Tech history organization receives national honors

Sep 9, 2013 | General News, Liberal Arts

Continuing a long tradition of excellence, Louisiana Tech University’s Lambda-Rho Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, History Honor Society Inc., 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 2013 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 2013. 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 said.  “It is our most notable distinction, considering the tremendous time and effort required to maintain a chapter of this caliber so consistently.” 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 2012-2013, 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. Dr. Jeffery R. Hankins, Tech’s interim history department head, said the student leadership seen in Phi Alpha Theta is a source of pride to the university. “This kind of leadership is a tradition at Tech,” Hankins said. “In fact, this is Lambda-Rho Chapter’s 28th Best Chapter Award and its 10th Nels Cleven recognition since the award was created in 2004. That’s 10 out of 10, if anyone is counting.” Dr. V. Elaine Thompson, a history assistant professor at Tech and one of Lambda-Rho Chapter’s faculty advisers, said more than just the students won with these achievements. “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 $7,000 worth of books for Tech’s Prescott Memorial Library. Chapter president during 2012-2013 was graduate student in history Heather D. Parker, of Ruston.  Faculty advisers were Thompson and Dr. Stephen Webre, interim associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Liaison for faculty and student members at Grambling State University was Dr. Brian McGowan.