Mortar Board History
Mortar Board was the very first national organization that honored senior college women. The evolution of Mortar Board mirrors an attempt to keep pace with an ever-changing society. It was on the campus of the University of Chicago in the fall of 1915 when a member of Mortar Board from The Ohio State University met a member of Pi Sigma Chi from Swarthmore College. Both women wore similar pins in the shape of a mortar-board. Through discussion they realized each represented an honor society for women with similar election methods, operating procedures, ideals, and traditions. The main difference in the honor societies was their names.
The founding meeting for the organization of the national honor society took place at Syracuse University on February 15, 1918. Representatives were from Cornell University, The University of Michigan, The Ohio State University, Swarthmore College, as well as Syracuse University, which did not choose to join the national organization when it became Mortar Board following the founding meeting. The founding meeting adopted the pin of The Ohio State University, a small black mortarboard.
A motto was adopted, taken from the Greek words meaning service, scholarship, and leadership, to be represented by three Greek letters, Pi Sigma Alpha, the letters which appear on the pin. The constitution was adopted from a tentative plan outlined by Swarthmore. Officially the society remained nameless until the second convention at The University of Michigan, but correspondence with prospective chapters following the February 1918 meeting referred to the new organization as Mortar Board, the name and spelling of The Ohio State honor society.
Longwood's Geist Chapter History
Longwood's chapter can trace its roots to an honorary fraternity then known as the Joan Circle of Alpha Delta Rho. This group of Longwood women formally organized in the mid 1920's and adopted Joan of Arc as its patron saint. She was chosen due to the fact that she was a symbol of a great leader to all women. Years later, the Joan Circle of Alpha Delta Rho decided, along with other honorary leadership fraternities in the area, to adopt and join a larger leadership organization known as Alpha Kappa Gamma.
In 1966, Longwood's Alpha Kappa Gamma chapter, with the help of staff and faculty, including Dr. Caroyln Wells, the former Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences, decided to once again become a local organization by forming Geist. Geist is a German word that translates roughly to signify spirit, imagination, intelligence, and soul. These were the original ideals that the women in October 1966 felt exemplified the feelings and purposes of its members. The group's intentions were to comply with the affiliation requirements set by the larger national organization, Mortar Board.
Geist adopted the duties of what was then known as Circus, and transformed their greatest event into what we all recognize today as Longwood's Oktoberfest. In 1993, Geist joined the national honorary leadership scholarship and service fraternity, Mortar Board, and became the Geist chapter of Mortar Board. This year is our 23rd anniversary as a Mortar Board chapter. As we can see from our past, this organization has gone through many changes, yet a few things have remained constant: the pursuit of leadership, scholarship, and service. In the past, and hopefully in the future, this will always remain...