Beta Phi Chapter was founded at University of Montana in Missoula, Montana on March 20, 1909.
1,954 initiates (as of June 2018)
The University of Montana was chartered February 17, 1893, by an act of the third legislative assembly. Later legislation changed the name to the State University of Montana, and then to Montana State University. On July 1, 1965, it again became the University of Montana. Montana, then the third largest state geographically, had a population of 376,053, and the city of Missoula, 5,000. In the mid-1970s, Missoula had 10 times as many residents.
Classes began in 1895 in a rented school house. By 1899, four buildings were completed on 40 acres of donated land at the base of 2,000-foot Mount Sentinel and adjacent to the narrow mountain pass called “Hellgate” by the British, “Port-d-Enfor” by the French Canadians, and “Im-i-sul-etiku” (from which the name Missoula is derived) by the Swalish Indians. A faculty of 27 gathered to teach a student body of 178.
Kappa Kappa Gamma established Beta Phi chapter on March 20, 1909, indicating great confidence in a school so young and in a group affiliation so remote. From 21 petitioning groups, Beta Phi was the single charter granted in almost four years.
Delta Sigma, organized February 24, 1904, the first women’s group on the campus, began when Fay Murray (Gillie), re-enrolled at Montana from Butler, sat with her friend Roxanne Howell (Derge) on the turnstile of a fence to tell about her life at Butler. “Roxy” exclaimed, “Oh, Fay, let us start a sorority here!” Thula Toole (Weisel), Maude Evans, Ted Welch, and Jessie Hailsbach were invited to join the local venture.
Women’s Hall provided a six-room suite, and Delta Sigma began its life by petitioning Kappa Kappa Gamma. Ruth Worden, Boston, daughter of a founder of Missoula, gave encouragement, as did Jane Evans (Gaylord), Stanford, sister of Maude. Other Kappa friends assured endorsement. The university president wrote to the Grand Secretary saying that the chapter was strong in everything that gives strength. Mary Griffith Canby, Pennsylvania, having moved from Philadelphia to Oregon, made the inspection. On January 22, 1909, she notified the local group that it was to become Beta Phi, with Installation set for March 20. The Missoulian announced the happy event. Mrs. Canby brought with her Kappa badges of Montana nugget gold for the 17 charter members, golden keys for girls of the “Treasure State.”
Housing and Chapter Traditions
In 1914, seven members moved into a rented residence. Up to 1924, 10 subsequent moves were made. When the Building Corporation was organized December 1920, the first steps were taken to purchase a chapter house. This dwelling, 434 East Beckwith Avenue, was too small, and it was sold in 1928. After another period of renting, the home at 1005 Gerald Avenue was purchased from the Toole family. It was a Depression year, only nine actives returned to school in the fall, but 29 were pledged to ensure a continuing chapter.
For 22 years, Beta Phi was guided by Mrs. Frank P. Keith, whose three daughters and two granddaughters are on the Beta Phi roll. She was saluted on her retirement as the house mother with the longest tenure on Kappa records.
A number of remodelings and additions took place through 1969 with a house holding more than 40. One-third more footage was added at 10 times the cost of the original edifice. This spacious, gracious house was built by pioneer John B. Toole, father of Thula Toole Weisel; grandfather of Thula Virginia Weisel Johnson, author of distinction and past House Board President; and great-grandfather of Thula (Tex) Johnson.
The Montana Alumnae Association, chartered in 1906, has held regular (usually monthly) meetings ever since, providing advisers and officers of the building corporation. Several other alumnae associations are also active in Montana, and keep in close touch with Beta Phi and the Missoula alumnae.
Beta Phi has enjoyed a strong association with the community and the state. Daughters of pioneers, of early faculty members, and of five governors have become Kappas. There is a sense of interdependence and affection. The 201-acre campus of the mid-1970s had a nine-hole golf course, baseball diamond, track and football field, magnificent student center and a $3 million library, besides 56 buildings including space for 2,500 students and nearly 400 apartments for married students.
Kappa-related names are found all over the campus. Brantly Hall, named for the grandmother of Lois Hazelbaker Townsend; Elrod Hall, names for the father of Mary Elrod Ferguson, a charter member and former dean of women; Miller Hall, named for the father of Patsy Ann Miller Jewell; Jesse Hall, named for the husband of Lucille Leyda Jesse, Nebraska, and father of Margaret Jesse Fanning; and the science complex named in honor of a former president of the university, father of Lucie Clapp Hagens and Margaret Clapp Smurr.
No history of Beta Phi would be complete without the mention of the 50-year contribution of Mary Rodes Leaphart, Kentucky, whose husband was dean of the Montana School of Law for 34 years. She served as alumnae association President, chapter adviser and warm and loving counselor to many generations of Beta Phis. Her two daughters are Beta Phi alumnae.
Beta Phi was hostess to the General Convention of 1922, and co-hostess with Idaho at Sun Valley in 1940, 1948, and 1964, and with Wyoming in 1934. Several Iota Province Conventions have been held in Missoula: 1925, 1939 and 1959, during the observance of the chapter’s golden anniversary, and 1975.
The active-alumna project, the Missoula Opportunity School for mentally retarded children helped to provide space, volunteer teachers and special needs of the program. Much time and money has been donated to this appealing project, inspired by Adelle Beaman Forbis, Physical therapist, in 1948-49.
Throughout the life of the chapter, its members have contributed to a splendid record of scholarship, leadership and service to campus and Fraternity. Through two World Wars and the troubles of the past, Kappas have met the challenges and the needs, maintained standards, and supported programs, including the support of a foreign student in 1951-52.
Beta Phi members have received many campus honors and awards including honorable mention for the Charlotte Barrell Ware Standards Cup (1940); the Clara O. Pierce Gracious Living Award (1962); runner-up for chapter newsletter, (The Key, 1961). The Missoula alumnae received the Almira McNaboe Award (1960). Hulda Miller Fields was Fraternity Director of Membership and Marian Schroeder Graham was Director of Membership, Director of Personnel, Director of Chapters, and Fraternity President. Marlys Jo Nelson Barrett was a Field Secretary; Florence Horsky Wertz served on the Fraternity Finance Committee; and Judith Latta served on the Rehabilitation Fellowship Committee.
