The University of Arkansas, originally called Arkansas Industrial University, was established in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1871 atop a hilltop farm overlooking the Ozark Mountains immediately giving it the nickname, The Hill. The University became the first major Southern public university to admit a Black student without litigation when Silas Hunt of Texarkana, AR, an African American veteran of World War II, was admitted to the University Of Arkansas School Of Law in 1948. Many years later, African Americans would change the campus yet again with the chartering of the “Klassy” Kappa Iota Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
During the weekend of March 11 – 13, 2016, Kappa Iota celebrated 40 years of rich history on the U of A campus. Special guests recognized during the anniversary were Dr. Margaret Clark, Jennifer Lee, charter chapter advisors, Sandra McCall, banquet keynote speaker and Willa Kennedy Sanders, charter members.
The origins of the Kappa Iota Chapter began in the spring of 1975. An interest group named the “Vine Sisters,” began by seeking permission to receive formal recognition from the University of Arkansas. Jennifer Lee and Joyce Hopson represented the group at the first Associated Student Government meeting in the fall of 1975, and their request to receive formal status was granted. The Kappa Iota Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was chartered Saturday, March 20, 1976 by Dr. Margaret Clark and Jennifer Lee. The first intake class was called “The Perpetual 15.” The class members were: Mellonee Carrigan, Doris Franklin, Maxine Franklin, Adrian Hammonds, Linda Gayle Johnson, Linda K. Johnson, Willa Kennedy, Janice Lee Gayfield, Deborah Lewis, Sandra McCall, Elise Neal, Gloria Sanders, Karen Simmons, Naomi Smith, and Deborah Wilson.
Through the years, Kappa Iota has initiated more than 290 lovely ladies into the illustrious sisterhood of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Every young lady is encouraged to have high scholastic and ethical standards, implement superior programs and give thousands of hours of community service to the University campus and Northwest Arkansas area.
Kappa Iota’s rich history of hosting programs are now traditions on the University’s campus. Examples of those programs are the Unity Step Show and Soul Food Sunday. The Unity Step Show is an annual event where members of historically Interfraternity Council fraternities and Panhellenic sororities compete utilizing steps and choreography taught by KI members.
Soul Food Sunday, the Chapter cooks Sunday dinner for the campus and invites its members to fellowship with the Chapter. We continue to remember our Ivy beyond the Wall, April R. Love with annual programs about domestic violence. However, Kappa Iota strives to be creative and innovative with programming. Hosting programs such as the Cheerio Dinner which spreads awareness about the importance of heart health. Other distinguish programs address issues of sustainability, problems concerning women, and family strengthening.
After 40 years, Kappa Iota’ chapter members have refused to allow KI’s legacy of excellence to dwindle. Kappa Iota has consistently maintained the highest grade point average for the University of Arkansas’ National Pan-Hellenic Council in recent years, and the present members still hold this honor, as well as being number eight in the Arkansas’s overall Greek Life organizations. Additionally, three members serve currently the National Pan-Hellenic board. This perpetuates on a national level. Three members of Kapa Iota won Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Educational Advancement Fund scholarships. Last year members won the South Central Regional Conference Step Show, as well, winning the annual Unity Stoll Off Thursday. Being first is not a saying, it’s a lifestyle.
Chapter officers are India Callahan, president, Niyah Phillips, vice president, Thea Winston, treasurer, Tavia Wooten, secretary and Myra McKenzie-Harris, graduate advisor. The “Klassy” Kappa Iota Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is committed to constantly soaring to new heights, and its members’ passion for excellence and service shall be the force that propels it for many years to come.