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Chapter History

You have to know where you’ve been to know where you are going. Kappa holds a special place in its heart for Fraternity history, but every chapter of our organization has unique beginnings of its own. Each plays a part in shaping us today. Read more about our chapters’ histories in Kappa's digital archives.

Dickinson College was established in 1783 in the town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Epsilon Omega was founded on March 10, 1979 with 33 charter members.

These Charter Members include:

Catherine Andriadis, Susan Bacon, Nancy Bauer, Joan Brandonburg, Elise Dagostino, Susan Dague, Shelly Dalrynmple, Cheryl Daugherty, Karen Ford, Lynne Forrey, Janice Friedman, Angela Gelason, Katherine Grant, Elizabeth Gray, Lynette Hewitt, Kathleen Kipp, Darcie Lolo, Sandra Lopatofsky, Ruthann Mamrak, Laura Marshall, Julie McMullen, Susan Miller, Mary Beth Monahan, Wendy Paxton, Kathleen Poole, Yvonne Schirm, Susan Shane, Joan Sommers, Elizabeth Spizzirro, Constance Tambakis, Cynthia Waldron, Donna Weir, Alison Whitmer


Colonization (From The Key, Fall 1978)

As alive and contemporary as today’s student, Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania is equally endowed with history and proud tradition. The heritage and traditions of Kappa Kappa Gamma blended well with the background of Dickinson as the Fraternity established Epsilon Omega Colony during the first week of October 1979.

Three years before America declared her independence from England, a grammar school was opened on land given by the Proprietors of Pennsylvania. By 1873, under the direction of Benjamin Rush, its founder, Dickinson College was chartered by the Pennsylvania legislature. Named in honor of John Dickinson, “penman of the revolution” and then governor of the commonwealth, the college has grown from a land purchase costing all of $151.00 to a campus of 117 acres and valued at over $25,000,000. The physical heart of the campus is “Old West,” a national historic landmark designed by Benjamin Latrobe, architect of the capitol in Washington, D.C. At present, part of the campus is a 65-acre recreational area and the college also manages a 3,300-acre wildlife sanctuary and research station.

In 1884, women students were admitted to Dickinson, despite opposition from faculty and students, and only three years later the Pennsylvania Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was installed. In addition to a number of honorary fraternities, there are now ten national men’s fraternities on campus and about half of the 800 male students are members. Kappa joins Pi Beta Phi as the only other national sorority on campus, but there are two local groups and about 35 per cent of the approximately 800 women students belong to the three current groups. The men live in college-owned fraternity dormitories, and the women rent apartment meeting rooms.

Kappa’s colonization team was headed by Gay Chuba Berry, Penn State, Director of Alumnae; assisted by an adviser to the Delta Phi chapter at Bucknell, the Province Director of Chapters, a field secretary, and a graduate counselor assigned to the new colony. Members of Delta Phi—Bucknell and Delta Alpha—Penn State assisted with rush functions.

Located in an historic area and surrounded by rolling farm lands, Dickinson is only 20 miles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, 30 miles from Gettysburg National Military Park, and 30 miles from Hershey, “Chocolate Town, U.S.A.” The grave of Molly Pitcher, heroine of the revolution, is in Carlisle, and the area claims several lovely parks with scenic views, swimming and fishing, not to mention numerous limestone caves for those who enjoy spelunking.

Life at Dickinson centers on a traditional liberal arts education that is continually sharpened and focused by innovation. On the lighter side, the mermaid atop the ivy-covered walls of Old West presents a challenge to the men. Each fall a male student climbs up and removes the mermaid. Each spring members of the women’s honorary are responsible for putting the weather vane back in place. Tradition takes many forms!

In a more academic vein, the current catalogue presents the philosophy of the college: “Liberal knowledge, learning for its own sake and learning for the cultural enrichment it provides, is the oldest and most fundamental aim of Dickinson education.” A statement from the 1960s encourages Dickinsonians to see their world as one in which they are able, “by virtue of the power gained through knowledge, to influence both their environment and the course of history,’ and thereby to use their power in the service of the human community.”

The ideals of Dickinson College—learning, liberty and virtue, and those of Kappa Kappa Gamma should provide an ideal background for the growth of Epsilon Omega Chapter. 


