Epsilon Iota Chapter was founded at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington on March 5, 1966. The chapter closed on December 7, 2004.
850 initiates (as of June 2004)
The University of Puget Sound (UPS) was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1888 in downtown Tacoma, Wash. Charles Henry Fowler, who had previously been the president of Northwestern University, dreamed up the idea for the college while in Tacoma for a Methodist conference.
Two cities vied for the location of the school: Port Townsend and Tacoma. The committee eventually decided on Tacoma. A charter was drawn up and filed in Olympia on March 17, 1888. This date marks the legal beginning of the school. At that time, the school’s legal title was “The Puget Sound University.” In September 1890, UPS opened its doors, taking in 88 students.
The beginnings of the school were marked by moral conviction: students were warned against intoxicating liquors, visits to saloons, gambling, tobacco use, and obscene drawings or writings on the college grounds. The university also had a financially tumultuous beginning. There was no endowment, and the school often struggled for funds to pay the professors. It moved locations three times in 13 years and, at one time, the school merged with Portland University (former campus is now the University of Portland). It opened a year later (1899) back in Tacoma at 9th and G streets. In 1903, the school was “reborn” and re-incorporated as a different entity with different trustees and a different name: the “University of Puget Sound.”
The character of the school changed dramatically during the presidency of Edward H. Todd (1913–1942), who worked tirelessly to bring financial and academic stability. During his tenure, the “Million Dollar Campaign” was started, raising $1,022,723 for buildings, equipment, and endowment. With this money, the campus moved in 1924 to its current location in the residential north end of Tacoma, with five buildings, setting a stylistic tone for the institution. In 1914, the university was renamed the “College of Puget Sound.”
President R. Franklin Thompson (1942–1973) led a massive physical and institutional expansion: During this era almost all of the university's buildings were constructed. In 1960, the university’s name changed from the “College of Puget Sound” back to the “University of Puget Sound,” as it is known today. Dr. Thompson was the guest speaker at the 1966 Kappa Kappa Gamma Convention in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.
Colonization of Epsilon Iota Chapter in 1965 had begun as a dream and finally became a reality because of the hard work of Tacoma alumnae. Correspondence in 1963 between Mary Lou Olliver (Borz), Oregon State, and the three Washington state chapters noted that Director of Membership Louise Little Barbeck, SMU, and Director of Philanthropies Hazel Round Wagner, Colorado College, had officially inspected the University of Puget Sound with a Kappa chapter in mind and had reported that the campus situation indicated physical growth, increased enrollment, distinguished staff and administrators, high scholastic standards, and fully accredited College Entrance Board membership. In August of 1963, the university president learned from Mary Turner Whitney, Cincinnati, Fraternity President that Kappa Kappa Gamma had accepted the university’s invitation to colonize.
In the fall of 1965, Tacoma alumnae, Beta Pi, Washington, actives and a local coordinator, welcomed 24 pledges, a class that functioned well with Silvia Brown (Swiss), Penn State, as Graduate Counselor. The chapter was installed and 20 pledges were initiated March 4 through 6, 1966. Frances Fatout Alexander, DePauw, Fraternity President; Ruth Bullock Chastang, Ohio State; Hazel Wagner; province officers and counselors were on hand. The banquet was attended by 121 Kappas and faculty; there were gifts and greetings. The dean of women spoke of the strength and future of fraternity; the banquet speaker Dr. Thompson told the new chapter to remember that day with pride.
Epsilon Iota’s first chapter President wrote in the newsletter, Chapter Clatter, “ … we are experiencing responsibilities, which, at times, seem overwhelming, but we have the desire and drive to establish a successful chapter.” At her term’s end, she presented the chapter with an engraved ivory gavel from her home state of Alaska.
The chapter began traditional events: the carving of pumpkins for the men’s groups (later pumpkin carols were sung before making the presentation to them); the writing of KNIFF notes to praise and reprimand; booster bags to help the pledges before exams, May baskets for the men’s groups; a Kappa-of-the-month award; a going-away party for seniors, which became later a senior breakfast, and then a senior banquet. Always there was a continuous issue of concern: the scholarship program.
