The Process of Extension
Extension is the process of starting new Pi Beta Phi chapters. Extension has always been part of Pi Beta Phi’s history. One year after the Fraternity's founding at Monmouth College, Libbie Brook established the second Pi Phi chapter at Iowa Wesleyan University. Today, Pi Beta Phi's extension philosophy is not much different than it was near the start of the Fraternity: to pursue opportunities complementing Pi Beta Phi’s academic, social and philanthropic mission. Pi Phi looks for growing institutions with a solid reputation for developing the Personal and Intellectual Growth of its students.
The I.C.s gathered for the Fraternity’s first convention during the summer of 1867. Emma Brownlee Kilgore Reported that “well laid plans were made of how we would extend the I.C. reputation of being the first woman’s secret society; how we would enter other colleges; no high schools were to be considered; and we also unanimously decided that no college fraternity among the young men should be better, wiser or stronger than ours.”
In 1868, one of the Pi Beta Phi founders, Libbie Brook, enrolled at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and formed a second chapter. The next year, Nancy Black founded the chapter at the Mount Pleasant Female Seminary, and in 1870, Kate F. Preston left Mount Pleasant and founded the chapter at Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University). When Kappa Kappa Gamma made its official debut at Monmouth College in October 1870, four chapters of I.C. Sorosis had been established.
Until 1881, only four groups, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Pi Beta Phi attempted to start chapters beyond their founding campus. The early efforts at expansion were quite simple in comparison to today’s standards. In many cases, it took only a few interested women to begin a chapter. Methods of expansion included sending an initiated member to another institution to recruit members for a new chapter; enticing friends and relatives to start chapters at other schools: contacting women students — sometimes blindly through college directories — and asking them to start new chapters; and soliciting information from professors about potential fraternity women at other institutions.
Over the years, the extension process became more formalized, especially after the founding of the National Panhellenic Conference in 1902. During the early 1900s up until the mid-1930s, the standard way of acquiring Pi Phi chapters was for local organizations to petition for a charter. The petition process was a time consuming and expensive one. Chapters chartered during this period may have a petition book in the chapter archives. It typically has letters from college officials, local alumnae and women from other NPC groups. There were pages devoted to the activities of the members in the local organization and pictures of them as well. After meeting several criteria, the local group would be officially voted upon at convention. In the 1940s, it became Grand Council's duty to vote on charters rather than making organizations wait the two years between conventions. After World War II, some chapters were established using Pi Phi collegians from nearby chapters and Pi Phis who would transfer from other chapters to help form a new chapter. Today, Leadership Development Consultants assist with the establishment of new chapters. Nearby chapters are often asked to take part in recruitment, too.
Policies and Procedures
Now, to ensure fairness among the NPC groups, there are very specific NPC Extension policies that all NPC members follow when starting a new chapter. Those policies state if there are NPC groups on campus already, those sororities must decide if there is a need for a new group on campus. It is then up to the campus community to choose the organization that best fits their sorority community.
Once the College Panhellenic has officially opened the campus for extension, the review process begins! Pi Beta Phi looks at a number of factors when considering extension opportunities, some of which include:
- the quality of the educational institution
- the administration's support of the fraternity and sorority community
- the strength of the fraternity and sorority community and the College Panhellenic
- the number of interested students
- housing availability and/or requirements
- local Pi Beta Phi alumnae support
Pi Beta Phi welcomes the opportunity to learn more about campuses and communities looking for new chapters and carefully reviews all inquiries once there is a College Panhellenic vote for extension.
When Pi Beta Phi is interested in bringing a chapter to an institution open for extension, the first step is to create an application that is sent to and reviewed by the college Extension Committee. The Extension Committee looks at all applications submitted and typically selects three NPC Organizations to make a formal presentation to the Extension Committee, and often times members from the fraternity and sorority communities at large are also in attendance. Following the presentations, based on a recommendation by the Extension Committee, the institution will typically invite one organization to join their community.
In preparation for the establishing recruitment, the Resident Leadership Development Consultant(s) and the assisting consultants are on campus in the weeks prior to establishment. The recruitment team, consisting of international officers and Headquarters staff, are on campus during recruitment and pledging. The team strives to fill a class with a variety of student ages for balance and continuity for the long-term success of the new chapter. GPA, involvement in campus activities, interest in community service and eagerness to build a new chapter are important attributes in the consideration for membership.