Gamma Phi

Gamma Phi Chapter was founded at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas on May 17, 1929.

Founding Date: May 17th, 1929

Status: Active

University:

Location:

District: Theta

The Early Years (Excerpted from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity: 1870-1976)

Gamma Phi Chapter began October 15, 1928, on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, when a group of three colonizers and 24 pledges became the local group, Gamma Kappa. The Dallas Alumnae Association was firmly behind the colony, and a number of its members assumed advisory board responsibilities.

Kappa Grand President Georgia Hayden Lloyd-Jones, Eta-Wisconsin, visited in January, 1929, and gave her approval. On April 15, word came from Clara O. Pierce, Beta Nu- Ohio State, "Charter granted, SMU. Congratulations."

Gamma Phi was installed May 17, 1929, by Clara Pierce, Beta Nu-Ohio State, assisted by Beta Xi, University of Texas, and the Dallas alumnae.

Southern Methodist University, which was opened to students in September, 1915, had been established by charter in April, 1911, under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

At the time of the installation of the Kappa chapter there were 1,371 men students, 1,121 women students, and 152 faculty members. Thirteen fraternities had already been installed. The 11 buildings of 1929 had become 80 by 1973, and there were 8,000 students and 500 faculty.

The first 33 years of Gamma Phi were notable for student activities, honoraries, "overwhelmingly successful parties," and sweethearts and queens.

Ruth Pollock (McCloud) was Southern Methodist University Sweetheart at the 1933 Texas Roundup, and the chapter won athletic trophies in basketball, baseball, and swimming and diving. In 1937 Florence Allen (Roseborough) collaborated on the script for the Southern Methodist University Pontiac Varsity Show coast-to-coast broadcast. Anna Ruth Baker (McCall) was named one of the five "most exotic girls on campus" in an all-school election in 1939, and the chapter float in the Homecoming Parade was named "most beautiful." Peggy Wallace (Reinke) received an "M" Award during the 1940-41 school year for being the co-founder of COGS, (College Organization for General Service), a group that claimed more significance and interest than any other on campus. The chapter sponsored informal parties for cadets at Hensley Field in Dallas, in keeping with wartime activities.

During the decade of the 1940s, every outstanding organization at Southern Methodist seemed to have been headed by Kappas: Kirkos; COGS; YWCA; Zeta Phi Eta; the Rotunda (yearbook); and officers of the Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Classes. Jo Neal (Cleaver), chapter president and Mortar Board member, was chosen a Rotunda beauty by Cecil B. DeMille. Eleanor Maclay was one of the seven original members of the Southern Methodist chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Gamma Phi was second highest on the campus in scholarship in 1950-51, but the most important event was the groundbreaking for a chapter house. Sororities had at last been given permission to erect houses, and all eleven built simultaneously in the university's Georgian-style architecture. In December, the chapter was spotlighted in The Key.

The year 1951-52 was the first in the new house, and the chapter achieved first in scholarship. The following year Gamma Phi was the installing chapter of Delta Psi, Texas Tech University, at Lubbock, and in 1954-55 members fostered the formation of Epsilon Alpha at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Members of Kappa and Sigma Alpha Epsilon were featured in a color picture on the fraternity-sorority title page of the yearbook. In 1958, the chapter won the Charlotte Barrell Ware Standard Cup at convention, and again was first in scholarship.

The years between 1962 and 1973 saw a re-examination of Greek life, and the future of the system looked rather grim. However, Gamma Phi members continue to achieve high scholarship, show interest in campus life and the community, and concern for each other. The chapter won the Standards Award again in 1970.

Gamma Phi has enjoyed a very friendly relationship with Dallas alumnae, who have always generously supported the active chapter with time and money.

Well-known Gamma Phi alumnae include: charter member Joel Estes Lichte Tate, wife of the chancellor of Southern Methodist University; Louise Little Barbeck, Kappa Fraternity president 1968-72; Gail Griffin Thomas, dean of the University of Dallas; and Mary Ellen Mitchell Jericho, voted the outstanding Kappa in the area at the Fraternity's Centennial year Founders Day banquet in Dallas.

