2016 Fall Update
September 14, 2016 (pdf)
Welcome to a new academic year, Sigma Zetans!
The Sigma Zeta National Office is once again open for business after a restful but exciting summer, when the Executive Director's daughter got married -sorry, proud papa had to get that out there. Hopefully your chapters are beginning to meet and make plans for a productive year. All the national officers want to thank the chapter advisors, student officers and members for the hard work you put into making Sigma Zeta a meaningful and successful organization. Our strength is in what happens at the local level within each chapter, and it's important that we share our local successes through chapter reports, postings to our webpage, Sigma Zeta's Facebook page, our email list or in person at the national convention.
We celebrated a couple of major new initiatives during the last academic year that I hope everyone is excited about. For many years, since the position of Web master was created, the Sigma Zeta Executive Council has consisted of eight faculty members elected from chapters around the country. At the March 2016 National Convention a constitutional amendment was passed to add a ninth member, a Student Representative with full voting rights, to the Council. After much discussion at the convention, it was decided to more clearly outline the process for selecting the student for this new position, so the first Student Representative will be elected at the March 20]17 convention. See more about this process after the notes from the November 2016 Officer's Meeting are posted. There is no doubt that input from a representative of the most important members of Sigma Zeta, our student members, will be a major benefit to the organization. The other new initiative was the honoring of the first three Harold Wilkinson Distinguished Alumni Award selections. This chapter-selected award is named after Dr. Harold Wilkinson, who served as our organization's first Executive Director from 1998-2007 and as Historian from 2008-2013. This exciting event is prominently displayed on the home page of our website, sigmazeta.org. One other fun addition to Sigma Zeta appeared late in the fall of 2015 -new Sigma Zeta branded items have been added for purchase through the website after gentle pressure from students for the past several years. Please see pictures and ordering information at the Sigma Zeta Store link on our homepage.
For the fourth year in a row Sigma Zeta almost reached the 800 new member mark -770-(703 students and 67 faculty). Another highlight of the 2015-2016 year was the funding of eight Student Research Awards last fall (see sigmazeta.org), and several of the awardees presenting their findings of their research at the National Convention in March. The students and advisors who voted in March 2011 to use Sigma Zeta income for funding student research felt that providing research awards fit with the Society's purpose "to encourage and foster scholarly achievement", and based on the five years of excellent applications and the presentations at the convention, I think we all can agree that these awards accomplished our goal. We encourage even more applications this year --the deadline for applications (October 21, 2016) and details of the application process, criteria for selecting awardees and timing of the awards are attached to this message and posted on the website. For those students considering applying for a research award, please don't be discouraged by the deadline being less than 6 weeks away -the process is relatively short and painless, as you will see when you look at the guidelines for applying. With a little help from your faculty research mentor and closely following the guidelines, putting together a good application should not take too much time.
Four new chapters joined the Sigma Zeta family in a concentrated flurry over less than three weeks in November 2015! On consecutive days, Baptist College of Health Sciences in Memphis, TN and Chowan University in Murfreesboro, NC became the Gamma Mu and Gamma Nu chapters, followed later in the month by King's College, Wilkes-Barre, PA and St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA as the Gamma Xi and Gamma Omicron chapters, also on consecutive days. The excitement at all of these campuses was high among students, faculty and administrators, and I hope that we are able to welcome representatives from these new chapters at our spring 2017 National Convention. For pictures and other details of these new chapter installations, please see our website. Four new chapters over a span of 17 days is believed to be a new speed record of growth for Sigma Zeta! Amazingly, the Sigma Zeta November Officer's Meeting took place in Oregon on the weekend in between these four chapter installations ---see details later in this letter. Your Executive Director seriously considered retiring at the Christmas break., but after resting up has decided to continue serving . Already during this summer and early fall, two new schools, one in Delaware and one in Mississippi have contacted the National Office about possibly submitting charter applications, and the Alpha Chi chapter at Eastern University just made an inquiry about how to reactivate after several years of inactivity.
This year's Sigma Zeta National Service Project, as chosen by committee at the spring 2016 National Convention, "Promoting Scientific Awareness in Our Communities". It should be fun to put that theme to work on your campus in whatever creative ways fit best with your chapter, school and community. Please share your activities and projects through the website (sigmazeta.org), through Sigma Zeta on Facebook, and at the spring 2017 convention.
As mentioned earlier, the National Officers met on the campus of our Beta Beta chapter at George Fox University in Newberg, OR on November 14, 2015. Our host, Dr. Jing Hao, joined the National Officers in many excellent discussions, highlighted by the awarding of the eight student research awards. Other business conducted at the fall meeting included the discussions mentioned above about the Student Representative to the Executive Council and reports from the officers on recruiting visits to five schools in the Portland, OR area that we felt would be good fits with Sigma Zeta. We hope to do similar recruiting of new chapters at the National Officer's meeting on November 5 this fall in Tampa, FL. The officers have identified six schools within an hour of Tampa that seem like good fits with Sigma Zeta. I will soon send out a draft of the agenda for this meeting. This fall meeting allows the national officers and advisors within driving distance of the meeting to conduct business that is difficult to accomplish in the midst of all the activities of the spring Convention, including funding of the student research awards. Although there currently are no chapters within easy driving distance of Tampa, FL, we welcome ideas for agenda items from everyone.
The National Convention in Lebanon, IL, March 31-April2 was hosted by the oldest active chapter in our organization, the Beta chapter of McKendree University and led by their co-advisors, Rob Van Putte and Mickey Schutzenhofer, along with a great group of students. Field trips included the Sf. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center and the Missouri Botanical Gardens. This well run and very fun convention was attended by 138 students and faculty representing 16 chapters, both believed to be record numbers, mirroring the continued growth of our thriving organization!
The Gamma Eta chapter at Marian University in Indianapolis, IN will serve as the host for the spring 2017 National Convention. The meeting wilt be held March 23-25, and I know we can count on an exciting convention from our friends at Marian, because even though they are a very new chapter, joining Sigma Zeta in 2012, they have been one of the most active chapters in the country since then, as evidenced by their chapter earning the Founder's Cup award as the nation's most outstanding chapter in 2014, in only their second year of existence! They have also been very regular attendees at the National Conventions since becoming a new chapter four short years ago. Information regarding the specific details of the meeting will be coming to you from the Gamma Eta chapter advisors, Steve Dougherty and Joyce Horton, from the national office, and via the website and e-mail list as the year progresses.
With the paper and electronic mailings of this letter you will find enclosed/attached information about the forms and events mentioned earlier in this message, plus information about national office items and a printed copy of the instructions to accompany the spreadsheet form for reporting new members (all of these are also available in electronic form at the website). I've circled on the enclosed paper copy the instructions to spell out the day of the month (ex. Sixteenth versus 16th) to improve the appearance of the certificates. ALSO PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK THE SPELLING OF NAMES OF NEW MEMBERS, because the certificates are prepared directly from this spread sheet. Please return your new officers list electronically through the website as soon as possible. I also encourage all of you receiving the paper mailing of this letter that have not yet gone to the website to add yourself to the Sigma Zeta email list to do this now to ensure that you get regular updates and communications.
The national office here at Our Lady of the Lake University is anxious to help you have a good year. I can be reached by phone at 210-528-7091 or by email at jhall@.ollusa.edu. I look forward to working with you again this year!
National Executive Director