Gamma Pi

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Gamma Pi
ΓΠ
Gamma Pi.jpg
FoundedJune 2, 1927 (1927-06-02) (95 years ago)
CollegeUniversity of Alabama
LocationTuscaloosa, AL
HomepageGamma Pi Homepage
Media related to Gamma Pi Chapter


University of Alabama established in 1831, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


Gamma Pi founded June 2, 1927 - 14 charter members


3,669 initiates (as of June 2018)



Charter Members: Margaret Cora Allman, Alberta Inge Austin, Mildred Gaston Beale, Dorothy Ellen Curtis, Alexina Anderson Demouy, Ruth Judson Elliott, Alice Adeline Gardiner, Katie Nell Holmes, Ninette Huffman, Margartia Lopez-Trelles, Estella Keith Masters, Edna Lee McDonald, Mary George Smith Robinson, Susye Katherine Wilkins.


Fraternity Officers:

Jennie Miller Helderman, Vice President, 1988-1990, Director of Chapters, 1990-1992; Cynthia McMillan Lanford, Director of Membership, 1984-1988, Editor of The Key; 1988-1993’ Miriam Austin Locke, National Panhellenic Conference Delegate, 1951-1954, Fraternity Fellowship Chairman, 1954-1956, 1974-1985; Constance Schmid (Torre-Tasso), Field Secretary 1957-1959; Carolyn Carlisle (Phelan), Field Secretary 1966-1968; Margaret Hayes (Burnstad), Field Secretary 1972-1974; Leah Yelverton (Simpson), Field Secretary 1980-1982; Rev. Deanie Walburn (Strength), Traveling Consultant 1993-1994



Fraternity Loyalty Award:

Miriam Austin Locke, 1974



Alumnae Achievement Award Recipients:

Jennie Miller Helderman, 2012, author of the award winning book, a true story, As the Sycamore Grows



Additional Outstanding Gamma Pi Alumnae:

Annie Ragsdale (Parker), Graduate Counselor 1947-1949; Constance Schmid (Torre-Tasso), Graduate Counselor 1955-1957; Angelyn Sanders (Chandler), Graduate Counselor 1958-1958; Carolyn Hines (Mikell), Graduate Counselor 1979-1981; Lorrie Favret (Anderson), Graduate Counselor 1988-1989



The Early Years (from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma 1870-1976)[edit]

On June 2, 1927, Gamma Pi chapter was installed at the University of Alabama with a charter membership of 14 and 11 returned alumnae initiated on June 3. Installing officers were Georgia Hayden Lloyd-Jones, Wisconsin, Grand President; Virginia Rodefer Harris, Indiana, Vice President; and Minnie Royce Walker, DePauw, president’s deputy. Beta Omicrons was the installing chapter, and alumnae and actives from other chapters assisted.

A firmly organized local, Pi Alpha had, from its inception in June 1922, the goal of Kappa affiliation. A lone faculty wife, Aline Pelphrey Christian, Oklahoma, was a wise guide. With her help the Pi Alphas gained the interest of other Alabama Kappas. By 1926, this outstanding local, which had held the Panhellenic Scholarship Cap for three years, was allowed to petition formally. Among the first initiates of the chapter were eight members of Phi Beta Kappa, and for 15 uninterrupted years, the Panhellenic Cup was a chapter achievement.

Sponsoring the petition was Esther C. Freeman (Masters), Indiana. Her future mother-in-law, Estella Keith Masters, a law faculty wife, had become an active member of the petitioning group and had interested Esther in Pi Alpha. Estella Masters became a charter member of Gamma Pi, and later served as Finance Adviser and as house building chairman for more than two decades. Other faculty wives gradually arrived on the campus and formed the nucleus of the Advisory Board. Jessie McCulloch Kaufman, Pennsylvania, gave particular interest and inspiration. There were no Kappas among the townspeople at this period.

The capable and helpful Hazel Scott Mauck, Indiana, was the first House Director, in a quaint, temporary rented house on Caplewood Terrace. It had a precipitous stairway and a sloping attic ceiling, which collapsed during the midnight solemnities of one Initiation. Its basement rooms, knows as “The Cavity” were accessible to both animal and human prowlers. These hazards must have influences the visiting young Executive Secretary, Clara O. Pierce, The Ohio State University, who decided that the chapter must have a house of its own. Later she admitted that she had been over-bold to launch a penniless chapter on a staggering building project.

A handsome white Colonial house was built with $18,000 of borrowed money, and was semi-ready for fall of 1929. Some features had been economized on, and the President remarked that the columns needed fattening up on a cream diet.

“Rushees” that fall were entertained in tea rooms, but by Founders Day, a formal dedication and a reception were held, followed by a tea dance during which the new floors were so marred that they required refinishing. At first, 20 members were accommodated; two more rooms were completed in 1937; and a new chapter room installed in 1941. Gamma Pi was first on campus to provide meals for all new members and others unable to live in, and this continuing practice helped build chapter unity.

Mildred Gaston Beale, president of Pi Alpha as a sophomore, was the remarkable first chapter President of Gamma Pi, and continued to hold office for four years, through her graduate year. To her strong leadership, perception and charm, Gamma Pi owes much of its early and continuing strength.

More than 60 members of Phi Beta Kappa and an even larger number of Mortar Board members attest to the chapter’s reputation for leadership and scholarship. During 1933-34, five of nine presidents of campus leadership organizations, and the Honorary Cadet Colonel, were members of Gamma Pi.

Very early, the chapter began to receive recognition at General Conventions: Fraternity Scholarship Award, 1934; first recipient of the Minnie Royce Walker Scholarship Award, 1936 and again in 1944; two-time recipient of the Clara O. Pierce Gracious Living Award; Georgia Hayden Lloyd-Jones Scholarship Improvement Award, 1958; Charlotte Barrell Ware Standards Award, 1968; and the Fraternity Appreciation Award, 1970. In 1937, one of the six newly established undergraduate scholarship came to Phebe Bibb (Thomas), and since then a number of members have held scholarship and fellowship awards.

Gamma Pi was installing chapter for Delta Upsilon, Epsilon Eta and Epsilon Nu. It has assisted at Installation and Recruitment at Delta Rho and Epsilon Zeta. Annie Laurie Ragsdale (Parker) went to Georgia as a Graduate Counselor and helped establish the chapter there, serving as first President. Mary Constance Schmid (Cobb), Graduate Counselor and Field Secretary, established the nucleus for Epsilon Epsilon at Emory, and Angelyn Sanders (Chandler), also a Graduate Counselor and Field Secretary, joined her the following year. Other Gamma Pi Field Secretaries have been Carolyn Carlisle Phelan and Margaret Hays, former chapter President and daughter of a chapter President. (Her two sisters were also Gamma Pis.)

Gamma Pi entertained at the Province Meeting of 1931, 1941, 1945 and 1947 … The House Corporation was set up during a visit from Rheva Ott Shryock, Pennsylvania, Grand President, in 1937. The Tuscaloosa Alumnae Club (now association) was formally chartered during the 1941 Province Meeting. Gamma Pi members have been active officers in alumnae associations from Philadelphia to Dallas and from Pasadena to Miami.

Gamma Pi has maintained a strong Panhellenic spirit, lending its house to other groups for such occasions as installations and recruitment parties. For many years, all campus new members were entertained at an annual Halloween party. Starting in 1929, Christmas parties for underprivileged children were held. Later, patients from a local institution for disabled or troubled youth were entertained in a cooperative fraternity venture.

The Gamma Pi pre-Christmas faculty reception was for many years one of the most heralded social events of the city. In later years, the chapter entertained alumnae and their children at a holiday party. Advisers enjoy many chapter courtesies. This has preserved and developed active-alumna relationships. For many years, parents have come from afar for the famous Parents Weekend, scheduled often to coincide with a special sport event or following Sigma Chi Derby.


