Beta Nu Chapter was founded at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio on October 12, 1888. Initially, the fraternity custom was to name a new chapter after a closed one, so that all 24 letters of the Greek alphabet were always in use. Because of this custom, the Chapter is called simply Nu in early records. This practice ended in 1890 when Convention delegates voted to affix Beta to the name of a chapter to indicate it was the second and to affix Gamma on the second round, then Delta, and so on. The chapter at Ohio State was the second chapter to be known as Nu and, after 1890, it became known as Beta Nu.
3,111 initiates (as of June 2018)
Beta Nu Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma was the first women's fraternity founded at Ohio State University. A Columbus newspaper dated October 12, 1888, reported: "The organization was perfected at the residence of Miss Bell Slade on Hamilton Avenue...'Nu' is the name of the chapter and the pin is a small enameled gold key inlaid with stones. The ladies believe they have good prospects for a flourishing chapter." The "Nu" was changed to Beta Nu by vote of the 1890 Convention, to distinguish this Nu from the Nu of Franklin College, Indiana, which had lived briefly from 1879 to 1894.
Ohio State University was founded as a result of the Land Grant Act of Congress approved by President Lincoln in 1862. It has grown from its original 311 acres and one building to a campus of 2,555 acres with more than 123 buildings.
In 1888 the university enrollment was 225 including 30 women. Men's fraternal organizations had appeared as early as 1878. Chapters of other sororities were established following the installation of the Kappa chapter, and in 1903 the first Panhellenic meeting was called by a Kappa and a Kappa, Edna Pratt (Brown)l, was elected president.
Location of the first chapter meetings is not known, but records show that in 1891 the girls were gathering in the home of a member, Sarah Elizabeth O'Kane (Raymond) at 215 West Tenth Avenue.
In 1916, a small apartment was rented above Long's Book Store on North High Street and furniture donated by Columbus Kappas. During World War I male students who had not joined the service were required, as members of the ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps), to live in temporary barracks erected on the campus. Rather than close the Phi Gamma Delta house, the president offered it to the Kappas. The few out-of-town members had already made arrangements to live in dormitories, so the house was used as a meeting place and for entertaining.
The war period was one of unrest on the campus. Many girls left school to fill positions left open by men who had enlisted, and others were on call for nurses's training. Beta Nu and the Columbus alumnae collected clothing for chapter member Dorothy Canfield Fisher's Dispensaire in France in addition to rolling bandages and knitting socks. The chapter pledged $500 to the YWCA. To raise the money the chapter made and sold sandwiches to the fraternities after Monday night meetings, sold flowers at football games, gave subscription dances, and performed many other small jobs.
After the war, the Kappas and Delta Gammas leased and shared an apartment at Sixteenth Avenue and High Street. In 1920, a six-room apartment was rented at 24 Fifteenth Avenue. It was occupied by four out-of-town members and a chaperone. A cook was hired and lunches served to town girls.
The Beta Nu Building Association was formed in 1921 and in September, 1922, a house was purchased for $12,360 at 90 Thirteenth Avenue, the first to be owned by a women's fraternity at Ohio State. It had three bedrooms and a third-floor "dormitory." It was occupied by eight girls and a housemother.
With the increase in the number of out-of-town girls a larger house was soon needed and one was purchased in 1926 at 84 Fifteenth Avenue, the street which has always been known as "the gate to campus." The purchase price of $30,000 was raised with the help of a loan from the Fraternity. Ten girls and a housemother used its one family-sized bathroom. A third floor with a chapter room and smaller rooms for initiation was considered to be very "posh," although fainting in the heat of initiation was standard procedure.
In 1936,"...with the mortgage reduced and the income increased," to quote from the January, 1937, Banta's Greek Exchange, the work of remodeling this former family home into a sorority house was accomplished. Once again, Kappa was first with a "real" sorority house. An addition provided housing for 15 girls, larger bathroom facilities, a housemother's suite with bath, a large living room, larger kitchen and dining facilities, a basement chapter room, and, in tune with the times, a parking lot in the rear.
The World War II years brought dramatic changes of scene to the Ohio State campus. Class ranks were drastically disrupted as men elected to enter various branches of the armed forces or were drafted into the service. Joe College, with his broad-brimmed, flat top "pork pie" hat and "zoot suit" (featuring pegged trousers, long jacket with padded shoulders) was replaced by a man in uniform, as the university geared to specialized training programs for the Army and the Navy.
Many coeds chose to enlist, also, as WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service-Navy), WASPS (Women's Airforce Service Pilots), WACS (Women's Army Corps). Some, like Jane Emig (Ford) who served with the Red Cross in Burma and India, were sent overseas. The chapter house buzzed with excitement whenever a member on official leave returned for a visit.
