Clarksville, TN – While much of America focused on each word said during the recent first presidential debate, something else was gnawing at the back of the mind of Austin Peay State University professor of history, Dr. Minoa Uffelman.
For the last seven years, the University’s Phi Alpha Theta National Honor Society (PAT), which Uffelman advises, has been recognized each fall with the national Best Chapter Award, but September was drawing to a close without word on a possible eighth consecutive award.Each year, Uffelman said, the wait seems to get a little longer, but nothing approached the wait endured this time around.
“Last year, I received word that we had won the award on September 18th, and I went back through previous announcement emails and saw that nothing had been sent as late as September 26th, the night of the presidential debate,” Uffelman said. “So I turned off the television that night and went to sleep very nervous.”
The next morning, the good news did finally arrive, and Theta-Delta, Austin Peay’s PAT chapter, is once again home to the Nels A. Cleven Award for Best Chapter of the Year, Division IV. The award is given annually to the best chapter in the nation for the organization’s Division IV, which consists of schools with between 10,001-15,000 students.
“Being acknowledged eight years in a row is an extraordinary achievement that is the best tribute possible to Dr. Minoa Uffelman’s remarkable leadership as faculty advisor and to the students of Phi Alpha Theta and their engagement in high impact student practices,” Dr. John Steinberg, chair of the Department of History and Philosophy, said.
Best Chapter Awards are presented to chapters that excel in promoting the mission of the honor society on their campus and in their community. To be considered, chapters must present an electronic scrapbook highlighting chapter activities, including fund raising events, field trips, hosting or attending regional meetings and attending the national biennial convention.
“The kind of student leadership we see in Theta-Delta is a testament to the devotion of its members and the leadership of its officers,” Dr. Rex Gandy, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said. “It is a well-deserved honor for an organization that is a great source of pride to Austin Peay State University.”
In addition to bringing Austin Peay national recognition, PAT serves as an important driver for post-graduation student success. Over the last eight years, PAT alumni have translated the experience gained at Austin Peay into master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as professional work as historians and teachers around the world.
PAT alumni have pursued master’s at, among others institutions, the University of Connecticut, the University of Tennessee and international universities including the University of Glasgow and Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus, Germany. Alumni of PAT have also pursued doctoral degrees at Auburn University, Kansas State University and Northwestern University.
PAT experience does not limit students to history-related fields, as alumni have found work in a wide range of industries, including journalism, library science, museums and parks and politics. PAT alumni serve as officers in all branches of the U.S. military. Alumni have also pursued careers in the legal field, earning law degrees at, among other institutions, Penn State University, Samford University and the University of Memphis.
“People think that there are only so many things you can do with a background in history, but employers value candidates who excel in reading, writing and researching, as well as being able to present your ideas in a clear way to an audience,” Uffelman continued. “We teach our students analytical skills, communication and writing. PAT provides conferences, a student journal, training in research, opportunities to work in archives, plan historical events and gain living history experience.”