posted August 30, 2010

Hope Mortar Board Chapter Named Best in Nation

 The Hope College chapter of Mortar Board received multiple honors during the society's recent national conference, including recognition as the top chapter in the country.

The chapter received the national Mortar Board organization's highest honor for a collegiate chapter, the Ruth Weimer Mount Chapter Excellence Award, during the 2010 Mortar Board National Conference, held on Friday-Sunday, July 23-25, in Chicago, Ill.  The chapter also received its fourth consecutive Golden Torch Award, eight Project Excellence Awards, and an additional commendation for having been the top chapter in the national "Reading is Leading" Virtual Book Drive in both 2008 and 2009.

The Ruth Weimer Mount Chapter Excellence Award is presented to the chapter that exemplifies the national college honor society's ideals of scholarship, leadership and service in the most outstanding manner.  The recipient is chosen on the basis of a variety of criteria, including chapter operations, campus visibility, member participation, advising, communications and chapter projects.

The Hope chapter's recognition as the winner this year follows having been among the finalists for the award annually since 2007 and having received a variety of other national awards from the society the past four years.

Hope has received the national "Golden Torch Award" every year since 2007, including this year.  Only 22 chapters received the recognition this year.

The Alcor Chapter has also been a leader in receiving multiple "Project Excellence Awards" each year, and received eight of the awards both last year and this year.  This year's awards recognized the chapter's First Book Alumni Book Drive; Last Lecture Series; CASA pumpkin carving, stocking stuffing, tutoring and Borders gift cards; Relay for Life fundraising for the American Cancer Society; full college scholarships for eight students in Tanzania; Mortar Board Project Week; the "Jungle Safari" Disability Prom; the Kiva Project to loan funds to support primary education in Sierra Leone; and the Wearing of the Blue Brunch for freshman and sophomore students named to the dean's list.  A total of 38 Project Excellence Awards were presented to 19 chapters this year.

The Hope chapter led the nation in Mortar Board's Virtual Book Drive in both 2008 and 2009, for which the chapter received the "First Book Hero Award Plaque" during the conference.  The national effort has raised a total of $50,000, of which $12,000 was raised by Hope's Alcor Chapter.

In addition to the other honors that the chapter has received in the past four years, co-advisor Dr. Dianne Portfleet, adjunct associate professor of English, received one of three national Excellence in Advising Awards during the conference in 2007.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 228 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

The Alcor chapter has existed at Hope since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.  The chapter had 37 members during the 2009-10 school year, and the president was Abbie Gowman, a 2010 graduate from Rochester Hills.

Portfleet co-advises the chapter with Martie Bultman, who is the wife of Hope College president James E. Bultman.

Those attending the conference on behalf of Hope were Portfleet; Andrea Eddy, a 2010 graduate from Coloma who was the 2009-10 Hope Mortar Board webmaster; Kelsey Bos, a senior from Holland who is the incoming Hope Mortar Board president; and Phoebe Burtless-Creps, a senior from Adrian who is the incoming Hope Mortar Board treasurer.