National Convention
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in the Walt Disney World® Resort

In Spite of the Storm, Phi Eta Sigma Perseveres

Orlando, Florida

When Hurricane Matthew made its way toward the tip of Florida in early October 2016, everyone believed it would skirt the eastern coast well out into the Atlantic and would have little effect on central Florida. THEY WERE WRONG!

The Orlando area suffered only minimal damage from the storm, but the potential danger was enough to shut down airports, close businesses, and cancel major events including the Forty-third National Convention and Leadership Workshops of Phi Eta Sigma. Fortunately, the advance party of Society leaders managed to stay safe and comfortable at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista.

The national Executive Committee was able to meet, and the other advisers and students who arrived ahead of the storm joined the group for meals and informal activities. During one such session, the group recognized the recipients of the Society’s Distinguished Service Award, as well as the chapters earning the newly established Pyramid certificate and the inaugural Capstone Awards for superior performance by Phi Eta Sigma chapters. (See related articles in this Forum issue for more details.) Congratulations to the individuals and chapters receiving these prestigious awards!

Although the chapters of Phi Eta Sigma could not convene as planned, certain business of the honor society, particularly the election of national officers and members of the Executive Committee, was still pending. Grand Historian Mary Jo Custer and Executive Committee student member Taylor Bernosky had been scheduled to serve as advisers to the Nominations Committee comprised of student member volunteers from among the registered convention attendees. With the convention’s cancellation, it was necessary to devise an alternate method for conducting the election.

Grand President Molly Lawrence asked Mary Jo to direct and facilitate the convening of a Nominations Committee by electronic means. With assistance from the national office, Mary Jo solicited volunteers to serve on the committee from among the registered convention student attendees. The committee quickly formed and began the work of reviewing nomination materials, developing interview questions, and arranging interviews with the candidates.

In early November, the members of the Nominating Committee conducted an interview via conference call with each candidate for contested position. Afterward they conferred and announced their unanimous selections of candidates to present to the Grand Chapter for election.

The national office then notified the registered convention delegates of the committee’s decision and asked for their vote of approval or denial via email. The responding delegates voted unanimously to approve the slate of candidates presented by the Nominations Committee, as follows:

Grand Vice President—

            Tim Lemper, Indiana University (unopposed)

Chapter Adviser At-Large Members—

            Alex Belisle, Boise State University

            Tony Kemp, Mercer University

At-Large Student Members—

            Christian Hildebrandt, Brigham Young University

            Brittany Stevens, Florida State University

            Andrew Stone, Boise State University

Congratulations to these exceptional honor society leaders! I look forward to working with you to lead Phi Eta Sigma at the national level.

In addition, we extend thanks to all of the candidates who participated in the nomination and interview process. I hope you will continue your strong leadership at the chapter level, as well as your cooperation and support of the Society’s national leaders. And to the honor society leaders who nominated the candidates for Executive Committee positions, thank you for your participation in the nomination process.

I also wish to express my gratitude to Mary Jo Custer and the student members of the Nominations Committee for their exemplary work under these uncommon circumstances. If you have occasion to communicate with any of the committee members listed below, please commend them on their excellent work and dedication to Phi Eta Sigma:

  • Taylor Bernosky, Monmouth University, Nominations Committee Co-Adviser
  • Mary Jo Custer, Syracuse University, Nominations Committee Co-Adviser
  • Michele Pierce, Kennesaw State University
  • Jacqueline Berg, University of Alabama
  • Maximilian Aviles, McKendree University

 In spite of storms or other obstacles, Phi Eta Sigma continues to carry out its mission, thanks to the determination of dedicated student members, chapter advisers, and national leaders.

Philanthropy Project

In 2009-2010 Phi Eta Sigma embarked on a new project encouraging members to become more involved in philanthropic efforts. Students attending national conventions recommended a national philanthropy project to coincide with the theme and location of each national convention.

Sunny Orlando, Florida, was the site for the 2016 convention. Give Kids the World Village, the third program to benefit from the philanthropy efforts from Phi Eta Sigma chapters.

Give Kids the World Village is a nonprofit resort located in Central Florida. The resort provides cost-free, weeklong vacations to children between the ages of 3 and 18 with life-threatening illnesses and their family. Half of all the children eligible for a wish through a partnering wish granting organization choose to visit Central Florida and its them parks and other attractions.

During the convention a service project was planned with Give Kids the World Village in connection with our philanthropy. This was an opportunity to offer the attendees the chance to affect the lives of others this project.

Phi Eta Sigma chapters were asked to participate in the philanthropy effort by conducting fundraising projects that would benefit Give Kids the World Village. Each chapter that conducted a special philanthropy project in connection with the convention could submit an entry for “Best Philanthropy.” This year eight society chapters participated in the philanthropy efforts. The participating chapters were: 

  • The University of Florida
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Florida State University
  • Gannon University
  • Mercer University
  • Missouri State University
  • University of Puget Sound
  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

The week of the convention, hurricane Matthew was moving closer to the Florida area. Due to Matthew the National convention, the service project and all planned activities had to be cancelled. On behalf of the National Office and the chapters that participated in the philanthropy. A generous donation of $5,000.00 was made to Give Kids the World Village.

The Executive Committee will decide on the focus of the 2018 philanthropy at its meeting this summer while making plans for the Forty-fourth National Convention and Leadership Workshops. The philanthropy focus and the chosen recipient of the philanthropy efforts will be announced in the fall of 2017.

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