Welcome to the Alumni Association

The South Bay/Long Beach Beta Alumni Association is open to all alumni of Beta Theta Pi from all schools that have, or have had, Beta Theta Pi Chapters. The Alumni Association meets regularly approximately three times per year, and attends or hosts special functions. Alumni associations like the South Bay/Long Beach Beta Alumni Association are a great way to experience the depth of Beta Brotherhood beyond college. The Association enjoys members of all ages. All Betas Wecome!

_ kai _

Famous Beta: Stephen Joshua Sondheim

Brother Stephen Joshua Sondheim was born in New York City. Young Stephen showed a distinct aptitude for music, puzzles and mathematics. His parents divorced when he was only ten, and Stephen, an only child, was taken by his mother to live on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The area had attracted a number of well-known personalities from the New York theater world; a close neighbor was the playwright, lyricist and producer Oscar Hammerstein II, who had a son Stephen’s age. Stephen Sondheim and Jimmy Hammerstein soon became friends, and Stephen came to see the older Hammerstein as a role model. At the time, Hammerstein was inaugurating his historic collaboration with composer Richard Rodgers. When Sondheim was in his teens, Rodgers and Hammerstein were enjoying unprecedented success with the shows Oklahoma! and South Pacific. Sondheim resolved that he, like Hammerstein, would write for the theater.

Sondheim studied piano seriously through his prep school years, while Hammerstein tutored him in writing for the theater. With Hammerstein’s guidance, he wrote scripts and scores for four shows, a project that occupied Sondheim through his student years at Williams College, a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts. At the time, Williams College was an all-male institution. Williams became co-educational in 1970. Prior to then, in 1962, Williams College phased out all fraternities.


Beta Theta Pi chapter house at Williams College with snow dragon guarding the premises, date unknown. (Courtesy of Williams College Archives)

While at Williams College, Stephen Sondheim became a member of the Zeta Chapter of Beta Theta Pi. The Zeta Chapter was founded February 5, 1847. and remained a chapter in good standing until Williams College unilaterally phased out all fraternities in 1962.

Sondheim was one of 24 pledges in his pledge class. His first teacher at Williams was Robert Barrow, and according to Sondheim

…everybody hated him because he was very dry, and I thought he was wonderful because he was very dry. And Barrow made me realize that all my romantic views of art were nonsense. I had always thought an angel came down and sat on your shoulder and whispered in your ear ‘dah-dah-dah-DUM.’ Never occurred to me that art was something worked out. And suddenly it was skies opening up. As soon as you find out what a leading tone is, you think, Oh my God. What a diatonic scale is—Oh my God! The logic of it. And, of course, what that meant to me was: Well, I can do that. Because you just don’t know. You think it’s a talent, you think you’re born with this thing. What I’ve found out and what I believed is that everybody is talented. It’s just that some people get it developed and some don’t — Schiff, Stephen (2010). “Deconstructing Sondheim”. The Sondheim Review (Sondheim Review, Inc.)

According to Fraternity and Sorority Historian, Fran Becque, Ph.D., along with roommate and fellow Beta Josiah T.S. (Joe) Horton, the campus humorist, Sondheim wrote a satirical campus musical, Phinney’s Rainbow (the title was a take off on Finian’s Rainbow) that harkened to Williams’ President James Phinney Baxter III. Sondheim wrote 25 musical numbers for the show.

The plot of Phinney’s Rainbow centered on the efforts of a Swindlehurst Prep School fraternity, Dogma Nu, to replace the compulsory physical education classes with more house parties. Their motto was “strength through sex.” Two of the songs from the show “How Do I Know?” and “Still Got My Heart” were his first published songs.

