Gamma Mu Chapter was founded at Oregon State University (formerly Oregon State Agricultural College) in Corvallis, Oregon on June 7, 1924.
2,479 initiates (as of June 2018)
At the end of World War I when servicemen returned to Oregon State University, Corvallis, in the heart of Willamette Valley, there was a major housing problem.
Small groups of men and women were encouraged to organize. One such group of coeds, living in Waldo Hall, carefully studied Baird’s Manual and Banta’s Greek Exchange. They decided to work toward the goal of becoming a Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter, regardless of the time and effort required. They pledged themselves to accept no other affiliation if Kappa did not accept them. It was in 1917 that this group took the name Gamma Iota. Gamma for the Gamma of the Fraternity and Iota for Iota Province, the province in which Oregon State was located.
Lorna Collamore Jessup, who gave the fledgling group her wisdom, enthusiasm, and help, found a house for them to rent at 530 NW 11th Street. They floored the attic, which was then filled with two rows of cots to be a dormitory for 20 girls.
Gamma Iota members were especially active in debate, music, and dancing. From the beginning, emphasis was on scholarship and character. On Homecoming Weekend in 1921, when the big football game between Oregon Agricultural College and the University of Washington was played, the group hosted visiting Kappas and alumnae. The house was in perfect order, the girls gracious and poised, and the guests impressed. They wondered how this small group in a modest house could carry out an extensive program of after-game courtesies, dinner, overnight guests and breakfast without flurry or confusion. The answer was that the members of Gamma Iota were making every effort to show the visitors how hard they were working toward their goal of receiving a Kappa charter.
The petition was presented to the Fraternity in March of 1924 and, in June of that same year, word came that Gamma Iota would become Gamma Mu Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma! F. Marie Leghorn, Washington, was the installing officer and Oregon, the installing chapter. Twenty-seven charter members were initiated.
In 1922, the College Committee on Student Housing approved plans for Gamma Iota to purchase a $24,459 house, using $1,000 the girls saved as a down payment. It took courage to sign on the dotted line. The group moved from the 11th Street house in 1923 to 242 NW 10th Street. This house was in use at the time the charter was acquired and remained the Kappa house until 1935 when the “Castle” was purchased. Often renovated, it is still the house today.
This particular house was financed entirely by the fraternity of Tau Delta and was ready for occupancy by fall term of 1928. The house was truly a castle to the men, and virtue they emphasized in their petition to the national fraternity Chi Phi in 1929. Designed by the Portland architectural firm of Thomas and Mercer, and constructed by Portland contractors Hanson and Hammond, it is one of the largest and most impressive Greek living group houses in the college neighborhood. It was constructed at a cost of $45,000 and accommodated 40 men.
In March of 1931, Tau Delta became the Epsilon Delta Chapter of Chi Phi fraternity, but the group only lived in this house through the 1934–35 school year. The following year, the house was turned over to Kappa Kappa Gamma.
The Kappa Kastle is one of the finest examples of the Tudor style for fraternity houses in Corvallis. It has changed very little since it was first built; the most noticeable changes are in the mature landscape that surrounds the house. The house maintains very high integrity and is a prominent landmark in architecture in the immediate neighborhood. Its association with the prominent architectural firm and Thomas and Mercer adds to its significance.
In the chapter’s selection of Mrs. George Leekley as House Director in the fall of 1938, the House Board demonstrated remarkable insight for she stayed for 14 rewarding years. Her name became synonymous with good taste and graciousness. Her warmth and competence seemed to personify Kappa ideals to everyone who entered the Kappa Castle. Her hallmark of perfection showed in the lovely teas and the “touch-of-home trimmings” for holiday dinners. She was always compassionate and knew the perfect time for a treat of hot cocoa,. With the help of finance advisers Fern McCroskey Price, Peggy Mulligan Blackledge and Mrs. Leekley’s wise management, the mortgage was ceremoniously burned on March 23, 1944.
War risk insurance was discussed during the early months of World War II, and desserts replaced dinners during Membership Recruitment. Elaine Kollins Sewell (Jones) and a Gamma Phi Beta friend co-edited a newsletter for all Oregon State servicemen.
The Kappas won second place in the 1947 homecoming contest with the theme “Reunion After Tokyo,” which treated all the years to follow as post-war years.
The Kappas were the first chapter at Oregon State to install a dishwasher when the outdated kitchen was remodeled in 1950. The dining room’s capacity was increased to 90, and Mrs. Leekley’s suite was improved.