Highlights of the 1970s

If you wore a polo shirt with a floppy bow tie at the neck in the late 70s, then you know all about belties. Did you know, though, that the word belties was first coined by a Kappa from SMU? When not setting the tone for fashion, Kappas at Gamma Phi listened to Billie Joel, Hall and Oats, the Grateful Dead, and Bonnie Raitt. They cheered on the football team, fuelling Mustang Mania, which was just emerging at the time, while SMU also excelled in swimming and tennis.

Positivity was a chapter focus during this time. Chapter members significantly improved their grades and worked on developing positive attitudes. Officers stressed open communication, even picking rooms that gave the President and Vice Presidents the most visibility for the rest of the members. Chapter meetings were streamlined, and the chapter developed a stronger Panhellenic spirit. And of course, the chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary on SMU campus.

Kappas were also prominent leaders on campus. One member started a fundraising campaign to restore a historical SMU fountain that now features in all the school’s brochures, and among the Kappas were Homecoming Queen first runner-up, cheerleaders, Miss New Mexico, Miss Dallas, three yearbook beauties and a National Alumni Scholarship Winner.

Highlights of the 1980s

In many ways, the 1980s were the best of times and the worst of times for SMU. The university’s football team marked its most successful era from 1980 to 1985, posting a 55-14-1 record and winning three SWC titles. Kappas—preppy to the core in brown Topsiders, French braids or big hair and the obligatory strand of pearls—were among the sellout crowds cheering on the team at Texas Stadium, which was the former home of the Dallas Cowboys. Football, however, was cancelled for two seasons in 1986 and 1987 for NCAA violations, and Kappas turned to intramural leagues for the sports fix.

In 1987, the chapter won intramural soccer and tennis championships, while powder puff football games with other sororities raised money for various philanthropic causes. Gamma Phi members also hosted canned food drives, supported a halfway house for non-violent juvenile offenders in Dallas, helped children improve their reading skills in an inner city housing project, and raised money for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Dallas.

Other notable events included chapter dinners at Spaghetti Warehouse in downtown Dallas, celebrating the 115th birthday of Kappa with Director of Chapters and future Fraternity President J. J. Wales, and hosting an inter-greek reception for the new university president, Dr. A. Kenneth Pye, in 1987. It was also during this time that the chapter began to follow the Celebration of Lights ceremony on campus with hot chocolate, cookies, a roaring fire and Nat King Cole at the chapter house.

The chapter continued to focus on academic excellence, holding a how to study seminar, and recognizing excellent grades with a weekly smart cookie award. Chapter meetings emphasized heritage and ritual, and members were encouraged to hang out at the house through monthly cookouts and holiday celebrations like Secret Santa gift exchanges.

Kappas regularly featured the Dallas Morning News for participating in the Idlewild Ball, Tyler Rose Festival and other prominent Texan debutant balls. And the Kappa Pickers, the chapter’s musical performance group, began to gain local prominence.

Highlights of the 1990s

Gamma Phi’s Kappa Pickers reached national prominence when they sang on CBS This Morning in Washington in 1991. They continued to perform throughout the 1990s, delighting audiences at parents’ weekend, Founders Day and many other Kappa and campus events. The chapter was very dedicated to philanthropy in these years. At least 10 to 20 members went to Traymore Nursing Home once a month to visit with residents, and in later years, the chapter would visit with patients at Medical City Hospital’s transitional care unit. Gamma Phi also helped out a shelter for runaway children, tutored students at an elementary school, sponsored blood drives, raised money for muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis. Other highlights included hosting a blood platelet drive to benefit Carter Blood Care for a Kappa Alpha Fraternity member who was diagnosed with cancer, sponsoring a Canadian Kappa alum through the Rose McGill Fund, and launching the very popular Carve for the Cure on Halloween.

