Gamma Pi History

In the spring of 1955, a group of interested bandsmen organized a local fraternity for college bandsmen patterned after the Alpha Zeta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at Indiana University. In the fall of 1955, the same group of bandsmen mentioned their desire to become a National Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi to Professor McEmber, assistant director to bands at Purdue. With Professor McEmber’s help, the Gamma Pi Chapter at Purdue University held its first meeting on March 8, 1956. The total membership consisted of 17 charter members and five honorary members. Since then, the Brothers of Gamma Pi have continued to actively serve on the local, district, and national level.

In the fall of 1962, the chapter organized the first Freshman Leadership Camp and sponsored its first jazz show in the Hall of Music. The second jazz show was held the following fall. Over the years, this show has evolved into a well-known annual event called “Jazz on the Hill,” now held at Slayter Center every spring.

Gamma Pi’s nickname, “The Traveling Chapter,” was a well-chosen one, for the chapter has traveled as a group all over the United States, and on January 26, 1966, held the first international meeting of Gamma Pi in San Cristobal, Venezuela. Since that time, many other international and interesting meetings have been held, including several joint KKY-TBS meetings. Among these are: Japan, Venezuela, Ireland, China, Colombia, and Singapore.

The 1971 National Convention was a big one for Gamma Pi. They were once again named a Top Ten Chapter and runner-up for the Founder’s Award. The chapter was also instrumental in planning the casino part at this convention. At the final banquet, Brothers, Hoffman and Vardaman presented Grand President Worthington with the KKY pin that Gamma Pi Honorary Neil Armstrong took to the moon with him. Brother Roy Johnson was also elected as a National Trustee of the fraternity.

In 1989, Gamma Pi and Beta Sigma commissioned the piece “Old Gold and Black,” a medley of songs associated with Purdue University. Composed by Jim Curnow, the piece was premiered by the Purdue Symphonic Band at the Band-O-Rama in the fall of 1989 and is still played every year at University Commencement Exercises by the Purdue Commencement Band.

In 1993, Gamma Pi and Beta Sigma began the Slayter Center Renovation Project. The project started as a new coat of paint, but changed quite a bit as it progressed through the Purdue University channels. The chapter set out to raise $5,000 of the $15,000 thought needed for this renovation. Both chapters helped raise over $8,000 for this project, but the goals for the project changed once again.

In 2007, Gamma Pi and Beta Sigma held another Day of Service entitled “Elliott Hall Over’ Hall’.” Brothers and sisters worked together to build tuba racks, paint directors’ offices, cleaned the band lounge and hallways, cleared the clothing office of unnecessary items and storage cabinets, filled holes in the grass drill field, and took unused cabinets to the “dead storage” facility.