Beta Delta Chapter was founded at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan on October 2, 1890.
3,216 initiates (as of June 2018)
In the spring of 1890, two rival groups at the University of Michigan petitioning the Grand Council of Kappa Kappa Gamma were brought together harmoniously, and nine persons from the two groups were listed on the Beta Delta charter.
Six returned to college for a fall initiation at the home of one of the initiates - the other three were initiated later- and the first golden keys caused a campus sensation.
Three faculty wives (the patroness custom was continued at Ann Arbor until about 1950) became loyal friends and sponsors of the young chapter. In the spring of 1893 a series of Sunday patroness teas enabled the girls to plan for chapter headquarters, established that fall. Other early chapter events included the establishment of a Panhellenic, a Beta Delta Alumnae Association informally organized during 1894-1895, a June 1895 reunion, and the entertainment of the 1902 National Convention.
In the fall of 1895 six Kappas moved to Beta Delta's first chapter house at Washington and Ingalls Streets. There were six more moves before the $19,000 house was built at 1204 Hill Street. Ground had been broken April 1910, and 22 girls were housed in the unfurnished building that fall. Beta Delta's Grand President Florence Burton Roth was guest of honor at the housewarming.
World War I brought meatless, wheatless days of sacrifice and service, Red Cross knitting, farmerette duties and many forms of thrift. On Armistice Day an impromptu Kappa dance brought in servicemen and a jazz band. A highlight of the year 1924 was the wedding of Theodosia Burton Stewart, X - Minnesota, daughter of the university president. The entire chapter, dressed in pastel formal gowns, adorned the balcony of the elegant new Clements Library where the ceremony took place. They also attended, with such luminaries as Henry Ford, the reception that followed in the president's residence next door.
Visits from Dorothy Canfield Fisher, BN-Ohio State, and Robert Frost, while he was the university's Poet-in-Residence, were also of great interest to the chapter.
Outstanding Beta Deltas of the 1920s include three honored in architecture: Marion Frances Blood, awarded the Booth Scholarship in Architecture; Ruth Goodhew Chasteney, editor of Architectural Forum magazine; Frances Sutton Schmitz, first woman architect registered in the State of Michigan, a long term member of the Fraternity Housing Committee, and recipient of a Kappa Distinguished Alumnae Award. Phyllis Laughton Seaton became the first Michigan coed to direct the Junior Girls Play, later a leading drama coach in Hollywood, California, and a mayor of Beverly Hills.
The paramount interest of Michigan women during this period was the planning and financing of a Women's League building as a campus activities headquarters. At that time women were not allowed to enter the men's Michigan Union by the front door, or use the building for meetings. In 1923 Beta Delta stood first in contributions among organized houses, and in 1929 the beautiful million dollar Michigan League made the university the first and only campus with two student buildings.
The Kappa Kronicle, chapter financed, which appeared in the spring of 1931, has been continuously published and has received many Fraternity awards. It chronicles the times for Beta Delta alumnae. The Depression years note such items as the addition of a water softener, linoleum in the attic dorm ("no more splinters"), and electrical equipment in the pantry. ("Now we can have hot toast and even an egg in the morning if we pay a nickel.")
In spite of the Depression, the Kappas entertained: at high teas; at dinners honoring faculty, patronesses, or alumnae; and in 1930 at a tea introducing their new chaperone to the campus. The inimitable Mrs. Louise Doggett, white hair piled high, black velvet band at throat, lent her grace, dignity, and friendship to the chapter for seven years.
After the Depression came lighter, happier times. Initiates of 1937 were required to skip, rather than walk, and to bow when encountering an active. Beta Delta's Helen Bower, star reporter for the Detroit Free Press and editor of The Key from 1930 to 1946, often came to initiation banquets, delighting each new class with her rendition of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," complete with gallops across the dining room floor. This was the Big Band era. Kappas danced to the music of Jimmy Dorsey at one end of the Intramural Building and Kay Keyser at the other at the "U Hop" in 1938. In the late 1930s dressy Michigan coeds no longer strolled down the "Diag," the main walk on campus, in high heels, gloves, and hats. Instead they wore saddle shoes, skirts, and cardigans (preferably Braemars( buttoned down the back, and always with pearls.