A “appreciation” reception was given for Mrs. Leekley in 1953. A check was presented to her, and a fund for small emergency loans to individuals was set aside and named for her.
The years 1940–1958 have been called Gamma Mu’s Golden Age. During those years, the chapter scholastically ranked first, seven times; second, five times; and third, four times. High grades were emphasized at banquets each term with presentation of awards and a cup honoring Blanche Hinman Smith, Syracuse, longtime Scholarship Adviser.
Carrie Case (Dully), Zelma Reed (Long) and Nancy Austin (McCoy) were scholastically the top three women in the 1965 graduating class. All three were Mortar Board; Zelma was chapter President; Nancy was president of AWS; and Carrie was the only coed ever to win both the coveted Chi Omega and Drusilla Shepard awards. To recognize this trio, the alumnae tapped them for “Hoo’s Hoo” and presented them with scrolls, sterling silver owl charms, and owl glasses. These members sound exceptional, yet the whole chapter was of similar caliber, sharing honors such as Mortar Board, Girls of Achievement, student leaders, scholars, fraternity sweethearts and Homecoming attendants.
Busy Kappas always find time for fun … whether at a Friday afternoon exchange or a solemn initiation ceremony. Black paint, applied to the big engine at Avery Park, good food, and helping hands turned a service project into a date dinner. The chapter maintained a “Rush Closet” … a small room where members could leave outdated clothes. Before a house dance with a “Fifties” theme, eager girls rummaged through it, asking with a laugh, “Did they really wear these?”
One time a love letter was found from one of the long-gone Kappas to her swain. The contents of the closet were a longtime source of delight and were used to dress up for a rushing skit, a scholarship dinner, or even a special date.
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.
The chapter celebrated its golden anniversary on October 5, 1974, with a luncheon and program. Nine of the original 27 members appeared for a picture, and two others arrived too late. More than 900 Gamma Mus of the 1,100 initiated members were still living then. Mary Lou McKay Green was chairman and Heloise Lee Stewart was toastmistress. Charter members sat at the head table. Gladys Miller spoke of Gamma Iota’s origin and presented the original petition to the chapter for its archives. Jessie McDonald Acklen, first chapter President, read from the Gamma Mu history, revealing the emotion of the day Gamma Mu was chartered. Fashions from 1924 to 1974 were modeled with Eleanor Francis Fouch as commentator. Special honor awards were presented to Peggy Mulligan Blackledge, Fern McCroskey Price, Mary Kollins Reed, and Irene Hazlett Saling for their long service to the chapter.
Gamma Mu was very involved on campus and in the Greek system, holding many offices and winning many awards.
A new tradition was started in the late 1980s of developing a chapter goal and motto for each year. Gamma Mu also changed their initiation G.P.A. requirement from a 2.0 to a 2.25 to strengthen their emphasis on scholarship. The chapter also worked to achieve more unity within the house, to be more active on campus, and to improve their relationships within the Greek system. In the fall of 1988, Gamma Mu organized an alcohol awareness workshop for the Greek system. One member won the Miss OSU pageant, and another won Greek Woman of the Year.
Several members of the chapter enjoyed attending the 1987 Pi Province Meeting hosted by Pi chapter at the University of California – Berkeley. A highlight was a ritual workshop presented by Fraternity Ritualist Jean Hess Wells, Georgia, and the Candlelight Banquet. Gamma Mu received the Outstanding Chapter Program award for the second consecutive time. At the 1989 Pi Province Meeting, Gamma Mu received an Award of Merit for Outstanding Achievement in Communications.
An unusual program for the Greek system in 1988 was the “Swap-a-Sis” where girls from each sorority would go live in a different house for a week. The chapter also saved one weekend each term for a house retreat to focus on being good sisters and improving unity.
In 1983, the chapter welcomed a new House Director. Gamma Mu was busy fundraising to pay for a new roof that was put on the “Kappa Kastle” chapter house in 1987. Rooms were repainted and the TV room furniture was repaired and recovered. The House Board successfully encouraged contributions to the chapter by holding a drawing for gifts in three categories. Alumnae were able to use the chapter house for class reunions during the summers.
Gamma Mu hosted a Balloon Derby as a fundraising event for the Oregon Lung Association. They also competed in the Sigma Chi Derby Days, and earned money for the United Way. Another project was to carve Halloween pumpkins for a local retirement center. Money was raised for the Y-Round Table children and Christmas gifts were given to them. Following the earthquake in San Francisco, the chapter sent money to Kappas in that area that needed help. In the spring of 1989, Gamma Mu participated in a community-wide service project of building a children’s park by providing meals for workers during their breaks.
