Virginia Gamma image

Virginia Gamma

College of William and Mary

Founding date: 9/26/1925

Installing Officer:
Grand President Amy Burnham Onken,
Illinois Epsilon

Philanthropy Events:
Play-to-Give, and Lemonade for Literacy

Installation at Virginia Gamma

A local group, Delta Phi Kappa, was formed in 1920. The group officially became a chapter of Pi Beta Phi on September 26, 1925. The Installation Ceremony took place in Jefferson Hall on campus. A banquet was held on Saturday evening, the day after the installation, at the Pocahontas Tea Room; 53 Pi Phis from 10 chapters attended. On Sunday afternoon, a tea was given for the Pi Beta Phi women by the Kappa Alpha Theta women. This was held in their rooms, which were located in an old debtor's prison. Another tea was given on Monday afternoon by the Kappa Kappa Gammas. These two groups had not only entertained the Pi Phis so graciously, but had given them the use of their rooms in the dormitories during their stay.

Living at Virginia Gamma

Virginia Gamma's house was built in the 1930s and is located in sorority court on campus. It is an intimate setting for 16 Virginia Gamma sisters who live in seven bedrooms on three floors. Until the 1970s, the first-floor bedroom was the House Director's suite where the chaperone lived. The house was renovated and enlarged in 2015 in a project that took three years to complete, with funds provided by the chapter's angel donor, Hunter Smith ’51. Many other Virginia Gamma alumnae donors also contributed to enable the furnishing and decorating of all the common areas of the house. Members of Chapter House Corporation and the AAC Chairman, Brenda Jacobson, served on the committee along with college officials, architects, and interior designers. They created the spaces and selected the finishes for the house. The chapter now has the only house in sorority court with central air conditioning, a fully modern kitchen, a study room with whiteboard walls, a large great room and a lovely brick patio. 

The house features a shadow box displayed prominently on the wall in the living room that contains a note from DC Alpha Margaret Truman (Harry S. Truman’s daughter) written to the chapter after she visited. In addition, the house boasts many pieces of silver housed in cabinets along the wall of the living room. These were gifts given to the chapter when it was installed. The chapter also conducts the New Member ceremony in the Great Hall of the Christopher Wren Building, which is the oldest academic building still in use in the country (it was built in 1693). While this is not a physical item, it is a tradition that is special to the chapter.

Panhellenic Groups on Campus

Alpha Chi Omega, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Delta, Pi Beta Phi and Phi Mu

Philanthropic Service

The chapter does Play to Give online, where all of members and their families and friends get involved in the donating and playing the game after reaching a certain donation point. The chapter also does Lemonade for Literacy, where the chapter sells lemonade out front of the dining hall every Thursday and Friday for the month of April. In the recent past, chapter members have experimented with a few larger events such as Pie Phest, where they paint a face-in-hole board to look like an angel and have members of the community come pay to pie sisters through it. The chapter has also done Phield Day in the past, where students form their own teams and compete in games reminiscent of elementary school field days.

Notable Alumnae

  • Ellen Stofan ‘83, chief scientist at NASA
  • Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, former member of the Homeland Security Council, former President of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, current Chair of the Campaign for the Bold at William & Mary, current member of the Board of Visitors of William & Mary
  • Dr. Wilma Fowler Bergfield ’57, Head of Dermatology Department at the Cleveland Clinic