Shortly after APSU’s Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society won “Best Chapter” in the nation last year, the University hosted an unrelated celebration marking its record enrollment of 10,188 students. For the history professors and students standing in the Morgan University Center Plaza that day, the event was bittersweet.
“I knew it was good for the University, but I knew it would be harder for us to win best chapter again,” Dr. Minoa Uffelman, assistant professor of history and club adviser, said.
The National PAT is split into different divisions, representing different sized schools. Last year, APSU won “Best Chapter of 2009” for Division III, which accounted for schools with 10,000 students or less. The new enrollment numbers put the chapter in a different division against larger universities.
“With bigger schools, we thought we’d be hurting,” Dr. David Nelson, assistant professor of history and co-adviser, said. “We thought, we’ll just send off the application and hope for the best.”
So it came as a surprise earlier this month when Uffelman and Nelson learned that the honor society was named “Best Chapter of 2010” for Division IV. Division IV consists of schools between 10,000 and 15,000 students.
“I’m just so proud that they won in the larger division,” Uffelman said.
The club earned the designation of “Best Chapter” in the nation because its members again spent a busy year hosting lectures, attending workshops and roundtables, volunteering in the community and delivering papers at academic conferences.
“One of the things we try to do is provide opportunities for students to present their own research,” Nelson said. “We have a Phi Alpha Theta Conference that we attend. Last year we had three students present at that conference at Lee University, and two of our three that presented won awards.”
Several of the students responsible for the club winning two “Best Chapter” awards graduated in May, but Uffelman said they set a high standard for younger PAT members and history students.
“Students now have the expectation that they will present at conferences,” she said. “Four of my undergraduates asked if they could participate at the Tennessee Conference of Historians. They have this mindset that they can do it.”
The younger members also seem ready to carry on the tradition. Classes have yet to begin at APSU, but Uffelman and Nelson both said they already have a busy semester planned. That could mean a third “Best Chapter” award next year.
“We’re going for a three-peat,” Nelson said. “In bowling, what do they call (three strikes in a row)? A turkey? Next year, we’re going for a turkey.”