Chapter History

Summary information about the formation of Beta Zeta At Large Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International

June 1961 Subcommittee on Honors in School of Nursing reported in the minutes of the Faculty Organization that Organization of Chapter of Sigma Thata Tau at Massachusetts, Amherst
is planned and that Dr.Catherine McClure, the National Vice President was contacted. On August 16, 1961. Mary MacDonald, Associate Dean sent copies of the catalogue of the school and a request for an application to Dr. McClure. An application was received on 8/23/61. It was recommended (7 juniors and 7 seniors with grade of B or better).

January 29,1962 . Dr. McClure sent the Constitution and By-laws as pattern for drafting the COnstitution for a local chapter and on March 3, 1962, Dean Mary A. Maher sent a letter of information to Dr. McClure, "My dear Dr. McClure" and included grades of students for eligibility, process of the preliminary committee and that four faculty members of Sigma Theta Tau were interested in addition to Dean Maher (also a member). The preliminary committee requested that Dean Maher be the advisor.

March 20, 1962 . Dr. McCLure wrote to Dean MAher to say that, "it is gratifying to read in your letter of the continued enthusiasm of your students and faculty for forming a new chapter of Sigma Theta Tau. She commented on both regular and associate membership and that all graduates who were qualified can be inducted as well as faculty. Then there would be a proportion in effect after the charter was granted. Indicated that after the constitution is reviewed which would take about 6-8 weeks, a visit would be made by National followed by a review of the status by the National Council. It was noted that every chapter would be apprised of this school's application for a charter and implied that each chapter votes on acceptance.

April 7, 1966 . In a letter to Dr.Virginia Crenshaw, National President (from University of New Mexico) Benita Martocchio, faculty member, indicated the "renewed interest" in beginning a chapter and requested materials. The letter was fowarded to Carolyn Widmer, the Second Vice-President (from University of Connecticut), who sent materials on 4/22 with a letter and in early April Benito Martocchio sent a memo to selected students and the first meeting of some of the faculty members who were members of Sigma Theta Tau and the students was held on April 29, 1966. Present were Benita Martocchio, Charlene Phelps, Jane Nicholson, Dorothy Sexton, Ann Sheridan. Students were Elinor Scott, Elizabeth Johnson, Louise Standley, Judith Forbes, Joan Goldberg, Marilyn McNamara and Louise McCarthy. Students unanimously agreed to proceed informing a Preliminary Committee and Elizabeth Johnson was elected Chair and Elinor Scott as Secretary, and Benita Martocchio as Advisor.

Many meetings were held throughout May. At this time there were 151graduates. E. Johnson sent a letter to Carolyn Widmer for an application for membership. At the end of May, Mary A. Maher sent a letter granting approval of the School of Nursing and voiced support and appreciation of the efforts to establish a Chapter. The application was received from (Mrs.) Carolyn L.Widmer in late May and on June 9, 1966, Dr. Elkins, Director of Honors and Chair of the University Honors Council informed Ms. Maher that the Honors Council and the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Matters approved the petition of the School of Nursing to establish a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the National Honor Society of Nursing. Letters were sent to those who were eligible including community leaders. At the November meeting of the preliminary COmmittee, dates for the evaluation visit were planned for December 12 and 13 and the initiation would be planned for March.

November 12, 1966. E. Johnson sent the completed application form and draft of the Constitution and By-laws to Carolyn Widmer who acknowledged receipt of materials and sent copies to all of the officers of national...explained that it was necessary to postpone the December visit. there were new procedures and new chapters must be approved by the House of Delegates and this meeting would not be until November or December of 1967. She said in the letter that delays are frustrating and when the constitution is revised it will be in line with practices of most Honor Societies who have approval of new chapters approved by a House of Delegates.