Expansion into the college community, ranging from serving as den mothers for a Cub Scout troop to participation in Logger Day events, were activities of 1967.
A Kappa was crowned Tacoma’s Daffodil Queen, and a cup was purchased by the chapter to be awarded to the senior voted most inspirational. A year earlier, Iota Province Director of Chapters Alice Fisher Summers, Oregon State, had presented Epsilon Iota with a Bible. In the spring of 1968, Helen Hoska Hill, Whitman, presented a scholarship key and the president’s key.
The housing situation changed in 1968–69. The chapter wanted to stay together, but 11 were moved out of Regester Hall to an annex and three to a venue on campus where an intensive foreign language program was practiced. The next year a general move to Harrington Hall across the campus gave the chapter a chance to know the other women’s groups. In 1971, there was a short-lived assignment to an eight-occupant sleeping porch arrangement adjoining a four-person study-living area. It took almost a year to adjust to the change. In the fall of 1971, the Advisory Board let seven actives move off-campus on a rotating basis, with seniors receiving preference. A positive approach was sought in all house committees.
Fashion In 1968, the decision was made that pledges could wear pants to study table if desired, but not to dinner or to functions after study table. At this time, girls could not wear pants anywhere on campus until after noon on Friday. Three years later, in September 1971, the chapter wore dresses for pledging and the following reception, marking one of the few times in the year that dresses appeared. In three years, the dress code had radically changed and blue jeans had become the common clothing.
During 1968–69, a year of change, Panhellenic sponsored a Greek Week Marathon to the state capital, Olympia, to request state aid for private colleges. Kappa placed third in the songfest and first in scholarship, and a Kappa was crowned May Queen. The newsletter was expanded, the Fraternity appreciation program was highly improved, and the sense of group responsibility was heightened.
Changes in 1969 included the 4-1-4 system, a trimester schedule offering the Winterim, a January term during which travel and courses outside the major field were encouraged. The elimination of finals week did away with “somber dinner,” the custom of dressing in dark clothes at the onset of exams. In 1970, the chapter felt concern for the first time about pledges who might meet scholarship requirements yet not be ready to become actives. However, problems were resolved and all members were initiated. A revived Fraternity appreciation program brought Kappa back into focus for members.
But college life was changing, and old policies were being put aside for more liberal philosophies. The drug problem had its effect on all living groups, and each, including Kappa, found it necessary to add a illegal drug clause to its bylaws. Panhellenic did away with some rush trimmings, with changes the rushees preferred, such as reducing costume parties to one. The chapter met at term’s end for a hot dog party and informal business meeting at Point Defiance Beach. Not long afterward at the 1970 General Convention, the Epsilon Iota delegate was proud to accept the silver pitcher for the chapter with the most improved grades on a small campus.
The University of Puget Sound draws heavily from the Pacific Northwest and California, Hawaii has an extension on the campus, and in recent years students from more remote places have helped make up the student body.
To be host chapter to Iota Province Meeting in the spring of 1971 was exciting—the chapter’s first all-group experience of a Kappa convention—and especially exciting because Fraternity President Louise Little Barbeck, SMU, who in 1963 had started the machinery that led to the chapter’s founding was in attendance.
There are good memories from the fall of 1971: the pledge sneak, serenades, Founders Day (the 1970 Centennial Founders Day had been a real occasion with a fine program including an 1870–1970 fashion show), homecoming, decorated doors at Christmas, a Hanukkah observance, lounge parties, food runs—all good. Especially gratifying was the experience of leading a group of Bluebirds in a school for the underprivileged. But an unhappy memory is the probation warning received that September, issued by the Council and based on impressions Council members had received during their attendance at Province Meeting the previous spring.
The chapter was upset but rallied quickly. There was a re-evaluation: those with waning interest examined their feelings. All elected to stay on and improve the situation. The major goal was unity. A real effort was made to educate members about Kappa’s values and history. The struggles and triumphs, highs and lows were pointed out so that chapter members realized no organization has smooth sailing all the time. Epsilon Iota found it beneficial to become more involved with others through service projects outside the campus. In June of 1972, the Fraternity Council removed the warning of probation. The chapter felt proud because a goal had been set and realized. It was satisfying.
