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University of North Dakota

Jun 15th, 1911

Founding Date

In June 1911, Olive Finley Singleton, chair of the Extension Committee, traveled to Grand Forks, North Dakota, to install a chapter of the first women’s fraternity at the University of North Dakota: Alpha Phi. It was June 15th, one day after the university’s commencement— a day chosen purposefully “with the avowed purpose of setting an example of un-ostentation, in the hope that fraternity life at the University of North Dakota may be deep in inverse proportion to the amount of noise it makes.” Only one Greek-letter organization, a chapter of the men’s fraternity, Sigma Chi, was established on the campus, and these “ideal conditions” made the installation of Pi chapter a cause for celebration. The growing university, founded in 1883, graced the plains of North Dakota—a state that in 1911 had been a part of the union for just over twenty years. But Alpha Phi was well represented in the young state and Alpha Phi alumnae on the campus played a role in bringing the Fraternity to the university: Emma Hickman (Gamma-DePauw) served as the university’s librarian; Caroline Salisbury (Epsilon-Minnesota) taught in the university’s Domestic Science Summer School; Louise Marclay (Eta-Boston) headed the university’s stenographic bureau, and Mabel Moore Sawyer (Epsilon-Minnesota) was married to the president of the university, Frank McVey. The McVeys graciously opened the doors of the university president’s “stately mansion” for the installation ceremony and banquet. Twenty-four Alpha Phi sisters, including seventeen of the Fraternity’s newest members, enjoyed a beautiful gathering—“the color scheme, favors, flowers and toasts were all distinctively Alpha Phi, and made you feel that you were present at a real Alpha Phi banquet, of the kind you are accustomed to attend.”