As a national five-time winner in the “best chapter” competition, Louisiana Tech's Lambda-Rho Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society has received the 2008 Nels A. Cleven Award.

The Cleven Award is reserved for those chapters which have exhibited “a unique level of excellence,” said Dr. Graydon A. Tunstall, national executive director of Phi Alpha Theta.

“The competition (for the Cleven Award) is much more intense than for our regular award,” Tunstall said. Tech competed in Division IV for schools with enrollments between 10,000 and 15,000 students.

Tunstall said judging in the competition is based on documented chapter activities during the academic year.

Chapter activities during the 2007-08 school year included public programs on history topics, a used book sale, a joint research paper conference with history students at Grambling State University and a spring awards banquet. Members also presented papers at scholarly conferences and served as judges at social studies fairs in local schools.

“This is Lambda-Rho Chapter's 23rd best chapter award and its 5th Nels Cleven recognition in a row,” said Dr. Stephen Webre, Tech history department head. “The student leadership we see in Phi Alpha Theta is a great source of pride to Louisiana Tech.”

Chapter adviser Dr. V. Elaine Thompson said there is more than just recognition involved for the department and the university.

“Winning chapters receive $250 toward the purchase of books for mobile casinos their institutions' libraries,” she said.

Since 1978, Lambda-Rho Chapter's competition winnings have purchased a total of more than $5,000 worth of books for Tech's Prescott Memorial Library.

Chapter president during 2007-08 was history graduate student Lou-Anne Williams of Bossier City. Other faculty advisers were Drs. Philip C. Cook and Webre. Liaison for faculty and student members at Grambling State was Dr. Nikki L. M. Brown.

Phi Alpha Theta has more than 800 chapters at colleges and universities in the United States. Founded in 1921, it is the nation's oldest and largest disciplinary honor society. Membership is open to students with outstanding academic records and a minimum number of hours earned in history courses.

Written by Reginald Owens