Gamma Phis shine

UCSB sorority chapter celebrates 20 years on campus

The UCSB chapter of Gamma Phi Beta celebrated its 20th anniversary on campus last weekend by honoring four women who have served as advisors since the start of the 129-year-old sorority’s tenure on campus.

Lois Abbott said she is very proud to have served as chapter advisor since 1983. In addition to receiving the sorority’s merit award, one of its highest honors, Abbott also received a special award from the National Sister Link Chair. Abbott reflected on the changes she’s seen over the past twenty years. While the clothes are different and the emphasis or lack of emphasis on partying swings, “the heart of what we are all about is the same,” she said.

“We emphasize scholarship and philanthropy,” said Abbott, citing the chapter’s consistently above 3.0 gpa and work with the Isla Vista Youth Project, among other community service activities.

Kay Graham, who served as recruitment advisor (what used to be called “rush advisor”) for 15 years, was also honored with a merit award for her work with the chapter at the Nov. 22 Founder’s Day Luncheon, which was attended by over 200 alumnae and collegians from around the country.

Another merit award honoree, Jane Habermann, has served on Gamma Phi Beta’s house corporation board since 1985. “She has handled our meetings with a style that makes our collegians feel privileged to serve on house corporation board,” said Abbott of her close friend and sorority sister.

The fourth founder of the Delta Psi Chapter, Leslie Storr, was also given the merit award for her many years of service on both the house corporation board and as property manager for the sorority’s apartment building at 890 Camino Pescadero in Isla Vista.

Gamma Phi’s sorority is a bit unusual in that it is housed in an apartment building rather than one big house.

“When we first started the chapter we had one TV in the common living room and one telephone in the hall,” said Abbott.

Little by little over the years they’ve all gotten their own TVs, their own computers, and everyone has a cell phone, she observed.

While the technology has changed (and the tattoos and the piercings) Abbott sees the character and 129-year-old mission of the Gamma Phi Betas — “to foster a nurturing environment that provides women the opportunity to achieve their potential through life-long commitment to intellectual growth, individual worth and service to humanity” — as something she remains proud to be part of.

And the Gamma Phi’s are obviously proud of Abbott, Graham, Habermann and Storr as well.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on November 27, 2003.

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