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Zeta Eta

Zeta Eta Chapter was founded at the University of California, Irvine in Irvine California on April 3, 1982. Unable to maintain competitive recruitment numbers for several years, the Chapter closed on April 8, 2013.

Founding Date: Apr 3rd, 1982

Closed Date: Apr 10th, 2018

Status: Inactive



District: Kappa

901 initiates (as of June 2016)

History of University of Irvine

The University of California, Irvine was one of three new University of California campuses established in the 1960s under the California Master Plan for Higher Education along with the San Diego and Santa Cruz campuses. During the 1950s, the University of California saw the need for the new campuses to handle both the large number of college-bound World War II veterans (largely due to the G.I. Bill) and the expected increase in enrollment from the post-war baby boom. One of the new campuses was to be in the Los Angeles area. The location selected was Irvine Ranch, an area of agricultural land bisecting Orange County from north to south. This site was chosen to accommodate the county's growing population, complement the growth of nearby UCLA and UC Riverside, and allow for the construction of a master planned community in the surrounding area.

Unlike most other University of California campuses, UCI was not named for the city in which it was built. At the time of the university's founding, the current City of Irvine did not exist. The name “Irvine” is a reference to James Irvine, a landowner who administered the 94,000-acre Irvine Ranch. In 1960, The Irvine Company sold 1,000 acres of the Irvine Ranch to the University of California for one dollar, since a company policy prohibited the donation of property to a public entity. The university purchased an additional 510 acres in 1964 for housing and commercial developments. Not long after UC Irvine opened, the City of Irvine was incorporated in 1971.


Zeta Eta Chapter was colonized the weekend of October 16–18, 1981, with 47 outstanding, bright and articulate young women. “The rush team was sensational, the alumnae support was unmatched, the helping actives were terrific, and the quality of women in rush was all the Fraternity hoped for and more!” wrote Marian Klingbeil Williams, Missouri, Director of Chapters.

The University of California at Irvine was established in 1960, and at the time of Zeta Eta’s colonization had nearly 7,700 undergraduate students with 96 percent being state residents. The Panhellenic claimed that fall Recruitment was the most successful yet and that the new group was warmly welcomed on campus.

The Kappa recruitment team consisted of Ann Loken Rhodes, Washington, local colonization chairman; Caren Nitschke, DePauw, Graduate Counselor; Jenny Young, Indiana, Field Secretary; Leanne Burk, USC, Field Secretary; Debbie Wamser Russell, UCLA, Kappa Province Director of Chapters; Vera Lewis Marine, Colorado College, Kappa Province Director of Alumnae; Timi Atkinson, Colorado, Graduate Counselor at Fresno; and Marian Klingbeil Williams, Missouri, Director of Chapters. All five chapters in southern California assisted in Recruitment.

The colonization events were successful, as well as the interviews. During formal pledging, each new member received a white carnation tied with blue-and-blue ribbons and a little gold key. The alumnae from Southern Orange County gave each girl a Kappa mug and were pleased to be present during this inspiring occasion.

Panhellenic Pledge Presents was held on November 15, and all of Kappa’s new members were introduced to the campus, friends and parents. The members of Zeta Eta Colony began looking forward to its Installation in the spring. Previous information from The Key, Volume 98, No. 4.


On April 3, 1982 –a “typical” sunny California morning –Southern California Kappa gathered for the installation of Kappa’s 109th active chapter, Zeta Eta. A school of its time, a school of the area, Irvine is flourishing where there were only bare hills before 1961. Now bursting with 12,000 students, it is well-known for its fine science, dance and drama programs and the seriousness of the student body. The architecture of the school, designed to fit into the Irvine hills, is California enhanced by the lush landscaping everywhere. UCI is a beautiful campus located in the unique master-planned community of Irvine and is just minutes from the gleaming coastal cities of Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach and the charming little beach community of Balboa Island where many of the students reside.

Installing officers included Sally Moore Nitschke, Ohio State, Fraternity President; Marian Klingbeil Williams, Missouri, Director of Chapters; Ann Fletcher Colvin, Washington State, Director of Alumnae; Deborah Wamser Russell, UCLA, Kappa Province Director of Chapters; Vera Lewis Marine, Colorado College, Kappa Province Director of Alumnae; and Caren Nitschke, De Pauw, Graduate Counselor.

