Seated: Sr. Marie Lee. Standing, left to right: Sharon Phelps, Dr. Marty Spies, Dr. Ellen Poole, Susan Groenwald
Though many of the faculty and administrators of the Chamberlain College of Nursing were members of Sigma Theta Tau International (Sigma), the school itself did not have an honor society. When Dr. Gail Baumlein joined Chamberlain as the Director of Nursing Programs in the summer of 2007, the establishment of an Sigma honor society was one of her priorities. Seeing faculty members wearing the Sigma key at a Graduate Curriculum meeting, she saw the opportunity to recruit an Honor Society Task Force. The Task Force first convened on February 14, 2008. The Task Force members were: Dr. Marty Spies, Dr. Ellen Poole, Erin Stout, Carmel Long, and Marsha Conroy. Dr. Ellen Poole accepted the responsibility of chairing the Task Force.
The focus of the Task Force was to establish an Honor Society along Sigma guidelines to acknowledge academic excellence with the ultimate goal of becoming an Sigma chapter. As a national school with multiple campuses, it was important that all campuses were represented, so additional members were added to the Task Force. Faculty members Dr. Carol Keeth, and Joyce Hunter along with Cory Minorini, a student advisor joined the group. Monthly telephonic meetings and a timeline were established.
As a national school with multiple campuses, time and distance were major challenges. The school supported these efforts by the use of teleconferencing and providing seed money for attendance of the chairperson to the Sigma Leadership conference. Discussions with the officers of Omicron Delta, the University of Phoenix chapter, assisted in planning for an honor society with multiple sites throughout the country. Faculty as a whole meet twice a year, which became the natural times for any inductions. Future plans include mini-inductions on the various campuses.
At the fall 2008 National Faculty meeting, the Chamberlain College of Nursing Honor Society was announced, with the first induction and chartering ceremony scheduled during the spring 2009 National Faculty meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. The inaugural induction and chartering was on April 22, 2009, inducting 221 members and 2 honorary members, and installing the new officers. Sister Marie Lee, the last Deaconess Sister, a former nursing instructor was inducted as an honorary member. Sr. Marie represented the roots of the school. Our second honorary member, Marie Hallinan, the Vice President of Operations, represented our future.
In the fall of 2009, Dr. Susan Fletcher presented on Nursing Missions at the Addison, Illinois campus. The spring 2010 induction of 166 members was held in St. Louis, Missouri. We met our goal of 50 plus members and submitted the application for Sigma chapter status by June 15, 2010.
Certainly, the Task Force provided the ongoing impetus for the successful launch of the Chamberlain College of Nursing. Susan Groenwald, President of the Chamberlain College of Nursing and Dr. Gail Baumlein, the Director of Online Nursing Programs provided financial and administrative support. The Chamberlain Marketing Department and Stephanie Gallo for their hard work and financial support in the development of our membership and event literature and the Phi Pi website.