Afternoon thunderstorms did not stop more than 200 Pi Beta Phi Alumnae from getting their first glimpse at the new chapter house. Alumnae from across the country recently joined Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for women for a dedication ceremony and open house for its newly constructed chapter house.
“There are people here from states as far away as California, Texas and Florida,” said Illinois Theta alumna Julie Anderson Ackley ’63.
The event, which was nearly a year to the day of the first groundbreaking, began with a ceremony and ribbon cutting to dedicate the house as the official chapter house for the Illinois Theta chapter of Pi Beta Phi.
There were many speakers, including Bradley Vice President for Business Affairs Gary Anna and Illinois Theta Chapter House Corporation President Stephanie Rump Muno and several active members of the chapter.
“The dedication was an amazing event to be a part of as an active member,” said Chapter President Alexis Small. “Seeing the turnout from all of the alumni that poured their time into this project really completed the picture of our long time dream of having a new house.”
Following the ceremony, the chapter held a luncheon for members and alumnae and tours of the new house. There was also a cocktail reception in the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center as well as dinner at the Mark Twain Hotel.
The event was a rewarding experience for alumnae and students alike, said Illinois Theta alumna Anne Fox ’63.
“[Students] see the support of the alumni and how much Pi Beta Phi has been a part of our lives,” she said. “Hopefully they see that your college experience goes with you the rest of your life.”
For many alumnae, the ceremony also served as a reunion, said Anderson Ackley.
“We don’t get to see each other very often; it’s just so joyous to get to see friends we lived with, hugged, loved and knocked heads with for three and a half years,” she said, “Seeing them again, we all hug and love again.”
The efforts to raise money for the house were mostly focused within the alumni community, who cumulatively donated about $550,000 said Illinois Theta Alumna Laurie Mathis ’87.
“We started in the worst economic time ever, and we just kept calling and calling, and the alumni responded, they really did,” said Illinois Theta Alumna Cheri Patterson ’67.
Efforts to fundraise will continue into the future. Currently the main focus is fully furnishing the house.
“The ground breaking was just a year ago, so it’s doing pretty well, it’s just lovely,” said Mathis.
The current members of Pi Beta Phi consider themselves very lucky to have the house and the support of alumnae, said junior marketing major and current Pi Beta Phi Julia Morris.
“I love being on this side of campus with the rest of greek life, and it’s great to live in this new facility,” she said. “The only thing I miss about the old house is the memories, but we’re going to make new memories in this house.”