MARILYN HAGERTY: Alpha Phi marks 100 years during UND homecoming

Homecoming week approaches at UND with a myriad of special events -- the parade, football and Sioux awards. In the middle of the festivities this coming weekend, Alpha Phi sorority will celebrate 100 years in Grand Forks. It's the oldest sorority...

Homecoming week approaches at UND with a myriad of special events -- the parade, football and Sioux awards.

In the middle of the festivities this coming weekend, Alpha Phi sorority will celebrate 100 years in Grand Forks. It's the oldest sorority on campus. And it's followed closely by Kappa Alpha Theta, which marked its 100th anniversary earlier with about 300 in attendance.

About that many Alpha Phi alumnae from all over will return to reminisce about the good old days of required study tables, being pledges, getting initiated, making their grades. And they will launch into their songs such as "Lovely Girl" and "Alpha Phi Toujours."

Along with six sororities now on the UND campus, there are 13 fraternities. In all, there are 1,069 members of sororities and fraternities this year in the mix of about 14,000 students on campus. It's a 12-year high for Greek membership, according to Cassie Gerhardt, program director for student involvement.

She likes to talk of the combined good done through philanthropic programs of the Greeks as well as other campus organizations. Alpha Phi always has had cardiac care as the sorority's philanthropy. They sponsor a 5K race and walk with Altru Hospital. The sorority is working with The Y to provide a safe Halloween activity for youngsters. Alpha Chi Omega sorority works with the Community Violence Intervention Center, recently selling luminaries. Mortar Board honorary society gathers up funds to provide turkey baskets for the needy of Grand Forks in November.


The brothers in Lambda Chi fraternity helped stage a food drive for the needy last weekend. The list is endless. The help provided is priceless.

This fall, there are 83 members of Alpha Phi including 31 pledges. Friday, they will be welcoming alumnae "home" for the 100th anniversary. They have rented the top floor of the Blue Moose for a social hour and central meeting place in the evening.

They will watch the homecoming parade Saturday from the front yard of the chapter house at 2626 University Ave. And they will follow it up with a brunch. A social hour and banquet is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at Touch of Magic.

Next Sunday, beginning at 9:30 a.m., there will be a short send off at the Alpha Phi house.

Carly McKinney from Denver is president of Alpha Phi this year. The chapter has a housemother, Eunice Greiciar, who has lived in her apartment on the first floor and has been with the sorority for 24 years. Emily Apanian of Woodbury, Minn., is among the Alpha Phis helping with arrangements for the centennial celebration. She loves her study of nursing and busy life on campus.

UND was founded by an act of the Territorial Assembly in 1883. In 1906, a group of women students organized in a club known as Phi Kappa Chi.

The club reached out and became the first sorority with national affiliation on campus. They had guidance and support from the faculty.

Letters of support for Phi Kappa Chi to become a branch of Alpha Phi were sent to Syracuse University in New York.


The letter from Frank McVey, president of UND, said, "I am asking for support in connection with the application made to your sorority. Perhaps the first reason is the permanency of the university. It now has an endowment of lands and buildings valued at $2,500,000. The annual income of $397,000 comes from the mill tax, lands and fees. An agricultural state is basic in that the prosperity of the farmers determines the prosperity of the nation.

"North Dakota is a rich state. Besides its agricultural resources, it possesses more than five hundred billion tons of lignite coal. Such natural sources mean a great commonwealth. The population is now placed at 600,000. The university has 15 buildings with an ardent and well trained faculty. The policy of the university recognizes specifically the training of women for special work with establishment of a Teachers College, courses of nursing and domestic and library sciences.

"The institution is committed to give education while at the same time steps are taken to give young women the advantage of home life and good surroundings.

"Yours truly, Frank McVey, president."

At first, 100 years ago, the Alpha Phi charter members met in a suite of rooms in Davis Hall. In 1920, the chapter house at 2626 University Ave. was built for $32,000. Architect in charge was Theo. B. Wells.

Situated just east of the Delta Gamma sorority house, the Alpha Phi house is an English cottage type building with walls of brick and stucco.

Reach Hagerty at or (701) 772-1055.

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