World War II Years

During World War II, there was the USO entertaining and the visiting of wounded servicemen—there were nurse’s aide courses, blood drives, and house dances for service personnel enrolled on the campus. In 1945, Gamma Pi won a war bond drive by selling $23,000 of the $60,000 in bonds sold by the entire student body. During this same period, scholarship was above a B average, brining commendation from officials of the university and Fraternity.


Housing Changes

As the university expanded and the enrollment of women increased, the houses became inadequate and an impressive building program emerged in the 1950s. After long planning, saving and effort, Gamma Pi moved into a new, red brick Colonial style house during the icy January of 1963. Delays, disappointments and unexpected expenses had tried the wits and patience of the Housing Committee. Only Fraternity encouragement and the visits of the Kappa official architects, Herbert and Frances Sutton Schmitz, Michigan, enabled the local committee to realize its plans. The chapter had moved out of the old house the morning after fall pledging in 1961, and for a year and a half, 20 members occupied a rented university-owned house with inadequate facilities, peeling wallpaper and leaky pipes. The entire chapter trudged a long distance to take meals together under conditions defying all rules for “gracious living.” Meals were served buffet style and trays were carried to empty spots. Recruitment in Alabama’s September heat in the Presbyterian Center next door did not daunt the good spirits or the ingenuity of the chapter, and the Recruitment season was unexpectedly successful—two pledges above the quota because of a Panhellenic computer error.

Never were there such enthusiasm and such cooperation as in the Recruitment of 1962. Hiring a bus to carry the “rushees” was later imitated by other groups. Never were there happier girls than those who returned after Christmas to a beautiful new house—and never was there a wearier Housing Committee.

Formal dedication was October 15, 1963, with Clara O. Pierce, Ohio State, Catherine Kelder Walz, Michigan, and Frances Schmitz, Michigan, present. In the fall of 1973, the last payment was made on the loan, and Gamma Pi burned the mortgage while receiving commendation from university officials for being the first group to remove indebtedness on a new house.

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 kkghq@kkg.org with questions.


Highlights of the 1970s:[edit]

A major event of fall 1973 was the Cancer Run-a-thon with Kappa Alpha Fraternity in competition with Epsilon Eta Kappas and Delta Chi Fraternity at Auburn. Together, the group raised more than $25,000.

Gamma Pi’s Miriam Austin Locke (affectionately known by many as “Doc Locke”) became well known as a Kappa leader and role model. Besides being Mu Province president from 1940-43, she served as National Panhellenic Alternate Delegate, 1947-51; National Panhellenic Delegate, 1951-54; Fraternity Fellowships Chairman, 1954-1985; Loyalty Award recipient, 1974 and in 1965, a faculty reception was given in her honor and a large silver tray was presented to her. It was announced at Convention in 1968 that a $500 graduate fellowship in her name would be given by Gamma Pi members from all over Alabama. Then at the Centennial Founders Day celebration at Gamma Pi, the chapter unveiled a life-size head-and-shoulder portrait of her to hang in the chapter living room. She had been chairman of the building committee for the chapter house that was occupied in 1963. Golden anniversary in 1977 …


Highlights of the 1980s[edit]

The Gamma Pi chapter remained one of the largest on campus. In 1985 the pledging of 47 women brought the chapter total to 142 Gamma Pi members. A huge success was the rising from 15th position scholastically in 1984 to number two in 1985. This resulted in a letter of congratulations from a faculty member which was published in the Crimson White newspaper.

Changes were afoot in concerns for the environment and awareness of the dangers of alcohol abuse and underage drinking. This led to challenges for the chapter in adjusting to these concerns. Gamma Pi took pride in leading other Greeks with such changes as the new drinking policies and in looking out for one another. They also set a successful goal of unifying the chapter through fraternity education and Kappa fun facts including extensive reviews of Kappa history. The pledges also participated by having weekly pledge tests.

On campus Kappas were involved in student government organizations, honor societies and various other leadership positions.


Convention Awards:

Housing: Gamma Pi’s were proud of the changes to their house: lovely new furniture for the den and living room, renovating the basement to make the study atmosphere more pleasant. Thirteen houseboys helped serve at dinner and ate with the members.


Philanthropy:

Gamma Pi noted an increase in participation in philanthropy projects. A traditional event was the annual Balloon Derby during Homecoming in October. In 1985 $5,000 was raised for the American Cancer Society. However, wildlife concerns were coming to the forefront at this time and the balloons were a problem so Gamma Pi looked for another fund raiser. Other philanthropies included trick-or-treating and bowling with the single-parent underprivileged children of Tuscaloosa, a Christmas party with the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity for underprivileged children, working at the “Hands On” Museum, participating in the campus-wide blood drive and helping with a tennis marathon for Tuscaloosa’s Soup Kitchen. The members were especially proud of the pledges as they helped a needy family at Christmas time by collecting clothes, food and other necessities.


Highlights of the 1990s[edit]

During the nineties, Gamma Pi continued their tradition of outstanding Recruitment by consistently welcoming pledge classes of approximately 40 women. New members came from California, Texas, Virginia and obviously, many from the hometown of Tuscaloosa. In the mid-1990’s, Panhellenic incorporated new Bid Day policies that required the new members to do activities with their chapter until midnight of Bid Day. This turned out to be a wonderful experience for everyone as it allowed the new members to bond with their pledge class and get to know other members of their Gamma Pi chapter.

Gamma Pi members were active on campus and always participated in Homecoming and many other campus activities. In 1996 they took third in the Homecoming house decoration event and a group of actives took second place in the Road and River Race.

Gamma Pi members were strong academically and continually had one of the highest All-Sorority G.P.A. on campus.

A consistent challenge during the 1990’s was participation. This was generally part of the chapter’s goal for the year. The officers came up with creative ideas each year to encourage members to participate and find the perfect balance of social, campus involvement and scholarship.


Convention Awards:

1996 – Honorable Mention for Gracious Living


Housing:


Philanthropy:

In the early 1990’s Gamma Pi created a Kappa Cookbook to sell. Proceeds from the cookbook were donated to the American Cancer Society. Gamma Pi’s also volunteered their time at organizations such as the Soup Bowl and Big Oak Boys and Girls Club. In 1996 they participated in a Walk-a-thon and the proceeds raised supported Child Abuse Prevention Service.


Highlights of 2000-2010[edit]

During 2003-2004 the chapter enjoyed participating in sisterhood events as well as activities on campus. Homecoming was a main event on campus and Gamma Pi was proud as a peacock when their chapter president was elected Homecoming Queen. New members were involved with the parade, dance competition, and quad games. The chapter was also involved with Greek Week and the annual Beat Auburn Beat Hunger food drive.

Maintaining high academic achievement became a challenge for Gamma Pi during this decade. Historically, the chapter prided itself on maintaining one of the highest All-Sorority GPAs. In the 2003-2004 school year the new members met the academic challenge, ranking third highest out of fifteen sororities in grades.

Many Gamma Pi members were affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2004 since their homes were in New Orleans, Mobile, and Mississippi. Many members came together with other sororities, fraternities, and the Student Government Association to volunteer their time and supplies to hurricane evacuees located at the University of Alabama Recreation Center.

In 2007 president, Frankie Mohylsky, was voted as the best sorority president.

Gamma Pi celebrated its 80th birthday in February 2008. Active and alumna members enjoyed the festivities. The chapter initiated in memoriam two new members, Virginia and Becca, who were tragically killed in a car accident in the beginning of the 2008 school year. It was an emotionally hard time for the chapter, but by honoring their memories, it helped unify the entire chapter.


