Iota Chapter was founded at Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University) in Greencastle, Indiana on March 13, 1875.
3,126 initiates (as of June 2018)
Soon after the Civil War, the movement for higher education of women began. Depauw was one of the first colleges in the United States to heed this demand. In the fall of 1867, the first women entered the freshman class. Fraternities came into DePauw early in its history. A year or two after women were admitted to all educational privileges of the college, they began to notice the great pleasure in which their brothers derived from their fraternities.
Eager to experience the joys of such an organization, they put in some months of hard work and as a result, Kappa Alpha Theta became the first Greek letter fraternity for women on the campus on January 27, 1870. For five years, Theta flourished on campus. Kappa Alpha Theta became the pride of both the city and the college. Theta had, of course, heard that over in Monmouth, Illinois, another fraternity for women had appeared, but it was scarcely probable that any group would have the courage to come into Theta’s own territory.
Then came the spring of 1875. The date of the “Sophomore Performance” was March 25, which was an annual event where each member of the class was required to give an original oration. The entire college and town attended these exercises. Such was the occasion chose by Ida Anderson, Ada Oliver, Amy Puett, Finetta Wiggs, Lillian Wiggs, and Margaret Purviance for their first appearance wearing little golden keys. Not a hint of the new chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma had reached the college world until that evening. It is recorded that the sensation created by their badges was in every way as great as they had anticipated.
Investigation revealed that on March 13th, these women had slipped away to Bloomington, Indiana, and had been initiated in the home of Anna Buskirk as charter members of Iota Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Kappa Kappa Gamma was a very secret organization during the first few years. Even the place of meeting was kept a profound secret from all but the members. The college year was divided into three terms, and officers were elected at the end of each term. New members were initiated just as soon after pledging as it was possible to arrange for it; therefore, time was required at practically every meeting for either initiation or installation or both.
When the Chapter was organized, the girls lived at home or boarded and roomed in the homes of the town. The meetings were held at the homes of the members. Refreshments were served, games played, confidences and gossip exchanged, and the girls grew to know each other as only comrades can. The men’s fraternities had halls in the second and third floors of business blocks. The Kappas were progressive when they decided that there was no reason why the girls, too, should not have halls. After much discussion and argument, they hired one which was dedicated formally on February 14, 1885. The Kappa mothers looked on the plan with disapproval, and after a term, the girls themselves realized that it was an impractical undertaking for women. They went back to the old custom of meeting in the homes, but the desire for a chapter house grew. It was not until the second term of 1894 that the first Chapter house was rented. The first meeting was held there on February 11, 1894. Thus began thirty years of wandering about from one house to another. In those thirty years, Iota moved twelve times. The houses, having always been built for family use, were always over-crowded and inadequate for Fraternity requirements.
In the early days, there were taffy-pullings, picnics, and Valentine frolics. Iota never failed to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of Kappa. The picnics sometimes lasted from dawn until almost dawn. These picnic parties always traveled in carriages. Sunday afternoon calling was a favorite social function. The girls gathered in groups of three or more at some home. Then the fraternity men, in groups, made the rounds of the various homes.
Iota Chapter always had musicians, and the singing of Kappa songs was one of the features of any Iota crowd. For more than twenty years, the entertainment for the annual formal party was a minstrel. An invitation to the Kappa minstrel was a much coveted bit of cardboard. During WWI, the Kappas were allowed to use Meharry Hall and gave their minstrel performance for the entire S.A.T.C. For several years, the women repeated their program for the benefit of a needy church of other organizations.
Iota has had her great days and her outstanding achievements to which she “points with pride.” Iota entertained the first Convention in 1876. Iota is also proud of the fact that one of her members, Minnetta Taylor, was the first editor of The Golden Key.
It was believed that the high cost of after-the-war building would make a new house for Iota Chapter impossible. But after looking the ground over, it was decided it would be poor economy to remodel and that they must build. As soon as possible, a lot was secured on campus. An architect was employed and a plan was selected during the summer of 1921. Affairs progressed so successfully that in the spring of 1923, the cornerstone of the Kappa house was laid. The cornerstone laying was an inspiring service. A large crowd of alumnae and friends was present, in addition to the entire active Chapter. The girls sang Kappa songs as the crowd gathered. The house was finished in the spring of 1924 and the Chapter moved in in April. It was dedicated on the afternoon of Monday, June 2, 1924. There were over two hundred people present. Iota was the first of the sororities on campus to build. The ritual for the house dedication was written by Sidelia Starr Donner. It was soon adopted for national use.
