Al Wortman graduated from Central in 1957 with a degree in music and countless memories from A Cappella Choir, band and directing the men’s chorus. What makes Wortman’s story unique, however, is what he left behind — Mu Gamma Pi, an honorary music fraternity exclusive to Central.
Sixty-one years later, Central senior Melissa Asklof is active in A Cappella Choir, Chamber Singers, Flying Pans Steel Drum Band and hand bells. As current president of Mu Gamma Pi, Asklof also helps the legacy live on.
Before contacting Alumni Relations this summer, Wortman wondered if Mu Gamma Pi still existed. In 1954, former professor Robert Rittenhouse encouraged Wortman and friends to form a society that honored people involved with music on campus. Wortman and his roommates met the challenge. They created the society’s name, vision, goals and requirements for joining. His two roommates, Glen Gosselink ’55 and Dean Van Haaften ’56, became Mu Gamma Pi’s first presidents, and Wortman followed in their footsteps his senior year.
Hairstyles and clothing may have changed since the ‘50s, but Mu Gamma Pi still seeks to honor students in music ensembles and create relationships among students and faculty involved with music. The society now has 16 members, triple the number involved last year. The only requirements for joining are participation in a musical ensemble and the society’s pledging process.
President Asklof has high hopes for the group this year. She invites the entire campus to musical movie nights, swing dances, karaoke nights and concerts featuring upcoming artists.
“I never thought I’d be president of any organization,” says Asklof. “I love it, and I love that they trust me to get their ideas out there as well as to give them good ideas about how to bring more music to Central.”
Asklof hopes to connect Mu Gamma Pi alumni and current members at a formal dinner this year. Although former president Wortman, a retired music professor, lives in Minnesota, he might make a trip to visit Central and his fraternity brothers and sisters soon.
“I’m just really happy that the organization is still going, and I wish them the best,” says Wortman. “It gives me some pride to have started an organization that’s lasted so long.”