The Daily Gamecock

Mortar Board awarded national honors

Alpha Order chapter recognized for teacher appreciation efforts


USC’s Alpha Order chapter of Mortar Board recently received two national awards recognizing its leadership, service and scholarship efforts on campus.

The Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society awarded USC’s chapter the Golden Torch and Project Excellence Awards at the 2012 Mortar Board National Conference in late summer.

Along with only 20 other chapters in the nation, USC received the Project Excellence Award for its annual Excellence in Teaching banquet, which in Nov. 2011 celebrated 37 faculty members for their teaching achievements, according to Jenni Szolwinski of the national Mortar Board organization.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that invites college seniors who exemplify academic, leadership and service achievements on their campuses. USC’s Alpha Order is among the 229 chartered chapters in the nation. All seniors with a GPA greater than 3.0 with proof of scholarship, leadership and service are considered for membership application at USC.

Megan Stevens, Mortar Board’s assistant executive director for chapter development, praised the chapter’s efforts to express appreciation for the university’s professors.

“Our chapter at the University of South Carolina does a terrific job giving back to the university through its Excellence in Teaching banquet,” Stevens said. “We love to recognize chapters for distinguished events that honor faculty in this way.”

USC was also one of 31 chapters to receive the Golden Torch Award, which recognizes chapter management and contribution to meaningful service on campus, Szolwinski said. 

She said that USC was nominated for the award and earned the distinction after continuing to build on chapter improvements in scholarship, leadership and service that were honored with the Most Improved Chapter Award in 2011.

“Great chapter leadership really turned their organization around such that they now have a strong membership and sponsor some great activities,” Szolwinski said.

Alpha Order chapter president Kayla Brown, a fourth-year early childhood education student, also emphasized the chapter’s commitment to strong leadership within the organization and on campus.

“Mortar Board is a great organization with leaders who truly wish to make a difference here at USC,” Brown said. “We strive to continually build USC’s chapter.”

Among the activities sponsored by Mortar Board at USC last year were a book drive that collected 150 donations for the Waverly Center, participation in Service Saturdays and member tutoring for students in other campus organizations, particularly in the Greek community, Szolwinski said.

The chapter has also worked to develop a lasting relationship with the Reach Out and Read charity, a nonprofit organization promoting early literacy and school readiness, Brown said.

In addition, the Alpha Order produces USC’s only student-life based planner, the proceeds of which go toward funding more than $3,000 in scholarships, including two $500 undergraduate scholarships and one $500 graduate scholarship.

“The ... Alpha Order chapter has continued to excel since winning our Most Improved Chapter Award in 2011,” Stevens said. “The effort they have put into building their membership, continuing excellent events and building a strong foundation for the future is evident. They are truly deserving of the Golden Torch Award.”