Among outstanding Beta Phis are writers Grace Barnett, Olive Barnett Rice and Thula Virginia Weisel Johnson; and Brenda Farrell Wilson, business professor and dean. During the early 1970s, the climate on the University of Montana campus was not propitious for women’s social groups. Adequate dormitory space and the university sanction of apartment living off campus meant empty rooms in sorority houses. However, Beta Phi has been a leader in women’s Greek groups and on campus, and the situation seemed to be improving.
In May 1974, Beta Phi held a senior-honors-initiates dinner. “Almost a hundred members of Beta Phi were present, and dear Mary Leaphart gave a little talk, saying in her lovely Kentucky accent, ‘Sisters, I have been a Kappa for 63 years, and from girls in their long gowns to you wearing pretty little ruffles for skirts, have known so many dear and true. If you all love Kappa and keep to her ideals, your lives will be enriched as mine has, and you will be strengthened for any task.'
“The 17 initiates were greeted and the seniors bid adieu, the officers were installed, and the seniors inducted into the alumnae association. It was really a concentrated evening. The reaction of the girls was marvelous and the evening gave promise of a real return to the old values.” (From a letter by Hulda Miller Fields)
The previous information was excerpted from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1976. The information that follows has been gleaned from available resources including Chapter History Reports, chapter meeting minutes, letters and comments from chapter members and alumnae, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Archives, and The Key. Each chapter is expected to update its history record annually. Contact Fraternity Headquarters at [email protected] with questions.
On the University of Montana campus, student life was exponentially more outspoken during this period of time than ever before. Protest broke out frequently, often times ASUM Senators participated in these protest. The aftermath of the 60’s was felt very strongly on the campus. The general mood of the campus was quite chaotic. Many students enrolled in college solely to avoid the draft. Even though the Vietnam War ended in 1975 the effects rolled over well beyond the war.
On campus, approximately 6 sororities and 9 fraternities existed. Overall, the Greek system struggled because of the mood on campus. All of the social activism caused backlash against many organizations. Sororities and fraternities were one of many groups not favored by the general attitude of the student body. This attitude held by the majority of the undergrads did not garner the support of the community. There was much disconnect between students and citizens of Missoula.
The main challenges the chapter faced were limited communication amongst other Greek organizations and a negative reputation. The sorority system was much more independent between different houses, so little communication took place. By bolstering the Panhellenic Council’s structure, camaraderie between the entire system increased. The united Greek system was able to work more effectively. As mentioned earlier, the social activism cast a negative reputation of the chapter. The general public saw it as simply a social organization. The addition of required philanthropy hours and the public relations chair greatly improved Kappa’s image. After these changes, Beta Phi was no longer limited to a social sisterhood. The chapter also contributed to the well-being of the community. The PR chairman was able to influence reputation as well by overlooking how the Fraternity’s name is portrayed in the media.
Many significant events were taking place nationally during this era. The community and campus were affected by these national events; for example, the oil embargo caused the United States to be more conservative with resources and money. Reduced spending did not help chapter retention or Recruitment. With less support from the student body, the members found ways to reach out and get involved with the student body. The annual Aber Day Kegger fundraiser helped the Greek system to connect with the rest of the university students The Beta Phi chapter was very involved in this tradition by assisting Sigma Chi raise money at the event each year. The “hippie” vibe of the campus tended to clash with the structured routine of Kappa.
Beta Phi chapter earned awards based on scholarly merit. There were multiple girls in the chapter who maintained a 4.0 GPA. Academic awards were regularly given to members. Many victories were achieved during Derby Days as well. The ladies of Beta Phi were often a part of Mortar Board. These women kept their mind set on achieving good grades at all times.
Chapter Convention Awards:
1978 Woodman Award, Best Relations with Advisory Board, Second Place
The 1980’s ushered in a renewed interest in Greek Life and Beta Phi was home to women from Montana, across the country and Canada. The chapter emphasized strong academic programming. It utilized study buddies, recognized members for an “A” on a test or paper, and classes competed for the highest grade-point each term. This programming helped the chapter earn top honors on campus. Beta Phi was recognized at Iota Province Meeting and the 1988 Convention for the Most Improved Scholarship Award.
Member retention was a focus area for the chapter. Formal and informal rush parties kept members social skills honed throughout the year. Filling the house was of utmost importance so the chapter participated in formal rush and Continuous Open Bidding throughout the year. Social events had themes ranging from the 60’s to beach parties. The annual pledge class functions were creative and fun for all when chapter members could dress in Black and White, go on a Russian adventure complete with sleigh rides and BBQ or let out their inner-Nerd. Formal functions included the Kite-and-Key Formal with Kappa Alpha Theta and The Sapphire Ball.
Kappa Beach was a favorite hangout in the spring with the occasional water balloon battle with Sigma Nu. The chapter participated in Sigma Chi Derby Days, Sigma Nu Gopher Days, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Olympics and Greek Week. Members perfected lip-sync routines, created unique posters and participated in numerous athletic competitions with other UM sororities.
Homecoming brought float competitions and alumni returning to 1005 Gerald Avenue. The annual Parent’s Brunch was the finale to an exciting weekend of events. The chapter celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 1984 with a festive dinner and diamond shaped cake enjoyed by pledges, actives and alumnae.
Beta Phi’s had a busy campus profile with members serving on ASUM Senate, UM Advocates, Mortar Board, SPURS, Grizzly Women’s Basketball, Tennis and Track, UM Cheerleading and Dance Team, UM Band, Choir, Drama and MontPIRG.
In 1983 the chapter house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This was due to efforts of the dedicated Missoula alumni who formed The John R. Toole Preservation Society as a non-profit organization to maintain the house and grounds and reduce the financial burden for chapter members. Fundraising efforts by the group helped to pay for extensive exterior and interior repairs to the nearly century old chapter house. The first floor was completely redecorated with carpeting, wallpaper, floor restoration and reupholstered furniture. The second floor bedrooms received fresh paint, bunk beds were added to the sleeping porch and the library was redecorated as well. The Beta Phi House Board worked hand-in-hand with the John R. Toole Society to redecorate and furnish the house in manner befitting the grace of the building and the functionality needed by 30-young women on a daily basis.