For Ann Loken Rhodes, Washington, Installation and Colonization Chairman, the installation weekend was the culmination of months of planning and work, since the chapter’s colonization in the fall of 1981. She received support from committee chairmen: Nancy MacNeil Bryan UCLA, President of Southern Orange County Alumnae Association; Betty Fiddes Brady, Butler; Julie Loomis Bynon, Utah; Susan Starr Graham, Purdue; Melinda Bray McCrea, Kentucky; JoAnn Wellman Nelson, Kansas; and Ruth Dusenbury Scherer, Bucknell. Special assistants on hand were Nancy Cannon Bussard and Sandy Stokes McGowan, TCU. Of course, the “back bone” of the most successful weekend came from the various California alumnae associations and clubs who were well represented at each activity.

Kappa actives arrived from all seven chapters in Kappa Province. Actives from UCLA, USC, Northridge, Santa Barbara, and Riverside served as big sisters to the girls of Zeta Eta. Each made “key” pillows for their little sisters and truly exemplified Kappa all weekend.

The two day installation began with fireside at the Fireside at the Laguna Beach-Emerald Bay home of Sylvia Rhoades Dolby, Montana. The setting for installation was the lovely Geneva Presbyterian Church in the picturesque hills of Laguna – truly an ideal facility and location. Diane (Dinnie) Texter Callahan, Colorado, and Jean Ebright Elin, Ohio State, represented Fraternity Headquarters and set the stage for a most memorable service. Laura Jackson, Oklahoma State, Field Secretary, and Debbie Williams, New Mexico, active daughter of Marian Williams, were on deck to give a helping hand.

Following the service a model chapter meeting was held and immediately thereafter, formal pledging of Zeta Eta’s nine new pledges took place.

Later that afternoon, the campus was held in the Gateway Gardens. Students, administrators,- representatives from the six men's fraternities and five other NPC groups, and scores of parents, friends and Kappa alumnae welcomed the new initiates.

The weekend celebration was concluded with the installation banquet at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel overlooking the blue Pacific. With almost 250 guests attending, Debbie Russell greeted everyone as toastmistress, Sue Graham, banquet chairman, arranged a splendid evening. The Zeta Eta Pickers performed and were terrific. The gifts were almost overwhelming- special was the presentation of two badges. The first, the president's badge, was presented by the Northern Orange County Alumnae Association. The other was a beautiful diamond badge presented by Joan Peterson Lynch, UCLA, in honor of her mother, Helen Kirk Peterson, Colorado College, who was present. This key will go to the active with the highest scholarship for the term.

Randy Lewis, Associate Dean of Students and Adviser to lFC, gave the greetings from the University. Fraternity President Sally Nitschke gave an inspirational message which left the parents and alumnae with good feelings about the Fraternity and the future of the chapter. Donna Smith, president of Zeta Eta, was thrilled to present Caren Nitschke, Graduate Counselor, with a beautiful necklace and bouquet of roses in appreciation of her dedication of time and love to the new chapter.

In keeping with tradition, the banquet was closed with the candlelight ceremony, bringing an end to an exciting, yet unforgettable weekend. The Key, Fall 1982 pages 62-63

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.

Highlights of the 1980s

Many members joined as sophomores, juniors, or even seniors. They participated in a campuswide celebration called Wayzgoose. The philanthropic focus was on an eating orders awareness program. Anorexia nervosa seemed to have reached a peak in the late 70s and early 80s and has been described as “the disorder of the 80s.” College campuses instituted counseling or support systems for people suffering from eating disorders, and the chapter members worked to raise awareness about this issue.

At the end of the spring 1985 quarter, Zeta Eta had 37 members and ranked third on campus scholastically. Also during this time, Zeta Eta won the Philanthropy and Advisory Board awards at Kappa Province meeting and helped with the colonization of the chapter at UC San Diego. Zeta Eta returned to San Diego in the fall of 1985 to help with Eta Nu’s installation.

In 1985, the Founders Day Brunch was held with local alumnae, and the members of UC Riverside. The Irvine chapter members were excited to assist in the installation of Zeta Nu at UC San Diego. An annual Monmouth Duo event was held with the Pi Beta Phis. Chapter retreats were held in Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead, and Palm Springs. Families were invited to an initiation banquet. A mother/daughter fashion show was held in 1989. An annual Kappa Dad’s Day was held at the UCI homecoming basketball game.

The chapter doubled in size in October 1985 when it pledged 42 new members! The chapter’s pledge class size ranged from the high 30s to low 40s for most of the decade. The 1985-86 newletter reports that the Greek System at UCI was growing and strenghening during this time, thanks in part to a new Greek adviser, who was a Kappa.

During the late 80s, a lot of expansion was in the works at UCI, earning it the nickname Under Construction Indefinitely. An annual Kappa Kruise was held on the Catalina Flyer in Newport Beach. Members invited a date and up to two guests who were not Kappas to participate in this nautical themed harbor cruise dance. Yearly participation in Songfest, a competition which is where the chapter is partnered with a fraternity to put on a smaller version of a Broadway play.

