This week, Pi Kappa Delta will host its first-ever Historical Gala in Ottawa.

Celebrating the newly designated National Archives at Ottawa University, events will highlight more than 100 years of history.

Teaming up with the Franklin County Historical Society, the celebration will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Old Depot Museum, 135 W. Tecumseh Road, Ottawa. A small reception marking the first-ever exhibit in the organization’s history will be open to the public. It aims to showcase the long partnerships between the city of Ottawa, Ottawa University and Pi Kappa Delta, now headquartered in St. Paul, Minn.

Beginning 10 a.m. Saturday, Ottawa University (the founding member of Pi Kappa Delta), will co-host a series of historical events. Renowned scholars from across the country will present original research, including how collegiate speech and debate activities have contributed to national and international affairs. Panels also feature public performances, culminating in a banquet with dinner, historical speeches and debates. The dinner will feature a menu mimicking those of early tournament banquets (1909-1926).

All events are open to the public, and all are encouraged to attend. A suggested donation of $50 helps offset costs while helping to ensure the continued success of the National Archives.

“This is such an exciting opportunity to celebrate over a century of civic engagement in our city,” said Ryan Louis, Pi Kappa Delta president-elect and OU associate professor. “PKD is an organization that has always attempted to teach, cultivate and provide space for voice. It continues to be an inspiration to thousands.”

The weekend will officially unveil the National Archives to the public.

“Protecting this history is so important,” Louis said. “The number of world leaders, famous actors and newscasters who were members of PKD is astounding. We now have a place to forever remember their contributions. The fact that it was founded right here in little Ottawa, Kansas, is a reminder that big ideas come from everywhere.”

Pi Kappa Delta is a nonprofit headquartered in St. Paul, Minn. For over a century it has provided students and the public with educational and competitive opportunities. Its over 80,000 members have pursued its motto, “The Art of Persuasion, Beautiful and Just.”

In addition to its civic engagement and advocacy activities, Pi Kappa Delta hosts a comprehensive national tournament each year and offers a professional development conference and publishes a scholarly journal, The Forensic, as well as a quarterly newsletter, The Key. Although originally founded to serve smaller four-year baccalaureate institutions, Pi Kappa Delta now welcomes undergraduate chapters from any degree-granting institution. Lifetime individual memberships are also available, whether or not the institution currently has an active chapter.


• “The Art of Persuasion: from Ottawa to the World 1913-2020” exhibit grand opening reception is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 13, at the Ottawa Old Depot Museum, 135 W. Tecumseh Road, Ottawa. For more information, visit its website.

• From 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, Ottawa University, 1001 S. Cedar St., will host the Historical Gala in the Schendel Conference Center. It will have four educational panels and three performance showcases. From 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., attendees will gather for dinner and entertainment.

All proceeds go toward preserving Pi Kappa Delta history and the National Archives. For more information, visit its Facebook page.