The Lewis chapter of Phi Alpha Theta is currently seeking new members. Even though it’s an honor society for undergraduate and graduate students of history, they are currently welcoming new members who may not be history majors, but have an interest in history.
“Currently, we only have five members,” said Phi Alpha Theta vice president and history major Kyle Bales. Phi Alpha Theta was established in 1921 at the University of Arkansas by Professor Nels Cleven. Cleven had become convinced in his time at the university that a fraternity of scholars was important for the study of history. Overall, the honor society has over 400,000 members, with some 9,000 new members joining each year through 970 chapters nationwide.
“Phi Alpha Theta was founded in 1921 at the University of Arkansas and currently, there’s 9,000 students from across the country in all different states,” said Bales. “The qualifications to join include having a 3.0 GPA overall, a 3.1 average in history courses with 12 or more credits in history.”
Their main goal is to grow as much as they can and have more people join them.
“Our goal is to grow as much as possible and we want to attract anybody that’s interested in history to join us,” said Bales. “I understand that everybody’s busy, so I don’t want anybody that might join, not join because they think it might be too much.”
Lewis has had this Greek Life organization since 1967, but the more recent version has been a part of Lewis since Fall 2022. Due to many members graduating and there not being as many history majors on campus, the honor society has struggled to gain new members.
“We just restarted at the end of last semester, which is why there’s not that many members,” said Bales. “Just in general, Lewis doesn’t have many history majors to begin with and there’s about 20 to 30, so if we could get all of them to join, that would be nice.”
In terms of their meetings, they meet twice a week through Zoom and in the basement of McNamara Hall. Their faculty advisor is history professor Mark Schultz.
“During our meetings, we’ll just talk about what’s coming up this semester,” said Bales. “During finals, we help tutor for global history courses and then we’ve talked about helping out a local high school with anybody that needs help with history courses.”
Students are encouraged to get involved with Greek Life because it helps build relationships as well as with networking.
“I basically want people to feel welcome at Lewis and I’ve learned that, joining a group such as Phi Alpha Theta,” said Bales. “At a smaller private Catholic school, there’s not always a lot going on, so it’s good to meet people and get that feeling of a community.”
As a history honor society, the chapter plans on taking part in learning activities, such as visiting museums or historical sites.
“We currently have a $400 budget from the university but we haven’t used any of it, since we were just approved,” said Bales. “We want to do a museum visit around Chicago or anywhere locally.”
The purpose for having a Greek Life organization like this on campus is to bring people together and encourage the study of history.
“Maybe we can get more people to study history, which would be the ultimate goal because I believe history is one of the most important subjects there is,” said Bales. “Overall, it’s about being together as a group, a community and also encouraging people to study history.”
On Feb. 28, Phi Alpha Theta will be hosting a trivia night with the honor society from the University of St. Francis.
“I would just say that anybody that’s passionate about history or even thought about getting more involved with the university, please join us and they won’t regret it.”
Photo Credits: Phi Alpha Theta