Construction underway on ETSU’s National Pan-Hellenic Council Plaza

Published 7:57 am Wednesday, August 7, 2019

JOHNSON CITY — Construction on a new gathering place with historical significance is underway on the campus of East Tennessee State University. A crowdfunding website has been created to collect the funds needed to complete the first two phases of the project.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council Plaza will be located near Governors and Centennial residence halls and honor the contributions of the “Divine Nine” historically African American fraternities and sororities that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). The plaza will be an affinity space for community and student programming, new member presentations from NPHC organizations and will provide education about the historical significance of the NPHC.

“Participation in these organizations shapes students’ experiences at ETSU and provides opportunities for them to excel,” says Dr. Jeff Howard, associate vice president for Student Life and Enrollment.

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Beginning with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in 1906, these fraternal organizations were established and incorporated through the 1960s – a period in U.S. history when African Americans were often denied access or experienced isolation on college and university campuses. The NPHC was established in 1930 to “promote unanimity of thought and action” among these groups as they became increasingly important to the social integration, academic success and professional development of collegiate and graduate members. Brotherhood/sisterhood and civic service are hallmarks that set these philanthropic organizations apart and prepare group members to thrive.

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Theta Zeta chapter, became the first NPHC organization on ETSU’s Campus in 1971. Since then, ETSU has become home to seven of the nine organizations, with five currently active chapters including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

“The NPHC members have had a profound impact on me and my experience at ETSU,” said Alexia Stewart, a graduate student and member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. “It will be a place where students can learn about these organizations and be inspired to join and a place where members can come back to after graduation to reflect and celebrate.”

Design plans for the plaza were revealed at a kick-off celebration in March and fundraising efforts for phase one of the project have been successful; however, funds are still needed to complete a second phase of the project. A crowdfunding website recently launched to collect donations and will remain open through Sept. 15.

To make a contribution toward plaza construction, visit or contact Dessi Foster, director of development for Student Life and Enrollment and Roan Scholars, at or 423-439-5125.

More information about the National Pan-Hellenic Council Plaza is available at