In early 1967 several letters from C. Widmer with concerns about the processof selecting members especially community. She particularly questioned the number and meeting the qualifications of B.S. and marked achievement in nursing. However, a vivist was planned for Friday, April 7th, and Saturday, April 8th. This was postponed to Friday, May 9th. On May 2nd, C. Widmer wrote to B. Martocchio and said that she talked to national officers and..."way out of line in including 19 (community) members"..."I sympathize fully with chapters desire for good relationships. Promoting such relationships is not, however the primary function of an honor society".."Free to include if you wish be alert you to the fact that I doubt your membership would be approved at National COuncil in that form. Might I suggest that when I visit on 5/19 that you have the credentials of all the "marked achievement" people whom you wish to include...educational preparation and specific contributions to nursing.

In May of '67, B. Martocchio sent a letter to C. Widmer saying the community persons were reviewed and the committee agreed to include these persons for memership. Had also questioned if all faculty would be asked to be charter members and it was answered, that it was not the entire faculty, many were transferring membership.

In June, C. Widmer wrote to Dean Mary Maher.
"I am sorry to report that the insurmountable obstacle seems to be the regulation in the National By-laws that all programs offered by a school must be accredited by NLN. Since there is a new masters program in Medical-Surgical Nursing has not been accredited, it appears impossible to recommend approval of a chapter at this time...I want you to know that we tried our best to find a loophole but the By-laws are specific on this point and the Council felt it had to be bound by them."...then suggested a local Honor Society.

In December of 1967, C. Widmer wrote to say that future communication would be with Dr. Lois Meier now second vice president. "Sorry that it was impossible to consider a chapter."

The local Honor Society continued to have programs and generally followed all of the guidelines of chapters. From October 1968 to May of 1969, Extensive report of activities and a high level of interest was maintained. Barbara Daly a senior student was elected chair in May of '69. the graduate (Master's) program opened in 1967 and by 1969, had received "reasonable accreditationfrom the National League for Nursing. B. Martocchio sent a letter to LoisMeier, the second Vice President to plan again for submitting another application and was advised to write to C. Widmer, now Executive Secretary. She (B. Martocchio) explained that "our graduate program which has accreditation by reasonable assurance should be fully accredited at that time." She expressed grave concern about how the development of graduate programs and the process of reasonable assurance may disadvantage new programs and those adding new specialty areas such as Psych-Mental Health.

On December 12, 1969 said in a letter to C. Widmer that Lois Meier recommended that updated charter appliction materials be sent prior to June 1970, Also said that, there was the, "intent to establish a fund to institute a lecture series to have prominent persons from various disciplines and participants " and that "interest has not waned...we are confident we shall achieve our goal in the near future"

In Fall of 1970, Dr. Lois Meier corresponded to select a date for preliminary visit in January or February of 1971. In August of 1970 another was written to C. Widmer saying that L. Meier suggested that the application be submitted and assurance that in October the graduate program would be fully accredited. Ms. Martocchio planned to resign from her position to return to graduate school at Case Western Reserve and A. Sheridan assumed responsibility of advisor.

Throughout 1970 the Honor Society continued and Linda Wolk became president and a list of questions was sent from national and these were answered...In the Fall, several letters to arrange available dates and plans for accommodations for C. Widmer's visit which was scheduled for March of 1971. Prior to this, a few members of the committee went to UConn in anticipation of the visit and to plan accordingly.

Considerable correspondence ensued. Anne provencher was selected as chair of the local honor society and the group was active with programs and the process of completing all foms for national and Ann Sheridan continued as counselor. Several committee worked on specific goals, e.g. revision of the Constitution and By-laws to be in line with all of the national changes. Interestingly, the honor society put the name of the group on the application, and then reminded that this should have been left blank.

Eventually, the application was reviewed by the National Council and approved along with several other chapters. the chapter name of Beta Zeta At Large Chapter was given and the charter was awarded as the 52nd chapter of Sigma Theta Tau international.

In the following year, all of the eligible persons for induction were selected and the Induction Ceremony was held on April 9, 1972.

Compiled by E. Ann Sheridan on May 23, 1997