Pi Beta Phi Centennial Gate honors chapter’s 100-year anniversary

University of Arkansas students, parents, alumni and faculty gather outside the Pi Beta Phi Centennial Gate shortly before an official dedication ceremony Friday afternoon on the UA campus.

Photo: Todd Gill

The University of Arkansas and Pi Beta Phi communities celebrated the dedication of the recently completed Pi Beta Phi Centennial Gate Friday afternoon in Fayetteville. The gate, located on Maple Street at the intersection of the former Campus Drive near Memorial Hall, was built in commemoration of the chapter’s 100-year anniversary on campus.

The idea — part of the campus’ existing beautification plan — was to create a formal entrance to the north side of campus, leading to Old Main, Vol Walker Hall and the historic center of the university. A fundraising effort, launched in 2009, raised more than $1 million in contributions from students, parents, alumni and friends of the Arkansas Alpha chapter.

Students and alumni search for names engraved in the brick pavers at the entrance of the gate. Bricks were reserved and named for $1,000 each.

Photo: Todd Gill

The 120-foot-long gate is 30 feet tall in the middle, and was constructed of limestone, native Arkansas stones and wrought iron. The design highlights the University of Arkansas insignia with Pi Phi’s Greek letters beneath it.

“The University of Arkansas has a long history of alumni and friends who are deeply loyal and dedicated to the university and to each other,” said UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “This beautiful gate is a remarkable gift, one that symbolizes the long and distinguished history on this campus of Pi Beta Phi, the powerful bonds of sisterhood and this chapter’s enduring love for their alma mater.”

Pi Beta Phi, the first nationally recognized women’s fraternity, was the first organization to form an alumnae department in 1893, the first to organize a national philanthropic project in 1910 and the first to establish an alumnae advisory committee for each chapter in 1913. The Arkansas Alpha chapter’s philanthropic activities focus on children and literacy. They have been recognized campuswide for community engagement and academic excellence.

“We are very proud of this accomplishment,” said Marilynn Porter, a member of the volunteer steering committee. “Volunteers and staff worked very hard to bring this vision to life, and we are thrilled to see so many students, parents, alumni and friends coming together in support of this special project. Every gift helped to bring us closer to our goal, and we hope this gate becomes a beloved part of campus for all students, alumni and visitors. It is certainly cherished by the Pi Phis.”