A History of Lambda Pi Eta
Department of Communication Studies
University of Rhode Island
Dr. Stephen Wood, Chair, Communication Studies Department, approached Dr. Richard Bailey, in the Fall Semester, 1992, asking if he would be the advisor to a local chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the newly established Speech Communication Honor Society.
Dr. Bailey contacted Shannon Giles and Ron DesJarlais, two students with whom he had worked on other projects to take the leadership in organizing a chapter of Lambda Pi Eta at URI. He appointed Shannon Giles as the first President, and, Ron DesJarlais as the Vice President with the understanding they would work as a team in establishing the Chapter. They consented to do so. They generated a list of potential members, advertised an organizational meeting date for January 1993. A dozen majors, meeting the qualifications for membership, exhibited an interest in becoming members of Lambda Pi Eta.
The organization being newly formed was not able to generate interest in monthly or bi-monthly programs for its membership. But, a meeting was held for the election of officers for the 1993-94 academic year. The officers elected to serve were:
Donica Meyers, President
Tara Badarek, Treasurer
Rachel Soderberg, Secretary
The Dr. Richard E. Bailey Award was established to “celebrate the humanistic side of communication” studies, which is to be given to a member of the faculty or staff of the Department of Communication Studies. An Annual Initiation Ceremony inducting new members into Lambda Pi Eta was held in conjunction with the end of the year party the department faculty held at the home of Dr. Agnes G. Doody. Professor Bailey was the first recipient of the award named in his honor.
A year-end assessment of the progress made for establishing the grounds for a successful chapter appeared to support the view that those things that were necessary to achieve in the initial year in the life of the organization had been done and there was good reason to look forward to 1993-94.
The high hopes held for the development of a local chapter of Lambda Pi Eta were not forthcoming in the 1993-94 academic year. The Executive Committee experienced difficulties in a number of area: calling a fall organizational meeting in time to plan for subsequent activities; following normal procedures in conducting meetings so the membership would be informed participants in the activities of the chapter; planning and implementing membership drives, recording of dues, regular reports, etc. An example, illustrative of the difficulties of this first year of operation was the election of the officers for the 1994-95 year. An election was held at the Spring meeting in which students assembled nominated each other for offices. It was later discovered that non of the individuals elected met the requirements for membership and had to be informed they not only could not hold offices in Lambda Pi Eta, but were not members of the chapter. Thus, the organization found itself during the Summer of 1994 with its elected officers graduated and gone from the community and with no duly elected officers in place.
Dr. Bailey meet with Shannon Giles and Ron DesJarlais and evaluated the situation in which Lambda Pi Eta found itself. They commonly agreed the 1993-94 officers were confronted with problems they were unable to solve and that the major issue was that there were no local By-Laws to give direction and governance to the Executive Committee and the organization.
Dr. Bailey, Shannon Giles, and Ron DesJarlais spent the summer of 1994 drawing up a set of by-laws for the Local Chapter. They By-Laws provided for an expansion of membership by establishing two chapters of Lambda Pi Eta at the local level. The first chapter would be governed by the Constitution and By-Laws of the National organization, which will be known as the Beta Gamma Chapter, and, the establishment of a local honors society, known as the Communication Studies honor society. The difference being only that majors in the local society must have a 2.7 accumulative average as opposed to the 3.0 requirement of national chapter. The 3.2 average for Communication Studies courses remain the same for both groups. The effect of this will be to open up for membership some of the very fine students majors who may have “blown” a single semester somewhere along their university career.
The By-Laws provided, as well, for a centralization of responsibility and procedures into the responsibility of the Advisor, the Chair, and the Department Faculty. The experience of the previous year demonstrated that student leadership is not always effective or productive of the health of the organization. In sum, the By-Laws provide that while students will have effective control over Lambda Pi Eta, the primary responsibility for its operation and governance will rest upon the Faculty Advisor, Chair, and Department Faculty.
For example, the Advisor will have the responsibility of appointing the officers, will sit on the Executive Committee, and will be informed and involved in the operations of the organization and its projects. The By-Laws provide that an Alumnus of Lambda Pi Eta will serve as a member of the Executive Committee. As with the other officers, this individual will be appointed by the Faculty Advisor in consultation with the Department Chair and the Department Faculty. In accordance with the By-Laws, then, Dr. Bailey appointed as officers for the 1994-95 year:
Shannon Giles, President for the 1994-95 academic year, Ron DesJarlais as the Alumni Advisor, Erin Barrete, Treasurer and Judith Johnson as Secretary at the first meeting of Lambda Pi Eta, October 4, 1994.
-Richard E. Bailey, Advisor
Shannon Giles, President
Erin Barrete, Treasurer
Judith Johnson, Secretary
Ron DesJarlais, Alumni Representative
The 1994-95 year marked a period during which the By-Laws were approved and the Executive Committee met twice to evaluate the procedures for enrolling new members. While new members were enlisted in the Fall Semester, 1994, the initiation ceremony was held on Tuesday, May 2, 1995, at the URI-University Club. The initiation ceremony was conducted by Shannon Giles, President and the other members of the Executive Committee. Shannon Giles provided superior leadership throughout the year and is to be commended for her leadership role in planning for an implementing the production of the initiation ceremony and the certificates of membership. Erin Barrete, Treasurer, was frustrated in her efforts to fulfill her duties through the Student Senate and has recommended that the Executive Committee discuss with Chair, Dr. Stephen Wood, of the possibility of centralizing the operations of the LPE treasurary in the Department Office. Judith Johnson, Secretary, was present at each meeting and has kept a record of the minutes of each meeting and is to be commended for her superior effort. And, Ron DesJarlais provided able assistance and a unique knowledge and perspective in his role as Alumni Advisor. Singled out for special mention in the Initiation Ceremony was Elaine Wichman, Department Secretary. She ahs provided both leadership initiatives and has set up procedures for operations that made this year’s work a success. In fact, able leadership and assistance has made her role indispensable to the success of LPE.
Finally, it should be noted that Shannon Giles and Ron DesJarlais have provided critical leadership to LPE and, a s a result of their efforts, LPE is on course for a successful continuing operation. The Secretary and Treasurer of LPE for 1994095 are both juniors and are expected to return for their senior year. Having performed their jobs in a superior and responsible manner, they are candidates for appointment as President and Treasurer for the 1995-96 year. While this is not mandatory, the retiring President and Alumni Advisor have made this recommendation to the Faculty Advisor.
It is with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that I submit this report for the 1994-95 year. It has been a year of consolidation and achievement and the Executive Committee and Elaine Wichman, Department Secretary, are to be commended highly for their efforts on behalf of Lambda Pi Eta.
Richard E. Bailey, Professor