Alpha Phi celebrates centennial with social dinner

All Together: The Fall 2016 active members of Alpha Phi join together for a group photo at the centennial gathering. Their social dinner was attended by current members and alumnae alike, to help celebrate the sorority’s centennial.

Scott Stormann

The Washburn Alpha Phi Upsilon Chapter celebrated their 100-year anniversary this past weekend on the Washburn campus as 124 members of current and alumnae joined together for a formal evening of food, drink and socialization. They exchanged stories from 1945 to today with each one relating through the bond of sisterhood that Alpha Phi has provided.

Alpha Phi began as a local campus society named the Beta Sorority along with two other student organizations in 1903. These were the first Greek letter organizations on the Washburn University campus, but it wasn’t until 1916 that Beta Sorority would be renamed Alpha Phi Upsilon and granted national and international affiliation.

The organization built their house on campus in 1923 where it still stands today, being one of the oldest buildings.

The centennial gathering consisted of a dinner along with songs and speeches from alumnae and active representatives including Stephanie LeBlanc, centennial committee chair, Laura Wywadis Pederzani, alumnae chapter president, Judy Mead, Alpha Phi international representative, Jennifer Wessel, Alpha Phi President and Beverly Raser Morris, Upsilon chapter HCB president.

Ann Woodberry Lusk, initiated into Alpha Phi in 1945, described the joy she’s had being part of the sorority.

“I liked having all those sisters,” Lusk said. “I had a younger brother, but no sisters and I lived in the country down about 30 miles south of Topeka and it was just so fun to always have someone available to you.”

After a century of bonding sisterly friendships, Washburn’s Alpha Phi keeps striving with this past year reaching their largest recruitment to date of 92 members. Wessel continues to look to the future for the organization with strong hopes of continued growth.

“I think the possibilities for Alpha Phi are endless,” Wessel said. “My goal next year for them is to get over 100 members, because when you hit that hundred mark in Alpha Phi, it means you are becoming one of the larger chapters. Our size still doesn’t compare to Alabama, where they have 435 active members, but we’re also not that campus. For a campus our size, recruiting 100 members would be a huge deal.”

Alpha Phi works with many charities and other activities throughout the year to support the community and the university. One of the recent programs that Alpha Phi has supported is called Princess For A Day.

“We work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and we invite girls over to our house who are on the waiting list to get a big sister,” Wessel said. “It gives them an idea of what it would be like to have a big sister through the program. We do their hair, makeup, nails and treat them like princesses.” Alpha Phi Upsilon has been involved with the Princess Project for the past two years as part of the Francis E. Willard Day Of Service, which is dedicated to women’s empowerment and allows each chapter to devote one day of March to a nearby cause.

A century has passed, and still the Alpha Phi family continues to grow.

“The university as a whole has been really supportive as far as doing what they can to make sure we have a thriving Greek community,” Pederzani said. “We’d like to thank them along with the alums and are looking forward to the next 100 years here at Washburn.”