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California Beta

University of California, Berkeley

Founding date: 8/23/1900

Installing Officers:
Ida Smith (Griffith), Kansas Alpha

Philanthropic Event:

Installation of California Beta

In the spring of 1900, Wisconsin Alpha Nan Mashek (Tillotson) visited her cousin, Elma Korbel (Mellersh), who later became a charter member of California Beta. Elma and some of her friends had spoken of forming a sorority. After meeting the women, Nan suggested they apply for a Pi Phi charter. The chapter was installed on August 23, 1900. Installation activities took place in a house that the women rented at College Avenue and Sylvan Way in Berkeley, California.

Living at California Beta

The chapter house is set up in Southern living style, which means there are “day rooms” and a sleeping porch rather than traditional bedrooms. This makes the house an especially social and welcoming environment. Doors are always open and women are hanging out in each other’s day rooms. There are 68 women who live in and 12 rooms — eight “day rooms” and four traditional style bedrooms — that are each named for their features or place in Pi Phi history. Lovely is named after the four "lovelies" who had boyfriends serving in World War II. Coffee Pot is named after two seniors who borrowed the house's coffee pot for the entire semester. Fish Bowl is a favorite because of its wonderful big windows. Much of member’s time, though, is spent together in the spacious living room, TV room, dining room or study room — unless it's a sunny afternoon. Then, members are out front of the hillside lawn or on one of the charming balconies soaking up the rays of sunshine.

Panhellenic Groups on Campus

Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Beta Phi, Sigma Kappa, Zeta Tau Alpha. 

Philanthropic Service

The chapter’s largest philanthropy event of the year is Arrowbands, a lip-sync and dance competition between Cal's sororities, fraternities and sports teams. Each group creates a themed routine to perform in front of a cheering audience, with ticket sales benefiting Pi Beta Phi Foundation's Literacy Fund.

Notable Alumnae

  • Nicolle Wallace was California Beta’s Chapter President in 1993 and has since has worked as an author and political commentator and analyst. Nicole was co-host of The View talk show, former White House Director of Communications and worked as a senior advisor for the McCain-Palin campaign.
  • Jennifer Biddulf created PowerBar with her husband in the mid-1980s.