Convention Awards:


Housing:

Gamma Pi was one of the largest sororities on campus with more than 200 members during this decade.


Philanthropy:

The chapter won a jean's sale in 2006 and were awarded $500 towards its philanthropy. During parent's weekend in 2007, the chapter held a charity walk/run. "Kappas for a Kure" raised more than $5,000 for cancer and in honor of a Gamma Pi member who passed away from cancer.


Highlights of 2011[edit]

In a year of discussion about global warming, blizzards and storms, April of 2011 found a tornado sitting down just five blocks from the Gamma Pi house. Members were shaken by the storm, had no electricity and classes were cancelled. Fortunately none of the members was injured and the house was secure.

With technology changing the world, Gamma Pi decided to change the way it supported Kappa’s national philanthropy, Reading Is Fundamental. In 2011 for the first time they decided to use frendo, the first-ever fee-free donation platform because it is the only online platform for donors, fundraisers and charities that eliminates all fees to charities.

Gamma Pi furthers the ideals of RIF by frequently visiting Mathews Elementary, an elementary school in Tuscaloosa. Gamma Pi Kappas participate in service activities at Matthews through tutoring, live reading, and in an after school mentoring program. They participated in school supplies and book drives for Mathews, and encourage other sororities and fraternities to do the same.

In 2011 Delta Kappa Epsilon and Kappa Kappa Gamma began the first annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Kick off for a Cure. Delta Kappa Epsilon and Kappa Kappa Gamma organize this event to raise money and awareness for JDRF in the Tuscaloosa community.

Kappa for a Kure is an annual fundraiser that raises money for the American Cancer Society. This philanthropy was created in honor of a member, Carleton Parnell. The event is held every spring during parent’s weekend.

Gamma Pi hosts a cookout each fall in honor of two members, Virginia Gray Bailey and Rebecca Bettis. This cookout raises money for a scholarship that goes to a member who exemplifies the outstanding qualities of Virginia Gray and Becca.


Highlights of 2012[edit]

Events:

Kappa Kappa Gamma Leadership Day- January 2012: Each year the outgoing and incoming Chapter Council Officers and the advisory board host Leadership Day at the Kappa house. This is a whole Saturday dedicated to the betterment of our chapter and development our council members. Leadership exercises, goal setting, recap meetings, are a few of the many important agenda items each year. Each year our chapter invites a guest speaker to lead a discussion on ways to improve our chapter from an external point of view. This program has received recognition from the Fraternity nationally. Because of this events great success, our agenda and materials from our 2012 Leadership Day were sent out to Kappa chapters around the country for them to emulate the structure.

April 2012: Our chapter celebrated the retirement of Gamma Pi alumnae Dr. Kathleen Cramer from the University of Alabama Office of Student Affairs. Dr. Cramer served as president of Gamma Pi as a sophomore and has never ceased to support our chapter in all of its endeavors. The students were always her first priority, especially members of Gamma Pi. It is because of her mentorship and guidance that our chapter is where it is today. She has helped remind our current chapter members of our rich legacy and guided us in a way that will help us continue that legacy. During her time at Alabama, Dr. Cramer served our campus in multiple facets and won countless prestigious awards. Because of her selfless nature, she has made a lasting impact on our chapter that will last for many years to come. We continue to look back at our chapter’s past outstanding achievements as we continue to build our chapter’s legacy on campus.

Philanthropy:

Nationally, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s philanthropy is Reading Is Fundamental. RIF works to build a literate nation by helping young people discover the joy of reading. Locally, Gamma Pi furthers the ideals of RIF by frequently visiting Mathews Elementary, an elementary school in Tuscaloosa. Gamma Pi Kappas participate in service activities at Matthews through tutoring, live reading, and in an after school-mentoring program. We participate in school supplies and book drives for Mathews, and encourage other sororities and fraternities to do the same. The past year and a half has been an exceptionally exciting one at the Kappa house and it started in the middle of the summer. After the April 27th 2011 tornado, we realized the abundance of helping opportunities at hand.

Since our national philanthropy is Reading Is Fundamental, it seemed only appropriate to look first at the elementary schools in the Tuscaloosa area. One of these schools, Alberta City Elementary, was completely destroyed in the tornado. We felt that this was the perfect place to begin. Alumni helped us coordinate with Jack Summersell, president of Educator’s Resource in Mobile, and so our adventure began. Mr. Summersell helped us to gather and spread the word that we were raising money to help Alberta Elementary. In no time, $4,000 had been donated and we were able to purchase a large amount of school supplies from Educator’s Resource. Some of our other events include our annual cookout in honor of Becca Bettis and Virginia Gray Bailey; during this event money is raised and donated toward a Kappa scholarship fund in honor of the two former members. Kappa for a Kure occurs every year during parents weekend in which money is raised in support of the American Cancer Society, this event is also in memory of a former Kappa, Carlton Parnell.


Other Awards/Achievements: • 2012 Active Hallie Majure Phillips, Order of Omega Most Outstanding Junior • 2012 Active Laura Ying, Vice President of Order of Omega • 2012 Actives Natalie Coleman, Hallie Majure Phillips, Laura Ying, and Kara Galloway, Order of Omega Honor Society • 2012 Active Hallie Majure Phillips, Blue Key Honor Society President • 2012 Actives Hallie Majure Phillips and Ellie Friedman, Mortar Board Society • 2012 Actives Ellie Friedman and Hallie Majure Phillips, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society • 2012 Gamma Pi had 11 members of Homecoming Executive Board and Committees • 2012 Actives Natalie Coleman and Hallie Majure Phillips, recipients of the Miriam Locke Scholarship • 2010- 2012 National Kappa Kappa Gamma Recruitment Award • 2012 Academic Improvement Award for Xi Province from the National Fraternity • 2012 Alumni Support Award for Xi Province from the National Fraternity

We also had members on the Executive Council of Order of Omega and Blue Key Honor Society, as well as members of Mortar Board, the Alabama Panhellenic Association Executive Council, Omicron Delta Kappa, and many more prestigious organizations.

Chapter Goals, Challenges, and how they were overcome:

Our chapter faced some complications accommodating for our largest pledge in history but we were so thrilled to have so many new members who would contribute only the best to Gamma Pi; therefore, the officers on Chapter Council came together to help each other do whatever needed to be done to be sure that the needs of every member in the chapter was accounted for.

Changes on Campus:

Our University and Greek community are expanding greatly and so is our chapter. With strong participation and attendance at chapter meetings and programs, our chapter is in need of more space to accommodate its growing number of women. Ritual and sacred ceremonies that take place in our chapter house are of the upmost importance to us. Keeping the sisterhood of Kappa Kappa Gamma alive through ceremonies that were conducted by our founding sisters 142 years ago is one of the most cherished traditions of our fraternity. New member classes are only going to get larger from here. It is very important that we have enough space to conduct our initiation ceremonies in the future when pledge classes are over one hundred women. We are so appreciative of the overwhelming amount of alumnae support that our chapter receives, especially for events such as recruitment and initiation. In recent years we have actually had to limit the amount of alumnae that can attend because our facility cannot currently hold everyone who would like to be in attendance. We are hoping to have renovation and expand our house by the year of 2014.

Overall Nature of the Gamma Pi Chapter:

“Aspire to be.” That is the motto of Kappa Kappa Gamma. The Gamma Pi Chapter strives more and more every year to give back to our sisters and to our community. We aspire to grow in our friendships and leadership through our chapter programs and sisterhood activities. We aspire to make the community around us a better place through our philanthropic efforts. Below we highlight some of our annual programs and service projects.


Highlights of 2013[edit]

The year of 2013 proved to be another successful year for the Gamma Pi chapter. We have several members that hold leadership positions and are in honor societies on campus. Increased involvement of our members on campus is a goal for our future.

