By Taylor Lunka, News Writer
Pacific Lutheran University installed the first chapter of Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society on April 3.
The first PLU chapter, Alpha-Omicron-Epsilon, inducted 23 PLU students into the national Phi Alpha Theta society.
In 1921, Professor Nels Cleven from the University of Arkansas founded Phi Alpha Theta as a national honor society for history undergraduates, graduates and faculty. According to the Phi Alpha Theta website, the society now has more than 350,000 members.
Members don’t have to be history majors or minors, but can be inducted into the honor society if they have taken at least 12 credits of history and have a cumulative GPA of 3.1 in those classes.
Gina Hames, professor and chair of the history department, took on the role of going through the application process for PLU in fall, 2011.
The application for a university to be accepted by Phi Alpha Theta consists of three main steps. The school must submit: a petition for acceptance, which 25 students and faculty in the department had to sign, coursework information about the history department and information from the PLU library on how many historical journals are available to students.
After submitting the application, PLU was accepted as a new chapter in the society during October 2012.
“It’s a prestigious organization, and for the history department it means the students are now part of a national organization,” Hames said. “The students can try for something bigger, and I think it moves us forward as a university.”
Hames also said she took so much time to apply to this national honor society because she wants to have these opportunities available to students.
Students in the society have the chance to go to regional and national conferences to present their work, have access to a variety of history work done by scholars in the society and can even earn scholarships.
“It’ll bring much more excitement to the majors, because they are being involved in something much bigger,” Hames said.
Once students’ applications are accepted and their GPA is checked by the registrar, students have to pay a one-time $40 fee.
The ceremony was comprised of two parts: the installation of a new chapter and the initiation of the students into the society.
The induction ceremony included words from the president of Phi Alpha Theta, Robert Carriker, and PLU President Thomas Krise.
Six PLU charter members also read about the six historical stages: the Prehistoric, Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, Contemporary and Future ages.
Then Carriker asked the inductees to affirm by voice vote that they would uphold the obligations of the society.
After all 23 students agreed, Hames read out student names. Carriker, Krise and Jennifer Cavalli, a visiting assistant professor of history, gave each student a certificate, cords and a single red rose when they came on stage one by one.
Justin Eley, a senior and history major at PLU, was one of the students inducted into the society.
“It is a great privilege,” Eley said. “It is an honor to be a part of the birth of something new to PLU.”
Eley also said he looks forward to coming back to PLU as an alum and being able to discuss his views of history with future members after he has gained more life experience.
Senior and history major Rachel Mason is a charter member of the Alpha-Omicron Epsilon chapter.
Charter members have helped Hames with the foundation of Phi Alpha Theta chapter at PLU.
“We have a great impetus to start this society with proper foundations so that future generations will have a structure on which to build. I am enthusiastic about the future of Phi Alpha Theta [at PLU],” Mason said.
Mason said she wants to give “prodigious thanks” to Hames for beginning this chapter of Phi Alpha Theta.
Once students are members of the society, they will be part of this chapter and society forever.