From the smiling face of New Orleans restaurateur Ti Martin on our cover to updates on our newest college chapters to news of our 2016 outstanding professors, the current issue of the Theta magazine celebrates vision and dedication.
It also announces 2017 as the Year of Celebrating Scholarship. In addition to pushing boundaries when they created Kappa Alpha Theta, our founders pushed boundaries in their personal and professional lives. As we near our sesquicentennial in 2020, we are dedicating a year to each founder and commemorating a Theta core value that she represents.
Alice Allen Brant, for example, became a high school principal and espoused an innovative educational philosophy. It is in her honor that 2017 will celebrate Theta's commitment to academic excellence as well as all our sisters who exemplify learning, growing, and being a part of something larger than themselves.
We hope you are enjoying all the stories in the Winter 2017 issue. If you don't receive all four quarterly issues or if print simply isn't your thing, you can access the past 10 years of the Theta magazine online.
Today is the start of Ritual Celebration Week, a time for Thetas to consider not only how our ritual services reflect our Fraternity values and vision but also how they offer guidance to further develop our Theta membership.
Many of us who have served as president of Kappa Alpha Theta can talk of challenging moments. Norma Jorgensen, who was our leader from 1968 to 1972, experienced more than a few challenging moments; in fact, she guided Theta through a challenging era. At the same time we were preparing to celebrate Theta's centennial, Norma was fighting for the Fraternity's very survival.
Because sororities had been in existence for more than 100 years, one might think we would have been an integral part of the fabric of higher education by the 1970s. Remember, though, that this was a tumultuous time. Colleges and universities were the site of protests, and sororities were seen as part of the "establishment." Chapters were closing, and many—both inside and outside our membership—questioned if we could keep going.
I knew Norma in her later years and deeply respected her stature in Theta history. She was known to be a good listener who saw all sides fairly. She traveled all over the US and Canada, listening to our collegians and alumnae, trying to save as many chapters as she could. From these experiences, she developed the idea that everyone should enter Theta fully aware of the expectations of membership. Accordingly, she wrote the Loyalty Service in 1970; it was the first piece of ritual to be written since the early 1900s. It became and remains part of the preparation for initiation.
Our ritual is a reflection of the time in which it is written; yet amazingly it also stands the test of time. While our members no longer must persevere through harsh winters without heat, running water, or electricity, the independence we learned from our earliest leaders bolsters our leading women today. When entering classrooms, we don't experience jeers like Bettie did, but we still rely on our sisters for love and support during difficult times. The protests on today's campuses may not have the same themes as they did in the 1970s, but I have faith in my sisters to represent and understand the forces of change.
Serving as Fraternity ritualist, I am charged with keeping our ritual alive. Every time I participate in an Initiation Service, I talk to our newest members about the impact Theta will have on their lives. I'm bolstered by the continuing relevance of words that were written so long ago. Thinking back on that centennial year, I marvel at how much things have changed, and yet that which we cherish remains the same.
Scholarship has always been a central tenant for the members of Kappa Alpha Theta, and indeed is one of our core values. Our founders came together, in part, as a mutual support system in an incredibly arduous environment. They encouraged one another in academic pursuits and challenged one another and all future members to achieve their personal best in the classroom.
Even more than a half-century after our founding, Bettie Locke Hamilton was still stressing the importance of scholarship. In a letter sent to the Alpha Psi Chapter at Lawrence in 1926, Bettie shared a message that has been a "North Star" for Thetas over many generations "...and try above all things to keep up a high standard of Scholarship - nothing will elevate K.A.O. like wonderful Scholarship!"
How true her words were then, and they remain so today! Kappa Alpha Theta chapters enjoy remarkable success with more than one-quarter of our college chapters achieving the number-one ranking on their campus in terms of grades and more than three-quarters of our college chapters being above the all-sorority average (ASA) on their campuses. Of course, there are also many members who have been recognized for their remarkable individual achievement over the last 147 years.
Against the backdrop of our founding, many other Greek-letter organizations for women were also starting and spreading across the nation. In 1902, seven groups organized to form the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). From 1903-1951, even more Greek-letter organizations for women joined NPC, eventually totaling 26.
The Panhellenic Creed, which each member group supports, states: "We the undergraduate members of women's fraternities, stand for good scholarship, for guarding of good health, for maintenance of fine standards, and for serving, to the best of our ability, our college community."
A commitment to academic excellence for members of Kappa Alpha Theta and the other NPC groups results in success for individual members and their chapters. This, in turn, encourages all women to reach their potential both inside and outside the classroom. Intellectual development includes all cultural, practical, recreational, political and social aspects of life and is echoed in Theta's mission of offering lifelong opportunities for intellectual growth.
Please join me in celebrating the Year of Scholarship. I'm proud that Thetas are leading women in this area and have been since 1870.
High scholarship has been a core value of Kappa Alpha Theta since our founding. As some of the first women admitted to Indiana Asbury (now DePauw University), Bettie Locke, Alice Allen, Hannah Fitch, and Bettie Tipton had to prove their right to higher education. They had to excel academically, not just "get by." And—in Bettie Locke's words—they realized that they "... weren't going to college just for ourselves, but for all the girls who would follow us."
Alice Allen Brant, in particular, pushed some academic and professional boundaries. Those who knew Alice described her as determined and intellectually curious. In an era when opportunities for women were often curtailed, she became not only a teacher, but also a high school principal. In a Theta history published in 1930, Alice's brother-in-law described her educational philosophy as "innovative."