In January, we hosted our annual Kappa Kappa Gamma Leadership Day, a day where incoming and outgoing officers and advisers set goals for the new year and sought to make improvements where needed. Our slogan for this year was “Let’s Get R.E.A.L!” Each letter in the word “REAL” stands for something: “R” for recruitment, “E” for effort, “A” for academics, and “L” for leadership. At this meeting we planned to devote the most attention to these four areas for the upcoming year.

In February, we had eleven members of chapter council attend the Xi Province Meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Our members were very excited to have the opportunity to meet other Kappas from around the country. Our chapter won two awards, one for academic improvement and the other for outstanding support from the Tuscaloosa alumni.

In August we worked very hard to pledge our largest pledge class yet with 117 incredible new members! We had the best return rates we have ever had and were very pleased to add such an outstanding pledge class.

Throughout the year, Kappa participated in and held several philanthropy events.

In January we supported the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters organization of West Alabama with their Tuscaloosa Krispy Kreme Challenge. This event consisted of a 2.5-mile race where participants received a dozen donuts halfway through the race. On our leadership day, the CEO of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters West Alabama came to speak us about leadership.

During our annual Parents Weekend in March, we hosted a cookout at the Kappa house with barbecue and a piano band. There was a five-dollar donation given by everyone in attendance. The proceeds went to the Cystic Fibrosis foundation.

In September the Kappas helped with the Thomas Plott Foundation’s annual golf tournament to raise awareness and funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We focus several of our philanthropy efforts towards cystic fibrosis because one of our current members suffers from it.

In October, we held our first annual Kappa Karnival to serve the underprivileged children of our Tuscaloosa community and to collect books benefitting our national philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental. We first asked other sororities and fraternities to donate books for our cause. We then hosted a carnival for underprivileged children in the Tuscaloosa area. We had a great time with the children and felt good about the impact we had on our local community.

In November we held our annual Virginia Gray Bailey/ Becca Bettis Memorial Scholarship fundraiser in conjunction with Alumni Weekend. Alumni and actives gathered on the Kappa lawn to enjoy live music, eat hamburgers and hotdogs, hear about the plans for the new Kappa house, and support the cause. The scholarship goes to a deserving active of Gamma Pi who exemplifies the ideals of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

There have been several changes on campus this year.

The fall of 2013 proved to be a time of great controversy for the Greek community. National attention was focused on the campus and its lack of diversity within sororities. Panhellenic worked with the administration of the University of Alabama to implement Continuous Open Bidding (COB) whereby all Panhellenic sororities were encouraged to recruit new members throughout the year. Bids were offered, and we were fortunate to pledge several new members at different times during the year.

One of the areas we continue to focus on improving is academics. Every year we strive to increase our sorority’s academic average, and this year we were successful in doing so. We are proud of the improvements that we continue to make, and we hope to continue our efforts to become an even stronger chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.


Highlights of 2014[edit]

In the past year the Gamma Pi Chapter has achieved many things. Throughout the year, many members of the Gamma Pi chapter have been involved in not only sisterhood events but academic events and achievements as well. Many of the members have help leadership positions and are in honor societies on campus at the University of Alabama. We continue to strive for goals such as increasing involvement on campus, academics, and sisterhood.

In January, we hosted our annual Kappa Kappa Gamma Leadership Day. This day is where incoming and outgoing officers and advisers meet and set goals for the new year and discuss areas which need improvement. The slogan for this year was “ REAL. Bold the A”. Each letter in slogan represented a different word from our previous years’ Leadership Day. The main point was to place emphasis on the “A”, which stood for academics, accountability, and appreciation, all areas our chapter needed improvement on.

In August we had another outstanding rush, with yet another, outstanding large pledge class of 115 incredible new members. Gamma Pi, once again, has the best return rates throughout recruitment. With our increasing numbers, we were pleased to add a unique and outstanding pledge class.

During the year we had had many members attend different conferences and events hosted by Kappa Kappa Gamma. Two of our members attended convention and one member attended leadership academy.

Throughout the year, Gamma Pi help and participated in several philanthropy events around campus.

In January, we were involved in the Tuscaloosa Krispy Kreme Challenge, helping Big Brothers/ Big Sisters organization of West Alabama. This event is a 2.5- mile race where participants run a little over one mile to pick up a dozen donuts, then run back to the start of the race. The catch here is, the participants must eat the entire dozen donuts before returning to start to win the race. Throughout the year, the CEO of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of West Alabama came to speak to our chapter.

At our annual Parents Weekend in March, we held a cookout at the Kappa House with a barbecue and a band. There was an offer to give a five-dollar donation for everyone in attendance, where the proceeds went to the Cystic Fibrosis foundation.

In March during spring break, a group of Gamma Pi members travelled to Haiti for our first ever Spring Break mission trip to Haiti. Kappa collected over 500 t-shirts to send with the members who went to Haiti for the children. We also collected other supplies and funds that the members needed for the trip and to give to the Sozo Children of Haiti. This is new a tradition that is continuing on for many more Spring Breaks to come.

In October, we held our second annual Kappa Karnival to serve the underprivileged children of our Tuscaloosa community. This events helped us collect books benefiting our national philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental. We asked other sororities and fraternities to donate books for a cause. Afterwards, we hosted the carnival for the children in the Tuscaloosa area. This was Halloween themed since it was around Halloween and in October. The kids had many games and activities to participate in, including a bounce house, pumpkin painting, and different carnival games. We had a wonderful time with the children and felt great about the imp at we had on our local community.

In November, we head our annual Virginia Gray Bailey/ Becca Bettis Memorial Scholarship fundraiser in conjunction with Homecoming and our Alumni Weekend. Alumni and actives gather on the Kappa lawn and driveway to enjoy live music, have a cookout, and head about the plans for our new Kappa house while supporting the cause. A donation of five dollars a person was taken for the Scholarship fund in honor of two of our kappa sisters who died a few years ago. This is not only a great way to support our sisters in need of a scholarship but to show support to our actives who were sisters to and friends of Virginia Gray and Becca. This scholarship goes to a deserving active of Gamma Pi who exemplifies the ideals of Kappa Kappa Gamma.


Throughout the year, Gamma Pi members have improved in the area of academics, sisterhood, and involvement around campus and within Kappa. We hosted many events for actives to bond more with their sisters, including Zumba for all grades on Monday nights twice a semester, ice cream get-togethers, movie nights, and pizza parties. We also had bible studies for members who wanted to come together and worship God. Many of our actives are on the Dean’s List, President’s List, and many different academic honor societies. We have many members of Gamma Pi in leadership positions of SGA at the University of Alabama. We are proud of the improvements that we continue to make, and we hope to continue our efforts to become an event stronger chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.


Highlights of 2015[edit]

The year of 2015 proved to be another successful year for the Gamma Pi chapter at the University of Alabama. We have had several members that have held leadership positions and are in numerous honor societies on campus. We continue to strive for increased involvement of our members on campus now and in the future.

In January, we hosed our annual Kappa Kappa Gamma Leadership Day. This day is where incoming and outgoing officers and advisers come together and set goals for the new year. This is also a time where previous plans are reviewed and areas are looked at for where improvements could be made. We continue to have an action plans of focusing on Recruitment, Effort, Academics, and Leadership.

In February, we had numerous members of chapter council attend Kappa Kappa Gamma Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Our members were very excited to have the opportunity to meet with other Kappas from around the country.

In April, we held a memorial weekend and ground breaking ceremony for our new Kappa house. The event was filled with hundreds of alumni and actives at the Kappa house to walk through the old house and share memories from years of Gamma Pi members. The ceremony also was a ground breaking event for our new house, where we shared plans of the future of Gamma Pi.