At the 1989 Kappa Province meeting, Zeta Eta received the House Board Award and the Excellence in Membership Award. According to alumna Corien Woudenberg, many members of Zeta Eta in its early years joined as sophomores, juniors or even seniors.


In the mid-1980s, the chapter’s philanthropic focus was an eating disorders awareness program. Anorexia nervosa had reached a peak in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and had been described as “the disorder of the ‘80s.” College campuses instituted counseling or support systems for people suffering from eating disorders, and Kappas were right in the midst of it, working to raise awareness about this issue.

Chapter members participated in Operation Santa Claus by collecting toys for kids which were then donated to the Albert Sitton Home, the Orangewood Home and the children at the UC Irvine Medical Center. During the chapter’s annual Balloon Derby, held during the campus’ annual Wayzgoose celebration, they released balloons with tickets redeemable for various prizes. Those who found and returned the balloons won the prizes. The following year, $730 was raised for Women Haven, Inc., a center for battered women and children.

Besides the Balloon Derby, the chapter also participated in Operation Santa Claus for Orangewood (a home for abused children) throughout the mid- and late 1980s.

Highlights of the 1990s

By the end of 1991, construction was complete on the the new student center, the Irvine Barclay Theatre and the Breckman Institute for Microbiology on the UCI campus. However, construction on many new buildings began and carried on throughout the decade.

Many of the chapter’s activities from the late ‘80s continued into the ‘90s such as Wayzgoose, Songfest, the annual chapter retreat and Monmouth Duo. A new event for the chapter in 1990 was the first scholarship banquet, where Zeta Eta celebrated being third on campus, scholastically.

At the 1991 Kappa Province Meeting, Zeta Eta was honored to received the Thelma Dahlen-Molly Schultz Award for the Most Improved Chapter. In April 1992, the chapter celebrated its 10th anniversary.

In 1991, Founders Day was held at the University Club on campus with the Orange County Alumnae and the Long Beach Alumnae Associations. The chapter participated yearly in Songfest, Wayzgoose, annual new member retreats and chapter retreats, exchanges, a pledge/active dance and a Monmouth Duo dance with Pi Beta Phi. The 1991 chapter newsletter, “Key Issues” featured quotes from chapter members about what Kappa meant to them.

In the mid- to late 1990s, the chapter membership began to decline due to smaller pledge classes than graduating classes. During this time, the chapter also struggled to adopt the Fraternity’s newly developed New Member Program and had other challenges related to being a smaller chapter. However, the 1998 chapter history report tells that the chapter was working hard to overcome these challenges and grow. The same history report mentions that recruitment quota on campus was only 14 that year, while also mentioning that the Greek system on campus was growing. At the end of the 1998-1999 school year, the chapter had 17 members.

In 1997, sixty-percent of chapter members attended the installation of the Eta Gamma Chapter at the University of San Diego. 1998 saw a new Diamonds and Sapphires event which was a combined Parent’s Day, Pledge Presents, and Scholarship awards banquet. This was also the beginning of the Sionara Seniors event which included a party, a senior will and ritual. In 1998, chapter members made a commitment to work hard to improve their chapter by making a “blue print” to guide them in rebuilding and strengthening the chapter. Throughout the 90s, the chapter held Founders Day with UC Riverside.

In 1999, the chapter adopted the Fraternity’s recommended structure for small chapters and condensed 16 offices into five. However, the chapter was still active and involved on campus, having one member on the Greek Week executive board and one member on the Songfest executive board. A Kappa also headed the Greek Marketing Task Force on campus.


Ground breaking for UCI Greek Housing took place on October 13, 1991. The name of the Greek housing complex at UC Irvine is Arroyo Vista. It housed all eight Panhellenic organizations and four of the Interfraternity Council chapters. In 1995, the chapter house hired a new cook. A house redecoration occurred in fall 1999. Also in 1999, Zeta Eta was the first chapter at UCI to have completely dry functions.


Zeta Eta continued its Operation Santa Claus philanthropy event and its participation in the campus Wayzgoose event into the 1990s. They also participated in the philanthropy events of other groups, such as Kappa Alpha Theta’s Go Fly a Kite, Sigma Chi’s Derby Days and various pledge class philanthropy projects. New philanthropy events at the end of the decade included Habitat for Humanity and an AIDS walk.

Hosting a ring toss booth during Wayzgoose, the chapter raised $300 to donate to the American Cancer Society. Zeta Eta participated in philanthropies such as Habitat for Humanity and AIDS Walk. Members volunteered with Pi Beta Phi at the Orangewood Children’s Home and to clean an area of the beach for the Surf Rider Foundation, an organizatio dedicated to the cleaning and safekeeping of the coasts. New members held a pumpkins and pancakes philanthropy event, with proceeds benefiting battered and abused children. Zeta Etas supported the Orange County Rescue Shelter for Battered Women, AIDs research, and FISH (Friends In Service to Humanity.)