As we approach Theta's sesquicentennial in 2020, we are celebrating each of our founders and the core values she inspired. This year, we recognize Alice Allen Brant and Theta's commitment to intellectual ambition in the Year of Scholarship.
It is especially fitting that February is also the Month of the Scholar, established by the National Panhellenic Conference to promote academic achievement and reward academic excellence among all NPC member groups.
Beginning in February and continuing throughout the year, the Fraternity, Theta Foundation, and the Fraternity Housing Corporation will celebrate scholarship through our website blogs and social media. We hope you will join us as we celebrate Alice Allen Brant and all Thetas who are dedicated to learning, growing, and being a part of something larger than ourselves.
Visit our heritage website, a treasure trove of knowledge about our sesquicentennial, our founders, and our history.
"You won't believe what we have at headquarters!"
What does an archivist do when she receives an incredible collection of materials related to founder Bettie Locke and her daughters, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter? She immediately makes plans to share it with everyone! With the opening of the special exhibit "Bettie Locke and Her Family: Four Generations of Thetas" which will run through April 30, 2017, I get to do just that.
Since I began to receive photographs and tintypes, clothing and accessories from the family of Carole Cones-Bradfield, great-granddaughter of Bettie Locke, I have been talking about these items with anyone who came through the archive space. I have been sharing with my coworkers here at headquarters (they have been really patient with me), Thetas who have come through headquarters on visits, and friends, and family who have asked what I have been doing lately (True confession: sometimes they didn't even have to ask.) Recently my opening line in many a conversation has been, "You won't believe what we have at headquarters!"
The last few months have been filled with discoveries. Every time we open a box or sort letters still in their envelopes—most likely not opened since they were first read more than 100 years ago (See Fraternity Archivist Lisa McLaughlin's blog about some of her finds.)—I again realize the breadth and depth of this collection. Artifacts that have never been seen outside Bettie's family urge me toward research to find out more about them and how they represent the lives of American women over the last 150 years. (Wait until you see the personalized hanky of Eulalia Hamilton Hartley from 1901!)
So, to share just a few of the treasures related to the Bettie Locke family collection, I, with assistance from fellow staff members, have created a special exhibit at headquarters. Our goal is to provide a glimpse into the lives of Bettie, Edna, Eulalia, Genevieve, and Carole so that you too, can get to know these wonderful leading women. I am thrilled to share with you their lives as collegians, wives and mothers, and active community members ... all with the thread of Theta running throughout.
I encourage you to visit the exhibit in person if you can; please contact me to schedule a tour. If you can't come in person, follow along on social media throughout the run of the exhibit. Believe me: you won't believe what we have at headquarters!
Each year on January 27, Thetas everywhere pause in our busy lives to observe Founders Day. We pause to celebrate the birth of the first Greek-letter fraternity known among women; to celebrate everything that Theta has given, and continues to give, us; to celebrate four young women who walked into the chapel at Asbury College, wearing their Theta badges.
As we near our sesquicentennial in 2020, each Founders Day seems to gain additional significance. In fact, Founders Day 2016 marked the official beginning of our sesquicentennial celebration. On that day, we dedicated each of the next four years to one of our founders, because—while they founded Theta together—each was an individual, with her own character, abilities, and interests.
This year, we honor Alice Allen Brant, whose life helped shape Theta's past and was the inspiration for one of the aims that continue to shape our future: highest scholarship. She also embodied one of the traits—perseverance—that forms Kappa Alpha Theta's motto. Alice herself liked to tell a story that illustrates both her dedication to her studies and her determination. Living about five miles from Greencastle, Alice rode her horse to school every day her freshman year. But she didn't always have a ride home. On occasion, the horse, named Kate, would break her halter and head back to the farm before Alice was ready, leaving her to walk the five miles home.
Despite the obstacles—both amusing and more serious—she faced, Alice graduated from Asbury and became a teacher (earning the highest level of teaching certificate) and a high school principal.
Today, Alice's legacy is reflected in our ideal of supporting each member as she seeks to fully develop her intellectual, cultural, and social potential. Not only is our Fraternity devoted to this commitment. So, too, is our Fraternity Housing Corporation, as it prioritizes dedicated learning environments in the facilities it manages. So, too, is Theta Foundation, leading the Greek community in awarding more than $500,000 each year in undergraduate and graduate scholarships. And this commitment by all three Theta entities resonates strongly nearly 150 years after our founding—as demonstrated by the colleges and universities that are eager to welcome a Theta chapter to their campuses. In fact, between autumn of 2016 and autumn of 2017, we will reestablish three former college chapters and establish four new ones, setting a record for the most chapters chartered during one academic term!
Imagine how pleased Alice—who co-founded Theta to provide support to women in their fight to earn an education equal to those offered to men—would be to know of this expansion. Imagine how pleased she would be by these increased opportunities to provide opportunities for learning and growth. This Founders Day, we celebrate Alice Allen Brant and her commitment to taking risks, to personal growth, and to leading others by example.
On Founders Day, we have the opportunity to tangibly demonstrate Theta's ideals by donating to the Friendship Fund. The Fund provides gifts to Thetas experiencing extreme financial hardship due to serious or terminal illness, job loss, natural disaster, and other devastating occurrences. Gifts to the Friendship Fund—traditionally $1 per year of Theta membership—may be effected by checks made payable to Kappa Alpha Theta, with "Friendship Fund" written on the memo line, and mailed to Kappa Alpha Theta, 8740 Founders Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46268, attn.: Friendship Fund.
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