Beta Nus who chose to continue their college careers filled their extra-curricular hours with letter-writing to friends and sweethearts in the service, knitting items in drab green which were requested by the government, tending Victory Gardens which sprang up in unlikely places in a civilian attempt to replace rationed and hard-to-get food products. Several Kappas participated on the War Entertainment Board, an organization of collegians who wrote and produced, sang and dance in a variety show that entertained ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program), Navy V-12, and Lockbourne Airbase trainees. Others were active SWAVes (a branch of the Student War Bond Board), which sold war stamps, registered blood donors, sponsored classes for nurses first aid and first aid.
College women wore knee-length skirts and "sloppy Joe" sweaters, many of which had been spirited away from the closets of absent service-bound brothers and boyfriends. not only did coeds borrow the men's clothing, they also took over as officers of organizations that traditionally had been headed by men. The 1944 Makio (yearbook) asked "Will they (the women) be willing to turn things back to the men when they return?"
Ohio State's wartime classes kept up their morale by contributing to a fund for a Victory Bell, which would hang in a tower of the stadium and be rung in celebration of future football victories at the Big Ten school.
Kappa actives and alumnae also volunteered at USO (United Service Organization) canteens and the Kappa Service Women's Center in the Chittenden Hotel. It was one of 14 Fraternity-sponsored centers sprinkled across the country. Nola Dysle Havens was chairman of the Columbus suite, which provided a lounge area for servicewomen to rest and relax as they passed through Ohio's capital city. Kappa projects supported the Nora Waln Fund for bombed-out families in England, and Columbus women spent countless hours creating baby clothes for layettes which were sent to Norway through the fund.
More growing pains brought about the purchase of an old house at 55 Fifteenth Avenue to be used for an annex until money could be raised to build the Kappa "Dream House" on the new site. A goal of $30,000 was set by the alumnae association and the struggle began. Through rummage sale, bake sales, bridge and bingo parties, redemption of state sales tax stamps, the compilation of a Beta Nu Directory, and many other projects the goal was reached. A loan from Hazel Zeller Nesbitt gave a boost to the project. The interest was donated to the chapter later. The house was started in 1950 and ready for occupancy in the fall of 1952 at a cost of $225,000, including furnishing and landscaping. The house at 84 Fifteenth Avenue was sold to Zeta Tau Alpha for $57,000.
An alumnae association was first given public mention March 16, 1901. By 1930, about 75 percent of the 150 alumnae living in Columbus were active members. Mary Blakiston Guild, first initiate of Beta Nu Chapter, was the organizer of the group and served as its first president in 1901 and again in 1922. Upon her death her badge was given to the chapter to be worn by the president.
The presence of the Fraternity Headquarters in Columbus is important to Beta Nu Chapter. The spirit and loyalty of the chapter is fostered by visits to Headquarters and members are happy to be hostesses to visiting officers and Headquarters staff. Beta Nus spent many hours helping sort and dry out valuable papers and cleaning up after the 1965 fire which partially destroyed the Headquarters building.
Beta Nu has been hostess to a number of Fraternity and province conventions and meetings. The second Beta Province Convention met in Columbus with Beta Nu as hostess May 26-28, 1897. Business meetings were in the home of Dorothy Canfield (Fisher), whose father was president of the university. Fraternity conventions have been scheduled in Columbus in 1900,1968, and 1974.
The first Gamma Province Convention took place in 1923 at the Maple Grove Hotel near Chillicothe with Beta Nu as hostess. Beta Nu was hostess to the province again in 1933, this time at home. The convention was held during spring vacation so that the Beta Theta Pi house could be borrowed to provide additional space for meetings and to house the delegates.
Christine Conaway, one-time dean of women at Ohio State, once said "....(Kappa) has always maintained high standards in scholarship, personal conduct, and participation in campus affairs. Their house is a friendly one where hospitality is always found..."
High standards in scholarship have always been stressed. Study buddies, files of old tests, and a quiet chapter room are available. In 1943, Beta Nu was awarded a handsome silver coffee urn for top scholarship for three consecutive years. In 1964, the chapter took first place in three out of the possible six scholarship awards at the annual Panhellenic Scholarship Banquet. In 1967, Beta Nu gained permanent possession of a scholarship trophy and in 1970, was leader in scholarship among the women's fraternities at Ohio State. In 1973 the chapter was again at the top winning the Panhellenic active chapter award and the pledge class award.
High standards in personal conduct were recognized in 1966 when Beta Nu received the Gracious Living Award. Good habits and manners are stressed through informal skits and discussions, frequent house meetings, telephone hostesses, house rules and quiet hours.
