South Dakota Alpha image

South Dakota Alpha

University of South Dakota

Founding date: 9/30/1927

Installing Officer:
Grand President Amy Burnham Onken,
Illinois Epsilon

Philanthropy Events:
Pi Phi Bowtie, Pie a Pi Phi, Arrow Spike and Pi Phi Haunted House

Installation at South Dakota Alpha

A local group, Zeta Chi Delta, was formed in 1921. The group officially became a chapter of Pi Beta Phi on September 30, 1927. Amy Burnham Onken, Grand President of Pi Beta Phi, was chief installing officer for the festivities, which extended from September 28 through October 1, 1927. Pledging took place during the day on Thursday of that week. That night there was a Cookie Shine at the house followed by the reading of the Constitution at the home of former Governor Andrew E. Lee.

Initiation was held Friday morning followed by installation of the chapter. Eighteen active members and twenty alumnae members were initiated; membership also included six pledges. Myrna Hulburt was the toastmistress of the celebration that followed the installation. Several toasts were given and the night ended with the singing of Pi Beta Phi songs. Saturday, held at the Former Zeta Chi Delta house, was the first official chapter meeting. The officers of the chapter were installed and the Grand President gave an inspirational speech. The Pi Phi patroness, Mrs. Wilson, held a lovely luncheon in honor of Amy Burnham Onken and the visiting delegates. The Grand President was given a rose corsage as an expression of appreciation from the new Pi Phis — the rose was the flower of Zeta Chi Delta which was the sorority before petitioning and receiving the charter to become South Dakota Alpha. The events were concluded with the all-University dance at the Armory, which was decorated in wine and silver blue.

Living at South Dakota Alpha

At first, the chapter lived at 215 Court Street in Vermillion, South Dakota. It was a lovely home that overlooked the bluffs and the Missouri River. In 1936, nine years after the chapter’s chartering, South Dakota Alpha made 118 N. Plum its home. 

Throughout the years, the chapter has added on, updated the house, and added a special mailbox. It is amazing for South Dakota Alpha to call this home knowing that thousands of Pi Phis lived in the same house. The house has a total of 16 bedrooms, not including the house director’s, and 56 women can live in each year. The biggest room is room 1 which is located on the top floor. This room houses eight women and although that sounds cramped, they are given plenty of room with both a small lounge area in the middle, their own walk in closet, and bathroom. 

“My personal favorite item in South Dakota Alpha’s house is a cookie shine sheet, which was made by the class of 1979. It covers the whole floor of the chapter room with embroidery all around the edges in wine and silver blue with special embroidery, an arrow, Class of ’79 and angel with an arrow.” – Aubrey Wald, Vice President of Fraternity Development.

This is a sheet that has hosted many years of Cookie Shines and has created memories for the South Dakota Alpha Chapter members throughout the years.

Panhellenic Groups on Campus

Alpha Phi, Alpha Xi Delta, Kappa Alpha Theta and Pi Beta Phi

Philanthropic Service

The chapter has a few philanthropic events:

  • Pi Phi Bowtie/Pie a Pi Phi is an all-you-can-eat pasta event, and attendees can pie their favorite Pi Phis in the face for to support literacy efforts. 
  • Pi Phi Haunted House – Pi Beta Phi pairs up with Lambda Chi Alpha every Halloween to put on a Haunted House for the community.
  • Arrow Spike – Pi Beta Phi teams up with Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon and puts on a volleyball tournament for the college and Greek community to compete in.

Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award Winners from South Dakota Alpha

  • Janet Speelman North (2009)