Eva Powell, Pi Deuteron Chapter, UC Berkeley (1877-1966)
Eva Powell represented Pi’s alumnae association at both the 1908 and 1910 Conventions and was elected Grand Secretary at this second meeting. In 1912, she was elected Grand President at the age of 35, the oldest to hold that office up to that time, and she was reelected in 1914.
The Berkeley graduate and former chapter President was easily recognized for the long, thick hair she wore in a coronet braid. Notable, too, was her support of chapter extension and during her administration, 1912-1916, Kappa had its greatest number of new chapters in 24 years: Beta Omega – Oregon, Beta Theta – Oklahoma – Beta Kappa, Idaho, were installed and Beta Rho, Cincinnati, and Beta Beta, St. Lawrence, were reinstated as deuteron chapters. Only Beta Gamma Chapter at Wooster was lost because of long-time faculty opposition.
“Have we not become so enamored of the word conservatism,” she asked, “that we have allowed other fraternities to go into universities first…where we had the opportunity… ?” She called for “discriminating extension” and because of anti-fraternity feelings, she insisted that sororities “must increasingly become centers not of exclusiveness, but of truly democratic influences, not of social excesses, but of genuine personal culture, dignity and character.”
True to those convictions, a scholarship requirement for initiation was added during her terms, social service work for chapters and the importance of a budget and living on a cash basis were stressed and the Students’ Aid Fund was increased to $10,000. A pledge pin was adopted and songbook published. A campaign of alumna education was carried on, an alumnae officer was made a regular member of Grand Council and called Grand Vice President and the province system was expanded to ten provinces. After four years of leading Kappa, the Oakland, California, native returned to her other work, which included the presidency of several other civic, church and women’s groups; twice she served as President of the San Francisco Bay Alumnae Association. For the League of Women Voters, she organized study groups and national committees. She served the YWCA as general secretary in Denver and in New York; in 1922 she went to South America to raise funds for the YWCA.
Never married, she found time to play the piano up to four hours a day and before her death said she would be happy if Kappa could be known as a singing Fraternity, proud as she was of its songbook.