Beta Phi was active in philanthropy by supporting the fundraising efforts of other UM Greek group’s philanthropic activities to participating in many hands-on activities ranging from clothing collection for a local women’s shelter to the March of Dimes Walk-A-Thon. The chapter also participated in rehabilitative therapy for Matt Bittany, a UM student with cerebral palsy and son of a Kappa.
Chapter Convention Awards:
1984 History/Heritage Commendation 1988 Finance Excellence, Housed Chapters-Honorable Mention
As the last decade of the century rolled into Missoula, Beta Phi hopped on board with a determination to build chapter participation, increase chapter scholarship and maintain a positive community and campus image. Members emphasized communication and recognition to build unity and encourage members to give their best back to Kappa. The “Century Club” was established to challenge sisters to attend 100 classes in a row.
Alumnae support from the Advisory Board and House Board provided stability and help through several difficult situations. Alumnae and active members celebrated Beta Phi’s 90th birthday with a dinner and “historical” skit about the chapter through the years. Another joyful celebration took place during Homecoming on the front lawn when the mortgage was burned.
Beta Phi partnered with fraternities on several successful Homecoming floats winning top honors in the Greek Division. Founders Day, Senior Banquet, Scholarship Dinners, House Board and House Boy Appreciation Dinners were traditional events for the chapter to gather and celebrate various aspects of chapter life.
Campus participation highlighted the interests of members serving as UM Advocates, on the Honors Student Association, University Symphonic Wind Orchestra, UM Flute, Peer Advisers, UM Cross Country Track, Mortar Board, Order of Omega and SPURS.
Leadership development was a key element of chapter life. Members participated in Lead to Succeed a national leadership skills development program developed by Kappa Kappa Gamma and Alpha Tau Omega, chapter retreats featured team building opportunities such as a low ropes course. Many officers attended Iota Province Meetings and Convention to share ideas and bring back new ways to improve chapter life. Tiffany Finley, Colorado, served as a Chapter Consultant to Beta Phi helping the chapter to develop its identity and build on strong qualities of chapter life. The Fraternity selected two Beta Phi’s, Dana Clader and Shawna Gary, to serve as Chapter Consultants.
Beta Phi has a long standing belief in Panhellenic and held the Presidency and other offices several times throughout the decade. Greek Woman of the Year honors were bestowed on Shannon Frantzick and Dana Pickrell. In addition the chapter received Awards for Improved Scholarship, Campus Involvement and Most Improved Sorority from Panhellenic.
The chapter was recognized at Iota Province Meetings with awards in the areas of Outstanding Alumnae Participation, Improved Scholarship and Overall G.P.A. It was a thrill and tremendous honor for the chapter to receive the Greatest Improvement Award at the 1998 Convention.
The House Board aided by the John R. Toole Preservation Society performed miracles with limited funds to maximize upkeep on the nearly century old chapter house. Projects included: painting on the second floor, new window treatments in the House Director suite, new carpeting on the back stairs, planning for a sprinkler system, wall-to-wall carpet in the dining room, replacing siding and painting the exterior of the building, preventative maintenance on the roof, painting the back stairwell and chapter room, updated wiring and a new computer for the chapter Treasurer.
Philanthropy projects changed throughout the 1990’s based on campus and community needs and interests of the chapter. For several years members helped the Big Brothers and Sisters with fundraising by participating in the Bowl-a-Thon, they also raised funds for Wiggle for the Y and Missoula Children’s Theatre. Members volunteered for the cleanup of the Clarkfork and Bitteroot riverbanks and collected over 500 pounds of trash. Camp-Make-A Dream, a camp for children with cancer, was a long-term commitment of love from the chapter whether fundraising or volunteering for the camp itself. The chapter was recognized for their service as morning playground supervisors at Roosevelt Elementary School. Kappas were a part of “Rid Missoula of Graffiti” clean-up and spent several years decorating a tree at the Southgate Mall Festival of Trees.
1998 Greatest Improvement
Beta Phi had much to celebrate in this decade from Panhellenic and Iota Province awards to the Centennial Gala for the chapter. The chapter worked diligently on their academic standing and public relations image. Use of creative programming in scholarship resulted in top rankings on campus. Study tables and an honor roll posted for everyone to see helped to focus members on the importance of academics.
Member retention was a constant buzzword in the chapter. Flucuating campus Recruitment numbers and only four National Panhellenic sororities on campus made Formal Recruitment a challenge. New member classes reflected the diversity of the chapter and added to the strong base of sisterhood within Beta Phi.
Panhellenic sisterhood took on new meaning when the Kappa Alpha Theta chapter house was damaged during Christmas break and the chapter had to move-out while repairs were completed. Beta Phi graciously opened their house and the two chapters lived together learning how to share everything from shower and laundry time to observing privacy for chapter meetings. The experience brought the two chapters closer together and exemplified the spirit of Panhellenic cooperation.
For years leading up to 2009, Beta Phi alumnae began planning a Centennial Gala for alumnae and the undergraduate chapter. Homecoming 2009 was set on the calendar for the celebration and several committees planned the weekend of events culminating in a dinner at the Red Lion Inn. More than 250 members and guests gathered to celebrate 100 years of memories and Kappa friendships. Special Fraternity guest, Suzanne Van der Hayden, Washington State, Director of Alumnae gave the Keynote address and helped to pin the women receiving their 50-, 65- and 75-year pins. Former Fraternity Executive Director, Lila Isbell, Montana, served as Toastmistress and the program featured special music by The Kappa Keys, recognition of each class in attendance, a history of the John R. Toole house and presentation of Outstanding Alumnae to Marlys Barrett.
Refurbishing the foyer floor and painting projects along with replacing 57-year old boilers.
Chapter members helped with riverbed cleanup along the Clarkfork and Bitteroot rivers and volunteered for projects with Big Brothers and Sisters. In addition, the members partner with a local Boy Scout troop to clean Grizzly Stadium following football games. The Foresters’ Ball is a long-standing tradition at the U of M and Beta Phi hosted a booth performing “marriages” the last the night of the event. Money raised was contributed to Camp Make-a-Dream.