In August, our current members worked very hard to pledge our largest pledge to date. The pledge class had 140 incredible new members! We, yet again, had the best return rates we have ever had and were very excited to add such an amazing pledge class.

Throughout the year, Kappa participated in and held several philanthropy events.

In January, we supported Big Brothers/ Big Sisters organization of West Alabama with their annual Krispy Kreme Challenge. This event consisted of a 2.5 mile race where participants received a dozen donuts halfway through the race. In order to win the race, participants must eat all of the donuts before finishing the race. On our leadership day, the CEO of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters West Alabama came to speak to us about leadership.

In April, we held our annual our annual Parents Weekend, we hosted a pancake breakfast at the Kappa House. There was a five-dollar donation given by everyone in attendance. The proceeds went to the Cystic Fibrosis foundation.

In September, the Kappas held a philanthropy dinner for Molly Remmert Rossell. A native of Tuscaloosa who was battling cancer. The event was to raise awareness for cancer and support Molly in her fight.

In October, members helped with the Thomas Plott Foundation’s annual golf tournament to raise awareness and funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We focus several of our philanthropy efforts towards cystic fibrosis because one of our current members suffers from it. We also held our third annual Kappa Karnival. This is to serve the underprivileged children of our Tuscaloosa community and to collect books benefitting our national philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental. We asked other sororities and fraternities to donate books for our case. We hosted a carnival for the children at our house. Also in October, we held our annual Virginia Gray Bailey/ Becca Bettis Memorial Scholarship fundraiser cookout to remember two members who passed away. Alumni and actives gathered on the Kappa Lawn to enjoy live music, eat hamburgers and bbq, hear more plans for the New Kappa House, and support the case. The scholarship goes to a deserving active of Gamma Pi who exemplifies the ideals of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

In November we held a fundraiser at a local restaurant for “Amazing Grace”. Grace is a young girl from Birmingham, Al who had cancer. The event held was to raise money to donate to the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Al in Grace’s name. We sold cups with “Amazing Grace logo” for 5$ a piece so that anyone who bought the cup could get free sodas, all afternoon at the restaurant. We had an outstanding attendance rate from not only our members of Gamma Pi but also from locals in Tuscaloosa.

One of the areas we continue to focus on is improving academics among all members. Every year we strive to increase our sorority’s academic average, and this year, like previous year, we were successful in doing so. We are proud of the improvements that we continue to make, and we hope to continue our efforts to become an even stronger chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

The overall nature of our chapter is a happy and friendly chapter. We have no had many changes on campus except for our new University of Alabama President being named. This has not changed many things for the Kappas of Alabama. We are one of the most liked sororities on campus with other students and with the University.

Chapter Philanthropy:

What organization(s) has your chapter historically/traditionally raised money for, or donated hours to, in your community?

We participate in many different organizations in our community. The above organizations are what we normally give time and money to within the community.

Why did your chapter choose this organization(s) to support?

We choose to support different organization due our chapter’s voice in what organization we should promote. If a member has a philanthropy we should support, our philanthropy chairman will review the cause and decide if we have time and money to get involved with the given event.

Highlights of 2016[edit]

This year, the Gamma Pi chapter focused on increasing our involvement in philanthropic activities and the community while also improving communication within the chapter and chapter council. The Gamma Pi chapter collaborated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama for the Krispy Kreme Challenge, and the whole chapter participated in the 5K walk/run in February.

Furthermore, our chapter was honored at the University of Alabama's Greek Excellence Banquet in February for our service and dedication to the campus. In March, we planned and implemented a successful parent's weekend with over 750 attendees (both parents and members). We also held a successful tie dye sisterhood event at the chapter house in March and participated in the university's homecoming week, including a bowling and dodgeball competition.

Our chapter awarded the Miriam Locke scholarship to four of our members in March. These members demonstrated dedication and excellence to both Kappa and academics. We also participated in a Secret Meals For Hungry Children project, an organization dedicated to feeding children who have been identified as going without nutrition over the weekend. Our chapter decorated a backpack for the project, and we were selected as the winners. Other philanthropic involvement included a sisterhood event for Relay for Life, Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama banquet, attending the LHON's foundation cookout in honor of a university student, Bright Minds Reading, and the Virginia Gray and Becca cookout our chapter hosts every year. We also completed construction of our new chapter house and opened its doors in August 2016.

The house is home to 60 members and provides a great location for every one to get together. We also hosted an alumni event in September to showcase the new house. Our chapter overcame the challenges of a large chapter size by bettering communication through providing our members with frequent updates and planning numerous sisterhood events, like movie night or cookie decorating at the house, where members could spend time together. In addition, academics is a challenge our chapter has faced, but by holding members more accountable for their GPAs through mandatory study hours and "major heads" we provided our members with the resources necessary to achieve academic success.

Recent changes on our campus include the construction of new sorority houses and renovation of other campus buildings. Increased focus on GPAs and the need for sororities to meet these standards has also increased. The Gamma Pi chapter has 442 active members. With a chapter this large, we are thankful to have a diverse mix of members and strive to create and facilitate a bond between all members. Our chapter encourages our members to pursue leadership roles within the chapter, campus organizations and the community. Our members are involved in numerous organizations in addition to Kappa. We place an emphasis on academics and philanthropic involvement. Our chapter's officers strive to create a welcoming environment in which every member has the necessary tools to achieve success.

The Gamma Pi chapter has supported Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama, Bright Minds reading program through United Way, Reading is Fundamental, and the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation.

Gamma Pi seeks to better the community and our members by making a difference in the lives of those around us. We partner with Reading is Fundamental due to the organization being Kappa's national philanthropy and also because of our chapter's vision of making a difference in children's lives. We host an annual event called "Kappa Karnival" in October to benefit RIF and Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama, our chapter's local philanthropy. We also encourage our members to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters through participation in their mentor program where each member is matched with a "little brother" or "little sister" (a child from an underprivileged background).

Through Big Brothers Big Sisters, our chapter is able to make an impact on children's lives around us and give back to the community. Big Brothers Big Sisters holds a special place in all of our member's hearts. In addition, our members also participate in Bright Minds reading program through United Way where we send members into local schools to read to elementary children for an hour.

This organization is important to our chapter due to the opportunities to make a difference and experience hands on philanthropy. United Way recognized us in their newsletter for our partnership with the reading program and the dedication our members have shown this past semester.

We also donate to the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation as our chapter wants to give back to the organization that is the reason of our existence. Without Kappa, our members would not have the opportunity to experience the bond and sisterhood we all share. Without the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, our chapter would not exist; for this reason, it is important to give back and recognize our origins.

We hold chapter meetings in our new chapter house on campus. The house opened in August 2016 and has been of great use to our chapter.

Highlights of 2017[edit]

We began our year in January with our Kappa Leadership day, where we outlined important dates and set our individual and chapter goals. One of our major goals this year was to implement committees to encourage involvement from all members within Gamma Pi. In review, the committees allowed chapter council officers to accomplish more and allowed each member of Gamma Pi to show her leadership ability and increase her involvement with the chapter. In February, we partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama in their biggest fundraiser, the Krispy Kreme Challenge. The whole chapter was able to participate in the 5k fun run/walk and give back to a philanthropy that is important to our chapter. We also were honored at the Alabama Greek Excellence Award's Banquet for our impact on campus. In March, we hosted our annual Parents' Weekend and receive record-breaking feedback of its success. The event catered to 700+ people (parents and members), and was our time to show our immense gratitude to our parents for the opportunity to be involved with Gamma Pi. In April, we hosted a blood drive on Alabama's campus in partnership with Red Cross; this was the largest blood drive on campus this year. Over the summer months, we worked hard for the upcoming recruitment in August. In August, we had amazing success pledging 145 new members to Gamma Pi. Our Marshal worked hard to organize and emphasized the importance of Kappa's Ritual during special education session which we were then able to share with 143 new members during Initiation in October. Throughout the year, our chapter has strengthened our bond with monthly sisterhood events such as baseball games, educational speakers, and ice skating that gave the members time to spend with each other. With such a large chapter, sisterhood events are imperative and truly strengthen our relationship, in addition to being fun activities. As chapter council, we have worked hard to make Gamma Pi an exemplary Kappa chapter. We have made major changes such as implementing committees, strictly holding members accountable, increasing communication with each other and members, and working to increase our chapter GPA, just to name a few examples. But all of this could not have been done without the help and encouragement of each other and our loyalty to our Kappa sisters.

