Gamma Phi Beta was founded by four bold and courageous women at Syracuse University on November 11th, 1874. In 1882, only eight years after our founding at Syracuse University, a swell in membership led our members to discuss extending our organization onto a new campus. Kate Gardner, an Alpha Chapter member, wrote to a friend at the University of Michigan regarding the possible formation of a new chapter. The idea was sparked, and on June 7, 1882, Beta Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta was installed with six chapter members at the University of Michigan.
The University of Michigan influenced the path of Gamma Phi Beta long before the new chapter’s emergence in 1882. Nine years after Gamma Phi Beta Founder Frances E. Haven was born on Michigan’s campus, her father Erastus O. Haven was selected to preside over the University as its second president, serving from 1863-1869. Haven Hall, named in honor of Erastus Haven in 1933, still stands on campus today.
Thus, Beta Chapter is particularly important to Gamma Phi Beta’s history. Not only was it Gamma Phi Beta’s first colony, but it is also played a major role in the creation of the term “sorority.” As two delegates from Alpha Chapter returned to Syracuse by train from Beta’s installation, they met Professor Frank Smalley of the Syracuse Latin department, who remarked, “I presume that you young women feel very elated over being members of a sorority.” The term, coined at that moment for Gamma Phi Beta, has been used ever since.