2000 Standards Honorable Mention; 2002 Greatest Scholarship Improvement Award; 2006 Academic Excellence Honorable Mention; 2008 Greatest Improvement Honorable Mention; Ritual Honorable Mention; Academic Excellence Honorable Mention; Recruitment Honorable Mention
From chapter’s History Report: Scholarship, group honors/awards, traditions, special events, changes on campus or within chapter, overall nature of the chapter, chapter goals, challenges and how they were overcome, etc.:
The Beta Phi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma has enjoyed a rich history endowed with all that you would expect: Joy, struggle, hysterical laughter and above all the founding of bonds so strong that they far surpasses the term friendship and evolves into sisterhood. Despite how cliché this phrase has become, the Kappa’s of UM do indeed “hold the key to klass”. During Greek Week held in the autumn semester, Kappa teamed with Sigma Nu and Kappa Sigma took first place overall obliterating the other teams with victories in events such as Capture the Flag on Greek Row, a god and goddess competition (Where one of our members was deemed the champion) as well as a float competition. The float built by Kappa and the two other fraternities was clearly the best, a judgment made with absolute objectivity. A gigantic bear head that was furry and absolutely adorable par oozed the streets of downtown Missoula, greeted by mouths that gaped so widely that small animals contemplated taking refuge there. It was indeed a proud day for Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Another proud endeavor for us Kappa’s at UM would be our academic achievement during the autumn semester. Kappa had been struggling academically prior to last semester. However, we emerged with the highest GPA average of all the sororities and second highest average in the entire Greek system. It was a major accomplishment and improvement. Also, the chapter has done great work on behalf of philanthropic causes. Kappa has raised thousands of dollars for Camp Make a Wish as well as aided in “Diva Days” which supported finding the cure for breast cancer. Also, another source of pride for Kappa occurred when Jessica Mounts was named Outstanding New Member and Alyissa Canady was named Greek Woman of Year. It was quite a prosperous couple of semesters.
The University Of Montana has dealt with a great deal of change this year. Most prevalent, accusations of sexual assault have served as a constant thought in the back of everyone’s mind. The school has been increasing awareness as well as initiating new security measures. The whole ordeal has most definitely changed the carelessness with which students treat their outings and social gatherings. Trends such as long boarding and floating the river have also become popular activities. Independent music has become very popular; nobody having heard of any of the bands anyone else is listening to. Trends change with time and the University of Montana is no exception.
Recent changes that Kappa has undergone, includes a large bundle of new members from recruitment in the fall of 2011. The new dynamic of the new member’s is a wondrous thing. The diversity is simply astounding, a diversity that penetrates straight to the heart. Think of a rainbow, but not one that follows the traditional six layer structure, one that shows the obscure colors no one has ever heard of, such as arsenic, chartreuse or a romantic candy apple sunrise. Also a somewhat unusual obsession has overtaken the fraternity. Cats. Oddly enough, cat paraphernalia is abundant. Honestly, it is quite strange however it is a unifying element bonding the sisters closer that before. Security has also been increased ensuring that only members of this fraternity can enter the house.
A challenge that the chapter has dealt with was the academic focus plan that we were put on for our prior performance academically speaking, was less than wonderful. Each member was required to complete a certain amount of study hours each week depending on prior academic performance although never less than five. The program was greeted with a great deal of eye rolling and sighing but eventually the chapter’s GPA was raised to above a 3.0. It was really a fantastic outcome. Another event that the chapter was put through would be a break in and theft of many prized possessions. Trophies, plaques, composites and food were taken. This was an ordeal that was hard to overcome, for many of the girls felt their safety was not a guarantee. The items were thankfully returned however anger was abundant. In response to the theft and trespassing, the door locks have been changed, and codes have been renewed. For a while, in house life was dealt with more cautiously and eventually we have reached a level of security that comforts each and every member.
2012 was a full year of philanthropy for the Beta Phi chapter. A few of the activities participated in are mentioned as follows:
- 30 Kappa women volunteered at the Missoula Children's First Museum Halloween Bash and provided activities and entertainment for 800 children. - The women of Kappa assisted with the annual Run Wild Missoula Diva Dash by forming their own running team and helping with set up. This event was held at the Community Medical Center and raised awareness for breast cancer. - $1400 was raised at the 2012 Forester's Ball Marriage Booth to contribute funds for Camp Mak-A-Dream, which is Beta Phi's local philanthropy. - KKG volunteered at multiple tables during the International Cultural Festival on campus to celebrate diversity at the University of Montana - 10 Kappas assisted the new fraternity on campus, Pi Kappa Phi, with their Bike-a-thon by biking in hour increments and donating the money received to Push America
As a whole, the Beta Phi chapter received awards that recognized different aspects of the chapter's activities and processes:
- 2011-12 Outstanding Alumni Relations and Chapter Development
- Most Improved Academic Excellence Award, 2010-2012
- The University of Montana Panhellenic Award for Chapter Involvement for 2012
- Honorable Mention for Standards - at Convention, 2012
- Greek Advisor of the Year 2012 was awarded to Marcy Hossle, who was a Beta Phi herself, and is actively involved in the Missoula Alumna Chapter.
The University of Montana is a thriving place--constantly, there are new opportunities made available to students. This year, there were a few new additions on campus:
The men of Pi Kappa Phi created a chapter at the UM this year, and the women of Kappa Kappa Gamma were obliged to help them in their recruiting endeavors and establishing their philanthropy by assisting with their annual Bike-a-thon.
The University of Montana is constantly striving to instill a global mindset in its students and encouraging them to reach for perfection in any endeavor they pursue. The newly founded Global Leadership Initiative was created to reflect these mantras. The program is meant to facilitate student teamwork and the motivation to solve global issues, and has a strong following of students.
The women of the Beta Phi chapter mirror the campus attitude in their desire to cultivate and learn in their areas of interest. They wish for their chapter to grow along with the University and to continue to promote KKG as a group of dedicated and hardworking women with outstanding moral character.
Formal recruitment for the Beta Phi chapter for 2013 was very successful and had a total of 35 New Members who were initiated on November 9, 2013. Many members of our chapter received the LAS award in scholarship and also the Bright Future Award for incoming freshman students. During the Spring and Fall semester of 2013, 5 of our members received a 4.0 GPA, one of them being a freshman. Unfortunately, we did not receive any Province awards for the 2013 year.