SMU Kappas partnered with Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity on the annual Easter Egg hunt for children of university faculty and stuff, stuffing over 1,100 plastic eggs in 1995. Regular events included the Kappa Kountry Formal, Founders Day at the Dallas Country Club, and parents’ weekend with Sunday brunch. Special highlights included the chapter retreat at Camp John Mark and a visit to a ropes course to promote chapter unity.

Kappa exemplified its traditional of leadership on SMU campus in the 1990s. Gamma Phi hosted the first date rape seminar at SMU in 1991, and followed up with seminars on eating disorders and campus violence. In 1990, a Kappa chaired SMU’s Celebration of Lights, and in 1991 Kappas chaired Homecoming and won Homecoming Queen, which Kappas featuring in the Homecoming throughout the decade. Many chapter members attended Convention in 1990 when it was hosted in Dallas. The chapter received several honorable mentions for awards, and would go on to win the Fraternity’s Finance Award in 1996.

Highlights of the 2000s

The women of Gamma Phi chapter in the 2000s were intelligent and motivated to do their best in every aspect of their lives. Very involved on campus, the chapter enthusiastically supports it members, whether they are running for Homecoming Queen, launching a new philanthropy or playing on a sports team.

The chapter was supported by very active alumnae. They helped count votes for rush, plan the initiation brunch, decorate the house for the holidays, sell Kappa bracelets, and host alumnae events at the house. Their help and guidance was appreciated by chapter members, and inspired SMU’s Kappas to grow and continue their involvement in Kappa.

One of the alumnae’s major projects was building a new chapter house, which the chapter moved into in 2006. This amazing new house, has been a home away from home for many members.

Major events included Theta Province meeting in Dallas in 2005, when the chapter hosted a southern barbeque for the all the actives and alumnae that were in town. There was the annual Celebration of Lights, and another Homecoming Queen from Kappa in 2009.

Philanthropy continued to be a major driver of events, with the chapter raising funds for Camp John Mark, Habitat for Humanity, Dallas Parkland Hopsital, Relay for Life, the Dallas humane shelter, and Dollars for Darfur. In 2006, the chapter published the Kappa Kookbook, which feature recipes from the SMU chapter, and raised money for the Rose McGill Fund.

Highlights of 2010

2010 was a fun and exciting year for the Gamma Phi chapter! We started the year off with a great recruitment week. During philanthropy day of recruitment, we shared a video about our chapter’s involvement in the Ugandan American Partnership Organization, a non-profit organization that aides struggling women and children in Uganda. The UAPO was founded by one of our own Kappa sisters and is very dear to each of our hearts. We strung necklaces with beads handmade by Ugandan widows, and new members sold the necklaces in the spring in order to send profits back to the widows.

Dad’s Weekend was in the spring, and father-daughter pairs competed in the Kappa Klassic golf tournament. We got to spend quality time with our dads, and we were able to raise over $14,000 to help finish the UAPO’s construction of a new Vocational Center in a Ugandan village and provide medical supplies, school supplies and clean water to orphanages built by the UAPO. Over the summer, twelve of our sisters shared a life-changing experience on their visit to Uganda.

Other highlights of the year included Kickin’ It With Kappa and Kappacino Kafe, philanthropic events we hosted in the fall. Kappas danced the night away at our Victory, Monmouth, and Kite&Key formals, and we had fun dressing up for our “Jarty” and Woodstock themed date dashes! Trendy Kappas could be spotted about Dallas in over-the-knee boots, furry vests, sequin embellished dresses, stacks of bracelets and sky-high pumps!

Gamma Phi is a large and diverse chapter. Each individual brings new and exciting ideas to the table, but we also work well together as a team to accomplish goals during the year. Girls in our chapter care about their schoolwork, care about the community, are involved in other organizations at SMU, hold exciting jobs or internships, and above all, are Kappa krazy! We have girls who study corporate communications and public affairs, accounting, English, art history, and even chemistry! Many of our sisters are members of the Union, Student Foundation, Student Senate, Honor Council, and the University Honors Program.

