History honor society receives national accolades

Aug 30, 2010 | General News, Liberal Arts

Louisiana Tech’s Lambda-Rho Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, History Honor Society has once again walked off with national honors in the society’s annual “best chapter” competition.
According to Phi Alpha Theta national executive director Dr. Graydon A. “Jack” Tunstall, the Tech chapter has been officially recognized as “best chapter” for 2010 in Division IV, colleges and universities with enrollments of between 10,000 and 15,000 students.  
Lambda-Rho Chapter was also designated as recipient of the Nels A. Cleven Award for 2010. The Cleven Award is “reserved for those chapters who have won the Best Chapter Award five or more times, thus exhibiting a unique level of excellence,” Tunstall explained.  “The competition is much more intense than for our regular award.  It is a significant distinction, considering the tremendous time and effort required to maintain a chapter of this caliber.”
Founded in 1921 and with more than 800 active chapters at colleges and universities in the United States, Phi Alpha Theta is the nation’s oldest and largest disciplinary honor society.  Membership is open only to students with outstanding academic records, including a minimum number of hours earned in history courses.
Judging in the competition is based on documented chapter activities during the academic year.  During 2009-2010, student members of Lambda-Rho Chapter organized 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.  Phi Alpha Theta members also presented papers at scholarly conferences and served as judges at social studies fairs in local schools.
“The student leadership we see in Phi Alpha Theta is a great source of pride to Louisiana Tech,” Tech history department head Dr. Stephen Webre said. “This kind of leadership is a tradition at Tech.
In fact, this is Lambda-Rho Chapter’s 25th Best Chapter Award and its seventh Nels Cleven recognition since the award was created in 2004.  That’s seven out of seven, if anyone is counting.”
Dr. Elaine Thompson, a history assistant professor and one of Lambda-Rho Chapter’s faculty advisers, said the award came with more than national acknowledgment.
“There’s more than just recognition involved,” Thompson said. “There’s also money.  Winning chapters receive $250 toward the purchase of books for their institutions’ libraries.”
Over the years, Lambda-Rho Chapter’s competition winnings have purchased more than $6,000 worth of books for Tech’s Prescott Memorial Library.
Will Rolfe, a history graduate student from Monroe, served as chapter president during 2009-2010.  Faculty advisers were Thompson and Webre.  Liaison for faculty and student members at Grambling State University was Dr. Roshunda Belton.