One of our traditions in this chapter is to do a “Snap Cup” at the end of every meeting. This allows us to say something positive about one another or the entire chapter about anything that was good for that week. Special events that we held during 2013 included Sapphire Ball, which was held at the Carousel, Forester’s Ball and Kappa Krush.
The Beta Phi chapter takes pride in our philanthropic involvement around the community and has proudly demonstrated our commitment and perseverance in helping others. We took the initiative to start early and made great communication with many organizations. Within the Spring semester alone for 2013, our chapter has generated 874 hours of community service and volunteered in events such as Forester’s Ball and the Missoula Public Library. During the Fall semester, we increased our total hours from the previous semester which resulted of 913 hours of community service. This included volunteering in events such as Diva Days, Halloween Bash, Up til Dawn, and Dress for Success which were a huge hit for the community and our chapter. Our main goal as a chapter was to remove ourselves from the Academic Focus Plan and we, as a chapter, set our GPA chapter goal to a 3.0. We also made it a goal to have higher philanthropic hours for our Fall semester than the previous Spring semester.
The Beta Phi chapter had the challenge of being on the Academic Focus Plan, and having the chapter cumulative GPA average below the all - sorority average for consecutive 3 terms. We have implemented a required 7 study hours a week for each individual member and relied on encouragement and support for one another. We also used positivity and rewards such as the “Skippy Jar” for those who did not skip class that week. Unfortunately though, we are still on the Academic Focus Letter, but we are striving hard and looking positively to overcome this problem for the 2014 year.
Some recent changes to the University of Montana has included the belief of the word “Thrive” around the campus. It is designed to be the main point and focus of the university to go above and beyond one’s potential from its students, faculty and the community. The university has also cut class sections due to budget cuts. The overall nature of our chapter has been positive in reinforcing our sisterhood. Our challenges has brought us closer as a chapter and are continuing to rise together. Whether if we are at events or just having dinner, there is a presence of having a common ground of being all together. We believe that we can make a positive impact in overcoming whatever comes our way and wish to promote Kappa Kappa Gamma as outstanding individuals who strive to go beyond our greater potential
Formal recruitment for the Beta Phi chapter for 2014 was very successful and had a total of 27 New Members who were initiated on October 25, 2014. Many members of our chapter received the LAS award in scholarship and also the Bright Future Award for incoming freshman students. During the Fall semester of 2014, our chapter GPA was 2.937. Unfortunately, we did not receive any Province awards for the 2013 year. One of our traditions in this chapter is to do a “Snap Cup” at the end of every meeting. This allows us to say something positive about one another or the entire chapter about anything that was good for that week. Special events that we held during 2014 included Sapphire Ball, which was held at a downtown hotel, Forester’s Ball and Kappa Krush.
The Beta Phi chapter takes pride in our philanthropic involvement around the community and has proudly demonstrated our commitment and perseverance in helping others. We took the initiative to start early and made great communication with many organizations. Our chapter has volunteered in events such as Forester’s Ball, the Missoula Public Library, and gathering cans of food for the food bank while we compete with Montana State’s PanHellenic for the most weight of food generated by donation from the public. Our main goal as a chapter was to remove ourselves from the Academic Focus Plan and we, as a chapter, set our GPA chapter goal to a 3.0. The Beta Phi chapter had the challenge of being on the Academic Focus Plan, and having the chapter cumulative GPA average below the all - sorority average for consecutive 4 terms. We have implemented a required 7 study hours a week for each individual member and relied on encouragement and support for one another. We also used positivity and rewards such as the “Skippy Jar” for those who did not skip class that week. Unfortunately though, we are still on the Academic Focus Letter, but we are striving hard and looking positively to overcome this problem for the 2015 year.
Some recent changes to our sorority house was during the summer, we redesigned our living room to resemble the time period of when our house was first built in 1902. The living room now has the original wooden floors renovated from having carpet on top of it as well as having time period specific furniture, paintings, and color scheme all done to represent the 1900s while keeping a modern touch. The overall nature of our chapter has been positive in reinforcing our sisterhood. Our challenges such as having to fill up a vacant presidential office during the fall semester have brought us closer as a chapter and are continuing to rise together. Whether if we are at events or just having dinner, there is a presence of having a common ground of being all together and supporting one another. We believe that we can make a positive impact in overcoming whatever comes our way and wish to promote Kappa Kappa Gamma as outstanding individuals who strive to go beyond our greater potential.
Women Behind the Badge: Our Vice President of Organization Marissa Barone, currently has a historical badge that belonged to Myrtle Buls who was a Beta Phi member from 1946. Although she passed away in 2010, she enjoyed many outdoor activities, singing and traveling. She was quoted as saying “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” Marissa was given the badge in May 2014.