Highlights of 2011

Our chapter is large and diverse, with girls from all over the United States and abroad. The 2011 pledge class even has girls from Bali, London, and Panama. This mix of diverse individuals enhances our chapter, as each member brings unique and exciting ideas to the table. We all work well together in order to accomplish goals throughout the year.

Many of our sisters in the Gamma Phi chapter are active and involved a number of other activities and organizations, both on and off campus. Our sisters participate in on-campus organizations such as the Union, Student Foundation, Student Senate, Honor Council, and the University Honors Program. Off campus, many of our sisters hold interesting and impressive internships and jobs, and care about and engage in different community service opportunities. Our sisters academic interests are varied, as we have girls who study Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Accounting, History, and even Biology!

We had an exciting 2011. A fun and successful recruitment week started the year off right. During philanthropy day of recruitment, we continued the tradition of showing a video about the Ugandan American Partnership Organization (UAPO), which was founded by one of our Kappa sisters from the Gamma Phi chapter. We strung necklaces using the beads that Ugandan widows hand made, which the new members sold the following spring. The profits from the necklace sales were sent back to the widows to help them build a life of their own. The proceeds from our "Kappacino Kafe" philanthropy event also benefitted the UAPO.

This year we made an exciting change to one of our other major philanthropy events taking place in the fall, "Kickin' It With Kappa," an event benefitting Reading Is Fundamental: we hosted a frozen yogurt party outside on the boulevard on a beautiful afternoon in early September, to keep up with the recent trendiness and rising popularity of frozen yogurt shops in Dallas and nation-wide.

Other highlights of the year included our parties and social events. Kappas had a great time dancing the night away at our Victory, Monmouth, and Kite & Key formals. We also had a blast dressing up for our 90s and Hunt or Be Hunted themed date dashes. Gamma Phi Kappas were as chic and trendy as ever this year, often spotted about Dallas wearing stylish over the knee boots, fur vests, sequin embellished dresses, and wrap bracelets.

We are proud of our chapter for many reasons this year. We were the recipients of the Risk Management Award at the Province meeting hosted in Fort Worth. In addition, we welcomed the chapter councils from Epsilon Alpha, Epsilon Upsilon, and Zeta Sigma, as we hosted the LEAD Seminar in the fall. We are also very proud and extremely excited this year because we won Homecoming! Our chapter united to support 2011 Homecoming activities, and it was a wonderful and rewarding feeling for the whole house when Grace Roberts won Homecoming Queen during halftime of the football game.

This year was extremely exciting at SMU, as construction on the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which broke ground in fall2010, continued and made considerable progress. Although construction is still a work in progress, the Presidential Center already seems a stunning structure. The Presidential Center will open in 2013. Also, this spring we celebrated the centennial of SMU’s founding in 1911, complete with fireworks and cake on SMU’s boulevard. This year was an extremely fun time to be an SMU student.

Highlights of 2012

2012 was a great year for The Gamma Phi Chapter. We kicked off the year by continuing a philanthropy tradition that was started by SMU Kappa members. During recruitment week on philanthropy day, we played a video about UAPO, an organization that was founded by one of our Kappa sisters. The video featured Kappa members volunteering and making a difference in Uganda. We hosted “Kappacino Kafe” as well as “Kickin’ it with Kappa.” Both were successful events. Kappa women also participated in SMU’s homecoming festivities. The week was a success because of our hard work combined with our wonderful homecoming candidate, Anne McCaslin Parker. During SMU’s Celebration of Lights, Kappa members participated with SMU Student Foundation and adopted elementary students for the evening. This made the event very special for Kappa’s as well as the elementary students.

Campus:

SMU is located in the center of Dallas. It’s a great location because of the easy routes to downtown, uptown, and other areas in Dallas. The campus is beautiful and is surrounded by green grass and tall trees. SMU is a friendly campus with small classes. The professors make the learning experience great. They are available and willing to meet with students individually. SMU offers an atmosphere that’s exciting and thriving. One of the 2012 highlights on campus is the construction of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Chapter:

We have a very diverse chapter consisting of ladies from different parts of the world and from all over the U.S. The diversity allows Kappa’s to share different ideas and learn from each other. Our members are involved in many different organizations and groups at SMU and outside of SMU.

