Sigma Theta Tau International: Eta Upsilon Chapter
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History of Eta Upsilon

 

In 1979, several faculty at the University of North Dakota UND College of Nursing felt the need and had a desire to establish a nursing honor society at the UND College of Nursing. This included Dean Elisabeth Zinser and many faculty who were members of Sigma Theta Tau chapters elsewhere in the nation. Also at this time, Alison Fogg, a transfer student from Delaware, identified the absence of a nursing honor society on campus. Together the needs of both the student and faculty were combined and preliminary planning was begun. The committee met throughout the year to study the feasibilityof establishing an honor society.

Early in the fall of 1980, Alison Fogg, encouraged by Dean Zinser and other interested faculty, met again to plan for the establishment of a nursing society. The group was determined to see the formation of a chapter and subsequently organized themselves to reach that goal.

As a kick-off, Lilly Larson, Zeta Chapter, Minnesota, was invited to be the guest speaker at the Homecoming activities in the fall. She was instrumental in paving the way toward establishing the present society. The following were members of the first Steering Committee:

Carol Hill, faculty Ellen O'Connor, community

Diane Langemo, faculty Shirley Robinson, faculty

LaVonne Russell, faculty Lureen Gray, community

Peg Cory, community Sarah Rich, faculty

Alison Fogg, student

The Steering Committee met bi-weekly to report on task accomplishments. Other faculty were recruited from time to time to help with activities associated with taking the necessary steps to become a chapter. To become eligible for national membership, a local honor society must be in operation for at least one year, prepare and submit a detailed report, and undergo a site visit from a national officer.

Under the leadership of the Steering Committee, the Lamp of Knowledge Honor Society was formed and held its first induction on April 30, 1981. A total of 107 members were inducted: 37 faculty members; 41 student members and 28 community leaders. This first induction was special to the Steering Committee members since Alison Fogg was among the inductees, accomplishing her own personal goal of seeing the society established before she graduated.

The Society began its second year in the fall of 1981. The beginning activities were the election of officers and the addition of new members on the various committees. A strong emphasis was placed on publicizing the society among the student population to increase awarenessand interest in the goals of nursing honor society. The bylaws were further refined, a budget for three years was determined, and candidates for membership were received. Original Steering Committee members continued to be actively involved on all committees and kept the momentum going. The Executive Committee met to give direction and encouragement to the committee chairs. Throughout the year, student members increased their participation at business and committee meetings.

As the officers and Steering Committee began to work towards meeting the criteria for national membership, the Lamp of Knowledge Honor Society continued its activities by holding two more induction ceremonies, initiating a newsletter, achieving official recognition as an organization from the UND Student Activities Committee, and holding educational meetings for the membership. The second Induction Ceremony was held on May 6, 1982, at which time a total of 66 members were inducted.

The application for chartering was sent to National in May 1982. This was followed by a site visit from Kathryn Schweer who at that time was a member of the National Eligibility Committee.

The efforts for national membership were successful. The Lamp of Knowledge Honor Society was accepted for Sigma Theta Tau membershipat its national meeting in October 1983. On May 3, 1984, the Lamp of Knowledge Honor Society became the Eta Upsilon Chapter with Linda Daniels, national secretary, serving as the National Installing Officer. The first officers of the Eta Upsilon were installed at this chartering. At this time, 158 persons became charter members of Eta Upsilon.

A special highlight of the Induction Ceremony was the announcement that Nadine Nelson, a 1966 graduate of the college, had established a Margaret Heyse Cory Lectureship to bring nursing leaders to campus to discuss nursing issues. Her three-year gift has been continued to the present day by the donations of other alumnae. It was appropriate for the lectureship to be dedicated to Margaret Heyse Cory as she was the first dean of the college and served until her retirement in 1977.

When plans were formulated for establishing the local honor society, the goal was to receive approval for a Sigma Theta Tau chapter. There were no other Sigma Theta Tau chapters in North Dakota at this time. The UND College of Nursing faculty were interested in taking leadership in establishing a chapter at the University of North Dakota. The future plans called for the society at the University of North Dakota to assist the three other baccalaureate programs in establishing chapters, or joining us at the UND College of Nursing. In 1988, Eta Upsilon was honored to be asked to serve as mentor to the Sigma Theta Tau chapter being established at the University of Mary.

Since Eta Upsilon's inception, the Induction Ceremony has been held yearly. To date the membership has grown to over 300 members. To increase networking among the members, a Membership Directory was published in 1987 and is updated on a yearly basis.

In 1981, Sigma Theta Tau adopted a ten-year plan which focused on scholarship and included a commitment to "increase the scientific base of nursing practice and thereby improve the health of the public." Many of Eta Upsilon's activities are directly related to the national ten-year plan.

Each fall a combined business and educational meeting is held. Chapter awards are also given at this meeting. Each year members are nominated for the specific recognition award to be given that year. The awards which fall into the categories of Outstanding Student Performance, Excellence in Research, Nursing Education, Nursing Practice, and Leadership/Administration are awarded on a rotating basis. The Outstanding Student Performance Award is given on a yearly basis. One scholarship is awarded yearly to the individual who best meets the published qualifications.

Another important means in meeting the ten-year plan is through the Research Conference, which is jointly sponsored by the UND College of Nursing and the Eta Upsilon chapter. The first research conference was initiated in May 1984--one day after the chartering ceremony. Research conferences continue to be held on a yearly basis, usually at the end of September. These conferences are of interest to a wide ranging population. In 1988 the conference attracted speakers from seven states and Manitoba. Approximately 250 attended this conference. In 1997 the first co-sponsored the research conference with Sigma Xi Chapter of Fargo, North Dakota, was held. The Collaborative Research Conference is held every two years and rotates between the chapters' home sites.

Another important part of the research conference is the Marie Holley Award which is given by the college. This award was begun in 1985 in memory of Marie Holley who was the first director of graduate studies at the UND College of Nursing and is given annually to a faculty memberfor scientifically meritorious research.