Over the years, many traditions have come and gone as interests changed: the skit given before Christmas by new members; the Dad’s Day football game with Delta Gammas, played during the 1940s and 1950s; publication of the Keyhole; and the Kappa Pickers.
Several outstanding women helped to mold the maturing chapter. Sidelia Starr (Donner) graduate from DePauw in 1891 and was instructor at the academy and Depauw University before her 1897 marriage. Financially organized by her husband and aided by loyal alumnae, she organized the Iota Chapter House Board, found a location, and secured funds for building a permanent Chapter House. She became the mentor and guardian angel of the Chapter. In 1941, she retired as House Board president against unanimous protest. After her death in 1950, it was written in the Keyhole, “To every freshman, she was the prototype of the ideal Kappa. To the senior, the goal to be emulated. To the alumnae, the unchanging heart of KKG.”
Most of the previous information was excerpted from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1930 and 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.
The 90s were a period of hard work and commitment to developing a strong chapter and building chapter unity for the Iota members. To promote chapter unity the Standards Committee planned weekly themed diners, roommate appreciation days and those who participated were awarded with candy and other small treats. While measuring chapter unity is a difficult task the different chapter councils of the 1990s put in a tremendous effort to bring their sisters closer together and to recruit new sisters as well. This hard work paid off twice during the decade. The first in 1997 when the sisters of Iota were awarded the “Outstanding Achievement in Membership” at the 34th annual Province Meeting. The second ended the 90s on a high note when in 1999 the chapter won the “Outstanding Membership” at the 36th annual Province Meeting.
The Iota chapter continued to shine in the area of academics by increasing their over all GPA year after year. Over the decade the chapter jumped from 8th in grades to 3rd out of all 11 sororities at DePauw. The Greek community at DePauw recognized the sister’s hard work at the yearly spring Greek Awards with not one but two awards, the “Presidential Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship – Most Improved GPA” and the “Presidential Award for Outstanding Achievement in Educational Programming”.
Chapter and campus involvement was at a peak for the chapter over the 90s. With sisters involved across campus in organizations such as Union Board, Mortar Board, PanHellenic executive council, Order of Omega and DePauw Community Service, they were very prominent in their respective areas. In 1999, the Iota chapter was once again recognized for their dedication to involvement and won “Most Involved” at the annual Greek Awards.
To continue the work for the 90s the chapter councils of the 00s decided to focus on senior involvement and chapter bonding as their main goals. Senior members in a chapter are the ones who show the younger pledges what being in a sorority is actually like. They are the elders that are looked up by those who are just entering. The Beta Delta chapter realized that if seniors are not involved then a domino effect of younger members wanting to not be involved will follow. To counter attack this effect senior appreciation dinners were held through the years as well as various retreats for the whole chapter. These small changes helped boost morale and spirit for the seniors whom in return helped boost the spirits of the younger classes.
All around campus involvement was still on a high coming into the new decade. With growing pledge classes year after year Kappa continued to be a strong force on the University of Michigan campus. Recruitment continued to help establish strong bonds between actives and drew in many girls wanting to discover what it meant to be a Kappa. With the tragedy of September 11th all of Panhellenic at UofM postponed recruitment that year to allow time for grieving. Beta Delta participated in a campus wide candle vigil before continuing with the recruitment process.
Helping those in need was still in the forefront of the minds of the chapter for the decade. Beta Delta annual partnered up with Phi Kappa Psi to donate toys to underprivileged children during the Christmas holidays. Every year the two chapters would pick a child to buy presents for and, would then invite the child over to the Kappa house for a Christmas party of opening presents. The chapter would also participate in Relay for Life over the years.
The Beta Delta chapter over the ‘00s found the perfect balance of respecting the history and traditions of Kappa Kappa Gamma with the drive and dedication of building a bright future.
The Iota chapter focused on philanthropy work during the 00s. They held one event during each semester to benefit Reading Is Fundamental and local food pantries. In the fall semesters the members put on the Kappa Fashion show, in the later years would be partnered with Rent the Runway to raise money. During the spring semesters a poetry slam was held and hosted by the sisters.
Kappa members not held philanthropy events but made a tremendous effort to participate in other Greek life philanthropies besides their own. Over the decade the Iota chapter participated in Sigma Chi Derby Day’s, Delta Gamma’s Anchor Splash, Sigma Nu’s Taste of Depauw and Alpha Chi Omega’s Ring Sing. Outside of the Greek community the chapter participated in the yearly Dance Marathon and Relay for Life.