Chapter Challenges:

Our greatest challenge this year was accountability. We do not fine members for not attending events. Therefore, it is hard to hold members accountable for attending events. To address this issue, we looked to motivation and a type of “punishment.” The punishment involves making some events mandatory and if members do not attend, they are sent to standards. Usually the punishment would entail not being allowed to attend the upcoming formal. The motivation and encouragement paid off and was a successful strategy.

Highlights of 2013

2013 was a great year full of memories, accomplishments, and sisterhood for The Gamma Phi Chapter. We kicked off the year in January with a successful Recruitment Week. The four days of Open House, Philanthropy, Skit, Preference Morning and Bid Night were hard work but will always be remembered as a bonding experience for our chapter. Philanthropy day was extremely special because our philanthropy, The Akola Project, is a non-profit organization that was founded by one of our very own SMU Kappas. We played a video that featured Kappa members volunteering and making a difference in Uganda. Bid Night was also a highlight to the start of the year 2013. We welcomed 54 excited new members. They had a retreat that night at the Kappa house with Chapter Council members, which included playing games, eating good food, and learning the traditions and rules of Kappa.

The next couple months continued with fun, memorable events for the new members. Key Sis week was one of the best weeks of the Spring semester. The bigs had surprises for their littles every night, and the last night was the Big Little Reveal. The girls were so excited to finally be a part of a “Kappa family.” The next major event was Initiation. Inspiration Week was a time for our chapter to reflect on why we went Kappa and what Kappa means to each of us. Sisterhood and the traditions of Kappa were built stronger that week, and the new members got to be exposed to the true meaning of being a sister. Initiation was followed by Mom’s Weekend festivities. Mothers and daughters had a lovely brunch at the Dallas Country Club. The next day was an open house at the Kappa house and an Akola Project trunk show for the mothers to enjoy. The spring semester also consisted of Kappas going on spring break together and our fun social formals, Victory and Monmouth. Selected Chapter Council members attended Kappa Province in Lubbock, TX and were proud to come back with the award “Outstanding Performance in Risk Management.”

The spring semester ended, and summer came around with lots of opportunities for our SMU Kappa members. Kappa sisters took summer school, studied abroad, and also worked incredible internships all over the country. Fifteen SMU Kappas studied in Innsbruck, Austria for six weeks together traveling to different countries every weekend. Another group of five Kappas studied in Madrid, Spain. Other Kappas were sprinkled out over Europe studying in Italy, London, and Paris.

School started back in August, and all our Kappa members became extremely busy with academics, preparing for Recruitment, philanthropy events, and SMU football games and boulevards. Our first philanthropy event was “Kappacino Kafe” and was held on the lawn with little sweet treats and frozen yogurt. We successfully raised money for The Akola Project. The next philanthropy event we hosted, Kickin’ it with Kappa,” was even more successful raising money for RIF. It was a workout out class for the girls in SMU’s Dedman athletic center. Philanthropy donated the rest of the philanthropy budget to The Kappa Foundation at the end of the term. Kappa members also participated with Homecoming week. We painted a banner with our theme and also a wooden Peruna (our mascot).

We participated in Canstruction, Rock the Vote, field day, and building a float. This week was hard work, but we loved coming together as a chapter to support our wonderful homecoming candidate Mackenna Scripps. Kappas continued to enjoy having a tent on the boulevard each game day and supporting the Mustangs at the SMU football games. SMU Family Weekend was a fun weekend for Kappa moms and dads to meet each other and enjoy SMU’s campus and Dallas. We enjoyed our two social events of the semester Pick a Mister for your Sister date dash and Kite and Key formal. A few Kappas also participate in SMU Student Foundation and put on the Celebration of Lights, which is always a special night that the school comes together to celebrate the Holidays right before final exams.We finished the year strong academically. We were also awarded the “Outstanding Member” award by SMU Panhellenic for Lexy Hammesfahr’s incredible performance in SMU, Kappa, and her career. At the end of the semester, we slated for new Chapter Council positions, and our chapter was excited about the new leaders in the house.

