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International Honor Society in Social Sciences
The mission of Pi Gamma Mu is to encourage and promote excellence in the social sciences and to uphold the ideals of scholarship and service.


The Inevitability of Change

Dr. Friedman
Dr. Barry D. Friedman
International President

The saying goes that there are three kinds of organizations:  those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened.  In a world of rapid change, a lot of us will be astonished sometimes to notice what has happened.

Just over a year ago, my co‑workers and I at North Georgia College & State University (NGCSU) received word that a lot of things were about to change.  The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia decreed that NGCSU in Dahlonega and Gainesville State College in nearby Gainesville, Ga., should initiate a process to consolidate.  On January 8, 2013, the consolidated institution proceeded to operate under the new name of the "University of North Georgia."  Instead of feeling responsible for 6000 students, I now feel responsible for 15,000 of them.  (Whether I can actually do anything for 15,000 students is, of course, subject to debate.)  I revised the bylaws of the Georgia Kappa Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu to reflect the university's new name.  Then, I visited the bookstore on the Dahlonega campus and purchased a new UNG wardrobe, so that I would continue to be in fashion as I make my way around the campus each day.

The late Columbia University political scientist, Wallace S. Sayre, famously remarked, "Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low."  Unless I am missing something, the creation of a new political-science department, encompassing NGCSU's and GSC's political scientists, seems to be happening without rancor and with a real desire by the faculty members to work together.  I am currently a member of three departmental committees that are reviewing and reconciling the two separate sets of policies to create one set of policies for all of us.  I am actually finding the effort to be an entirely pleasant enterprise.  It seems to me that we all recognize the similarity of our missions, which involve giving our students a solid educational experience, preparing them for productive careers, and‑‑as a consequence of their productivity‑‑enhancing the quality of life of people in Northeast Georgia and wherever else our graduates may choose to live and work.  I think that we are also aware that the delivery of a credible educational experience takes vision, planning, and cooperative execution.  A credible educational experience does not happen automatically, or randomly, or as a result of faculty members chasing their own self-interests.  I have seen the results of an uncoordinated effort to educate students, and they do not paint a pretty picture.  My experience suggests that a college or university is best served by having a truly committed, imaginative faculty, each of whose members regards teaching as a calling and all of whose members participate wholeheartedly in an active system of shared governance.

Pi Gamma Mu depends on the voluntary contributions of unpaid labor from faculty members who operate their chapters, energized by the conviction that honor students deserve recognition for their commitment to their studies.  Many or most of our faculty volunteers will attest that their efforts in administering chapters are labors of love, which is fortunate because material rewards may be few and far between.  I happen to believe that the luxury accommodations in heaven are occupied by people who were officers of honor societies while they were on earth.  I have to believe that to keep going.  Our international Board of Trustees deeply appreciates the sacrifices that our chapter officers devote to Pi Gamma Mu, and the members of our professional staff in Winfield, Kans., enjoy their interaction with chapter officers.  As I have explained to many audiences, "Faculty advisors do not grow on trees."  The training that professors undertook to qualify for their positions would ordinarily attract substantially more compensation, as it would if they went to work in industry.  However, professors understand their careers to be a calling that is not based on the creation of tangible commodities in exchange for pay that reflects the value that they added to the goods produced.  Rather, the professors seek the opportunity to enhance the lives of students.  Professors are notoriously concerned about the well-being of students.  Not much of the modern pressures for research or anything else seems to have tampered substantially with professors' commitment to students.  Not much having to do with pay seems to have the potential to disrupt professors' commitment to students, either.  Pi Gamma Mu appreciates the valuable opportunity to "cash in" on this commitment, because it is the attribute that attracts faculty members to voluntary service in our honor society.

So I am excited to have 11 more colleagues in our expanded political-science department at the University of North Georgia.  No doubt, I will recruit them for membership in Pi Gamma Mu and to be chapter officers.  One of my new colleagues, Dr. H. Lee Cheek Jr., is a long-time Pi Gamma Mu organizer who helped Dr. Gordon E. Mercer, immediate past international president, to establish a Pi Gamma Mu chapter at Western Carolina University in 1983 and as an academic administrator at Brewton‑Parker College in Georgia and Athens State University in Alabama activated the processes of establishing chapters at those institutions.  I think that my affiliation with them will enhance my professional life.  This time, change might work out very nicely for me.

Barry D. Friedman
International President


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