Participation in campus affairs can be seen in the numerous activities involving Beta Nus. There have been many queens, cheerleaders, activity leaders, and committee members. Beta Nu has given volunteer service to the Ohio State University Speech and Hearing Clinic, participated in the annual Heart Fund Drive, and given seasonal parties for handicapped children.
Columbus alumnae adopted Huckleberry House as a philanthropy in 1972. Huckleberry House is a home near the campus for runaway teenagers, which endeavors to provide resources and alternatives to youths before they get deeply into trouble. It offers emergency housing and individual and family counseling on a voluntary basis.
Clare O. Pierce stands at the top of Beta Nu's list of outstanding members. She served as executive secretary from January 1, 1929, until January 1, 1969. The Gracious Living Award is given in her honor at Fraternity conventions and a memorial fellowship for graduate study has been established in her name. A significant event of the 1954 Convention was the ceremony marking her 25th year in office. The ceremony was conducted by Beta Nus.
Katharine Wade Pennell was executive secretary-treasuer from 1969 to 1970 and executive secretary from 107- until her retirement in 1972. Betty Sanor Cameron is executive secretary at the present time.
Many members of Beta Nu have been province officers. Many have held positions of leadership within the Fraternity. Sally Moore Nitschke served as chairman of pledge training; was the first editor of Speak Up; is a past director of field representatives; and is currently a member of Council as director of membership. Betsy Molsberry Prior is director of alumnae. Ruth Bollock Chastang has served as chairman of the Hearthstone and of Fraternity extension, director of personnel, and national Panhellenic delegate for the Fraternity. She is currently Fraternity research chairman. The Columbus City Panhellenic presented the Fraternity Woman of the Year Award to her in 1971.
Isabel Hatton Simmons was editor of The Key for many years, a position held now by Diane Miller Selby. Juliana Fraser Wales, a past field secretary, is chairman of Fraternity education for chapter programs. Jill Eversole was a field secretary, 1974-75. Jane Emig Ford has planned and supervised convention photography for many yers.
Ann Scott Morningstar, Achievement Award winner in 1958, was the first national scholarship chairman and chairman of public relations for many years. Catherine Schroeder Graf is a past chairman of Fraternity publications and is editor of the 1975-76 History of Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Among the many Beta Nus who have held Fraternity posts in the past are Mignon Talbot, who was grand registrar, 1894-1900, and Lucy Allen Smart, who was editor of The Key, 1900-1904.
Chapter traditions are held dear: initiation with a banquet at noon; a formal dance every year, "Thank God it's Friday" parties, the annual Kappa-Kappa Alpha Theta party, after-the-game open houses, entertainment of campus officials and alumnae. The pinning ceremony is a favorite Ohio State tradition. Pinning serenades by Greek letter groups are held at night, usually after an exciting "candle-passing" in which the girl announces her pinning or engagement. During the ceremony fraternity men arrive to sing and exchange songs with the girls who stand on the porch holding lighted candles.
Beta Nu helped install Rho Deuteron Chapter at Ohio Wesleyan in 1925 and Gamma Omega Chapter at Denison in 1929.
Beta Nu celebrated its first 50 years in October, 1938. The festivities began on Friday with a concert by Beta Nu's soprano Margaret Speaks (Pearl), and a reception at the chapter house. There were luncheons for 10-year groups and a banquet on Saturday. Three of the founders returned for the celebration: Alice Moodie Hartwell, Alla Berta Rickey Cless, and Carrie Pocock Ward.
The chapter's 75th anniversary was celebrated on an Ohio State football weekend in 1963, beginning with a banquet on Friday night and ending with an open house at the Beta Nu house after the Homecoming game on Saturday. Eleanor Penniman Boardman was banquet toastmistress at both the 50th and 75th anniversaries.
Beta Nu looks forward now to its 100th anniversary with pride in the past and the knowledge that college lifestyles may change, but all that has made Kappa great will remain steadfast.
Moving into the 1980’s, Beta Nu chapter members were becoming more career oriented and often were responsible financially for their college and Kappa expenses. More interest was found in graduate programs as well as an increased participation in sports. Beta Nu was certainly competitive and consistently ranked in the top groups on the Ohio State campus. Rush programs were strong, with particular attention paid to legacies.
Beta Nu could often be found participating in philanthropic projects throughout the Ohio State Greek system. These included Pi Kappa Alpha’s and Alpha Phi’s Grand Prix race, the road rally conducted by Kappa Sigma and Kappa Alpha Theta, and a softball tournament for Tau Kappa Epsilon. At the 1985 Gamma Province Meeting, a province philanthropy project was adopted: “Kidney Kamp.” This was a Kappa first and one supported by Beta Nu with great enthusiasm.
