By VALERIE LAPOINTE
UMW’s Cap and Gown chapter of Mortar Board recently received the Silver Torch award at their 2010 national conference in Chicago.
Mortar Board, a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, was one of 77 other chapters to receive the award.
The award is given to chapters for meeting management standards while exemplifying the organization’s ideals of scholarship, leadership and service.
Adil Quraish, the chapter president, accepted the award at the Chicago conference.
Associate Professor of Psychology David Rettinger has been working with the group as the faculty sponsor for the past four years. Rettinger said that he takes great pride in the work they do.
“Mortar Board is often referred to as the club of the busiest people on campus,” Rettinger said. “Every year we do things like blood drives and tutoring for underprivileged children at Hope House. It’s always great to see the energy that each group of new seniors brings. Every group is better than the one before it.”
The group strives to complete around eight big service projects a year. Many of them center on solving the problem of illiteracy.
On their website, the group links illiteracy to nearly every major socioeconomic crisis today.
As a national organization, Mortar Board has made a commitment to combat illiteracy with its “Reading is Leading” project.
The website also states that “children who cannot read are statistically more likely as adults to suffer from poor health, struggle in the job market, rely on government assistance and find themselves in the criminal justice system.”
According to the website, Mortar Board is a Greek society, bearing the letters Pi Sigma Alpha. The group’s symbol is the mortar board, which more than being just a graduation cap is an ancient symbol of distinction and honor. The earliest Greek scholars adopted the mortar board, along with monastic robes, as a symbol of their devotion to the pursuit of learning.
As a national organization, Mortar Board was founded in 1918. It has since grown from the four founding chapters at Cornell University, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University and Swarthmore College to 228 chartered collegiate chapters.
The organization has nearly a quarter of a million initiated members across the nation. The UMW chapter was charted in 1959 and currently has 23 members.