During the year of 2015, the University of Montana has added a new fraternity to campus, Alpha Sigma Phi. The University now has 4 sororities and 8 fraternities. Within our own Kappa Kappa Gamma Beta Phi chapter, we are blessed to have our new house mom, Leann, who was our old house board treasurer. We also are pleased to reward Alicia B. the Beta Phi scholarship back in April. Our chapter has also increased in size since the past couple of years. We initiated a total of 7 women in the spring and 21 women in the fall. Spring recruitment was very successful because we had over 20 women show up for our “Mexican night” and over 15 show up for the mystery dinner the next week when we normally have only about a maximum of 4 women. We then extended 13 bids to those women and ended up with 8 new members. Our formal fall recruitment was a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” theme, and at the end of the week, we extended 29 bids to women and pledged 26 women that following Monday. Philanthropy activities that our chapter has accumulated over the fall semester of 2014 and spring semester of 2015, we totaled over 2,100 hours for all 51 women. Special thanks to Jessica L, Hannah G, Krista B, Bronte B. who all volunteered over 100 hours of service. Our chapter always helps out at the annual Forester’s Ball, where this spring, we made about $230, and we donated half of it to the Kappa foundation and the other half to our fraternity brother, Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s fundraiser. Their fundraiser was that one of their brother’s girlfriends suddenly had a stroke and needed money to help pay for the medical bills, so our chapter decided to help out with their cause. Our main Reading Is Key event was held in the spring were we collected over 420 books from all the fraternities and sororities on campus. Our Senior Philanthropy event also that spring was an alcohol awareness water pong tournament that all Greek members or non-members could participate, and the seniors raised over $250 dollars and then also donated the full amount to SAE’s fundraiser. Some of the goals that our chapter council developed include: be more philanthropic, develop better communication, and be Kappa Klassy. With the goal of being more philanthropic as our probably the main focus, our chapter believed that we should continue to improve on being more involved with the other sororities and fraternities on our campus. One of the reasons why we decided on this goal was because our chapter happens to be one of the smaller chapters on our campus, and we haven’t been as representative for the other chapter’s philanthropies or fundraisers as much in the past couple of years. Our chapter also believed that if we improved our attendance of these fundraisers at other chapters, it would help us improve our communication and being classy. We always have more opportunities to improve and achieve our goals, and we aren’t going to stop trying to achieve them. In order to help us achieve our goals, LC Alyssa came over a couple of weeks during the fall semester where she helped us with our work week for recruitment and recruitment at that time as well as nominations for our next year’s chapter council. We as a chapter also believed that these goals would help us in the challenges that our chapter faced over the year. Our advisors and alumna also came in to help us during our time of need in order to better build up our public relations over the entire Greek system facing an “alcohol restriction” and other public report cases that happened. Overall, I believe that our chapter and the University of Montana Greek system is improving and these challenges will continue to help us improve our image, goals, and values for all to see. Even though we have had a couple of challenges this year, some of the many traditions we have done for years still continued. Our Founder’s Day on October 13th was our 106th anniversary of our chapter on the University of Montana campus. Other traditions include the weekly “Snap Cup” that we will read at the end of our meetings. Also during our meetings, we have the “No Skip Skippy Jar,” the “Hey, Hey, I Got an A,” “Kappa Kreep,” and the Supportive Sister Bra. The no skip skippy jar is where everyone puts in their names if they attended all of their classes and win a prize. The got an A is for rewarding everyone who obtained an A in any of their classes that week. The Kappa Kreep is the newer one where if you spotted a sister studying, you could snapchat them “secretly” and watch a slide show the VP of Academic Excellence would create from that week. The supportive sister bra is just a bra that when it is given to you, you write your name and date on it just to show who has been supportive in our chapter. Outside of the weekly meetings, our chapter has an entire week dedicated to Bigs’ and Littles’ where the bigs’ will make crafts and write clues to give to the littles’ for them to guess. At the end of the week, the bigs’ will then present themselves in unique and clever ways to their littles’ and everyone gets excited. This year we had a ball of yarn start on the first floor and the littles’ had to grab their string and follow it to their bigs’ as well as having the littles’ collect articles of clothing scattered around the house to then meet their bigs’ located outside on the lawn wearing the same clothing items. One of the older traditions that our chapter does is on Friday night of Initiation, all of the actives will dress in black and walk out onto the lawn with candles to form the shape of a key while singing “Dream Awhile” for our new members to view from the President’s balcony. This might be one of the most treasured traditions that Beta Phi has. We have been blessed with our chapter house still being the original house that was bought in 1931. Currently we have about 35 women living in the house out of a possible 37 women including our house mom. Several remodels have been introduced since the original, but more recently we have remodeled the first floor and our basement. The first floor has been remodeled over the past couple of years to represent the original house back in the 1910’s to 1930’s because our house is honored with being placed on the national register of historic places in Montana. Because of this, we are required to keep our house “time period specific” with all the same colors and furniture, while still being a place that many women will continue to live in. Our basement was remodeled from the old “Pit” to the new “lounge area” by replacing the floor, repainting the walls and ceiling, adding newer furniture, a popcorn machine, and all the exercise equipment that we could ever think of or use. We still have chapter meetings in our house and continue to grow and remodel the house while remembering that it is a historical house.
We kicked off the new year in Beta Phi on January 24, which was move in day for spring semester. Classes started on January 25, and we were lucky enough to have our Leadership Consultant, Alyssa Sanchez, with us to start spring semester, and she stayed from January 24 to February 26. We also held a spring recruitment event on January 27 and January 29–30, we had a visit from our RDC, Brittany Henderson, and PDC, Michelle Meyers.
February held a lot of new adventures for Beta Phi. Another spring recruitment event was held on February 3, and we held spring Bid Day on February 7, welcoming seven new members into Kappa! Formal pledging was then held on February 8. Another LC, Carly Wooldridge, came on February 7 and stayed until the 12th. Alyssa and Carly planned a Galentines day sisterhood for us where we wrote each other love notes.
Susanne Vander Heyden came and visited us from March 6–8 and presented the importance of ritual to the chapter. There was a sisterhood held with Kappa Alpha Theta on March 12. We held Big/Little Reveal Week from March 14–18. Our LC, Alyssa Sanchez, came back to visit us March 20–25. While she was here, the Greek system had a speaker come and talk to us about mental health on campus. Vikki Day, a Kappa Trainer, also came on March 24 and presented to the chapter about responsibility. Our VPS, Katie Wickham, held a sisterhood on March 30 that was a pj party.
April was a pretty busy month for our chapter. Spring break approached fast and when we came back it was Inspiration Week which ran from April 11–15. The Dropping of the Pin ceremony was on April 13, FS was held on April 15 and Initiation on April 16. We initiated six women into our chapter. The week following was our Philanthropy Week, which ran from April 18–22. We teamed up with Liquid Planet on April 20 for Kappa Kappaccino where a portion of the proceeds went to Reading is Fundamental. That night we held hydration pong, a fundraiser for the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation and also an event to raise alcohol awareness in our community. Our senior function was on April 23. That next week, the 25th-29th was Greek Week for the University of Montana. Fun competitions were held all week and ended in a group get together on Greek row. On April 27, we had our Scholarship Dinner and celebrated the academic accomplishments of our sisters. On April 30, we played games on our yard with Kappa Sigma and spent one of our last weekend’s together for that year.
May was a short and bittersweet month. We had a photoshoot together on the May 1 before going into dead week. On May 7 we had an event to honor the seniors and historical pins were passed down. Alumnae came, and we got to hear their stories. Finals week was April 9–13. Seniors graduated on May 14, and we all said goodbye for the summer.
