The “Wheatshocker” Band organization of the University of Wichita was accepted as the 67th chapter of the fraternity and was installed on the evening of January 19, 1950, becoming the Beta Tau Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi. The ceremony was held in the Student Union Building, and the installing officers for the chapter were Past Grand President, Boh Makovsky and Grand Executive Secretary A. Frank Martin of the Oklahoma A&M College. They were assisted by Leslie Marks, Director of the Nebraska Wesleyn University Band and the District Governor of the VI district.
The initiation team, which presented the ritual ceremony for the new members was made up of members from the Alpha Chapter of Oklahoma A&M College and the Beta Iota Chapter of Nebraska Wesleyan as well as members of the Kappa Chapters of the Colorado A&M College.
Twenty-five members composed the local organization which was inducted into Kappa Kappa Psi for active membership. Honorary members were also inducted at this time—James Leslie Kerr, the director of bands at the time, Walter J. Duerkson, director of the school of music and Charles Minelli, director of bands at Kansas State Teachers College, Pittsburg, Kansas.
With the establishment of the Beta Tau Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at the University of Wichita, there now was a chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi in Kansas. For many years, efforts have been made to close the gap between the north and south middle section of the states. With the establishment of a strong chapter supported by a growing School of Music, the fraternity promises to expand to other colleges and universities throughout the state.
In 1961, The University of Wichita hosted the National Convention. The National Intercollegiate Band was conducted by Richard Franko Goldman. The National Intercollegiate Band featured members from all over the country, with participants coming from as far as Florida State University and Eastern Washington State. University of Wichita Band Director, James Kerr was district governor at that time and oversaw the planning of the event, with members of the organization forming committees to take charge of everything from housing and meals to transportation. Wichita was an ideal location for the convention as it was located centrally in the United States, making it possible for members from every chapter to attend.
The twenty years following Kerr’s tenure found the Wichita State University Bands under the leadership of several band directors. During these transitional periods of WSU Band’s Leadership, Dr. Donald Corbett, Professor of Music education, provided stability for the bands. Dr. Corbett, a WSU Bands alumnus and a student of Kerr, served twice as Interim Director of Bands. Corbett retired in 1994 as Associate Director of Bands Emeritus.
In 2000, the Beta Tau Chapter celebrated fifty years of Kappa Kappa Psi being here at Wichita State. In 2002 the WSU Bands celebrated their Centennial of 100 years of Excellence during the American Bandmasters Association. The National Convention was held in Wichita. The Centennial Concert featured guest conductors and guest artist Judith Saxton, who was the WSU Professor of Trumpet at the time. The concert featured pieces by Richard Wagner, Herman Bellstedt and WSU’s own Dean Rousch, a Kappa Alumni.
Today more than 200 students in four bands contribute to the musical environment of Wichita State University and create a rich variety of experiences for listeners and participants alike. Bands include the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Jazz Arts, and “Shocker Sound” basketball band. Through membership in the WSU bands, students grow musically and aesthetically while enriching the cultural life of the campus and community.
As the Beta Tau Chapter continues in the 21st century, they continue to promote the Wichita State bands in the best way possible by hosting receptions after concerts, repainting music stands or even hosting events for the members of the WSU Bands. The men of Beta Tau are also active in their community by participating in events at Wichita State, such as homecoming fest and volunteering their time at the area schools. The History of Beta Tau is a memoir of the past, and inspiration for the future.
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Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi