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Contact us: 620-221-3128
[email protected]

Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences
International Honor Society in Social Sciences
Pi Gamma Mu®
International Honor Society
in Social Sciences
1001 Millington Street, Suite B
Winfield, KS 67156
Phone: (620) 221-3128

Advice for Sponsors

The backbone of the Pi Gamma Mu honor society consists of the many dedicated professors who serve as chapter sponsors and secretary-treasurers and thus ensure the continued operation of the chapters.

This Web page seeks to provide suggestions for and assistance to chapter sponsors for the following purposes:

  • To help chapter sponsors and secretary-treasurers carry out their duties efficiently, so that the job is pleasant rather than burdensome.
  • To provide ideas to chapter sponsors and secretary-treasurers about ways that they and their chapters can derive a variety of benefits from their affiliation with Pi Gamma Mu.

Do not be overwhelmed with the quantity of information that appears on this Web page.  Just use whatever you think will be useful.  Chapters vary in the kinds of activities that they carry out.

  1. How to increase your chapter’s number of initiates
  2. Methods of identifying eligible students
  3. Identifying non-students for election to membership
  4. The form of the invitation to membership
  5. The initiation ceremony
  6. Ideas for chapter projects
  7. How to create a chapter Web site/home page
  8. Using technology for interdisciplinary collaboration and learning
  9. Arranging to bring a delegation from your chapter to the triennial international convention
  10. How to submit the chapter’s annual report to the international office
  11. Explaining to colleagues the benefits of Pi Gamma Mu membership and participation for them
  12. How to explain to your department head or dean the value of your service as a Pi Gamma Mu volunteer
  13. Getting advice from veteran chapter sponsors
  14. Promote the Benefits


The board knows very well that Pi Gamma Mu’s success depends on our dedicated chapter sponsors.  The membership initiation fees that you generate through your initiation activities empower Pi Gamma Mu to deliver "extra" services to you and your students, beyond the membership certificates and pins.

If each chapter were able to initiate 10 more members per year, on average, we could provide an even stronger program of member services and chapter services.  And your chapter would provide recognition to even more dedicated students in the social sciences.  The Board of Trustees is motivated to provide the leadership to make Pi Gamma Mu an even more beneficial resource to you, your honor students, your colleagues, and your alumni.

The next three sections of this Web page will present some ideas about ways in which you can increase your chapter’s number of initiates.


  1. It is helpful to keep in mind that, according to the international constitution, all courses in the social sciences count, and that students in all majors are eligible as long as they have the required number of social-science courses.  (Of course, individual chapters may have bylaws that contain more detailed requirements.)  There may be courses in closely related disciplines (such as communications and teacher education) that have a social-science and human-behavior content that could, arguably, be usable at the sponsor’s discretion in determining which students are eligible.  (Note that the international constitution identifies these areas as composing the social sciences: anthropology, criminal justice, economics, human geography, history, international relations, political science, psychology, social work, social philosophy, and sociology.)  Many universities have courses that are interdisciplinary or double-listed between two departments.  Many have courses taught as part of an Honors Program or as part of International Studies, Women's Studies, Minority Studies, African-American Studies, GLBT Studies, or Peace Studies that have strong social-science content.  Many history courses are taught outside history departments and may be appropriate (education, media studies, art).  Many traditionally non-social-science departments offer courses that explore the "social impact" of their disciplines, and these may be appropriate for consideration (media in society, bioethics, etc.).  Every campus is different, and chapter advisers are the best arbiters in terms of judging specific course content. 


  2. Check with your registrar’s office or information-technology office, and ask whether a list of eligible students can be generated from your college’s academic-records data base.  If the chapter sponsor provides college officials with a list of eligible majors, minors, and interdisciplinary areas and the minimum academic qualification (such as a GPA of 3.00), those officials might be capable of automatically generating a list of eligible students.  Ask whether mailing labels can be produced automatically, too! 


  3. Some sponsors who are overburdened with the responsibility of determining which students are eligible may want to establish Qualifications Committees to help them.  For example, at North Georgia College & State University, the Qualifications Committee includes one faculty member in each of these disciplines: criminal justice, economics, sociology, political science, and psychology.  Each faculty member is responsible for submitting a list of students in his/her disciplinary area who are eligible for membership. 


  4. Student recruitment of new membership is also an effective approach.  Encourage current members to get the word out and recruit among their friends and fellow students who they feel may qualify.  When friends join the organization at the same time, they develop a stronger working relationship and stronger loyalty to the society.  Give application forms to current members and ask them to distribute them to five potential members. 


  5. If your university has the technological capability of permitting targeted E-mail messages to individual classes, target students in those classes with electronic information about Pi Gamma Mu and particularly where to pick up an application.  Make applications easily available on campus (through the offices of several advisers, a department secretary, and/or the student-affairs office). 


  6. If your university has a graduate program, particularly in relevant social-science fields, recruit actively among graduate students, using some of the same strategies suggested above. 


  7. Students remain eligible for membership for up to a year after graduation.  Consider renewed contacts with students who did not initially qualify or who did not respond to an initial invitation, encouraging them to reconsider.  It is useful also to provide students with good feedback on why they were not accepted into membership, indicating what they might need to do in order to meet qualification requirements (additional hours, raising the GPA, etc.).  Many students are not familiar with the selection process and, once turned away, do not reapply.


