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Mortar Board - National Honor Society
Hope College Alcor Chapter


Mortar Board was established in 1918 as a national honor society for outstanding college seniors. There are 205 chapters located throughout the United States and our chapter has been in existence since 1961. The 1997 National Vision Statement reads: "Mortar Board has historically selected as its members those persons who have demonstrated scholarship, leadership and service. Such recognition is not only a statement of achievement but also an affirmation of potential."

The mortarboard is a symbol of ancient honor and distinction which carries certain and serious responsibilities. In early universities, students who adopted the clerical or monastic robes did so as a sign that they were devoting their lives to the profession of learning, in recognition of which they received certain privileges. This is the recognition which we give, along with the responsibilities, of which the mortarboard is our sign.

The Hope College Alcor Chapter of Mortar Board has an illustrious history of honoring seniors and investing in the Hope community. Beginning in 1936, Alcor was the name of an honorary society for Hope women, but eventually affiliating with the national Mortar Board society in 1961, keeping Alcor as their chapter name. Throughout the following years, the Alcor Chapter of Mortar Board continued to support and recognize women on Hope’s campus, existing alongside Hope’s Honorary Society for Men, entitled Blue Key, until 1970 when Blue Key disbanded. In response to Title IX, the national Mortar Board program opened its membership to male students in 1975, and two years later, Hope’s Alcor Chapter admitted its first male members.  

In recent years, the Alcor Chapter of Mortar Board has continued to honor seniors while serving the campus community. Each of the past five years, the chapter has garnered national praise by winning a Golden Torch Award, which honors chapters excelling in scholarship, leadership, and service, and being named one of the top five chapters in the country. In addition to this, they have also received fourteen national Project Excellence Awards, including eight in 2009, recognizing a variety of service projects in which the chapter participates. Among these campus and community projects are the Last Lecture series, where professors are invited to speak as if it were their “last lecture;” Mortar Board week, aimed at raising awareness of the chapter on campus; the First Book Alumni Book Drive, a national fundraising initiative in which the chapter raised, this year, over $8,000 for Pine Creek Elementary School and was the leading fundraising chapter in the country; Prom for People with Disabilities; the Thanksgiving dinner for international students; the Tanzania Project, which provides full college scholarships for eight students in Tanzania; the Wearing of the Blue Brunch, designed to recognize Freshman and Sophomore honor roll students; participation in Hope’s Dance Marathon and Relay for Life, in which Mortar Board has been the top fundraiser for the past three years; and, starting this past year, investing in microfinance projects in Sierra Leone through the website KIVA. All of this has been overseen by the chapter’s advisors, Mrs. Bultman and Dr. Portfleet, who was the national winner of the 2007 Mortar Board Excellence in Advising Award.

The preamble to the Mortar Board Constitution states:

We, the undersigned, recognizing the advantage of a national union of senior honor societies, do hereby unite to form a national society whose purpose shall be to facilitate cooperation among these societies, to contribute to the self-awareness of its members, to promote equal opportunities among all peoples, to emphasize the advancement of the status of women, to support the ideals of the university, to advance a spirit of scholarship, to recognize and encourage leadership, to provide service, and to establish the opportunity for a meaningful exchange of ideas as individuals and as a group.


* Founded: February 1, 1918
* Established at Hope College: 1961
* Number of Active Chapters: 218
* Number of Alumni Chapters: 49
* Total Membership (Active and Alumni): approx. 170,000
* Publication: Mortar Board Forum
* Motto: Pi Sigma Alpha (Scholarship, Leadership and Service)
* Symbols: The Mortarboard
* Chapter Colors: Maroon and White