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The Blue & Gray Press | February 22, 2019

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Phi Eta Sigma chapter chartered at UMW

Phi Eta Sigma chapter chartered at UMW


The University of Mary Washington inaugurated the Phi Eta Sigma chapter on Tuesday Nov. 15, to applaud first-year students who excel in academia. President Paino accepted the charter from the executive director of the honor society, Elaine Powell. It is the oldest society to honor freshmen academic excellence in the United States.

According to Charles Tate, the society has no affiliation to a social fraternity, instead it is entirely based on academic performance and indeed this will not be a step towards social fraternities on campus.

Wes Hillyard, Director of Academic Services, proposed the initiation of this society while Charles Tate, an Academic Advisor, petitioned it. He wanted to take the responsibility of being the chapter advisor, as former President Hurley signed it. After six months, President Paino accepted the charter.

There were 193 UMW students of the freshman class, the top 20 percent, with a GPA of 3.5 or above who were invited to join.

Parents and families were present to congratulate and support over 50 members who were inducted into the ceremony. The One Note Stand was spotted singing the UMW Alma Mater. Tate, as the UMW Chapter adviser, was happy with the first-class numbers. To recruit as many freshmen, a second induction will be held in the spring 2017. An invitation will be sent out to the freshmen that meet the requirement at the end of the fall 2016 semester.

This was also a time to recognize those who continuously express dedication towards student success as the honorary members of this society, including Assistant Dean of Student Involvement, Melissa Jones, professor of Spanish Dr. Jeremy Larochelle, professor of Mathematics Dr. Keith Mellinger, professor of Chemistry Dr. Kelly Slunt and Tate.

As many students first thought to join the society because “it looks good on a resume,” Theodosius Zotos, sophomore political science major, who is the first Interim Chapter President, felt the same way.

“Not only that, but it’s also a great opportunity to surround yourself with people that have academic goals and are succeeding at higher levels,” Zotos said.

Along with Powell, Tate has been with the society for 20 years. He was first inducted during his freshmen year at the University of Lynchburg. Thus, the society proves to be a great opportunity to for the campus to take advantage of because it gives students a lifetime membership that offers scholarships to its members.

Phi Eta Sigma was first men’s honor fraternity until the 1970s when it became a co-educational national honor society, that is now nondiscriminatory of all disciplines. It has inducted about 1.2 million members since 1923 when it was first founded by Dr. Thomas Arkle Clark at the University of Illinois. It has chartered over 378 campuses, UMW being the 382-chartered university into the nationally renowned freshmen honor society.

The society publishes its own forum of Phi Eta Sigma every year reporting social activities and recognizing scholarship holders, each year, awarding $300,000 in scholarships.

“The induction ceremony at UMW was a great beginning to a new chapter,” Powell said. Future plans include expanding the minimum membership fee of $25, to fund for local chapter scholarships.

“Do not be afraid to join and contribute to the society,” Zotos said, that was his advice to freshmen. Student delegates will be able to attend the national convention and leadership workshops. The 2016 National Convention was held at a Walt Disney World Hotel in Florida where delegates took part in philanthropy projects. The society has already been invited to the UVA regional conference for the upcoming semester.

The crest and charter will be seen in the University Center very soon. “The crest presents the torch and the book are emblematic of scholarship; the pyramid, of strength and the gold star, of noble character. The chain links the symbols together indicating that all three must combined in a person who attain the highest development,” as said by Zotos during the induction ceremony.