The book Stephen Sondheim: A Life, offers a glimpse of the play:

A ‘Goat Room’ was where all the rituals of initiation were performed,” Sondheim said, and so he took Beta Theta Pi’s ceremony “with just a slight smidgen of variation and exaggeration and put it on the stage. All the brothers were horrified, but of course everybody else thought it was screamingly funny; it seemed like a work of the imagination. And I told everybody at the house ‘Don’t get into an uproar. If you don’t tell anybody, it’s real, they won’t believe it.’

Sondheim graduated magna cum laude. He was awarded the Hutchinson Prize, a $3,000 cash award, renewable for a second year, for further study of music. Brother Sondheim is the only Beta to have been awarded three top entertainment honors –  Oscar, Grammy and Tony. He also has  a Pulitzer Prize, a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, and a Laurence Olivier Award.

Brother Sondheim’s credits are voluminous. Following is a list of “major works” as presently listed on Wikipedia:

Sondheim turned 80 on September 15, 2010. To celebrate the occasion, the Henry Miller Theatre located in New York City’s theater district at 124 West 43rd Street, between Broadway and 6th Avenue, was renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.


Famous Beta: James Arness

Brother James King Arness, Beloit ’46 (May 26, 1923 – June 3, 2011), was a well-known and beloved actor, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon on the 20-year running TV series GUNSMOKE. James Arness was born James Aurness in Minneapolis on May 26, 1923 (he dropped the “u” when he started acting). His younger brother was the equally well-known actor Peter Graves.

Brother Arness is remembered fondly at Beloit. Following are brief excerpts from the Beloit College Terrarium feature, Fridays with Fred by Fred Burwell:

The summer before he entered Beloit College in 1942, Jim Arness (then Aurness) worked in a logging camp in the mountains of Idaho. It was an appropriate experience for the strapping 6- foot-7-inch young man, whom the college yearbook later dubbed “Beloit’s Paul Bunyan.”  He had often found himself restless, eager to explore the wider world beyond his hometown Minneapolis. Several times he’d taken off with a friend, crisscrossing the United States and even traversing the Caribbean Sea, in search of adventure. Despite his checkered high school career, however, Arness’s mother urged him to try college. Summer over, Jim sat down and filled out an application to Beloit College, thoughtfully pondering over its many questions:

“What influences led you to desire to come to this institution?”

– “Small school more opportunity to study.”

“What definite vocation, if any, have you considered?”

– “None”

“If undecided, give present preferences (three) in order of choice:”

– “Radio, music, Philosophy”

An acting career may not yet have been on his radar, but the 19-year-old loved to sing.  

“Another personal satisfaction,” he wrote, “has been singing in a fine church choir. It has made me feel that I may want to go on in some field of music, however c’est le guerre and the future is uncertain.”

Jim’s useful talent made him popular, and no one could miss spotting the tall, tall, man leaning over the piano directing a chorus of his fraternity brothers.

“Studies kind of went out the window,” he later admitted in his autobiography.  “In fact, we never did study. Every night the frat members had a sending-off party for brothers going into the service.”

One day in March of 1943, Beta hosted a going away party for “Big Jim,” who was about to leave Beloit College for the United States Army. He eventually earned several service awards, including the Purple Heart, after participating in the Operation Shingle battle at the Anzio beachhead in Italy, where a Nazi bullet severely wounded him in the leg.

Jim Arness never forgot about Beloit and made notable visits at least twice. “Marshal Dillon came to Beloit Sunday and caused as big a sensation here as he causes weekly in Dodge City,” a Beloit Daily News reporter commented in September 1957. “From the moment he arrived Arness was mobbed by children from 8 months to 80 years who pushed, shoved and elbowed fellow citizens to get a peek at the star of Gunsmoke…Upon arriving he was met with a total traffic jam of cars, kids and parents…” Arness was in town to promote the new showroom at Vic Hansen and Sons, a local auto dealership. He signed autographs, posed for photographs, and addressed a crowd of 10,000. Although he’d hoped for a quiet visit to the Beloit College campus, a mob followed him there. He met with fraternity brothers at the Beta Theta Pi house on College Street, where he joined them for some old familiar chapter songs and posed with them for several photographs.

