Nestled in the Carloftis Gardens in front of Martin Hall on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, the Divine Nine Plaza features nine stone pedestals representing each fraternity and sorority in the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). Each pedestal displays the organization’s crest, national founding date and motto. Newly planted trees surround the round walkway, offering a bit of color and shade to those who visit the area to reflect upon the history and achievements of historically black fraternities and sororities.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Plaza was held October 2 in conjunction with EKU’s Homecoming. Alumni and current members from each of EKU’s NPHC organizations joined in the celebration. The Divine Nine NPHC groups, eight of which are represented at Eastern, include sororities Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta, while NPHC fraternities are Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma. Nationally, these groups comprise more than 1.5 million members, and work cooperatively with community organizations and one another to provide leadership, service, and brotherhood and sisterhood.
While the thought of bringing a Plaza to campus began several years ago with some of Eastern’s NPHC alumni, according to Kappa Alpha Psi alum and EKU Foundation Board Chair Troy Ellis, conversations became more earnest during the summer of 2020 when EKU President David McFaddin asked Dr. Dannie Moore, vice president for student life and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, to look into making it a reality.
“The alumni who led the conversations years ago were instrumental in being a sounding board throughout the entire process,” said Moore. “From the sketches to the groundbreaking and then the ribbon-cutting.”
Ellis said that there was constant communication, encouragement and support between the University and NPHC alumni groups to bring the Plaza to life.
“I had numerous conversations about a statement place for black Greeks and the ability to draw African American students and alumni to the University,” Ellis said. “It says very clearly that African Americans are an important part of the University’s past and future.”
Moore worked with those alumni and various campus entities, such as facilities management, to find the right location, sketch the blueprints and organize the layout of the pedestals. Moore said it was important to him that the Plaza become a core part of the university landscape.
“It was important to us to show the university is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion as well as honor the long legacy of NPHC groups on campus,” Moore said.
EKU fully funded this phase of the project with any potential future additions being funded by the NPHC groups.
Moore said he hopes that students use the Plaza as a gathering place to reflect and connect with others. He also hopes that it encourages conversations about what these organizations mean to the life of the university and to the students involved.
“I am extremely pleased with the result,” Ellis said of the finished Plaza. “It says a lot about the University.”