Staying involved on campus was a strong ideal that the Iota chapter held over the years. The chapter had members represent Kappa in other organizations on campus such as National Society of Honor Scholars, Women of Science, Union Board and Mortor Board. Throughout the years they were represented in the Panhellenic community by having sisters serve as Rho Gamma’s and sisters on the Panhellenic Exec Board.
The Iota chapter held themselves to the Kappa standard and work extremely hard to stay a power organization on campus. This hard work did seem to pay off during the 00s as they had more girls become involved and stay involved.
This past spring, Iota held a philanthropy for Reading is Fundamental. We hosted a tea party and invited some younger grade school students to join us for a day of crafts, food and of course reading. We started the fall semester with a bang by getting the chapter involved in Greek Week events (trivia, a greek god and goddess dance and more) Alpha Chi Omega's Ring Sing fundraiser events (such as their monon bell dance).
Throughout the course of the year, Iota has improved getting involved with events held by other chapters on campus as well as campus wide events. In December, KKG won the Taste of Depauw competition with a delicious Oreo ball dessert, beating out other houses on campus. Our annual Kappa Fashion show for Dress for Success was extremely successful this year--having paired with Rent the Runway and filling every single seat. In the fall, our Vice President of Academic threw a scholarship dinner that gave our professors as well as hardworking Kappas the chance to acknowledge their accomplishment.
Iota also welcomed a brand new chapter council and held a chapter council retreat so the officers could get to know each other better as well as discuss ways we can improve the chapter. KKG Iota went pumpkin picking for our informal in October and went to the Sapphire Ball that the event chair organized and planned for the members.
Campus: Some recent changes on campus this year occurred when there weere issues of bullying, hazing and homophobic remarks. While this created a stir around campus, the women of Iota's chapter used these incidents as an opportunity to get more involved on campus and support the LGBT community on campus by attending rallies, a debate with our college president, Brian Casey, and students on campus and participate in discussions that brought awareness to the issue. Not only did our chapter came together during these events but we also supported other organizations as well, proving that we are leaders in the Greek community.
Some of our chapter's challenges included adjusting to our new house director and readjusting to living in the house and the responsibilities that follow (keeping the rooms clean, keeping noise levels down during study hours and times when girls were sleeping. Our house manager and president worked closely together to accommodate the changes that came with the new house director gracefully.While there were some major conflicting opinions-- the members of chapter council tried as best they could to keep the lines of communication open with the new house director and worked extremely hard to meet her halfway to attain a smoother transition.
The 2012 spring and fall semesters provided challenges to overcome as Iota chapter. During the spring semester, Iota chapter was put on a refocus letter that made us take a deeper look upon ourselves. As a chapter we had lost track and began to experience many respect issues within and to the house, and because of this, changes needed to be made. To confine to our new expectations, as a chapter, we were no longer allowed to participate in 'flower ins'--a serenading tradition between DePauw fraternity and soroity new member classes. Through this challenge though, we collectively came up with a new plan of action and created a new tradition called "serenades" that emulates the original purpose of the tradition. The University was pleased with our new outlook and the GLC even funded money to Iota chapter to make the upcoming events a success--and if all goes well, the univeristy is planning on implementing these new events for the new member classes at DePauw in the near future.
In Spring of 2013, Iota also held a Social Media Policy discussion, and planned a section of our by-laws regarding online social media expectations for the chapter. These bylaws are likely to be modeled by other Kappa Kappa Gamma chapters. Iota chapter has also become very involed in sustainability and is becoming a model for other greek houses on campus. Along with this, Iota chapter has had a successful year of philanthropy, once again putting on the Kappa Fashion show for Dress for Success, supporting Kappa's national philanthropy Reading is Fundamental, participating in Arts Fest for local children of Greencastle, as well as supporting other philanthropies across campus. Our new chapter coucil, elected in the fall, is dedicated to working through our refocus letter and we will be a stronger chapter because of it.
Fall 2012 brought exciting changes to DePauw's campus. The location change of our school bookstore, which moved from the Union Building on campus to downtown Greencastle, was a novel change for the campus. In addition to the amazing new bookstore, now named Eli's Books, a Starbucks was also established and connects to the bookstore. By providing a great coffee shop and bookstore downtown, it has encouraged students to visit the community of Greencastle more frequently. Along with this, the Anderson Street Project construction was completed, providing a striking new gated entrance to DePauw's campus.
The university has also adopted a new tiger logo. During the fall semester, which was also a celebration of DePauw's 175th anniversary, DePauw President Brian Casey announced many incredible future renovations to the campus, including the Lilly Fitness center, Roy O. West Library, Olin Biological Sciences building and the construction of a new dining hall. In terms of our chapter, the challenges brought upon us have seemed to bring us closer together. We are a chapter filled with incredible, involved, and inspiring women, and together we have been working through hurdles together.
This year we hosted the Provence Meeting, which was held at the Butler Mu chapter. We got to showcase Iota history as well as historical pictures. We were awarded the Most Improved chapter overall. The event went very well and visiting the Butler Chapter was fun as we got to meet new sisters from all over the Midwest.
This year during recruitment, we got 37 news members! This was a bigger pledge class than the previous year, which we were very happy about. It has been very fun getting to know all our wonderful new members. Every year we participate in Derby Days, which is Sigma Chi’s philanthropy. Our new members competed in the dance competition and we took first place for the second year in a row.
We also made changes to some very old traditions. Instead of having Flower-ins, we know how mixers. We are working with the university to formulate the process and we have been successful thus far. We meet with each fraternity and participate in an activity such as cookie decorating or swing dancing. It has been a different but wonderful experience!
We also had a very fun formal. We went to the Indianapolis Dolphin Dome! It was a wonderful event! In chapter council, we changed a few of our bylaws regarding attendance to insure members of chapter council and all members were held accountable for coming to meetings and chapter events. So far, these laws have been very successful.
Our campus received a $20 million grant from the state of Indiana to revamp and renew the campus. They have started more construction this year on various buildings and landmarks on campus. Specifically, all sport fields and stadium and the campus gym (Lilly Center) are being renovated. Rector Village as well as the Senior sidewalk also had construction. The administration has added signs to the campus to give it more of a campus-feel. Our school is really looking great and we are very excited to see what else they will be doing!
Our Chapter Council is doing a lot to remove us from the focus letter. The overall atmosphere of our house has changed as we are all focusing on sisterhood and the pursuit of what is womanly and true. We have taken great strides to improve our chapter as well as our image. We have definitely taken strides in the right direction and will be continuing to do so in this upcoming year.
This past year began very strongly! We were above the All Sorority GPA and had a fantastic recruitment. We received 36 New Members and got 4 Open Bids. Our Formal Pledging took place on February 3rd, and it was a great experience for everyone involved. We continued our new tradition of Mixers instead of Flower-Ins, which all went very well. It actually went over so well that the rest of our campus is mandating that each house do something like our mixers in place of their former Flower-Ins. Our Leadership Consultant came to stay for about five days in early March, and shortly after that we had I-Week as well as composite pictures taken. All of the New Members enjoyed the I-Week festivities; it was a fantastic week for the whole chapter! We had Initiation on March 15 that went swimmingly.
Just like last year, Sigma Chi Fraternity put on their main philanthropy event called Derby Days in April, and just like the past few years, we won the dance competition! The New Members worked very hard and put on a phenomenal dance performance. We also had a super fun formal this year! It was themed the Sapphire Ball and took place in the Skyline Club in Indianapolis. Everyone wore a blue dress and danced the night away! That same weekend we had our Mom’s Weekend events! So many mothers came, and we enjoyed the brunch and Relay-for-Life activities that were planned for us.
In June of 2014, Convention was held in Houston. Three of our members went, including our president! They had a very rewarding experience and came back with a lot of fantastic ideas for our chapter, as well as some great photos!
A new tradition was started in the fall this year for our Iota Chapter—Kappa Karnival! Our wonderful Philanthropy Chairman, Kristen Dickman, organized the Karnival this year, and many of our other DePauw fraternities and sororities set up carnival booths to host a game or to sell a snack. We had a great turn out, especially for a first year event, and the DePauw Community had a great time! It was really fun for us all to be put in charge of a booth, table, or game for the event in order to raise money for the Kappa Foundation.
Our Founder’s Day Ceremony was lovely, and many alumnus came back to visit for the occasion. Also in October, DePauw has Greek God and Goddess! Greek Week is a week full of fun Greek Unity events, concluding with a dance performance by each Greek house! Just like Derby Days, Kappa won!!! We must have some phenomenal dancers and choreographers in our house!
November began with a Kappa Trainer visit. A week later we had our Fall Formal at The Barn at Kennedy Farms in Linden, Indiana! The venue was gorgeous, and everyone in attendance had a very nice time. We hope to make The Barn an annual event!
Later in November, we had another Initiation for one of our members that had a conflict with her pledge class’ Initiation Ceremony. It was great that we could make it just as special for her as it was for the rest of the pledge class! Also in November, Panhellenic Council awarded us the superlative of Most Improved Chapter.
December came and went so fast! Just a few weeks after Thanksgiving, we had finals week and then Winter Break! 2014 was a great year for Iota, and we know that 2015 is going to be just as fantastic!
DePauw University is undergoing some major structural changes. The 20 million dollar grant that our campus received is being put to great use! This year we opened a new addition to our Lilly Fitness Center called the Welch Center. This is an incredible addition to our campus that everyone enjoys using. Our campus is also currently constructing a new dining hall next to our current one. It will hold many more students and be a better use of space. DePauw looks so great and is only getting better. DePauw is developing a new focus on creating a climate of inclusion. A movement that strides to make students of different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds feel more welcome on our campus.
Our Chapter Council has made a few changes to Iota bylaws. We made our attendance policy clearer, which is probably the most recognized change. Overall, 2014 was a outstanding year in Greencastle, Indiana!
We hold chapter meetings in our chapter room in our house. Our house was built in 1924 and is the oldest Greek house on our campus. Most members get to live in all three years if they choose to. We rent our house from our House Board. Approximately 66 women can live in our house at a time. Before this house was built, our Iota founders hosted secret meetings in 12 different locations around campus.
On the back of one of the badges it is inscribed "Mary Ann Elliott 3/22/47"
This past year began very strongly! We were above the All Sorority GPA and had a fantastic recruitment. We received 34 New Members. Our Formal Pledging took place on February 1st, and it was a great experience for everyone involved. We continued our new tradition of Serenades instead of Mixers, which all went very well. Our Leadership Consultant came to stay for about five days in early March, and shortly after that we had I-Week as well as composite pictures taken. All of the New Members enjoyed the I-Week festivities; it was a fantastic week for the whole chapter! We had Initiation on March 12th that went swimmingly. Just like last year, Sigma Chi Fraternity put on their main philanthropy event called Derby Days in April, and our new members proudly pressented their dance! The New Members worked very hard and put on a phenomenal dance performance. We also had a super fun formal this year! It took place at Phi Kappa Psi headquarters and it was a beautiful venue.
Then, the weekend of April 10-11th we had our Mom’s Weekend events! So many mothers came, and we enjoyed the brunch and Relay-for-Life activities that were planned for us. On May 22nd we said goodbye to our seniors as they graduated.
In June of 2016, Convention was held in San Diego. Three of our members went, including our president! They had a very rewarding experience and came back with a lot of fantastic ideas for our chapter, as well as some great photos!
As the school year started our philanthropy chair organized the Kappa Karnival this year, and many of our other DePauw fraternities and sororities set up carnival booths to host a game or to sell a snack. We had a great turn out, especially for a first year event, and the DePauw Community had a great time! It was really fun for us all to be put in charge of a booth, table, or game for the event in order to raise money for the Kappa Foundation.
On September 30th , we initiated out last four new members who could not attend initiation with the rest of their pledge class in the spring. We also had a wonderful Leadership Consultant, Kristina, help us with initiation , and it went smoothly.
Our Founder’s Day Ceremony was lovely, and many alumnus came back to visit for the occasion. Also in October, DePauw has Greek God and Goddess dance competition. Greek Week is a week full of fun Greek Unity events, concluding with a dance performance by each Greek house! Just like Derby Days, Kappa won! We must have some phenomenal dancers and choreographers in our house!
In November, we elected our Nomination Committee and slated new Chapter Council members. We also had a training day put on by out VPO, it went very well and we leaned how to communicate better with each other.
Later in November, we had our informal at Dave and Busters and it was pajama themed. It went well and everybody had a good time wining tickets and prizes. December came and went so fast! Just a few weeks after Thanksgiving, we had finals week and then Winter Break! 2016 was a great year for Iota, and we know that 2017 is going to be just as fantastic!
DePauw University is undergoing some major structural changes. The 20 million dollar grant that our campus received is being put to great use! This year we opened a new dining hall and it is gorgeous. This is an incredible addition to our campus that everyone enjoys using. DePauw looks so great and is only getting better. DePauw is developing a new focus on creating a climate of inclusion. Throughout this rough election season, many actions are being taken to be inclusive and understanding of others. Our Chapter Council has made a few changes to Iota bylaws. We also got off of our focus letter which was long overdue. Overall, 2016 was a outstanding year in Greencastle, Indiana!
We raise money for the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, RIF, and Reading is Key, to help local school children learn to read and support this process by giving books and having pen pals.