August came around and the whole house was back together. We moved in on August 21 and got started with Key to Success Week from August 22–2h. Leadership Consultant, Rachael Schaaf, stayed with us from August 21–26. Classes began on August 29 and the semester was in full swing.
September started with one of our favorite times of the year, Recruitment Week! Recruitment Week ran from September 5–9 with Bid Day being on September 10. After Recruitment, we held continuous open bidding for another week. In total, we welcomed 29 new members to pledge into Kappa. Carly came back to give us an alcohol awareness workshop on September 24. Homecoming Week was September 26–October 1. We partnered with Sigma Chi and Kappa Sigma for our homecoming float for the parade.
October started with Big/Little Reveal Week October 10–14 and Family Weekend was October 14–16. We had LC, Claire Kozel visiting from October 16–21, which was also our Philanthropy Week. We held Kappa Kappa Flapjacks on the 19th to raise money for the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation. The chapter held a fundraiser at Chops where the proceeds were donated to RIF. We had Kappa Jam, a dodgeball tournament on October 22. Susanne Vander Heyden also paid us another visit from October 16–17. We had Scholarship Dinner on October 26 where we showed off the accomplishments of our sisters.
November started with initiating our new members. Inspiration Week ran October 31st to–November 4 and we initiated 20 members on November 5. Connie Tyler stayed with us for Initiation. We had a great Kites and Keys event with Kappa Alpha Theta where we made Christmas ornaments. A thanksgiving sisterhood and composites were held on November 16 and we had elections on November 21. Right after that was Thanksgiving break.
December is a pretty slow month for our chapter as we get ready for finals and winter break. We held a Christmas themed sisterhood on December 7 where we made mugs. The last day of classes was December 12 and finals ran December 14–20.
The Beta Phi chapter has had a fantastic year in 2017. On the University campus, we found a new president and a new Fraternity and Sorority Involvement Director. Beta Phi also worked this past year to find local philanthropies in Missoula to support like Watson Children’s shelter, Animeals, and the Humane society. Beta Phi chapter started the new year together by moving into the house on January 21st. Classes started the 23rd, that was also the same day officers were installed.
February was a fun month for Beta Phi. We held three C.O.B. events on the 1st, the 8th, and the 15th. From the 12th to the 17th we had a visit from the wonderful LC, Claire. Claire joined us for our spring C.O.B. Bid Day on the 16th where we offered 10 women bids. Our new members were formally pledged on the 21st and we had a fun winter photoshoot on the 26th.
March was a great month for getting to know our new members. We had a sisterhood on the 7th where we made tie blankets that we donated to Watson’s Children’s center here in Missoula. We also had a fun photoshoot on the 11th. The women of Beta Phi had a great time on Spring Break from the 18th to the 26th. The week after Spring Break was a busy week for us. From the 27th to the 31st we competed in Greek Week with the rest of our Greek system. Beta Phi got second overall and first for sororities. The same week was our Big Little week with reveal on the 31st.
April was a very busy month for the women of Beta Phi. On the 7th our philanthropy chair Hailee planned a cleanup of the Bitterroot trail. From the 10th to the 15th we had our Inspiration week, with dropping of the pin on the 12th, Fireside on the 14th, and Initiated 6 members on the 15th. On the 12th we also had a sisterhood where we watched movies with sisters. From the 9th to the 14th we also had a wonderful visit from the LC Claire. On the 19th our fabulous VPAE planned a scholarship dinner where we celebrated our academic accomplishments. On the 20th we had an event with Delta Gamma where the two houses did crafts together. The 20th was also the Greek Awards where we won an award for excellence in Alumni relations and our sister, Augustine, won the outstanding senior award. On the 22nd we had our Senior Function and it was so much fun. The seniors also had their retreat on the 23rd. From the 24th to the 28th we had our spring philanthropy event. On the 29th our seniors officially went Alum at a brunch with our alumni association.
May was a short and sweet month for Beta Phi. On the 3rd we had an event with Kappa Alpha Theta where we Tie-dyed t-shirts. The last day of classes was on the 5th. Finals ran from 8th to the 12th. Move out and Graduation were on the 13th.
Beta Phi came back from the summer ready for recruitment and a new school year. We moved into the house on the 19th. Our Key to Success week ran from the 21st to the 25th. On the 25th we had a Color Me Kappa sisterhood. During this week we had a visit from our amazing LC Megan from the 20th to the 24th. Classes started on the 31st.
September was focused on recruitment events. Formal recruitment ran from the 11th to the 14th, with Bid Day on the 15th. We gave out 25 bids. Our first formal pledging ceremony was on the 18th. We had a C.O.B. event on the 19th and our C.O.B. bid day was on the 22nd where we invited 7 new women into our chapter. Our C.O.B. formal pledging was on the 25th.
October was a busy and rewarding month for Beta Phi. On the 14th we participated in the Homecoming parade with Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Nu. We celebrated Kappa Founder’s Day on the 15th with brunch where we invited alumni to celebrate with us. Our Big Little Week was from the 16th to the 20th, with reveal on the 20th. On the 17th we had an event where we painted pumpkins with the wonderful women of Alpha Phi. On the 23rd we had a chill sisterhood where we studied and watched Halloween movies together. Our philanthropy week went from the 23rd to the 28th. On the 24th, a few of our members went the local elementary school and read to kids. We had Kappa Kappa Flapjacks on the 25th where we had an all you can eat pancake buffet, on the 26th we partnered with the local Chipotle and had a fundraiser with them, and on the 28th we had our dodgeball tournament, Dodge For A Cause. District Director Amanda Ruffo paid us a wonderful visit from the 29th to the 31st.
November was an exciting month for Beta Phi with initiation. From the 13th through the 18th we had our Inspiration week. We had our Dropping of the Pin ceremony on the 13th, Fireside was on the 17th, and we initiated 24 amazing members on the 18th. On the 14th we took our composite. On the 15th our incredible VPS, Katie, planned a sisterhood where we made each other friendship bracelets that had a word that reminded us of the other sister. We had our Thanksgiving break from the 22nd to the 26th. We ended November with elections on the 27th.