The entire article can be read by clicking THIS LINK.

Acting Career

Brother Arness began his performing career as a radio announcer at Minneapolis station WLOL in 1945. His film debut was as with Loretta Young in The Farmer’s Daughter. Though identified with westerns, he also appeared in two science fiction films, The Thing from Another World and Them!  He was close friends with John Wayne and co-starred with the Duke in several movies. After Gunsmoke ended its 20-year reign in 1975, Arness performed in western-themed movies and television series. James Arness: An Autobiography was released in September 2001, with a foreword by Burt Reynolds. Arness noted that he realized, “[I]f I was going to write a book about my life, I better do it now … ’cause I’m not getting any younger.”

Despite his stoic character, according to Ben Bates, his Gunsmoke stunt double, Arness laughed “from his toes to the top of his head.” Shooting on the Gunsmoke set was suspended because Arness got a case of the uncontrollable giggles. James Arness disdained publicity and was said to be a shy and sensitive man who enjoyed poetry, sailboat racing, and surfing. Arness died of natural causes at his Brentwood, California home on June 3, 2011. For his contributions to the television industry, Arness has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

His Beta Theta Pi chapter, the Chi Chapter, was founded in 1860 and was disbanded in 1988.

Intro to the Beta LinkedIn Group

linkedin.Brothers: There is an official Beta Theta Pi Fraternity group on LinkedIn with 10,208 members and growing. It is a private group for alumni and active members of the Fraternity. If you have a LinkedIn account, simply search for the group and request membership. The group’s managers will want to know your alma mater and roll number, and shortly you will receive notice that you are admitted to the group.

The group serves many purposes. From the Beta Theta Pi Foundation and Administrative Office about the LinkedIn Group:


The Beta Theta Pi Fraternity LinkedIn group has been created as an avenue for alumni and initiated undergraduate members of Beta Theta Pi to share ideas and create valuable professional and personal networking opportunities. By becoming a member of this group, you will be able to connect with brothers by geographical location, professional field and a variety of other criteria.

Open communication will be vital to the success of this group, so when you request to join the group, leave all the boxes checked when choosing your communication preferences (you can change these at any time). It will be valuable to be kept in the loop about the discussions happening in this group, as you could miss out on an event in your area or a Beta brother joining your industry if you choose to not receive updates via email.

Have fun with it! We have such an amazing opportunity here to connect with and help one another, and we really hope you’ll take the time to get to know your brothers, both young and old alike.

Sincerely and in ___kai___,

Beta Theta Pi Foundation & Administrative Office
(800) 800-BETA (2382)

Brothers across the nation share and seek information through the group. This is a wonderful forum worth joining. If you do not yet have a LinkedIn account, you can create one for free. We hope to see you there!

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Beta Testimonials

J. C. Conway:


Originally posted on Khanh Nam "James" Le - The Online Diary:

Probably, Beta Theta Pi is the organization that got me most excited about joining in my first year at Denison. It’s a fraternity compiled of Men of Principles. Now, to tell you all how I got selected for a bid and initiated as a member is going to be too long. From the early days that I met the other 11 guys in my pledge class to the day of initiation was a hard-fought process for each of us, with multiple rituals to follow, stories to tell, and brotherhoods which get bonded. To sum up, here is the testimonials letter that I read during one of the rituals before we get initiated to all members of the fraternity. It sums up how I feel about this organization:

View original 670 more words

Interested in Beta? Know Someone that Would Be?

At Beta Theta Pi, our mission is to develop Men of Principle for a principled life. The fraternity is always searching for gentlemen, leaders, and scholars who embody this philosophy and are excited about doing fraternity the right way.

Do you know someone that is Interested in hearing more about Beta Theta Pi? Are you an undergraduate student interested in information? With the new school year starting, now is the time to check it out or help someone you recommend find the way.

