Ching Roadshow car, with all of the funds going to our founding location and historic site, Holt House.

WOW! I can’t even fit all of our weekend accomplishments and announcements in one post. But I will challenge everyone to learn more about Pi Beta Phi, Pi Beta Phi Foundation, and our newest partnership with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and DONATE, PARTICIPATE, and ADVOCATE to inspire a lifelong love of reading! #piphiproud #piphi150

Harper Whitten, a Pi Phi Director, in her “I am One” shirt at Citygarden in St. Louis.

It was a phenomenal convention. Local Convention Chairman and former headquarters Executive Director, Renee Ross Mercer and her committee did an incredible job. At the final banquet, she was honored with the Dorothy Weaver Morgan Award for Fraternity Loyalty.

The historical display featured 15 mannequins wearing period clothes from each of Pi Phi’s decades. While many gave me credit for doing them, it wasn’t me. Props Chairman Kathy Weber went above and beyond to make it happen. She did an incredible job!

Lori Poveromo Haight with the mannequin from her decade in college.

I did have a hand in the banners and the six displays of 25 years each. It’s not easy to pack 25 years worth of history in a 2’x2′ displays and get them done in less than three hours but I took on the challenge nonetheless.

The display for 1942-66. The photo in the top left corner is of Jean Wirths Scott, Past Pi Beta Phi Grand President and NPC Chairman, when she was a Chapter President of the Bucknell University chapter.

While I could go on and on about the friends who were there, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades, I will not bore you. I did have the opportunity to reconnect with someone I hadn’t seen since I was a collegian at Syracuse University. She was a Travelling Graduate Consultant the year I pledged and I remembered meeting her all those years ago. She now lives in Texas and she told me that her visit to snowy Syracuse led to her seeking out a warmer climate.

For those of you who love marching bands, here are the wonderful members of the St. Clair High School Marching Band from St. Clair, Missouri, under the direction of Tim Karth https://youtu.be/a3429yHiwdA

Members of the St. Clair High School Marching Band in the Scottrade Center. This special summer appearance was voluntary and these high schoolers gave it their all. I hope there are future GLO members among them.

My daughter, who was a 2011 Convention initiate, attended and although we didn’t have much time to catch up, it was fun to chat with her during the Literacy Walk around the Arch. As we headed out of the hotel, someone said, “You two must have planned that.” Dumbfounded, we both said, “Planned what?” She pointed at what we were wearing with our white “I am One” t-shirts. I had on blue and she had on wine. Totally unplanned!

There was a post-convention tour to Holt House. I will never tire of telling the story of Ada and Libbie renting a room from “Major” Jacob Holt and starting the organization in that second floor southwest bedroom.

We should warn D.C. that the Pi Phis will be there in June of 2019. I’ll start saving my pennies for that celebration!

*Alpha Delta Pi and Phi Mu’s Sesquicentennials took place in the early 2000s. Both were founded at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. Alpha Delta Pi was founded in 1851 as the Adelphean Society. In 1905, the Adelphean Society changed its name to Alpha Delta Phi and established its Beta Chapter  Salem College in Winston-Salem. Phi Mu was founded as the Philomathean Society in 1852. In 1904, its second chapter was established at Hollins College.
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June 28 – A Day Shared by Sigma Chi and Sigma Tau Gamma

June 28 is the founding date of two fraternities. Sigma Chi was founded in 1855 at Miami University in Miami, Ohio. It is one of the Miami Triad. Sigma Tau Gamma was founded in 1920 at Central Missouri State Teachers College, now the University of Central Missouri, in Warrenton, Missouri. 

Milton “Milt” Caniff joined Sigma Chi in 1930 while a student at Ohio State University. In addition to his Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates comic strips, he occasionally provided illustrations for his fraternity’s publications. There were often mentions of Sigma Chi in his comic strips.

The Sigma Chi founders at the founding as done by Caniff.

This wonderful film was produced in the 1930s. In 1937, Caniff was named a Significant Sig. He was in the second class of Significant Sigs. In the 1935 inaugural class of Significant Sigs was John T. McCutcheon, Purdue 1889, the artist to whom Caniff refers in the video clip.

Sigma Tau Gamma recently announced that it will be moving its headquarters from Warrensburg, Missouri, where the fraternity was founded. In early 2018, the fraternity and the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation and WPN National Housing Company hope to be settled in Indianapolis, Indiana. My Pi Phi friend Jill Mackey is the Associate Director of WPN Housing. She was missed at the Pi Phi convention this past week, but she was busy with her job duties. I wish her and her colleagues a Happy Founders’ Day and a smooth move to Indy.

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