The high point of 1940 was the celebration of fifty golden years of Beta Delta. Two charter members, Mildred Hinsdale and Lucy Clark Terry, and two Kappa presidents, Elizabeth Bogert Schofield, M-Butler, and Florence Burton Roth, were honored guests. Over 100 attended the reunion and formal banquet with Helen Bower as toastmistress.
The December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor drew excited Kappas to their radios, concerned for men in service and those subject to call. The campus theme again became sacrifice on the home front. Kappas danced to records at the spring formal and donated their band money to the Bomber Scholarship Fund. The Michigan Daily praised Kappa for being the first sorority to give up "the frills." Nightly exercises for fitness became part of life at 1204 Hill. The Michigan League Council became the Women's War Council and traditional activities were out for "the duration." The Sophomore served as hospital volunteers, the Juniors took on a stamp and bond drive, and the Seniors made surgical dressings. As men on the labor force left for service, women filled in at the university laundry, in food service, and even on campus groundskeeping, uniformed in plaid shirts and jeans, saddle shoes, and hairbows!
The term "chaperone" had disappeared, and even "house-mother" was on the wane when the gracious Mrs. John Owen arrived in 1942 ad house director. Her sense of humor carried the chapter (and herself) over rough times of rationing and shortages. Stories of "rabbit-chicken" and Kappas serving as maids, cooks, and waitresses attest to her ingenuity. She stayed until 1954, proof of her durability, too.
The chapter house, built in 1910, had met the needs of the group until growing enrollment required annexes for additional members. There were happy times in those modest homes, but there was also an unsatisfactory separation of members. In 1938 property adjacent to the chapter house had been purchased for $13,500 and, in spite of the war, the addition was almost finished by fall, 1942. Again members returned to an unfinished house, rushees walked over planks to the front door, but a large class of 26 was pledged. The remodeling costs of $46,000 which transformed the house into one with white Georgian columns were considered well spent.
Many campus customs were revived with the war's end. The Kappa house abounded with happiness, sisterhood, campus activity, achievement, and tradition. A full social life included cherished weekends for mothers and fathers, exchange dinners, serenades, and T.G.I.F. (Thank God It's Friday) parties. Drinking was not allowed on campus and curfew was enforced. Twenty-first birthdays were celebrated at the "Pretzel Bell" with names etched on its wooden table tops. Kappa, with Kappa Sigma, won first place honors for the booth at "Michigras," the biennial carnival.
During this period of years when the chapter was repeatedly bringing home first place awards for scholarship, activities, and athletic participation locally, the Fraternity recognized Beta Delta with the Westermann Efficiency Award (1944), the Standards Award (1946), and the Finance Efficiency Award (1948).
A Sunday round table of advisers and new and outgoing chapter officers was instituted, a practice giving greater continuity to chapter programs, later to be recommended by the Fraternity to other chapters. The year 1942 had marked the last spring initiation to be held for a decade. There followed constant revision and re-evaluation of the rushing system, forcing continual change in the chapter social and financial patterns, culminating in 1949, in a quota system designed to spread membership to all houses, but never succeeding.
Seniors emerged as secure and dedicated young women in the 1950s, aspiring to assume their roles in the world. Nancy Watkins Osius became the first woman president of the Literary College senior class and was selected by McCall's Magazine as the outstanding 21-year-old woman in the country. She later received a Rotary scholarship to study in Scotland. Gloria James Kerry chose a career in dentistry and became a leading periodondist. She received a Kappa Alumnae Achievement Award some years later.
More housing space was needed by 1954. The university administration recommended that the capacity be increased to 45 so the beloved back porch was rebuilt into a wing which also provided study rooms, a lounge, and a new chapter room at a cost of $75,000. By using every remaining inch of property, and spending $110,000 on another addition in 1959, it became possible to house the entire chapter of 65 under one roof.
Student Government Council began to interest itself in sorority rushing procedures and membership clauses. In 1957 it dictated a return to deferred rushing, which marked the beginning of significant changes in student attitudes, and presented constant challenges to keep the sorority system alive and healthy.
In 1960, Beta Delta marked its 50th year as a corporation, and in 1965, the 75th anniversary of its founding. At the celebration luncheon "diamonds" were everywhere, even glued on the euonymus sprays massed on the tables. Once gain Mildred Hinsdale, now 95, delighted the more than 200 guests with reminiscences.