Convention Awards:

1992 Chapter Publications and Public Relations Honorable Mention; 1998 Chapter/Advisory Board Relations Honorable Mention

Highlights of 2000-2010

The chapter members participated in many Panhellenic events including Greek Week, and Songfest. An annual Diamonds and Sapphires Scholarship banquet honored members with outstanding academic achievement. During Sapphire Week each February, members held a campus-wide barbeque called Kappa Kantina, a fraternity appreciation dessert, and a the annual formal dance, Sapphire Ball.

In 2006, a very successful risk management retreat was held with guest speakers on alcohol abuse and party safety, a narcotics officer addressing drug safety, and a personal safety workshop presented by a local police officer.

The 2008 risk retreat had presentations about alcohol awareness, nutrition and sexual assault. They were able to improve organization and time management by streamlining the calendar and regular meetings. Each year a week long event was held called Sayonara Sisters to honor the graduating seniors.

Prior to the spring 2007 quarter, the ladies of Zeta Eta were excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the chapter’s founding on April 3rd. Alumnae attended a brunch where they shared their experiences and memories and heard about the current achievements of the chapter. In alternating years, the chapter held a Mother/Daughter Tea and a Father/Daughter Barbeque. Sisterhood events included Disneyland, Medieval Times, and a taping of the game show “Let’s Make a Deal.”

For Founders Day 2010, Zeta Eta hosted the Orange County Alumnae Association and the Epsilon Pi Chapter from University of California, Riverside for tea at the chapter house.


The ladies of Zeta Eta held a campus-wide book drive and distributed books to the Friends of the Library Foundation. The chapter members volunteered at a telethon for St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital. During the annual Greek Awards at UC Irvine, the members were awarded the Community Relations Award for its telethon participation. The yearly philanthropy event was called Kappa’s Amazing Race, where members of fraternities completed a mix of relay races, games and obstacles.

In 2007, the ladies of Zeta Eta raised money by holding a barbeque and donated the proceeds to the Hokey Spirit Memorial Fund in honor of Caitlin Hammeran, Virginia Tech. In October, 2007, members vivisted Sepulveda Elementary School where they read to students, decorated cookies and worked on crafts. The Reading is Key event for February 2009 was centered around the book “Where The Wild Things Are.”

In the Fall of 2009, Zeta Eta members were pen pals with students from Wilson Elementary School, culminating in a holiday party where the elementary students got to meet their pen pals. The 2010 Reading is Key event was held at the Boys and Girls Club in Santa Ana and was themed around the book “Coduroy.” The members of other sororities and fraternities were invited to participate in the Reading is Key event.

Convention Awards:

2000 Ritual Award Honorable Mention; 2002 Greatest Scholarship Improvement Award (10-14 Panhellenic groups); 2008 Public Relations Award; 2010 Excellence in Chapter Management; 2010 Finance Honorable Mention; 2010 Rose McGill Honorable Mention

Highlights of 2011

The chapter was able to add new members in every quarter of 2011. Traditional events included a campus-wide Kappa Kantina with carne asada, the Diamonds and Sapphires luncheon to celebrate academic achievements and sisterhood with members’ parents, and Songfest. According to alumna Corien Woudenberg, Zeta Eta in its early years was very similar to the chapter in 2012.

The Reading is Key event in 2011 was themed around the book The Giving Tree.

Highlights of 2013

On April 8, 2013, a letter from the Fraternity Council announced that it would suspend operations of Zeta Eta Chapter at the close of spring quarter in June 2013. The letter stated that “for the past several years, members of Zeta Eta Chapter have found it challenging to maintain competitive recruitment numbers with the other women’s Greek organizations on campus and have struggled to deliver the membership experience that Kappa expects for its members.

“Our network of alumna member volunteers and Fraternity Headquarters staff have worked closely with Zeta Eta Chapter to provide the highest level of support, in hopes of sustaining the chapter. Unfortunately, the chapter has been unable to increase its membership in order to flourish in the campus Greek community.

“The Zeta Eta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma was founded 31 years ago on the UC Irvine campus and has many dedicated alumna members. We do not take the closing of any chapter lightly. The members of Zeta Eta Chapter embody our values and ideals, so it is a decision that Fraternity Council arrived at with a heavy heart.

“We will monitor opportunities annually during the next four years for a possible return to the UC Irvine campus when the atmosphere is deemed more favorable for growth.”