Installation (From The Key)

Despite a cool, drizzly day, the atmosphere was warm and spirits high as Epsilon Omega Chapter was installed at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa. on March 9 and 10, 1979. A symbol of the enthusiasm and pride of the 33 charter members was the banner hung high on the wall of the Holland Union Dining Room. Months of pledge study and a recent rush period were not enough to weaken the strength or spirit of the girls who stayed up most of Thursday night to create a poster telling the rest of the campus how they felt about becoming Kappa’s 103rd active chapter: “Sisters you are, sisters we’ll be. Congratulations, Kappa Kappa Gamma; we’ve only just begun.” Registration in the Mary Dickinson Room on Friday afternoon gave visitors a chance to meet Kappa local and national officers and enjoy refreshments prepared by the Harrisburg Alumnae Club.

Though only 45 in paid membership, these women are delighted to have a chapter nearby and have worked hard to help the colony and make the installation a memorable occasion. Registration and hospitality were headed by a former Beta Province meeting treasurer from 1973, the year Harrisburg was hostess. Handling the checkbook and financial arrangements was a local alumna. A cheery fire in the lovely home of a Penn State alumna was a welcome setting for Fireside Service. The quiet ritual was soon replaced by a happy din as initiates and visitors became acquainted and enjoyed a reception co-hosted by local alumnae.

Carlisle is an attractive town with a rather old-fashioned square at its hub. On one corner of the square is St. John Episcopal Church, site of the initiation. Two Kappas drove from Headquarters in our blue and blue van and performed their customary magic act of setting the scene and arranging the equipment for what proved to be a beautiful initiation ceremony.

Installing officers Jean Hess Wells, Georgia, Fraternity President, and Gay Chuba Barry, Penn State, Director of Alumnae, were assisted by the installation chairman, Beta Province Director of Chapters, Field Secretary, Alumnae Editor of The Key, and the graduate counselor for Epsilon Omega. It was a proud chapter president who received the charter on behalf of the chapter. The new initiates barely had time to change clothes before the formal pledging of 29 terrific freshmen women. The chapter president had excellent practice for her presidency when, as membership chairman, she led the colony through a series of parties based on Kappa facts, making Christmas ornaments which were later given to a nursing home, a “Roaring Twenties” party, a country theme that included Kappa Pickers, a nightclub theme entitled “Kappakabana” and finally, “Cinderella” for preference party. Although they say that they surprised themselves and others with their enormous success in rush, it seems likely that they had not yet realized the power-potential of Kappa when 33 super colonizers set out to strengthen their group. The dedication with which these girls do everything was evident in the polished was they conducted the pledge ceremony.

Again, there was barely time to catch their breath when everyone congregated in Drayer Lounge for the campus reception. An alumna from Carnegie Mellon was chairman of this event which saw a room crowded with well-wishers. Panhellenic members, parents, faculty and friends joined in welcoming Kappa Kappa Gamma to the Dickinson campus. It was here that the chapter outdid itself by distributing copies of their first newsletter—a beautiful 13-page issue complete with photos and excellent articles on their activities thus far.

In whatever spare moments could be found during the day, visitors dropped in to see the Kappa apartment, just a few blocks from campus and right off the square. Empty and cold when rented last fall, it now shows signs of loving care and looks like home. Under the supervision of two alumnae, including a decorator from the Philadelphia area, the apartment is bright, cheerful and comfortable. Gifts from alumnae included a kitchen shower, and several pieces of furniture from the recently-closed Beta Alpha Chapter at the University of Pennsylvania were welcome additions. Still riding high on a bubble of excitement, Kappas picked up their long skirts and stepped over puddles to return to campus for the Installation Banquet. A lovely setting and delicious dinner were around by the banquet chairman. The installation chairman provided a warm welcome as toastmistress. A special greeting and toast to the new chapter was given by the president of Delta Phi Chapter, Bucknell, and a gracious response came from the Epsilon Omega president.

Greetings were sent by individuals and groups throughout the province and nation and Gay Barry read many of them to the 200 guests. The Associate Dean of Students and member of Delta Delta Delta welcomed Kappa on behalf of the college. Everyone who was even remotely involved with the colonization and installation knew how helpful she had been and how her personal assistance had helped to smooth the way for us.