Interest in foreign and cultural affairs brought two exchange students to live in the house at two different times. In 1961 the chapter instituted an "awareness program" which received first place in the Fraternity's national ratings and was much discussed at the 1962 Convention.
The typical student of the 1960s seriously questioned society's ethical standards. Students became the center of national interest, and the university a focal point. President John F. Kennedy launched the Peace Corps on the Michigan Union steps in October, 1960, and at the 1964 Commencement President Lyndon B. Johnson voiced his first statement on "The Great Society."
Along with the emphasis on intellectual involvement came greater freedom for women. University restrictions on women's hours were relaxed and senior women were permitted to live in apartments. Beta Delta issued door keys to seniors in 1964, and to juniors and sophomores the following year. "Sign-in" was no longer required, in accordance with university policy. Beta Delta required parental approval for "key privileges," and stiff penalties accompanied the loss or misuse of a house key.
In 1968, after a period of frequent change of house directors, Mrs. Renee Kelley, with her French accent and flair, arrived.
In the period of unrest in the late sixties, the Michigan Daily championed Gay Liberation, Black Action, and sexual freedom while degrading the administration, local merchants, and the Greek system. Sororities were termed shallow, superficial, and strictly social. Panhellenic restructured, unstructured, and again revised rushing procedures to be more appealing and less demanding of the individual, but the number of chapters on campus dropped from 22 to 15.
Kappas everywhere can be proud of Beta Delta. In spite of the general questioning of fraternity worth, the girls have been able to communicate their happy enthusiasm for Kappas, and the feeling that one can join a group without losing individuality. The house has been filled every year with Beta Deltas, not boarders, as has been the case with many other houses on campus.
The full house enable the Beta Delta Association to pay off the $110,000 mortgage in the fall of 1974. During the 15 year term of the mortgage a much larger sum had been spent for taxes, interest, repairs, and improvements to house and furnishings in addition to payments on the principal. Over 70 alumnae gathered with the chapter for a champagne luncheon at 1204 Hill Street for the celebration. The mortgage was burned as Catherine Kelder Walz touched it with a lighted candle set in an owl lantern.
Beta Delta Chapter and its House Board have benefited greatly from the enthusiasm and experience of "Kay" Walz, who served as chairman of the Fraternity Housing Committee for 30 years. The Ann Arbor Alumnae Association has established a loan fund in her name, and in 1965 founded the Catherine Kelder Walz Diamond Key Award in appreciation of her devoted guidance and wise financial management over four decades. She received, not only her fifty-year pin, but a lovely miniature painting of "the house that Kay built" at the time of the mortgage burning.
During the previous calender year, the Beta Delta chapter has excelled in many aspects. Academically, our chapter received an academic excellence award for schools with fifteen or more sorority houses at Convention of 2012. Kappa also had the highest GPA on the University of Michigan campus for this past year with a 3.5 average GPA.
In addition, many sisters of our chapter were recognized for their outstanding work. Hannah Okonow was nominated for the position of Junior of the Year, our chapter's previous president, Megan Miller, was voted President of the Year by the Panhellenic Association, our current president, Emily Long, was voted Junior Panhel Representative of the term, and Emily Goor was voted to be Panhellenic President for 2013 year.
For Michigan's annual Greek Week competition, Kappa placed top three in both Variety and Sing competitions and placed top five over all. Kappa also participated in Relay for Life in 2012 and was one of the top three teams in raising money for the cause.
Kappa was extremely involved in philanthropy this past year. Our chapter's annual "Kappasta" event, a pasta dinner created to raise money for our national philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental, was unbelievably successful. We also partnered with the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity for our Home for the Holidays event, where we buy gifts for children from a less fortunate elementary school in Detroit and invite them to our house to open their gifts and celebrate the holidays with all of us. Our chapter also put on a lemonaide stand in order to raise money to send children from Mott Children's Hospital to summer camp. Lastly, in the fall we had our first ever concert at Kappa given by our own Hannah Gross, where the money we raised for admissions also went towards our philanthropy, Reading Is Fundamental.
During the past year, both the University of Michigan and the Beta Delta chapter have developed major changes and improvements. On a campus-wide scale, Michigan has created large social media connections. By means of various social networks, including websites like Facebook and Twitter, students can connect with one another as well as with Michigan alumni by joining group pages pertaining to anything from campus clubs to general interests. An example of a group formed by the University of Michigan is called "Hail it Forward." This page proactively connects students with Michigan alumni by means of Facebook and Linked-In and provides various career opportunities to students. In addition, Michigan has implemented an ambassador program, where students volunteer as ambassadors to help run and promote safety at campus wide events, including football games. Lastly, the University of Michigan created a campaign known as "Beyond the Diag," which created a group of students who live off campus to support one another and promote safety within the community.