Gamma Mu chapter continued to be active in campus and community activities and events during this period. They had members in honoraries Panhellenic executive council, ASOSU student government, MUPC student event planning council, Rush Counselors, and volunteer work for local schools and children’s organizations. They also improved the chapter’s GPA, and worked to meet the requirements for the Challenge to Excellence.
At the 1991 Pi Province Meeting held in Eugene, Gamma Mu received the Outstanding Chapter Award. The chapter continued to participate in the Greek system’s Swap-a-Sis program where sororities exchange several members for a week. The chapter members were very involved in campus activities ranging from student government to sports. Other traditional chapter events were the Dad’s Weekend during winter term, and Mom’s Weekend in the spring that included a fashion show.
Scholarship became a focus to increase the chapter’s G.P.A. The chapter received the Greek system’s Sorority of the Year award in both 1996 and 1999. Gamma Mu hosted the Pi Province Meeting in 1999.
The Gamma Mu chapter room was redecorated with new carpeting, wallpaper, paint, tables and lamps, and new upholstery. The second floor study rooms were also repainted, and a second sleeping porch was added. Alumnae class reunions held in the Kappa Kastle continued to be popular.
A Balloon Derby philanthropy continued in this decade as a means to raise money. The annual Kappa Kristmas party continued to benefit a local children’s organization. In 1999, the chapter held a Kappa Klassic golf tournament as a fundraiser. The tradition of Halloween pumpkin carving with the Boy’s and Girl’s Club continued. For another philanthropy project, the chapter invited three local retirement centers to the chapter house to share Thanksgiving dinner. Convention Awards:
(Information 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.:)
Chapter Convention Awards:
2002 – Recruitment Honorable Mention Philanthropy Honorable Mention Greatest Scholarship Improvement Honorable Mention 2004 – Chapter/Advisory Board Relations Award 2006 – Standards Honorable Mention Panhellenic Honorable Mention Greatest Improvement Honorable Mention 2008 – Sally Moore Nitschke Lifelong Education Honorable Mention Recruitment Award
The past year for the Gamma Mu chapter of Kappa Gamma has been a busy one as usual. It is nice that a majority of our girls are involved in Kappas but also in a lot of other organizations in the community. It helps bring a lot of diversity and knowledge into the house.In winter 2012, we welcomed a new chapter council and that had a lot of goals. Hilary Drake and Maddie Kaufman made up or President and vice president of standards. Some of the goals that our chapter excelled in was incorporating carpooling to chapter meetings for the new members, enforcing our 5 hour per term community service requirement and changing our communication throughout the house to a blackboard page.
One thing Gamma Mu continues to work on is achieving first in grades. While our overall GPA is higher than the all greek average, we are striving to achieve an overall GPA of 3.02. We are determined to make it happen and all the girls are motivated. Our VPAE has done a great job of creating study tables at the library for an allotted amount of time so girls in our chapter can get studying done in a productive environment. This past year we participated in a numerous philanthropies. Our chapters favorite philanthropy, Kappa Delta’s Mock rock, which occurred in March. While we did not place first in the competition, our house raised the most money for CARDV which is also the local organization we support as well. One fun sisterhood event we did on April 21st was an MS walk that our house participated in. It was meaningful for everyone because a girl in our chapter is dealing with that particular condition and I know it meant a lot to her to have us all support and walk for her. We also did a community service project last spring with Sigma Pi in which we did a park clean at Avery Park in corvallis. There were people who painted park benches, picked up trash and got rid of weeds on the walking path.We had philanthropies in spring and fall 2012.
Our spring term philanthropy, Kick it with Kappa, was brand new to our sorority. Even though it was our first year of the philanthropy it went very well. It consisted of a soccer tournament between sororities and fraternities on campus on Saturday as well as a 5K run on Sunday. We raised quite a bit of money for Center against rape and domestic violence (CARDV). In the fall, we held our Reading is Fundamental philanthropy and that was a success as well. We had a book drive as well as read children in our community. We rewarded the highest placing fraternities with an ice cream social, thanksgiving dinner, or christmas themed meal. This past fall term we also paired up with the corvallis Phi Gamma Delta chapter and helped walk dogs at the local humane society on Sundays. Every year Gamma Mu participates in the all-university sing competition between fraternities and sororities on campus which happens during Mom’s Weekend. We were paired with Theta Chi and received the theme of Beauty and the Beast. Each house worked extensively for months long working on their performances and working through the audition process. Although there were some bumps in the road, our chapter ended up coming in first place! Our house always takes participation in sing very seriously. The last time we had won first place was in spring 2010, in 2011 we got second and in 2012 received first again. A lot of the girls were happy to have the trophy back in its rightful home! During fall term we voted for our 2013 partners and we voted to do it with Phi Kappa Psi who are our neighbors which will be very convenient.
