...as told by Dr. Jean Cash:
The Psi Sigma Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International Honor Society in English, received its charter at James Madison University on January 24, 1985. The original membership consisted of 18 members and I was the chapter adviser. Plans for bringing the chapter to campus began a year earlier when a group of upper level students came to me to discuss their desire to establish an honor society for English majors. Dr. Robert F. Geary, then head of the English Department, sent them to me because I had recently been inducted into Sigma Tau Delta at the University of Mississippi. At that point, I was an instructor in the English Department, teaching freshman English (101 and 102). Prominent among those who came to see me were Scott Suter, James David Black, and Tara Riley. Suter, now a professor of English at our neighboring college, Bridgewater, ultimately began a chapter of Sigma Tau Delta there.
During that first year, we 'jumped through all hoops' necessary to getting our charter. Once the charter arrived we held our first initiation ceremony that year. As I recall, membership fees were $25.00 and the scholastic requirement was 4.25 in English. In the early years our membership grew to such large numbers that we raised the requirement to 3.60. In the ten years while I served as adviser, we were an active organization--the newness was appealing, I expect. In those days, admission was by invitation only: I spent hours in the registrar's office determining who was eligible for membership. Remember this was a pre-computerized era.
We soon created a journal for the organization, then titled The Psi Sigma Journal. We solicited essays from any interested English major, but found ourselves often publishing work by members only. In the early days, we also held an annual lecture with papers presented by members of the English Department faculty. For a few years, we also selected a Faculty Member of the Year. Burdened by teaching and my own research interest, I gave up being adviser to the chapter about 1995. Marina Favila has now held that position for more than twenty years.
Application for Membership