Pi Lambda Theta
A natural consequence of the establishment of separate departments of education in American universities was the appearance of professional honorary societies for students of education. The first of these was Phi Delta Kappa, a society for men, which became a national organization in 1910. A similar society for women was organized in November of the same year.
Seven such societies for women were in existence by May, 1916. These groups united in 1917 to found a national honorary society for women in education. The name chosen was that of the oldest organization — Pi Lambda Theta, of the University of Missouri. The emblem, a key based upon the Egyptian ankh, or key of life, bears the colors blue and gold — to symbolize education and the warm spirit of friendship.
The objectives adopted by the organization are to foster professional spirit and to seek and maintain the highest standards of scholarship and professional preparation, especially among women; to work actively to further the cause of democratic education; to co-operate in the solution of problems which interpenetrate various fields of knowledge; to encourage intercultural understandings; to strive for a clear understanding of local, state, national, and international problems and to stimulate active participation in their solution; to develop a professional fellowship among women engaged in education; to encourage graduate work and to stimulate research in accordance with these purposes.
There are seven national officers, a consultant, and an editorial staff, as well as various standing and special committees. Life memberships, initiation fees, and national assessments have made possible the yearly grant by the national organization of three $2,000 fellowships — the Ella Victoria Dobbs Research Fellowship, and two P. L. T. fellowships; the creation of a loan fund for members; and the quarterly publication of the national organ, which was originally known as the Pi Lambda Theta Journal. In 1953 the name was changed to Educational Horizons. This contains articles of general interest by distinguished men and women in the field of education, as well as information about the various active university chapters and the alumnae chapters.
Xi chapter of Pi Lambda Theta was established at Ann Arbor, December 9, 1922. Dean Jean Hamilton, Jean Thomas ('22), Miss Leila Gerry, national secretary, Miss Margaret Cameron, and Natalie Jordan ('23) were the speakers at the banquet. Among the initiates were the following officers: president, Natalie Jordan; vice-president, Harriet Blum; recording secretary, Margaret Chapin; corresponding secretary, Mrs. Ivaleen Smith; keeper of the records, Margaret Welker. Professor C. O. Davis sponsored the group.
From its beginning Xi chapter has been closely associated with the national organization. Members have held national office or national committee memberships; Marguerite Hall, at one time president, was national treasurer from 1943 until 1946; she was also chairman of the advisory committee to the editor of the Journal. Mrs. Catherine Greene held the office of national corresponding secretary. Ruth Lofgren, president, 1953-54, is currently research editor. Shata Ling, Page 1956president, 1954-56, has served on the publication and on the nominating committees.
In 1926 Xi chapter adopted a scholarship award program. There is also a revolving loan fund for graduate student members.
Meetings of the Xi chapter are held once a month, except in January, when a newsletter is sent to all members. Once each semester, and also during the summer session, an invitational tea is held for prospective members. Those who are invited to membership must have a high scholastic average (B or above), must be recommended by two members of the faculty, and must give evidence of professional experience or interest. Initiation ceremonies are held three times during the calendar year. On each occasion approximately twenty-five candidates are initiated.
The activities of Xi chapter have been many and varied. In some years the programs have been built around such interests and hobbies as modern plays, music, and art. The members have also been aware of a responsibility for community service. In 1939, stimulated by Professor Edmonson, they made teacher recruitment one of their most valuable contributions to the University and to neighboring school systems. This feeling of responsibility persisted throughout the war years.
In 1953 Xi chapter adopted a project which has proved interesting and worth-while. The members have worked closely with the English Language Institute in helping to interpret American life and education for a group of foreign students who are English teachers in their native lands. These students come to Michigan each fall for four months of intensive training in English and methods of teaching it. Pi Lambda Theta members help them to find rooms in private homes and help with their entertainment while they are in Ann Arbor. In 1955 and 1956 a series of interviews between the foreign students and Ann Arbor public school students was conducted with Mrs. Shata Ling as moderator. These were recorded on tape. One set of tapes was sent to the State Department in Washington, and each student received a recording of his own interview.
As a high point in the chapter's activities, the national Biennial Council was held in Ann Arbor, August 22-26, 1955. This was attended by officers, delegates, and visitors from both the active and alumnae chapters.