Faculty Advisor – Key Element
You have become Phi Alpha Theta faculty advisors in many ways. Some of you are veteran advisors, and some are new. Some of you are already effective, and some wish to improve your leadership. Many of you commenced your duties with little or no guidance. This manual will be the guide for all of you.
If the advisors are different, the chapters are more so. Some chapters are located at large universities, but others are at small colleges. Some are old, and some are young; some strong and some weak. The great diversity among the more than 950+ chapters is both an asset and a liability. Yet we were able to create a practical and useful manual based on the experiences of this varied group.
The role of the faculty advisor has been a subject of unending discussions among faculty advisors at our regional meetings and biennial conventions. The general consensus is that all advisors need guidance at some time, and that both Phi Alpha Theta and its individual chapters will benefit if the advisors’ responsibilities are clearly outlined.
We cannot overemphasize the basic point that the faculty advisor plays a key role – the critical role – in the functioning of the chapter. The advisor is clearly the single most important individual in the operation of any chapter.
The advisor’s role is critical in at least two ways. First, the advisor, along with his or her departmental colleagues, represents the historical profession to Phi Alpha Theta student members and has the opportunity to shape more dedicated historians. Through them, the advisor can hope to influence the course of historical thinking in today’s society. Second, student officers often serve for only parts of their junior and/or senior years. The constant turnover is a major problem for which advisors provide of solution of continuity.
The advisor’s role extends to that of chapter representative or liaison to other constituencies, such as: National Headquarters; the Phi Alpha Theta region; the college or university; the student officers and chapter members; other campus groups (e.g., the history club); and the local community.
Faculty Advisor – Duties and Suggestions
Advisors guide the student officers in running the chapter. One suggestion is to meet with the newly elected officers to outline your plans early in the academic year or just after elections held in the spring. You may meet with the student officers several times before the academic year begins, or you may correspond with officers during the summer break.
Schedule chapter meetings regularly and publicize them well in advance for good attendance. We suggest a short business meeting followed by an interesting program featuring alumni, guests, presenters, etc. Use an easily accessible bulletin board and telephone reminders. Invite faculty members, because their presence gives a real boost to chapter meetings and demonstrates departmental collegiality and cooperation. Allow time for socializing among students and faculty members.
Advisors and students together should plan programs, arrange for facilities, and publicize events well in advance. A small program committee, with chapter officers and advisors as members ex officio, can generate ideas and prevent a few members from having to perform all the work. Successful programs include:
- Speakers on general topics
- Panel discussions
- Professors’ explanations of how they became interested in topics and developed them into publications
- Annual lectures open to the university and local communities
- Films (may be presented with formal papers or multimedia shows by students and faculty)
- Field trips to points of historical interest
- Visits to museums and other cultural attractions
- Programs jointly sponsored by local historical societies
- Historical exhibits created with help from local libraries and organizations
- Picnics to attract new members and publicize the chapter
- Visits to area schools
- Annual History Day programs
- Annual chapter banquets
The faculty advisor is responsible for ensuring that routine administrative details receive attention. Faculty advisors have the fiduciary responsibility of forwarding all monies collecting from students for the purpose of joining the honor society in a timely manner. The chapter maintains its own files of current and alumni members, including minutes of chapter meetings and other chapter archival documents. Create a digital scrapbook to share with members and to submit for consideration for a Best Chapter Award.
Advisors must contact National Headquarters about merchandise and supply orders, policy, and all financial matters.
Advisors inform students about the Historian and the News Letter. New members receive four issues of the Historian, but members must renew subscriptions individually. The chapter may subscribe to the News Letter, and the advisor should strongly encourage students to provide materials for publication in it.
Advisors should inform student members of the many paper prizes, book awards, chapter awards, and scholarships offered through National Headquarters and the procedures for applying. This information is available through flyers and on this Website. Advisors strongly encourage members to submit papers for presentation at regional meetings and ensure that the essays meet academic standards.
Advisors can distribute Call for Paper forms to students, review the papers for quality of scholarship, urge students to present papers on panels at the regional meetings, volunteer to chair sessions or evaluate presentations, and help the host chapters. We believe that no member should fail to take advantage of the opportunities to meet their colleagues, present papers, exchange ideas, strengthen weaker chapters, and attract new chapters. Approximately forty regional meetings are held each year for the purpose of student paper presentation. Advisors should be especially willing to volunteer their chapter as host chapter for the next year’s regional meeting in turn.
Advisors and students should plan to attend to attend the Phi Alpha Theta convention held every other year. About sixty students present papers at this convention. While National Headquarters provides some funds for delegates, a chapter may want to send more than one delegate (e.g., a student and a faculty member or a graduate and an undergraduate student). Plan early! Budget for the expenses, and obtain approval from your department or administrative officer for potential financial support.
Advisors submit a typed list of students’ names, home mailing address, an email addresses date of initiation along with a group payment for the $50 per student lifetime membership dues. When planning the date for your initiation ceremony, keep in mind the national office will need 3 weeks to mail the certificates to you. Our Ritual for Induction should be read at the ceremony. The long form of the ritual is required to be read a new chapter installations. Fellow history department faculty, initiates’ family members and school administrators should also be invited to attend the ceremony. A banquet is a fitting setting for this memorable occasion.
Advisors determine which students are eligible for membership in Phi Alpha Theta. Membership requirements are stated on our website. Have the appropriate administrative official screen students with acceptable grade point averages, then use your departmental colleagues to identify those with the required number of history courses. Ask other members of your department to scan their class lists for non-History majors who may meet our requirements, or have the Registrar do a computer run with your chapter requirements.
Advisors may sponsor joint programs with honor societies in other disciplines, such as: programs on the history of science, or programs on the history, literature and culture of a period. Such programs have had multimedia presentation or panel discussion formats, among others.
Advisors should help the chapter with fundraising and encourage the student members to come up with ideas. Some suggestions are:
- Annual chapter dues
- Initiation fees slightly greater than the national dues of $50, with the additional monies deposited in the chapter’s account to support local activities
- Income from a college or university convocation or lecture series
- Sales of various kinds of merchandise or services including books, food, etc.
- Contributions by interested local citizens or groups that might cosponsor programs or support your society
Advisors are the public relations experts for their chapters! Publicity of various kinds for meetings and programs should appear early, often, and regularly. Use all forms of media available to you, and establish and maintain contacts with campus publications and local media. Many chapters publish regular newsletters containing articles of chapter, regional, and national importance. Send chapter news to National Headquarters for possible publication in the News Letter.
Advisors should invite alumni of Phi Alpha Theta in the community to maintain contact with the chapter by speaking, mentoring, and teaching your student members about the real relationships between the study of history and many different vocations. Chapter alumni are also an excellent source for contributions.