D.C. Alpha image

D.C. Alpha

The George Washington University

Founding date: 4/27/1889

Installing Officers:
Grand President Emma Harper Turner, Indiana Alpha (1889); Grand President Emily Russell Tarr, Texas Beta (2007)

Philanthropic Events:

Installation of D.C. Alpha

Indiana Alpha charter member, Emma Harper Turner enrolled in Columbian College and established the chapter. She installed the D.C. Alpha Chapter and became a charter member of it as well. The chapter was the first one installed as a chapter of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity; the previous chapters had been installed as chapters of I.C. Sorosis. Other charter members included Anna Hazelton, who would later write the Ritual, Lillian Hazelton, Phoebe Russell Norris, Augusta Pettigrew Shute and Sallie Sparks Eggleston. In 1968, the D.C. Alpha Chapter closed because of declining membership and an unfavorable Greek life climate. In addition, The George Washington University (GW) became less attractive to students due to protests and unrest in Washington during this time.

In the early 2000s, there was a big push to bring Pi Phi back to GW. There were alumnae in the D.C. area who were supportive of a reinstallation. The presentation team that worked to bring Pi Phi back to campus was headed by Grand President Emily Russell Tarr, Texas Beta. California Delta Karen Shelton Chevalier, current Alumnae Advisory Committee Chairman, was also on Grand Council at the time of reinstallation and played a major role.

During recruitment, there was so much interest in Pi Phi’s new chapter, there was no problem meeting total. Total at the time was 85 members, including seniors; and all of the New Members were initiated. Recruitment took place on October two weeks after the formal Panhellenic recruitment was held. The chapter was installed in January. Virginia Epsilon at the University of Virginia assisted with recruitment. They came to the first party and to preference round. Colleen Briley (Dywalt), Kentucky Beta, was the Resident Leadership Development Consultant. The D.C. Alpha Chapter made a big impact on the campus as soon as it was colonized. Pi Phi had a virtual book drive across the entire country and D.C. Alpha placed first in that. The chapter was very active and involved on campus from day one. After the success Pi Phi had at GW, other urban chapters were installed at New York University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

D.C. Alpha’s reinstallation weekend was lovely. The Preparatory Ceremony took place in the Marvin Center. There was a huge Cookie Shine at E Street, the large room on the top floor. The Cookie Shine included a lot about the amazing history of D.C. Alpha, and there were several older D.C. Alphas alumnae who attended. The chapter was presented with the badges of some members. The installation was also held at the Westin hotel. Many local alumnae participated and made everything just perfect. Dr. Julie Freischlag was supposed to be the speaker, but she had a family emergency at the last minute. Former Grand President Sarah Ruth "Sis" Mullis, South, South Carolina Alpha, stepped in with 20 minutes’ notice and did a great job. The next day a model chapter meeting was held in the Marvin Center.

Living at D.C. Alpha

D.C. Alpha’s home at Strong Hall is nestled between the corners of 21st and G Streets NW, right in the heart of the GW campus and also the exciting and vibrant atmosphere of downtown D.C. With 35 rooms and 54 residents, Pi Phi’s home in Strong has enabled entire New Member classes to live in the house and forge strong and lasting bonds of friendship and sisterhood with one another. Strong Hall itself is listed on the National Historic Register, and was one of the first dormitories on GW’s campus. Today, the building still honors the legacy of Hattie M. Strong, and serves as an all-girls dormitory for Pi Beta Phi and Chi Omega members, respectively. 

Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of Pi Beta Phi’s time in Strong Hall is the merging of the chapter’s rich and multi-layered history with that of the essence of Strong, and the years of memories that have been created throughout each space. The D.C. Alpha Chapter is proud to call Strong home, for with its historic halls and spaces, members have promulgated the continuation of the chapter’s history, present, and future, intertwined with the spirit of the founders, Hattie and The George Washington University. 

Throughout the years, Pi Phi’s home of Strong Hall has accumulated a number of interesting items that have a unique sense of history, culture and perspective on the essence of the chapter’s presence and legacy in time. One of the most favorite pieces is the collection of antique and commemorative pins on display in the dining room. Additionally, there is a cherished silver collection that lists D.C. Alpha’s awards of excellence throughout the years as well as an ornate and truly beautiful tray that was given in celebration of the re-colonization of the sisterhood on GW’s campus nearly a decade ago. Pi Beta Phi’s history at The George Washington University is an extensive one. Members are lucky to have items like these that remind them of the chapter’s unforgettable past, and maintain reverence and appreciation for those who came before them, as members seek to carve and delve further into the future.

Panhellenic Groups on Campus

Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Epsilon Phi, Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, Kappa Delta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Phi Sigma Sigma, Pi Beta Phi, Sigma Delta Tau, Sigma Kappa

Philanthropic Service

Arrowstrike is D.C. Alpha's annual fundraising week in the spring. The week is full of fun events that involve the fraternity and sorority community at large and aim to educate and fundraise for Pi Beta Phi Foundation. The events of the week vary from year to year, but a few events have stood the test of time and have become chapter favorites. The annual event, Pie a Pi Phi, is where community members can pay to throw a pie at their favorite Pi Phi! There is also an annual wiffle ball tournament, Arrowstrike, which traditionally happens on the last day of the festivities. In years past, other activities during the week have included pancake breakfasts, book drives, and food truck fundraisers!

Notable Alumnae

  • Margaret Truman Daniel, a collegian while her dad, Harry S. Truman, was President of the United States (she even brought the chapter to the White House for dinner!)
  • Anna Hazelton, wrote the original ritual
  • Anna Kelton Wiley, an active member of the National Women's Party (NWP) National Advisory Council. She was active in lobbying, political work, and picketing for the NWP.
  • Emile Margaret White, international officer
  • Mary Katherine Lutz, international officer
  • Ruth Williams Hansen, international officer

Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award Winners from D.C. Alpha

  • Maureen Root Mylander (2000)

Grand Council Members from D.C. Alpha

Grand Presidents

  • Emma Harper Turner
  • Elise Bradford Johnson

Grand Council Members

  • Adele Taylor Alford