125 Years of Grand Council

Category: Heritage

Noraleen Duvall Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

Back in 1870, when our founders created Theta, they expected it to grow but probably could not imagine what it has become over the last 146 years. Throughout the years, Fraternity leadership and delegates to Grand Convention sought the best ways to govern a dynamic organization. Beginning in 1879, the Fraternity designated a “Grand Chapter” to run the fraternity and serve as the legislative body, meeting at Grand Convention with its own president and other officers. Alpha/DePauw remained the National Chapter, the administrative arm of the Fraternity.

The growth of the Fraternity and increased efforts to establish a consistent structure for the organization as a whole led to changes in 1891. “Grand Council” was established to lead Theta between Conventions; it included the president, secretary, treasurer, and editor. Beginning in 1893, a shared position of vice president was added and filled by each of the district presidents, which then numbered three. The delegates to Grand Convention elected members of Grand Council, a practice that continues today. In 1909, district presidents were removed from Grand Council and a national vice president added. Grand Council grew in 1930 with the addition of a second vice president and an alumnae secretary. A third vice president was added in 1954.

The Fraternity took a bold step in 1938 and again in 1957, hiring an outside consultant to review and make recommendations regarding governance. The 1957 study, in particular, led to the most significant changes to Grand Council. Along with the president, there were four vice presidents, one each for college, alumnae, finance, and service programming areas. Ten “members-at-large” (MAL) also served on Grand Council. This structure stayed in place with only minor changes in the number of MALs until 1984, when it was discontinued and the grand vice president positions were realigned to college, alumnae, development, education, finance, and membership. In 2012—with the goal of empowering Grand Council to focus on strategy and governance—the responsibility for chairing standing Fraternity committees was transferred from the vice presidents, and the names of specific program areas were removed from their titles.

The Fraternity is grateful to all the leading women who have served on Grand Council. Thanks to their devoted service, Kappa Alpha Theta continues to thrive nearly 150 years after our founding.