Major changes on our campus include construction of new sorority houses. Our house was just completed August 2016; we are lucky to have such a wonderful house! Our chapter consists of 438 active members. We are thankful for the diverse mix of members and the bond Gamma Pi has allowed us to make. Not only is Gamma Pi a source of friendship, but it is also a source of encouragement. We encourage our members to be involved and pursue leadership roles in our chapter, Alabama's campus organizations, and Tuscaloosa's community. We strive for academic excellence and philanthropic involvement within Gamma Pi and individually. Overall, Gamma Pi is a source of encouragement, friendship, and memories that will last a lifetime.

Philanthropy

The Gamma Pi chapter's major philanthropy, locally in Tuscaloosa, is Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama. We also spend time with Bright Mings reading program through United Way, in addition to Reading is Fundamental. Gamma Pi seeks to better the community and our members by making a difference in the lives of those around us. With such a large chapter, we feel we have a huge opportunity to make a difference in the community locally and nationally, with our donations to Reading is Fundamental. We partner with Reading is Fundamental because it is Kappa's national philanthropy and we notice the importance of child literacy. To promote RIF, we organized a Reading is Key event. During this event, our members volunteered with a local elementary school's kindergarten class, spending time reading and creating crafts. Each child received a book and a supply box filled with crayons, glue, scissors, and stickers. The teachers also received 10-15 books to have for the class. This impacted the children of Northington Elementary tremendously and spread the importance of child literacy. In addition, we are also involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a mentor program where qualified mentors are matched with a "little brother" or "little sister", of an underprivileged background. We highly encourage our members to become mentors with Big Brothers Big Sisters as it is a gratifying experience and opportunity to make a difference in someones life. Each member of our chapter is able to volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters during one of our biggest philanthropy events, and Big Brothers Big Sisters main fundraiser, the Krispy Kreme Challenge. This event is a 5k fun-run to raise money for the philanthropy held annually in February. Big Brothers Big Sisters holds a special place in all of our members' hearts. In addition, our members also participate in Bright Minds reading program through United Way where we send members into local schools to read to elementary children for an hour. We also donate to the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation as our chapter wants to give back to the organization that is the reason of our existence. Without Kappa, our members would not have the opportunity to experience the bond and sisterhood we all share. Without the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, our chapter would not exist; for this reason, it is important to give back and recognize our origins.


Gamma Pi Chapter House opened in 2016

We hold our chapter meetings in our chapter house on campus. It was opened August 2016, so it is still fairly new. We are so grateful for this amazing house and the time we spend together inside.

Highlights of 2018[edit]

We began our year in January with a beneficial leadership seminar that allowed the newly elected Chapter Council to meet as a unit, and brainstorm ideas to improve the chapter in the upcoming year. We outlined important dates and set individual and group goals, as well as learned valuable leadership skills. One major goal was to increase chapter participation in Gamma Pi, which we did by giving chapter council committees more responsibilities, allowing them to get more involved. In February, we partnered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters in their biggest fundraiser, the Krispy Kreme Challenge. The entire chapter was able to participate in the 5k run and support the philanthropy that is so important to Gamma Pi. In March, we hosted our annual Parent’s Weekend, which was huge success. We hosted over all of the members of our chapter and their parents, with a total of over 700 people. We host this event every year to express our gratitude for all of the parent’s involvement and support of our chapter. In April, we partnered with Red Cross to host a blood drive on campus, the largest blood at the University of Alabama this year. Over the summer, we continued to work hard to prepare for our upcoming recruitment. In August, we had tremendous success, and recruited 112 new members. Throughout the next several weeks, our marshal worked with them in the new member education program to teach them the importance and significance in Kappa rituals. In October, the new members were initiated, which was a special occasion for the entire chapter as well as the dozens of alumni who were also in attendance. Having such a large chapter, it is important to keep connected through sisterhood events which were held every month, including movie nights, spa days, catered food trucks, and educational speakers to help strengthen our bond as a chapter. Overall, our chapter council has worked hard to preserve the Kappa standards and bring our chapter closer together. Our implementation of committees as well as increase in accountability for all members seems to have boosted morale and increased participation. All of this said, none of this could be possible without the love and dedication from our Kappa sisters and alumnae.

We are so blessed to have such a beautiful house that we all respect and share. Our chapter, being so large, is blessed to have such a diverse and interesting group of women who love and encourage each other every day. There is such a strong sense of community and friendship throughout the entire chapter. We encourage our members to be leaders in their community, the classroom, and role models to those around them. Overall, Gamma Pi is a source of love and sisterhood that we are confident will last far beyond our years at the University.

One of the most important goals of Gamma Pi is striving to better the community by impacting the lives of those around us. Being such a thriving chapter, we have an incredible opportunity to donate our time and resources to our philanthropies. We partner with Reading is Fundamental, which is our national philanthropy because we see the need in this country to greatly improve child literacy. One way we contributed, was by hosting our annual Reading is Key event, during which our members volunteered at a local elementary school’s kindergarten class. Each class received books and supplies for all of the children. Our members stayed with the children, reading to them and making arts a crafts. In doing this, we believe we made a positive impact on the teachers and students of Northington Elementary, as well as spread the importance of child literacy. In addition to Reading is Fundamental, we also support Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama as our local philanthropy. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a mentor program in which qualified mentors are paired with a “little brother” or “little sister” from an underprivileged family. We highly encourage all of our members to take part in this program, as it is very rewarding for both our members and the children they mentor. We also support Big Brother Big Sisters by partnering with them in their biggest fundraiser of the year, the Krispy Kreme Challenge, which is a 5k held in every year in February. We, as a chapter, have formed very strong bonds with the leaders of Big Brothers Big Sisters and are honored to be able to give back. Our chapter also participates in the Bright Minds reading program, through which our members volunteer to read to local elementary students for one hour. We also donate to the Kappa Kappa Gamma Organization to support or national chapter. Without Kappa, many of us would not have the opportunities we have today, and for that we are extremely grateful.

Madeline Turner, a Gamma Pi current member and legacy, in addition to newly elected Vice President of Education for the 2019 year, has deep Kappa history. She can be reached at mturner@crimson.ua.edu.

Highlights of the 2020s[edit]

This year was a year of challenges and changes for our chapter and every Kappa chapter. However, I truly believe that Gamma Pi came together and worked hard to make this semester the best that it possibly could be for our members. Scholarships: Due to COVID-19, we were unable to host our annual Virginia Gray and Becca Scholarship Fundraiser, which provides funds to give two of our members scholarships to help pay their chapter dues. McLean Moore, our Director of Philanthropy, had plans to have a book drive at the fundraiser to support Reading is Fundamental, as well as the Virginia Gray and Becca Scholarship. We hope to be able to continue our tradition of having this fundraiser in the coming years. Despite not being able to have the fundraiser, we were still able to give two of our members the scholarship this year! In addition, we are so proud that many of our members have scholarships from UA and other organizations.