The chapter was young and lacked noteworthy dates, famous alumnae, and longstanding traditions. Epsilon Iota history is easy to recall. Yearly occurrences are more custom than tradition and are always subject to modification. So the Kappas of Epsilon Iota questioned, modified, and evaluated, and hoped to pass on something of worth to future generations of girls who choose the University of Puget Sound and Kappa Kappa Gamma as a way to spend memorable collegiate years.
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.
In 1986, Epsilon Iota celebrated its 20th anniversary as a chapter with several special events throughout the year. During this time, the chapter was also pleased to be able to grow in size through successful formal and informal rush periods. In the fall of 1986, Epsilon Iota’s chapter room was moved from the basement of the student union building to a space connected to the chapter’s living quarters. This proved to be a very positive change for the chapter and helped to increase chapter unity. At the end of 1986, the chapter had more than 70 members and was ranked fifth on campus scholastically.
In the spring of 1987, Epsilon Iota was pleased to win the Most Improved Chapter and Scholarship awards at Iota’s Province Meeting, as well as three awards at the university’s Greek awards ceremony for scholarship (#1 on campus), philanthropy and the all-campus service award. At the end of 1987, the chapter had 86 actives and pledges.
The chapter had an active Keyman program in the mid-‘80s, which, in 1987, included a three-day Keyman rush process in which 45 potential Keymen participated. Twelve of the rushees were chosen as Kappa Keymen. The Keymen were a big part of the house, including supporting the chapter in many of its philanthropy events for local charities.
In 1988, Epsilon Iota began holding Monmouth Duo with the Pi Beta Phi chapter at UPS. The chapter continued its winning ways when it was awarded the campus philanthropy and service awards for the second year in a row, as well as the Greek Adviser of the Year award, and the Greek Woman of the Year award. The chapter won Greek Week for the third year in a row and took first place in Homecoming week activities.
The university moved from a fall formal rush to a deferred formal rush in 1988. While the chapter did appreciate having the extra time to prepare for rush, the adjustment was a difficult one for the chapter. The chapter ended the year with 65 active and pledge members.
Epsilon Iota’s busy schedule and on-campus successes carried over into 1989. The chapter worked hard to raise its GPA and to surpass the all-Greek GPA.
The chapter started out well in 1991 with a pledge class of 33, which was quota. The same year, the chapter celebrated its 25th anniversary and was pleased that nearly all of its charter members were able to join in the Founders Day celebration.
Scholastically, the chapter struggled in the early 1990s and had fallen to last place on campus. The chapter goal for 1991 was to improve in this area, and members implemented several new programs toward this end, including accepting the Fraternity’s Challenge to Excellence.
Epsilon Iota again swept the awards at the campus Greek awards banquet by winning Greek Woman of the Year, Pledge of the Year and Greek Scholar of the Year. Additionally, the chapter president was the Homecoming Queen in 1991.
The chapter’s focus on scholarship continued in the early ‘90s, and by the end of 1994, Epsilon Iota was third on campus with a GPA of 3.13. A member of the chapter was again elected as the campus Homecoming Queen, continuing the chapter’s long tradition of having members on the court. At the Kappa Convention in 1994, the chapter was awarded Honorable Mentions for Philanthropy and Public Relations.
The 1994 chapter newsletter reported that 40 members of the chapter were housed in the chapter’s living facilities that year. Epsilon Iota carried many of its long-standing events and activities into the mid-1990s, including Casino Night, Mystery Dance, Scholarship Brunch, Boat Bash, Sapphire Ball, Homecoming activities and many philanthropy events.
The summer of 1998 brought several changes to the Kappa residence in Smith Hall. Group living (4-, 6- and 8-person rooms) were eliminated, and the house gained a new laundry room, a new bike room, window seats, a wheelchair accessible room and new drapes, furniture and flooring.
Epsilon Iota Chapter closed in 2004. In the years before the chapter members voted to surrender the chapter charter, chapter members and advisers worked hard to increase membership. However, the chapter’s lack of viability placed hardships on the members and a significant burden on the chapter officers. (The Key, spring 2005)