June 2021 Collegiate Chapter of the Month: Kappa, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

This month, we head to “good ol’ Rocky Top” to get to know our Kappa Chapter at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Since 1908, this chapter has been an outstanding example of our steadfast sisterhood. Read more about how they have stayed connected during this challenging year and what they’re looking forward to in the fall.

Chapter Name: Kappa

School Name: University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Located: Knoxville, Tenn.

Date Chapter Founded: 1908

Number of Members: 263 (including graduating seniors)

Chapter GPA: 3.47

Chapter Philanthropy Event/Monies Raised for CMN Hospitals

  • Our chapter’s local CMN Hospital is the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH). We are so thankful to be able to serve such a wonderful organization, and it’s even better that ETCH is practically in our backyard! We are the only chapter at UT that has its philanthropic partner within walking distance from campus!
  • Over the past year, we’ve had to get creative with our philanthropy efforts because the annual events that we typically hold did not comply with CDC or Knox County Health Board guidelines. Our goal was to raise money for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital without jeopardizing the health and safety of our members and our community, so we had to think outside of the box!
  • Last summer, we raised money to purchase toys for the hospital when they were running low. We were also able to host a golf tournament in the fall, which was something new and turned out to be very successful and so much fun!
  • Our members also participated in VOLthon, UTK’s Dance Marathon benefitting East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH). This event was held virtually this year, making it a safe way to raise money for our cause!
  • We also held a virtual auction, which allowed us to raise a significant amount of money as well. Although we missed our traditional in-person philanthropy events like Boots & BBQ and Bonnamu, we are grateful for the hard work that our Philanthropy Committee put in to execute these safe events. We raised about $40,000 for ETCH despite the circumstances and challenges this past year brought us and are so proud of our members for their hard work and dedication!
New Initiates pose in front of the Kappa Chapter house at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Fun Chapter Facts

  • The Kappa Chapter has been continually operating for longer than any other Phi Mu chapter in the nation! Our chapter was founded at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1908, 113 years ago.
  • Forty-one members can live in our chapter house.
  • Interesting Kappa alumnae include:
    • Connie Craig-Carroll was an HSN host for 22 years and recently launched her own jewelry line.
    • Tanya O’Rourke is a senior news anchor at WCPO Cincinnati.
    • Heather Grubb was a contestant on Season 2 of “The Next Great Baker.”
    • Sarah Stone Smith was “The Bachelor” Season 8 winner and now hosts her own podcast called “Say it Southern.”
    • Lisa Boothe is a Fox News Contributor and president of High Noon Strategies, a boutique political communications and public affairs firm.
In 2020, Phi Mu was the highest fundraising chapter at VOLthon, Tennessee’s Dance Marathon.

Points of Pride

  • Our House Director, Leslie “Mama Les” Del Vecchio, was named the 2018 House Mom of the Year at UTK. She’s been with our chapter for almost 10 years and is phenomenal!
  • We were the largest fundraising group for our Dance Marathon in both 2020 and 2021.
  • Over the past few years, a few of our members have competed in the Miss Tennessee pageant, some making it to the semi-finals!

Interesting Facts about Our Members

  • Our members are involved in many activities on- and off-campus including the Student Government Association, pre-professional fraternities, honor societies, VOLthon, Student Ambassadors, UT Dance Team, intramural sports and more.
  • Off-campus, our members participate in several community activities. Many of our members volunteer at the local animal shelter, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, the UT Medical Center and other non-profit organizations around Knoxville.
  • We have many members from Tennessee but we also have members from states all over the country like Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, California and pretty much everywhere in between!
Kappa Chapter members cheering on the Vols. Looking forward to more game days in 2021!

Our Chapter’s Signature Events

  • We host annual philanthropy events each year. In the fall, we host a tailgate called Boots and Barbeque, benefitting East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH). Everyone wears their favorite boots and enjoys some great BBQ before heading to Neyland Stadium to watch the Vols play football!
  • In the spring, we host Bonnamu, which also benefits ETCH. We rent out the World’s Fair Park Amphitheater in downtown Knoxville and host a concert with live bands, food trucks, vendors and Miracle Families from the Hospital as guest speakers.
  • Annual social events include spring and fall formals, date parties and mixers. Our most famous event is “Mad Plaid” that we hold in the fall: members dress in all kinds of mismatched plaid outfits! Some of our other favorite themes for social events include “Decked in Denim” and “Flamingo Flock.” Once every four years, we host our Carnation Ball, a formal that is a great Phi Mu tradition!
Kappa Chapter members representing Phi Mu on a recent beach trip.

How We Plan to Stay Connected This Summer

  • Thanks to the digital world that we live in today, it’s fairly easy for our sisters to remain connected throughout the summer. We use our Phi Mu social media platforms to share fun photos of members throughout the summer, and we also encourage our sisters to get together for weekend trips, Facetime dates and other activities to keep everyone connected.

What We Are Most Looking Forward to When Classes Start

  • Our chapter is so excited to go back to school in the fall because we are slowly going to be able to get back to our version of “normal.” Although things still may look a little different than we’re used to, we are thrilled to be taking steps toward a safe in-person chapter environment again, whatever that may mean in the fall for us. Having only remote chapter meetings, very few social and sisterhood events, as well as all of the other restrictions last year put our sisterhood to the test. We were forced to find new ways to keep things fun and engaging for our members. We knew it was how things had to be to remain safe and we’re happy to say that it strengthened our bond more than ever.
  • In the fall, we are looking forward to being able to meet in person, host a few social, sisterhood and philanthropy events and get back to our normal sisterhood. We are also looking forward to in-person recruitment again and being able to meet all of the wonderful PNMs face-to-face.

Advice for PNMs Going through Recruitment this Fall on any Campus

  • The past year has been difficult for everyone. If you’re a little more nervous than you’d normally be, that is completely okay. Know that you are not alone!
  • Most of the time, the members you talk to are just as nervous as you are. Remember, due to COVID-19, our rising sophomores may have not been able to meet all of their sisters in person yet, even after a year of being in Phi Mu.
  • No matter what school you’re going to, our best recruitment advice is to be yourself. Lean into who you are during the recruitment process. Be open and honest with how you feel throughout the week and try to get to know the sorority women you speak with throughout the process. Ask lots of questions and let your personality shine through!
  • No matter what happens, you’re going to gain a lot of great experience going through the process, meet new people and learn so much about yourself!

Stay Connected with the Women of Phi Mu’s Kappa Chapter!

            Instagram: @phimuutk

            Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phimutennessee/

            Website: http://utk.phimu.org