Convention Awards: National Philanthropy Award – Large Chapter

Traditions: This year we did not get to do many of our traditions such as the end of Recruitment Workshop Waterslide and Snow Cone Party and the Virginia Gray and Becca Cookout. The Virginia Gray and Becca Cookout is an annual event in memory of two Gamma Pi members who we unexpectedly lost in a car accident a few years ago. The money raised in their honor at the cookout goes toward a scholarship fund that is awarded by the girls’ parents to a member of the Gamma Pi chapter. With the purchase of a $5 wristband, attendees could come into the house to enjoy a barbeque lunch and a live band on the Saturday of the Homecoming game! At our last cookout, we had over 700 people attend. Hopefully, we can continue this tradition in the future. One tradition that we were able to keep, was our annual ‘fancy’ dinner on the night of Founders Day. Our House Mom always gets cakes from her favorite local bakery and our kitchen pulls out all the stops for the special day. Usually, the dining room is full with people sitting on the ground as well as a long line to the kitchen. This year, our socially distanced line to get our food, wrapped around the house, and most people took their meals home or back to their dorms, but we still felt the love from our kitchen staff and House Mother! Everyone was so excited that we didn’t lose that tradition to COVID. Special Events: Obviously, COVID kept us from doing a lot of events that we usually love. However, we were still able to go to our favorite event, which is the Krispy Kreme Run. This is a philanthropy event that benefits the BBBS of West Alabama, which is our local philanthropy. Our chapter advisor, Whitney Jamison, is heavily involved in BBBS, so we love helping her at the event. It is always on a Saturday morning, and we always have a huge turnout of Kappas. We were so lucky that this year’s Krispy Kreme Run was in February, the weekend before we were sent home for COVID. It was the last in-person event that we got a chance to attend and while we were sad to leave Tuscaloosa, we were glad we didn’t miss it!

Philanthropic Involvement: This year we were incredibly limited in what we could do hands-on for our philanthropy. With the majority of the kids that we work with doing school from home, we could not visit or read to them like we usually do. We usually have many ‘Reading is Key’ events, where we send our members to local elementary schools in the Tuscaloosa area to read to their classes and help them with their work. The kids absolutely love when we get to come and our members really love it too. We can’t wait to be able to start ‘Reading is Key’ events back up when it is safe to do so. We did get to have one ‘Reading is Key’ event in February before we were sent home. This event was held at Matthews Elementary. Over 90 books and pencil pouches filled with erasers, stickers, and colored pencils were given to four 3rd grade classrooms at the school. The book "Whoosh!", which is about a boy who grows up to become an inventor of a very popular toy, was read aloud to the classrooms. An activity followed where the students were to draw and share their own invention on using the materials we provided in the pencil pouches, and share them with the class afterwards. Each student went home with the book "Whoosh!" and their pencil pouches and were excited about reading when they got home. The extra books and materials we brought were donated to the classrooms. We had plans of having another ‘Reading is Key’ event in April and two in the Fall, but they were unable to happen due to COVID-19 restrictions. In February and September 2020, we held percentage days at Juice Bar and South Boutique for RIF, where a percentage of purchases by members of Gamma Pi went to our philanthropy. Due to the unfortunate circumstances over the past year, we were not able to have percentage days that were scheduled in the Spring at other local businesses, and raise money at our Parents’ Weekend. In addition, Gamma Pi is donating $1500 to RIF from our philanthropy budget. We are optimistic for the coming year and are in the works of planning COVID-friendly ways to fundraise for RIF. Despite the circumstances this past year, our chapter was able to accomplish a lot. We were able to donate to many wonderful organizations in 2020, and one that sticks out the most is the ‘Reading Allies’ program. ‘Reading Allies’ is a reading proficiency program for K thru 3rd grade elementary school students. The program was developed to help address the serious reading deficiency of Alabama elementary school students. The ‘Reading Allies’ program is based on the highly successful UA Honors College reading proficiency tutoring program. Their program, which uses Honors College developed teaching materials and Honors College students and community volunteer reading tutors, has proven it can help our state address its serious reading proficiency challenge. This fits everything that Kappa's philanthropy stands for, and we supported and became involved with the program by donating $1000. We have also shown continuous involvement with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of West AL, our local philanthropy, this past year. In February 2020, they hosted their annual Krispy Kreme Run and ALL of our members attended - Gamma Pi has the largest involvement of any group that participates! At this run, we ran with the children and others in the Tuscaloosa community and were honored to donate $5000 to them. A large number of our members continue to be "Bigs" to underprivileged children in the Tuscaloosa school system with this organization, and many of our members are waiting to be "matched" with a "Little"! The playroom at the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of West AL office in Tuscaloosa (a room for Bigs and Littles to study, read and play) is still in progress of being completed, with one of our members finishing up a mural on one wall of this room. Once the mural is complete, the tutoring program that was set up last year will kick off, with many of our members setting up "office hours" to go and help students with their studies in this room. Fingers crossed that this will be able to happen in 2021. In addition, we are sponsoring one of our member's "Little" and her siblings to get them presents for Christmas after learning that her family cannot afford it this year. $600-$700 will be spent on their gifts. In November 2020, we learned that many students in the Tuscaloosa area do not have water bottles to bring to school and water fountains are not allowed to be in use at this time. Gamma Pi members were able to gather and drop off over 30 cases of water to TCTA school last month.

Chapter Goals: This year our main goal remained to be chapter involvement. I do believe that we did increase chapter involvement due to the fact that everything was online. It was much easier for our members to participate and come to events when they were using zoom. Coming off of our Focus Letter last year, this was one of our main goals, and I believe we did well encouraging participation. Chapter Operations under COVID-19: Our entire semester looked different due to COVID- 19. We started off with a completely virtual Recruitment. While we were worried about our conversations being awkward or weird through zoom, we got great feedback from the PNMs. Our pledge class this year has been amazing. They are so understanding about the limitations of this semester, and they never complain about them. Bid Day was done virtually with the girls coming to the house to pick-up their Bid Day bags after the virtual Bid Day was over. Formal Pledging and Initiation were also done virtually via zoom. We had a virtual Inspiration Period with tabs at our local coffee shop and a Big-Little Reveal via zoom as well. Even though we would have wanted to have these ritual events in person with alumnae coming into Tuscaloosa to participate, many people liked being able to see all the initiates’ faces. The members all said that they really got to listen to what was being said. They were both different than usual, but successful! In general, the house was incredibly different this semester. The first week of school, we had an outbreak in our chapter with many of our members testing positive for the virus. Thankfully, no one was in critical condition and all the members affected are healthy now. During this time, the only people permitted in the house were the people who lived there. Food was served out the back door, so that no one came inside, and we had a group of members at the doorstep of the people who had tested positive or were quarantined. Our members really worked to keep everyone safe during this time, and we all came out of it healthy. We also had some Sisterhood events held over zoom! We had a trivia night that was a hit and the prizes were great. We are planning another for next semester!

Chapter Philanthropy What organization does the chapter support? Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama Why did the chapter choose this organization? We support BBBS of West Alabama because we want to impact children near us in the Tuscaloosa community. We give financially, but with BBBS, many of our members are also able to give their time. Members of Gamma Pi are able to be matched with a “Little” and volunteer their time to helping a child reach their full potential. We also have the flexibility and support to start more programs like tutoring services. By supporting BBBS, we are able to make an impact directly in our local community.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion How did your chapter include diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in your programming this year? (e.g., adding a DEI officer, philanthropy events, social media awareness campaign, chapter training, etc.). This year we were so excited to add a DEI officer to our Chapter Council. Our new Director of DEI, Molly DiMarino is so excited to be a part of Chapter Council and work with our entire chapter in her DEI efforts. At UA, our SGA recently started an initiative in which people can be DEI Certified. In this process, individuals can participate in open table talks, literature, and forums with people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community to make our campus a more inclusive environment for everyone. This year, everyone on Chapter Council and many of our members who were interested in the topic started this process in September and will be getting DEI Certified in February. We are so excited about this program and the future of what it could do for our members.