The 1980’s were not without their challenges for Beta Nu. Early in the decade, Beta Nu found they were not competitive academically and quickly implemented programming to remedy the situation. Study hours were instituted and an academic competition with Phi Kappa Psi helped to bring Beta Nu’s academics back to an appropriate level. Later in the decade, a Greek member died after falling off the roof of a Greek house. Consequently, rules regarding behavior and alcohol for the Greek organizations were amended. The Greek community as a whole lost many members and rush numbers declined significantly. However Beta Nu was able to maintain its strong position on the campus.
The 1990’s found Beta Nu participating in both philanthropic and Greek social events. The Kappa Golf Classic was held each year in the decade, raising funds for the National Kidney Foundation. In addition, Beta Nu worked with Delta Chi Fraternity on their Skip-a-Meal program, where fraternities and sororities pair up for dinner. The money that would have been used for the sorority’s meal is donated to a favorite charity. Greek Week and Derby Days were favorite events for the chapter as well. The chapter reported excellent campus public relations because of their participation is so many campus activities.
The Beta Nu chapter house was updated in 1990 when the Mother’s Club reupholstered the furniture in the living room and TV room. Just a few years later the Beta Nu chapter hosted the Alpha Chi Omega chapter for nearly a full quarter when the Alpha Chi chapter house burned down….a true display of Panhellenic sisterhood. Finally in 1996 the Beta Nu chapter house was completely redecorated and a study room was added in the basement, complete with two new computers. The renovations were completed as a result of a bequest made by Mary Moyer.
The decade saw continued dwindling recruitment numbers and academic issues for Beta Nu. A Letter of Concern was sent to Beta Nu to remind them of Kappa’s standards of maintaining strong chapter membership numbers and good grades. Their hard work was rewarded when the chapter was named number one on campus in grades in 1999.
The 2000’s found the Ohio State University to be one of the largest colleges in the United States, with approximately 39,000 students at the beginning of the decade and quickly moving to 60,000 by 2010. Likewise, Beta Nu saw its numbers rise as well. More than 6% of the students were members of Greek groups.
Beta Nu continued with its philanthropic pursuits with the Kappa Golf Classic, a very successful event. The chapter also incorporated two events close to their hearts. One involved collecting pop tabs to support a young boy being treated for a rare brain tumor at St. Jude’s in Memphis, TN. The chapter also formed a team to raise funds to support research to find cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. This was done to honor a chapter member dealing with lymphoma. $4800 was raised. For their successful ongoing efforts, the chapter received awards from both the Fraternity and the Ohio State University.
The chapter continually challenged itself, acknowledging those areas where they did well and working hard to deal with issues that created difficulties. Beta Nu consistently remained above the All-Greek average until towards the end of the decade. At that time the chapter realized they needed to give their coursework some additional attention. In addition they worked hard on alumnae relations, ritual and history education, and communication within the chapter.
In the past calendar year, the Beta Nu chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma has grown in many different respects. For instance, we have become a more unified chapter, developed a stronger Chapter Council, and have grown our presence on campus.
We have started new philantropy events such as Kappa King Pin, a bowling tournament, as well as lending our hands to foundations such as the Ronald McDonald House.
At Convention, Beta Nu was honored with admission into the Adelphe Society.
During this Presidential election, we had women volunteering at the polls, rallies, etc. Quite a few women in the chapter actually worked directly with campaigns for different parties.
Changes The Ohio State University is a constantly changing and growing campus. This past year, two well-known dorms, Park and Stradley Hall, were conjoined and reopened as one, single dorm. Steeb and Smith Halls are currently undergoing similar construction to join the two buildings together. A new dorm on 10th Avenue was also opened to house primarily first year students.
The South Oval is still under construction pending completion of a project in which geothermal wells will be installed.
The OSU Medical Center was renamed in honor of Les Wexner.
It is hard to summarize a sisterhood or a dynamic like that of our chapter. A collection of vastly unique and different individuals, we somehow fit perfectly as a whole. We have athletes, including members on the Ohio State soccer team, equestrian team, synchronized swimming teams, etc. We have musicians, fashion designers, political activists, and humanitarians.
The easiest way to describe the overall nature of the Beta Nu chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma is to say that we are a group of extremely diverse women who compliment each other in the best of ways. Throughout my time as a Kappa in undergrad, I have been pushed, encouraged, and supported by my sisters in Kappa Kappa Gamma in ways I could have never imagined. They have forced me to become a more well rounded person and to appreciate our individual differences. Beta Nu creates women out of girls, sisters out of friends, and confidants out of strangers.