Hope charter takes the torch


CHAMPIONING CHARTER — Section Coordinator Sarra Nazem presents Hope chapter member Andrew Bennett, president Brenden Marriman and advisor Dianne Portfleet with the Gold Torch award. (Photo by Jenni Birch Szolwinski)

Mortar Board Honor Society awards national distinctions

During the national organization’s annual summer conference held July 22-24 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society presented Hope College’s Mortar Board chapter with multiple honors, mainly the Gold Torch Award. Each year the Gold Torch, a national distinction, is given to the most outstanding Mortar Board chapters. Gold Torch recipients excel in promoting scholarship, leadership and meaningful service to their institutions. The Hope chapter was one of the top four Gold Torch Award recipients for the ninth year in a row.

“We are extremely proud of our Gold Torch chapters,” Abigail Diehl, Mortar Board’s national president, said. “Their members set the bar for excellence as scholar leaders on their campuses and their innovative programming positively impacts their communities throughout the year.”

The awards program focused on recognizing activities during the 2015-16 school year. Besides the Gold Torch Award, Hope also received 15 Project Excellence Awards. The chapter’s Project Excellence awards followed a new process this year, in which chapters were only allowed to submit 15 projects for consideration. In previous years, there was not a limit and, as a result, the Hope chapter received 28 awards last year, 25 in 2014, 19 in 2013, 17 in 2012, 12 in 2011 and 8 in both 2009 and 2010. A few of the chapter’s projects that were honored this year included Hope’s Relay for Life, which was supporting the American Cancer Society, and the student-organized Dance Marathon, which was held on behalf of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Other honored projects include the Friendship Prom and the Thanksgiving dinner for international students.

This is not the first time Hope’s Dianne Portfleet Alcor chapter of the honorary society received awards at the national level. Hope’s chapter has received multiple awards during all of the past several years, including being recognized as the nation’s top chapter with the Ruth Weimer Mount Chapter Excellence Award during the national conference in 2010.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community. Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 231 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation. The Dianne Portfleet Alcor chapter, renamed for former co-advisor Dr. Dianne Portfleet this previous spring for her dedicated service to Hope’s chapter from 2002 through her last year in 2016, has existed at Hope since 1936, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961. As of the 2015-16 school year, the Hope chapter had 35 members.

Current student members, Holland senior Andrew Bennett and the chapter’s president for 2016-17 Brenden Merriman, attended the conference for the college, along with Dr. Portfleet.

This year, the chapter’s co-advisers include Dr. Heidi Kraus, assistant professor of art, Dr. Marc Baer, interim dean for the arts and humanities and professor of history and Eva Dean Folkert, lecturer in interdisciplinary studies.

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