Sesquicentennial Celebration How did your chapter celebrate Kappa's 150th anniversary? Share what you have done this year. This year for our 150th Anniversary, our chapter had a fancy dinner to celebrate. This steak dinner is a tradition to Gamma Pi that our kitchen is always so excited to do for us, but they especially were this year, since it was our 150th. We also had a history review at chapter to remind our members of our founding the day before Founders Day.


Highlights of 2021[edit]

Throughout the past year, the Gamma Pi chapter, as well as all chapters across the nation, still faced challenges and changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe that our chapter handled the new challenges in the best possible way and I am so proud of everything that this chapter has accomplished over the past year. We also switched House Moms at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. We welcomed Suzanne Lucas in August and she has added a new spark to the chapter. Scholarships: We got to host the annual Virginia Gray and Becca Scholarship Fundraiser again this year, after not being able to do so in 2020. This scholarship raises funds for two members of our chapter to receive scholarships to pay for their member dues. Grace Sutherlin, our Director of Philanthropy, raised money for Reading is Fundamental and Mental Health Awareness, as well as the Virginia Gray and Becca Scholarship. We were so happy to hold this fundraiser again this year, and we hope to be able to continue this tradition in the coming years. In addition, we were so proud of all of the members who received scholarships from the University as well as other organizations. Traditions: This year, we got to get back to our some of our usual traditions, with a few limitations. We held the annual end of recruitment workshop waterslide and snow cone party. This allows everyone to celebrate the hard work that was put in during workshop and go into recruitment week with a strong sisterhood and positive attitude. Everyone looks forward to it and the payoff really shows during recruitment week. We also held the Virginia Gray and Becca Cookout this year, after not being able to hold it last year. It is an annual event dedicated to the memory of two former Gamma Pi chapter members, who unexpectedly passed away in a car accident a few years ago. The money raised in their honor is donated to a scholarship fund for two active member’s dues. Those who purchase a wristband can come into the Kappa house on a specific game day (usually Homecoming) and enjoy a barbeque lunch. We also got to have the annual Founders Day dinner, that all of the members look forward to attending. The kitchen staff pulls out all the stops for the special day. Girls line up all around the house to eat and celebrate with each other, and it was so nice to see everyone eating and enjoying themselves in person again. Much like the Founders Day Dinner, the Thanksgiving dinner the week before Thanksgiving is a wonderful time at the house, with everyone enjoying great food and looking forward to seeing their families for the holidays. It was so nice to get back to some traditions this year, but there were still a lot of events that we were unable to hold this year. Special Events: The pandemic stopped us from hosting many of our usual events last spring and one event that was not held this year was the Krispy Kreme Run. This philanthropy event benefits our local philanthropy, Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama. It is usually held on Saturday mornings and always has a big turnout of Kappas. Whitney Jamison, our chapter advisor, is very involved with BBBS, and was very sad that it could not be held last year. In lieu of this event, she still held a fundraiser for BBBS in order to raise money for this special organization. In the fall, we were able to hold a new fundraiser for the new Fraternity philanthropy. We held “Biscuits at Bryant Denny” in order to raise money for the Jed Foundation. The Jed Foundation is a non-profit organization that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults in the United States. They partner with colleges in order to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. Biscuits for Bryant Denny was held on a Saturday morning before our last home game, and people could come by the front of the Kappa house in order to purchase a biscuit in support of the foundation. It was so fun to get involved with the people in the community, as well as the fans who had traveled to Tuscaloosa to see the game. Philanthropic Involvement: In the spring, we were very limited with what we could do with the philanthropy Reading is Fundamental. With the majority of children that we work with doing school at home, we could not visit the local elementary schools and read to the children. These Reading is Key events were so fun and taking a semester off was incredibly hard for our members, who love to be involved in the community. The children love when we get to visit, but we knew that it was better for everyone to stay home and stay safe. Over the summer, the Fraternity philanthropy changed to mental health awareness, so we unfortunately do not hold reading is key events anymore. We were going through a transition at the beginning of the year, but we got to hold a new fundraiser for the new philanthropy in October. As stated before, we held Biscuits at Bryant Denny in order to raise money for the new Kappa philanthropy. Our members are very passionate about a strong sisterhood and positive environment inside of Kappa, so this new philanthropy was welcomed with open arms. The members loved passing out biscuits before the home game and knowing what the cause was that we were supporting, made it so much more special. During the spring, we were not able to hold a lot of Percentage Days, but in the fall, we got to hold a few percentage days in order to support the new philanthropy. Chapter Goals: Operating a chapter amidst a pandemic was hard for chapters across the nation, and our chapter goal was chapter involvement. We continued to hold chapter zoom meetings and operate virtually for a little, which allowed everyone to stay involved and keep Kappa in their hearts during tough times. The pandemic was hard for all, but we strived to keep the sisterhood as normal as possible. Chapter Philanthropy What local organization does the chapter support and why? Click or tap here to enter text.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama The chapter supports this philanthropy in order to impact the children in the Tuscaloosa community. Not only do we financially support this organization, but we usually get to give back by giving our time and reading to the children. Our members are matched with a “little” and we usually get to spend time with the children and help them reach their full potential. This organization allows us to impact our community in multiple ways, which is very important to our members. Also, we get to make lifelong differences in the children’s lives, as well as them impacting ours. The relationships formed through this philanthropy are priceless, and we are extremely lucky to be able to hopefully get back to being in the schools again with the children soon. How did the chapter support Kappa’s philanthropy? With the changes made to the Fraternity philanthropy over the summer, we were excited to think of new ways for our members to get involved philanthropically. The main event we held in order to support Kappa’s philanthropy was Biscuits at Bryant Denny that raised money for the Jed Foundation. This Foundation focuses on mental health, which is a subject that is very important during the current pandemic. We were able to raise money while also spending time with our members and the members of the Tuscaloosa community. With the purchase of a biscuit, one would make a small donation to a very important cause.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion How did your chapter include diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in your programming this year? (e.g., adding a DEI officer, philanthropy events, social media awareness campaign, chapter training, etc.). Last year, we welcomed a new DEI officer to our executive board, Molly DiMarino. Our Director of DEI did a wonderful job educating our members on the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Many of our members became DEI certified through the SGA at UA, and this allowed students to participate in open table talks, literature, and forums with people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The efforts behind this program were to create a more inclusive campus and our members were thrilled to get involved. This year our president made it a requirement for anyone running for our executive board to be DEI certified. This program has been so rewarding for our members and has created an inclusive environment for everyone in Kappa.

Operating in a Pandemic How did your chapter operations change due to COVID-19 (e.g., how did it affect recruitment, initiation, etc. Were events/activities held virtually?). Share what you have done this year. Operating in a Pandemic changed the “norm” of Kappa and it especially changed the Kappa House. We were unable to hold many events that were traditions for the chapter, but the safety of our members was and still is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Limiting dining space and encouraging taking meals home to enjoy was challenging, but it was important to keep everyone safe and healthy. The virtual chapter meetings kept everyone involved and up to date, but we were all very excited to be back together this year and are still experiencing some limitations. Operating in a pandemic has made everyone more thankful to call Kappa home and to have a place to escape the difficulties that come with these troubled times. We worked tirelessly to keep everyone safe and healthy, including our staff. We even had some sisterhood events over zoom in order to keep everyone involved and in high spirits. We hope to soon go back to completely normal operations, but the safety of our members will always come first.