About Us

In the early 1900s, few women entered pharmacy school and few were practicing pharmacy. In 1912, the Women's Section of the American Pharmaceutical Association, not the American Pharmacists Association, (APhA) was formed, providing the opportunity for women pharmacists to meet together.

In 1917, this group received a message from women pharmacy students at Purdue University, expressing their interest in an organization to unite all women pharmacy students in the United States. The section responded, appointing Zada M. Cooper, a University of Iowa faculty member, chairman of a special committee to investigate the suggestion. The committee determined that a professional sorority was needed, rather than a separate professional pharmaceutical association.

During its 1917 annual meeting, the American Conference of Pharmaceutical Faculties, now the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, created the Committee on Activities of Students and Alumni. Chaired by Dr. Rufus A. Lyman, this committee conducted a survey of pharmacy schools and found several existing local clubs for women that had proved to be of value both professionally and socially.

Creating an organization for students, however, was delayed by World War I and by the severe influenza epidemic. In 1920, Zada M. Cooper became chair of the Committee on Activities of Students and Alumni. She attempted to unite all existing clubs to form a national sorority, but this task was too difficult. However, agreement in purpose was found between the clubs from the University of Iowa, University of Nebraska, and University of Minnesota. The three clubs chose representatives to attend the May 1921 conference in Iowa City.

On Friday, May 13, 1921, the representatives gathered in the Hall of Pharmacy and Chemistry at the University of Iowa. Zada M. Cooper served as temporary chairman and prepared a preliminary draft of a constitution and bylaws. In true parliamentary fashion, the entire document was adopted, along with a model set of constitution and bylaws for a local chapter.

The assembled group selected the name Kappa Epsilon, the name being used by the Minnesota club, the oldest of the three. The honor of being Alpha Chapter was given to the Minnesota group, which had originated as the Spatula Club and in 1919 became Kappa Epsilon. The University of Nebraska club became Beta Chapter and Iowa's Crucible Club became Gamma Chapter. The group agreed that national officers should be alumni members.

During the 1970s, there was a question raised as to the impact of women as pharmacists, due in part to rapidly increasing numbers. Kappa Epsilon supported the initial research in this area, including surveys of practicing women pharmacists, pharmacy students, and pharmacy faculty members. Testimony was also presented to the APhA Task Force on Women in Pharmacy.

In July 1996, a special gathering took place in Iowa City, IA to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Kappa Epsilon. Collegiate and alumni members traveled from around the country to take part in many activities that celebrated the rich history of Kappa Epsilon. Today, more than 20,000 women and men have been initiated into Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. Since 1921, Kappa Epsilon has contributed not only to the personal development of its members, but also to achievements on campuses and in the profession of pharmacy.

Special Kappa Epsilon events have been hosted at each APhA Annual Meeting to allow alumni and student members to meet and get to know each other. Today, Kappa Epsilon sponsors a booth at both the APhA Annual Meeting and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Meeting.

These are just a few activities that have taken place in the life of Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. Over the years, members have contributed professionally, philanthropically, and have provided that "special bond" between women pharmacists. Other organizations are important in the professional world, but they cannot provide that special emphasis relating to women in pharmacy like Kappa Epsilon.

Adapted from “The Guidelines of KE”

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