Recruitment this year was also a success for Gamma Mu. For formal recruitment in the fall a lot of changes were made as far as the process of recruitment. They included a philanthropy day which is something that I know a lot of the girls enjoyed very much. Our PDC Amanda Ruffo also was with our chapter for the recruitment process and the girls in the house got to form a close relationship with her. Overall, we received 46 new members and initiated 44 of them! We were so excited to welcome a group of women who embraced Kappa and everything it stood for as well as a group determined to help our grow and thrive.
Our chapter is still located at 14th and Van Buren making it very close to campus which is convenient for a lot of the girls in our house! The overall nature of our chapter is positive motivated. A lot of the girls in our chapter are working hard to not only make Kappas better but also the community that we live in better. Having a lot of motivated girls in the house also pushes other girls to get involved which is never a bad thing! One of the major things that happened on our campus in 2012 was that Oregon State University became a smoke free campus on September 1st.
Another big thing that happened in September was that a new University student success center opened on campus which serves OSU students with study rooms, tutoring as well as many other academic advantages. Oregon State also passed a bill in March of 2012 that is going to allow them to build a new residence hall that will open as early as 2014.
The past year was a very exciting one for the Gamma Mu chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. We have been expanding, growing, and becoming more involved with the community. Last Fall of 2012, one of our members became the Judicial chair for Panhellenic council. This was a huge success and really set off a great year for our chapter. In Winter 2013, we welcomed Kamelyn Bovinette and Alyssa Rollins as our President and Vice President of Standards. With the start of our new chapter council, we came up with a very effective list of goals to help bring our chapter together and work better as a whole. We want to increase our member involvement, encourage each other, and become more academically driven. For the past few terms our chapter has been below the all sorority average. Gamma Mu wants to raise our overall GPA from a 2.93 to a 3.1. With the help of our VPAE, we have set up quiet hours for studying in the house and have reserved rooms in the library for midterms and finals. As a chapter we are determined to raise our GPA and all the girls are motivated.
Over this past year we participated in many philanthropies as well as community service projects. Kappa Delta’s Mock Rock was once again our chapters’ favorite, and this past year we won third place! Since their philanthropy supports CARDV, which is the local organization we raise money for as well, all the girls love to get very involved. Last winter and spring term, we teamed up with another fraternity, FIJI, and walked dogs at the local humane society. This was a great community service project because it benefited the animals and the girls! Along with the dog walking, we volunteered with Habitat for Humanity several times. The girls got to paint a few houses and help build the front patio. We also got to support Kappa at the University of Oregon in their philanthropy last winter. Our spring term philanthropy was Kick It With Kappa, and it was a huge success. We had a two-day soccer tournament between sororities and fraternities, as well as daily check-ins and activities. Our Kappa sisters from the University of Oregon came up to participate in the tournament and they tied for first place! We raised about $3,000 for Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV).
Every year Gamma Mu participates in the all-university sing competition during Mom’s Weekend. We chose to work with Phi Kappa Psi for the years show and got to perform songs from the band Styx. Phi Psi had only participated in Sing once before, but the coaches and members worked very hard over the long months. For the past three years Kappa has placed in the top two, and this past year was no different with a second place win! Our house always takes the competition very seriously and it shows in the final performance. This year we decided to partner with Lambda Chi Alpha, who we have previously won first place with. We have high hopes for this year’s performance and hope to bring the trophy back home!
Recruitment this year was also a success for Gamma Mu. Overall we received 48 girls and got to initiate 43 of them! We were thrilled to welcome a group of young women who were eager to learn what being a Kappa means and help us in our goals for involvement and growth.
Our chapter is still only two blocks from campus, which is convenient for a lot of the girls in our house! Oregon State just started their Freshman Experience campaign, which requires all freshmen to live on campus. Having the Chapter house so close to campus makes it easy for all the New Members in the dorms to come over. In light of this new change, OSU has started building a new dorm on campus, which hopes to open in 2015. They also have continued work on the new Business building and the Student Success Center which both plan on opening later in 2014. Our chapter is a very positive place, and having very motivated members keeps the house involved with Greek life and the community. We hope to keep the momentum of last year going within our new pledge class and the house as a whole.