Complete the form at THIS SITE, and Beta Theta Pi will be in touch.

USC Rush Week Coming Up

btp_smRush week at USC is about to begin. From the men of Beta Theta Pi:

The brothers of Beta Theta Pi are committed to lifelong fraternal brotherhood.

By recruiting the best and brightest men on campus, Beta has created a family culture that values true character and a great sense of humor. For over 60 years, Betas at USC have been seen as leaders, athletes, and scholars, making a strong impact in all aspects of Greek life. Beta’s commitment to the community is evident through our own philanthropic events as well as numerous victories in sorority philanthropies.

We are also committed to academics, surpassing the All-Row and All-Men’s GPA year after year. In addition, Beta is proud to be home to varsity athletes and successful intramural teams, living up to our traditional reputation as one of the most athletic houses at USC. Our brothers are very excited for the upcoming year and are looking forward to getting to know future Betas during this year’s Fraternity Rush. Stop by our house anytime to find us playing basketball on our court out front, pool or foosball table inside, or watching a game on our 120″ HD Projection Screen. Our doors are always open.

Below are the scheduled events for Rush Week for the Fall Semester of 2014. If you are interested in Beta, please stop by our house at the specified times.

Saturday 08/23/14:

Alumni Park: 4-6 PM
23rd for a casual BBQ. Enjoy the food, walk around and meet brothers from every chapter, scout out what chapters you feel comfortable with, and just have a good time. Be sure to take as much information on each chapter’s rush schedules, as all are different throughout the week.

Sunday 08/24/14:

28th Street: 4-7 PM
All 24 fraternities will be represented on or near 28th Street this night so head on out for dinner and house tours.

Monday 08/25/14:

Driving Range
Arrive at 6pm at the Beta Theta Pi house. Transportation and food will be provided.

Tuesday 08/26/14:

Go-Kart Racing
Arrive at 6pm at the Beta Theta Pi house. Transportation and food will be provided.

Wednesday 08/27/14:

Jillian’s Sports Bar & Bowling
Arrive at 6pm at the Beta Theta Pi house. Transportation and food will be provided.

Thursday 08/28/14:

All Chapters: Formal, invite-only dinner.
Beta Theta Pi: Blue Chip Dinner at Gaucho’s Brazilian Steakhouse (Invite Only)
Arrive at 6pm at the Beta Theta Pi house. Transportation and food will be provided.

Friday 08/29/14:

After deciding which chapter they would most like to be a part of, potential members are invited to return to that house for an evening gathering to potentially receive a bid. If you are offered a bid, you have the option of accepting, declining, or holding. If you do not receive a bid, don’t worry–there is a grace period where late bids are handed out. Visit other chapters that you are interested in, and you may be offered a bid anytime in the next 24 hours.

Rush Chairs

Name: Andrew Wallace
Phone: (310) 989-5194

Name: Ari Mandell
Phone: (949) 307-0900

A-Team Beta: George Peppard, Jr., Purdue ’52


George Peppard, Jr., Purdue ’52, (October 1, 1928 – May 8, 1994) was an American film and television actor.

He secured a major role when he starred alongside Audrey Hepburn in the critically aclaimed Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), portrayed a character based on Howard Hughes in The Carpetbaggers (1964), and played the title role of the millionaire sleuth Thomas Banacek in the early-1970s television series Banacek. But he is probably best known to younger audiences for his role as Col. John “Hannibal” Smith, the cigar-chomping leader of a renegade commando squad, in the 1980s television show The A-Team.

Brother Peppard was born in Detroit, Michigan and graduated from Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Michigan. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at 17 on July 8, 1946 and rose to rank of Corporal in the 10th Marines, leaving the Marines at the end of his enlistment in January 1948. From 1948 to 1949, he studied Civil Engineering at Purdue University where he was a member of the Purdue Playmakers theatre troupe and pledged the Beta Mu chapter of Beta Theta Pi.