SMU is located in the center of Dallas. It’s a great location because of the easy routes to downtown, uptown, and other areas in Dallas. The campus is beautiful and is surrounded by green grass and tall trees. SMU is a friendly campus with small classes. The professors make the learning experience great. They are available and willing to meet with students individually. One of the 2013 highlights on campus was the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. SMU also built new dorms, tennis courts, cafeteria, and band room. SMU offers an atmosphere that’s prestigious and thriving, and Kappas are excited for the new students each year.

We have a very diverse chapter consisting of ladies from different parts of the world and from all over the U.S. The diversity allows Kappas to share different ideas and learn from each other. Our members are involved in many different organizations and groups at SMU and outside of SMU.

Our greatest challenge this year was accountability. We do not fine members for not attending events. Therefore, it is hard to hold members accountable for attending events. To address this issue, we looked to motivation and a type of “punishment.” The punishment involves making some events mandatory, and if members do not attend, they are sent to standards. Usually the punishment would entail not being allowed to attend the upcoming social events. The motivation and encouragement paid off and was a successful strategy.

Highlights of 2014

2014 was a great year for the Gamma Phi Chapter at SMU. This year, our chapter saw incredible academic performance improvement, successful new social activities, and a remarkable Recruitment. In the summer of 2014, the Gamma Phi Chapter received the prestigious “Panhellenic Award” at the Kappa Kappa Gamma Convention in Houston, TX. This award recognized our chapter as the Kappa chapter that nationally best exemplified true Panhellenic leadership and relations in the college campus community. The Gamma Phi Chapter also received “Honorable Mention” for “Finance Award”, “Recruitment Award”, and “Advisory Board Award.” During the fall semester on game day weekends, we invited the gentlemen of a different fraternity every week to join us for a favorite Kappa tradition – Friday brunch at the Kappa house.

Gamma Phi Kappas also enjoyed our inaugural Sapphire Ball for Kappas and their dates, during such a special formal night to remember in November. Also during November, a group of Kappa members hosted a Reading is Key event, while we read to underprivileged elementary school children and donated hundreds of books for the children to take home. Furthermore, in the fall semester, we invited the SMU campus and Kappa alumnae for our first ever spirit event before the SMU season opener basketball game, called Kappa Kappa Gameday. In December the semester concluded with our successful inaugural philanthropy event. Our “Kappa Holiday Bazaar” brought all types of vendors to a shopping event for Kappas, to raise money with a portion of all profits to be donated to RIF. In total, we raised over $2,700 in support of Reading is Fundamental. The Akola Project, the non-profit philanthropy that our chapter always supports, was also in attendance at the bazaar and sold a great amount of jewelry to help raise additional funds for their causes. The chapter is also proud to have a Kappa member represent the chapter as Emily Provost was elected to serve as the 2015 SMU Panhellenic President. We are very proud of all of our accomplishments.

This year, Southern Methodist University has continued its celebration of our centennial. Panhellenic had the most number of girls ever sign up for rush with numbers topping 600 girls. This allowed the Gamma Phi chapter to welcome a higher than usual new members to our 2015 pledge class. The Gamma Phi chapter continues to strive for excellence and improvement creating a sense of drive and determination throughout our chapter. Our chapter's outlook on the 2014-2015 Gamma Phi year is hopeful and ambitious as we continue our tradition of excellence in leadership, campus involvement, academics, and sisterhood.

We hold chapter meetings in our chapter house on the North edge of campus, owned by our chapter. The chapter-owned house we currently have was built in 2008. It is the second house in our chapter's history. It houses 40 of our Kappa sisters, mainly upperclassmen and we are so lucky to have the wonderful Jill Rusher as our house mother. We are thankful to our Alum and House Board for helping our incredible in-house experience run smoothly.