Sarah Harris Rowe

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Sarah Harris Rowe, President 1920-1922

Sarah Harris Rowe, Upsilon Chapter, Northwestern (1888-1979)

The Fraternity Council career of Sarah Harris started in 1914 when she attended Convention and was elected Grand Vice President, a newly-created office to handle alumna affairs. It was the first time an officer for alumna affairs would serve on Council; three former offices had been merged and Sarah had to invent the job. It was hers for the next six years, during which she urged the establishment of alumnae associations.

“Just now, when fraternities are being so much censured, so closely watched and their very right to exist questioned, we want Kappa Kappa Gamma to know that its alumnae…are loyal and alive to their responsibilities,” she said.

As Grand Vice President, she visited chapters, organized alumnae associations and established cooperation between the two. She not only increased the voting power of alumnae but also their sense of obligation. She sent letters to The Key asking for contributions, asked alumnae their opinions, notified them of changes in policy and sent clubs annual report blanks and copies of official Fraternity material. No one had worked with the alumnae in such an organized, onward-looking way before.

Sarah was also the Alumna Editor of The Key. In 1917, she asked, “What of us who are not at the ‘Front?’ We can’t all be missionaries, we can’t all speak at suffrage meetings, but we MUST all SERVE somewhere.”

In what proved to be a historic move, she asked for an article for The Key of Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Beta Nu, Ohio State, who in turn appealed to Kappas to become involved with fatherless French children. Response to her plea was so large that Kappa’s work of World War I began. For years, the poor of France could knock on a door labeled Kappa Kappa Gamma and receive free medical and dental care.

Sarah was elected Grand President at the Golden Jubilee Convention, and at the conclusion of her term, 1920-1922, she recommended the establishment of Kappa’s first Central Office with a paid Executive Secretary (Della Lawrence (Burt), Beta Xi, Texas). Until that time, Fraternity officers had carried on all the business of the Fraternity. During her term of office, in December 1921, she married Richard Rowe.

A cum laude graduate with a liberal arts degree, Sarah was registrar and later Dean of Women at the School of Speech Communication at Northwestern and served on a number of boards and commissions from 1939 to 1952. She was also mother of two sons and a daughter, Sally Harris Kanaga, who became a Kappa at Upsilon, Northwestern, and grandmother to Ann Kanaga, Epsilon Nu, Vanderbilt.

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