History honor society named best chapter

November 12 2008

Phi Alpha Theta, a national history honor society, has named Indiana State University's Upsilon-Iota Chapter as among the best in the country.

The Best Chapter Award for Division IV was awarded to the Upsilon-Iota Chapter for establishing itself as a leader within the Phi Alpha Theta organization.

Chapter advisor Steven A. Stofferahn, assistant professor in the department of history, took over as faculty advisor in 2005 and said the award marks the culmination of a variety of activities aimed at engaging students over the past few years.

"We were thrilled when we heard the news," Stofferahn said. "It's so gratifying for the students to receive national recognition for all their hard work."

A major undertaking was a biography project featuring influential past faculty who helped shape ISU. Members researched the careers of several emeriti professors and compiled their findings into short biographies now posted on the chapter's Web site. A synopsis of the project is slated for future publication in The History Teacher, a journal produced by the Society for History Education.

"Not only did it give our members the chance to showcase their historical talents, but even became a way to more closely bind the students to their alma mater," Stofferahn said of the biography project.

Working in conjunction with ISU's History Club, the group sponsors many campus and community events throughout the year. In April 2008, the chapter hosted the Phi Alpha Theta regional conference, attended by representatives from a dozen Indiana and Illinois universities.

A May 2008 graduate now pursuing a master's degree at San Diego State University, Dominic Abbenante served as chapter president during the 2007-08 school year.

"I am very proud of the members' dedication in supporting and promoting the goals of both the ISU history department and Phi Alpha Theta. I know that Dr. Stofferahn is an avid proponent of events and outreach programs that help bring history out of the classroom and into the lives of students and the community," Abbenante said. "In taking field trips, presenting guest speakers, and hosting the regional conference, our chapter of Phi Alpha Theta definitely did a lot to earn this national recognition. I could not be prouder to be an alumnus of the Indiana State chapter."

For Stofferahn, working with this cohort of budding historians has made his role as faculty all the more enjoyable.

"The best surprise of taking over as faculty advisor was seeing how enthusiastic our students can be," Stofferahn said. "They are really emerging as strong leaders."

The award includes $250 that the chapter can use to purchase books for ISU's Cunningham Memorial Library. Stofferahn said chapter members are currently compiling a list of titles to add to the library's history collection.

More information on the chapter, including the faculty biography project, is available online.

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Contact: Steven Stofferahn, Indiana State University, department of history, 812-237-2721 or stofferahn@indstate.edu

Writer: Emily Taylor, Indiana State University, media relations, 812-237-3790 or etaylor16@indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Phi Alpha Theta, a national history honor society, has named Indiana State University's Upsilon-Iota Chapter as among the best in the country. Chapter advisor Steven A. Stofferahn said the award stems from the group's active participation in a variety of projects and events, including a biography project chronicling the work of past faculty members influential in the university's development.

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