December was a short but exciting month for the Beta Phi chapter. On the 8th we had our Sapphire Function that was a ton of fun. Our VPO, AJ, planned a great Leadership Day on the 9th where incoming officers and outgoing officers had a great time learning about leadership. The last day of classes was on the 12th and finals ran from the 14th to the 20th. The house closed for the semester on the 21st.
Beta Phi had a great year in 2018. On the University campus, we found a new Fraternity and Sorority Involvement Director, Lacey Zinke, Delta Gamma alumna from the University of Montana 2014.
In late January we had our first Chapter Council meeting where successors observe and ask questions as their predecessors continue to create and give reports. We started tabling at the Lommasson Center for Informal Recruitment. The incoming officers had a second leadership day to go over goals and team building exercises. Our goals were better PR for chapter; improve ritual; sisters first always; more effective meetings. A rookie workshop was held where they learned the COB process, a review of our Kappa values, and select-a-sis(our voting software.) We kicked off our Informal Recruitment with a hot chocolate station full of toppings.
Our second recruitment event was Sundae Fundae. We ended events with cookie decorating. Eight bids were handed out. Programming started with fire safety, evaluation procedures and general police safety. Galentines Day sisterhood where we made valentines for sisters, soon to be new members and house staff.
Programming stared with Behind Happy Faces to discuss mental health. We began our annual book drive to collect books until the end of philanthropy week. Women's Empowerment Day where Fraternity Sorority Involvement arranged for a few women leaders to come and speak to sorority women. March 20 was Beta Phi's 109 birthday and we celebrated with a blue and blue dessert and some facts about our history. Philanthropy Week began, we had tabling for raffle prizes tickets, set up a percentage sale at MOD pizza and collected our book drive. There was a fun photo shoot at the house. The sisterhood divided into two groups. One collected feminine non-perishable products for the women's shelter. The other went to help the homeless at their center and organized their storage area.
April saw the big/little reveal with little gifts exchanged. Programming was Cal Reynold talk to us about Allies Training. Initiation was held for four new members. Greek Week and our scholarship dinner followed. The end of the month saw an amazing senior function held at the Downtown Dance Collective. Then our going alum event for our outgoing seniors was held.
After finals in May, the house closed for the summer and we all departed.
In August the house was a buzz when 18 members moved back in. Over the summer the membership chairman and officers worked hard on recruitment plans. In Key Week we learned new ways to recruit and strengthen our sisterhood. Throughout recruitment and COB we pledged 19 new members. A sisterhood where we filled bags with feminine products was held and donated them to the YWCA. During national hazing prevention week we made a banner and competed against the other sororities and won!
In October we held an alumnae brunch where we celebrated homecoming and Founders Day. 30 alumnae and 30 actives attended. Homecoming saw us paired with Sigma Nu and Phi Delta Theta. We created an amazing float for the parade. Big/little reveal was held and 17 new members prepared for initiation. We also had a Halloween themed sisterhood with games and snacks.
November brought the Sapphire event at the Missoula Community Theatre where everyone had fun dancing. We held a philanthropy event playing corn hole raising $76 for the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation. We held Kappa flapjacks raising $210 for the Beta Phi Scholarship Fund. We also sold t-shirts where 10% of the sales went to Reading is Fundamental.
December brought leadership day, a Christmas party with Sigma Alpha Epsilon and a white elephant gift exchange. Mid month the house closed and we departed for winter break.
From chapter’s History Report: Scholarship, group honors/awards, traditions, special events, changes on campus or within chapter, overall nature of the chapter, chapter goals, challenges and how they were overcome, etc.:
2020 presented a unique challenge for Beta Phi and the University of Montana Greek Life community as a whole due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the month of February, Beta Phi held three COB events: a Meet and Greet on the 6th, Study with the Kappas on the 12th, and House Tours and Hot Cocoa on the 19th. Bids were extended to four new members on March 7 who then went through Formal Pledging on March 9.
March 13 was the last day of classes before spring break at the University of Montana. Due to COVID-19 students were encouraged to go home for the break and not return to campus. Over the break classes at the University prepared to move online and dormitories began shutting down and sending students home. The Beta Phi chapter house followed suit, closing its doors and moving all chapter meetings, Chapter Council meetings and sisterhoods to virtual.
After the end of the semester on May 8, Beta Phi participated in their first virtual initiation ceremony held by the Fraternity's Ritual and History Content Team on May 17 where the four new members from Spring COB were officially welcomed into the Fraternity.
Over the summer the Chapter Council, under the guidance of the current chapter President, Madeleine Itschner, began preparing for the upcoming semester, virtual or not. When we were informed that we would be returning to campus for the Fall 2020 semester, President Itschner began working tirelessly on a COVID-19 safety plan for the Beta Phi chapter house. Her plan included social distancing measures in the house, requiring masks in all shared living spaces, and chapter meetings remaining virtual.
On August 10 girls masked up and began moving back into the chapter house in order to begin preparation for formal recruitment. In order to ensure the safety of all of our sisters, Beta Phi held their key week entirely online so that sisters were able to isolate themselves from each other as we came back together. Formal recruitment ran from August 30th to September 4 and contained a mixture of outside, socially distanced events and virtual events.
Classes and other school events at the University of Montana for the fall semester remained partially online and partially socially distanced. To celebrate Kappa Kappa Gamma's sesquicentennial anniversary on October 13, Beta Phi held a Zoom call with alumnae where the Founders Day Ceremony and the Passing of the Light ceremony were performed by current chapter members. All the active members and alumnae were then given the link for the Facebook live event and encouraged to attend.
On November 14 Beta Phi did its second virtual initiation, but this time the Chapter Council officers conducted the ceremony. Three members were initiated. After initiation new Chapter Council officers were slated and elected and are set to take over chapter operations next semester. With finals week wrapping up on November 25, the day before Thanksgiving, the sisters of Beta Phi parted for winter break and said goodbye to a crazy year.
Beta Phi supported two philanthropic organizations this year: the Missoula YWCA and the Humane Society. These two organizations were supported by the chapter because they are local to Missoula and allowed us to directly help and impact members of our community.
Additionally, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) chairman position was created and added to Chapter Council. This chairman was also given a committee, creating the DEI committee.