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Phi Alpha Theta earns national award

» By CHRIS COPPEDGE – ccoppedge@my.apsu.edu

In an unprecedented streak, the national Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society awarded the Theta Delta chapter at APSU the “Best Chapter in the Nation” for a third year in a row on Aug. 30.

“I feel that the society brings national recognition and draws attention to the quality of students we have at APSU,” said Wendy Vatt, the History Honor Society’s secretary. “Even when we changed classifications [from the 5,000-10,000 students category to the 10,000-15,000 students category] last year, we were still able to win the award. Our ‘three-peat’ is beyond outstanding,”

Vatt also praised Minoa Uffelman, associate professor of history and adviser to the History Honor Society, noting she was perhaps the “greatest asset” in winning the award for the 2010-11 year.

“I’m really proud of the students because they’ve worked so hard. It speaks very highly of them,” Uffelman said.

Uffelman said she was initially worried when the email notification of award winners didn’t seem to be coming in on time, but her worry gave way to joy when she discovered the certificate in her regular campus mail.

“We did a variety of activities, lectures, roundtables, field trips, student presentations at conferences and volunteered at public history events,” Uffelman said.

Chapter activities included trivia nights at the campus library, writing workshops and book talks. In addition to community work, the chapter also submitted a 95-page journal containing scholarly papers by student members of the chapter who had gone to various academic conferences around the country in the past few years.

This academic and social involvement was a significant factor in winning the award.

According to Deanna Carter, chapter president, the History Honor Society does more than simple volunteer work.

“We are a professional society whose mission is to promote the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians,” Carter said. “We seek to bring students, teachers and writers of history together for intellectual and social exchanges which promote and assist historical research and publication by our members in a variety of ways.”

Carter also noted it is not necessary for students to be history majors in order to become a member of the History Honor Society. Undergraduates can join the society after completing 12 hours in collegiate history courses with at least a 3.1 GPA, and at least a 3.0 in all other courses.

“Membership is open to anyone with a vital interest in history who has demonstrated high achievement in history courses,” Carter said.

As a result of this victory, the History Honor Society will be very busy. In the upcoming academic year, the organization will be participating in the Fort Negley skirmish reenactments, conducting presentations and roundtables on various subjects and volunteering at Port Royal. They will also travel to Rugby, Tenn. and the national Phi Alpha Theta Conference in Orlando, Fla. next January. TAS

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