Our chapter is comprised of caring, welcoming, hard-working, and selfless women. As a chapter, every sister is bonded to one another through our diversity, abundant sisterhood and philanthropy events, and our strong connections with Kappa traditions. The most recent addition to our chapter, the 2102 pledge class of 57 girls, brings many unique qualities to our chapter. With recruitment numbers growing every year, our chapter was allowed a bigger intake of new members. Accordingly, our chapter is proud to declare that the 2012 pledge class is larger than ever before, and we hope to continue our growth for years to come.
Last spring we had a very successful Greek Week, our overall Greek Life raised a little more than $13,000 to donate to various charities and foundations. We are proud to say our chapter placed third in the Greek Week Variety show, and we had a great turnout once again for Kappa Kickball. Our former president, Madison Romney, and current president Justine Miller attended the 2014 KKG national convention and received Honorable Mentions. In the fall, Recruitment went very well and we gained 65 new freshmen sisters. We worked with Pi Beta Phi and Alpha Epsilon Phi to practice and support them as well. We also threw a very successful new philanthropy event called Hungry Hungry Kappapillar, in which teams competed in a pie-eating contest and donated children's books for our Reading is Key philanthropy. Our next philanthropy event, Kappasta, went very smoothly and we were pleased with the turnout. This year, we've been getting more involved with the overall Greek community and have attended various other philanthropy events and charities hosted by other houses. Additionally, we held our annual Home for the Holidays event with Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, when we host children from an elementary school in Detroit to open gifts and celebrate the holiday season.
This fall Michigan added a new sorority to campus, Gamma Phi Beta, who is our sister sorority. We're looking forward to getting to know our new Greek Life sisters and hope to organize a joint-council dinner with their council soon within the next week or so. Our chapter has grown more involved in Greek Life and we're very supportive of other philanthropic events thrown by our fellow Greek Life members. As a whole, Michigan's Greek Life is trying to become even more involved in giving back to our community. As a council and a house in general, we're very supportive of each other. Our chapter consists of many hardworking and devoted women. We're strengthened by our diversity and sisterhood, increased by our new fall 2014 pledge class of 65 wonderful young women.
Our chapter holds meetings in our house, usually the dining room for Formal Chapter. Our chapter owns a house on campus. Right now we have about 65 sisters living in it, and the sisters can move in during their sophomore year.
Our chapter has been developing more and more philanthropy events over the course of this past year. We again participated in our campus’ Greek Week, which raises and donates money to various charities and foundations in the Ann Arbor area. This fall, we held our Second Annual Hungry Hungry Kappapillar pie-eating contest including a donation of children’s books, all going to our Reading is Key philanthropy. Kappasta, our charity pasta dinner, again had an amazing turnout and went very smoothly. We recently held our Home for the Holidays event with Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, in which we host children from an elementary school in Detroit to open gifts and celebrate the holiday season. Our former council 2015, and current council 2016, have been working on organizing Girls Academy, an event to be held next Spring in which leaders from our chapter host team/character building events at a chosen middle school for young teenage girls. We’re very excited for this event, as this will be the first time we’re hosting it and we can’t wait to see what the next year will bring.
President Schlissel has been working with the head of the Interfraternity Council and the head of the Panhellenic Council in order to promote an overall more positive view of Greek Life. Our chapter tries to contribute to this goal by supporting our fellow Greek Life members in attending other houses’ philanthropy events and working with each other during Recruitment to improve the overall Recruitment process. As a chapter, we work together to have council meetings and house events run as smoothly as possible. This fall, we’ve gained 56 new incredible young women already they’ve brought many strengths and diversity to our chapter.
What organization(s) has your chapter historically/traditionally raised money for, or donated hours to, in your community?
Our chapter traditionally raises money for Reading is Key, yet we support a large variety of causes on campus, such as American Cancer Society with Relay for Life, and groups that support mental health and awareness.
Why did your chapter choose this organization(s) to support?
We support groups whose issues touch the lives of many of our members. These issues are important to us and we give them our full support.