International College and University Honorary Art Fraternity
By Dr. Ralph M. Hudson, First Vice-president, 1911-1977
Kappa Pi, the oldest and largest among college art honorary fraternities, was founded at the University of Kentucky in 1911 by a group of art students. The Kentuckian Yearbooks show active chapters in 1915 and 1916 with a national roll of six chapters. World War I caused the suspension of all chapter activities. After the war, Delta Chapter, Vanderbilt-Peabody in Nashville, was revived by its alumni members. Two other chapters were established, at the University of Tennessee and the University of Chicago.
Charles R. Morse, a member of the Zeta Chapter, University of Tennessee, returned to Knoxville after the war with a vision of growth for the organization. Through his devoted interest four chapters were revived. Morse was responsible for formulating a Constitution, securing designs for jewelry from Balfour Co., and had Kappa Pi listed in Baird's Manual of Fraternities. By 1927, seven chapters were listed in this publication. Under his guidance, a National Convention was held in Chicago in 1934.
The constitution was ratified and the following officers were elected: Mrs. Emily A. Anderson, President; Miss Alice A. Linneman, First Vice-President; Miss Alta L. Skelly, Second Vice-President; Mrs. Iva B. Kelly, Secretary; Mrs. Marie B. Ryan, Editor; Mrs Fanette Lines, Alumni Director; Miss Martha Avery, Director of Exhibits; Charles R. Morse, Historian; and Mrs. Christine Wienand, Librarian.
Morse served as Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army during World War II and was released from active duty as Judge Advocate at Fort Campbell in 1947. He died in 1948. Charles Morse had a distinguished career in the Tennessee Legislature, in military service, in fraternal organizations and in Greek letter societies. Through his advice in legal matters, attendance at conventions and service as a national officer, Charles Morse exercised significant leadership in the formative years of Kappa Pi.
The official national meetings of Kappa Pi include the following: Convention in Chicago, 1934; Convention in St. Louis, 1938; Convention in Birmingham, 1940; Executive Council in Kansas City, 1944; Convention in Pittsburgh, Kansas, 1952; Executive Council meetings in St. Louis and Birmingham, 1970, 1973, and 1977.
From four chapters, the fraternity has continued to grow with chapters being chartered in forty states and two foreign countries. With encouragement of honorary member L. G. Balfour, President Garnet Leader secured the incorporation of Kappa Pi in 1971 and the registration of the Coat of Arms in the U.S. Patent Office in 1972.
Emily Anderson of Mt. Pleasant, Iwo, served as president of Kappa Pi for thirty-five years of dedicated service until ill health made it necessary for her to relinquish the presidency in 1969 to Garnet Leader who had served as a Vice-President for a number of years. Bertha Spencer, initially at Kansas State College in Pittsburgh, served as treasurer from 1942 until 1964. Another officer who gave unstintingly of her time to Kappa Pi during these years was Marie B. Ryan of Kearney, Nebraska, editor of Kappa Pi publications, including the annual Sketch Book, beginning with the first Sketch Book in 1935, and continuing for twenty-five years. Mrs. Ryan was also responsible along with Mrs. Anderson, for much of the rapid expansion of Kappa Pi during this period.
In 1968, Miss Garnet Leader became the president of Kappa Pi and served for 17 years. Miss Leader had been one of the Kappa Pi officers since 1935. Her background as an art teacher and art program director with international experience had enabled her to exercise leadership. Myrtle Kerr, of Lamar State College in Beaumont, Texas, served as editor, producing effectively designed Sketch Books and other publications. Mrs. Kerr held the office of Treasurer from 1971 until 1996
Upon Miss Leader's retirement in 1986, our third president was elected, Mr. Arthur B. Kennon. Mr. Kennon served as editor of the Sketch Book from 1976 through 1998. He was president for twelve years and remains a member of the Executive Council.
Ron Koehler of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi became president in 1998. He had previously served as vice-president and had been a chapter sponsor for twelve years. Mr. Koehler served as president for 17 years upon his retirement. The other International Officers during his tenure were: Dr. Sam Bishop, Vice-President, Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Catherine S. Koehler, Secretary, Cleveland, Mississippi; and Tom Nawrocki, Treasurer, Mississippi University for Women, Columbus, Mississippi.
Michael Stanley continues this long tradition as the current President of Kappa Pi. The current International Officers are: Jeff Brown, Vice-President, Dr. Beverly Joyce, Treasurer, Ky Johnston, Secretary, and Cliff Tresner, Historian.