  8. It is often best to cast a broad net in recruitment well beyond traditional departments and majors.  Many universities have strong general-education programs of which social science is a strong component, and many degrees allow for a considerable amount of free elective courses.  In such cases, students who are not majors or minors in the social sciences may qualify for membership in the organization without ever knowing they are eligible.


  1. Some chapters automatically elect to membership new members of the social-science faculty (especially those appointed to tenure-track faculty positions).  If a university has members of the faculty in social-science departments who have never been invited to join its Pi Gamma Mu chapter, this is a good time to elect them.  They may become helpful officers of and participants in the chapter later on.  This can give the chapter more supporters in the university community, increase attendance at meetings and special events, and so on.


  2. The international constitution allows each chapter to elect one associate member (essentially, a form of honorary membership) each year.  Perhaps a chapter can identify (1) an alumnus who was not elected to Pi Gamma Mu as a student but who has a record of accomplishment, (2) a community leader who deserves this kind of recognition, or (3) a professor/scholar at a nearby university that does not have a Pi Gamma Mu chapter.  Such individuals may appreciate the recognition.


  1. The chapter should be sure to send each student who has been elected, and who has been invited to join, a letter that clearly states what Pi Gamma Mu is about, what advantages there are to joining Pi Gamma Mu, how to get more information about Pi Gamma Mu and the chapter (for example, if the chapter has a home page on the Internet, include the URL address so that the student can visit the home page), and when he or she will be initiated.  Attached to this notice is a copy of the letter that North Georgia College & State University’s Pi Gamma Mu chapter uses to notify eligible students of their election.


  2. In explaining to eligible students the benefits of Pi Gamma Mu membership, chapter sponsors may want to describe our international scholarship program.  Consider enclosing, with the invitation letter, a circular about the scholarship program.  You can download such a circular by using the link below:

  3. A few days after the first notice is mailed, the chapter’s officers should consider sending another letter signed, perhaps, by the university’s president, the vice president for academic affairs, and/or the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences or other school that includes the social-science departments.
  4. Consider sending the invitation letter to students’ homes.  Some parents are most enthusiastic about an honor-society invitation letter than students are, and may be willing to pay some or all of the students’ initiation fees!
  5. The chapter’s secretary may provide the list of eligible students to the members of the faculty of the social-science departments, and ask them to encourage the students to accept the invitation to join Pi Gamma Mu.


The chapter officers should try to plan an attractive, dignified ceremony, possibly with a speaker who will attract the students’ attention.  If parents are invited, they may actually be the most effective source of encouragement for their children to accept the invitation to join Pi Gamma Mu.

Our suggested ritual for an initiation ceremony appears on a Web page at this URL address:


For ideas about chapter projects, visit the project ideas page.


Some chapter sponsors may have experience with software for creating Web pages, such as Microsoft FrontPage.  If not, another member of the chapter may have such experience; as another option, the sponsor may be able to obtain assistance from the computer or information-technology department.

The chapter sponsor may think through what she thinks would be content of the home page that would interest members.  One possibility is a list of members--especially the faculty members who are members of the chapter, but also students and alumni who would like to be identified as members of the chapter.  Some students at your institution will be curious about the qualifications for membership, so that would be a useful component of your home page.  A list of current officers (with contact information), including faculty officers, will be helpful, too.

The international Board of Trustees requests that chapters make an effort to include the following on their chapter home pages:

(a) Link to the international home page

Please ensure that your chapter's Web pages link to the international home page ( ).  You can do this in several ways, including one or both of the following:

-- If you have Pi Gamma Mu's logo on your Web page, you can cause it to link to the international home page.

-- Write out the instruction, "Click here to visit Pi Gamma Mu's international home page," and cause your selected text to be in hypertext that links to the international home page. 

(b) Link to information about the Pi Gamma Mu Listserv

During 2009, Pi Gamma Mu converted the Pi Gamma Mu Newsletter from a paper format to an online, electronic format (for information, see ).  The international board would like every chapter home page to alert members about the method for subscribing to the Pi Gamma Mu Listserv.


STAY CONNECTED WITH PI GAMMA MU!  Here are two ways in which to stay connected.


Make sure that the international office has your current E-mail address.  (We frequently lose track of members after they graduate and their student E-mail accounts are abolished.)


Maintain your subscription to the Pi Gamma Mu Listserv.  If you maintain your listserv subscription, you can always receive the Pi Gamma Mu Newsletter, our international newsletter, electronically at no charge.  For information about subscribing to the listserv, correcting your E-mail address on the listserv, or unsubscribing, click here.


The hypertext link for the third item would cause the visitor to see the Web page at this URL address:

If you could adapt any of that sample to your own chapter's Web site, as may be appropriate for your chapter, you would greatly support our efforts to improve communication among all members and to promote the idea that all members now have the means to enjoy a lifetime subscription to the international newsletter. 

(c) Link to chapter-development Web page

The board and the international In-house Publications and Web-site Committee endorse the use of the following banner image on as many Web sites as possible.  This includes chapter Web pages and our members' own home pages, if they are willing to participate.


This banner image can be set up to link directly to the Web page on our international Web site on which instructions for starting a Pi Gamma Mu chapter appear. More graphics are available for chapter use here.

(d) Link to CafePress storefront

  Please consider adding this content to your chapter Web site:


Souvenir Bear





You can obtain high-quality clothing and souvenirs on which the Pi Gamma Mu logo appears by visiting the society's storefront on CafePress.


Technology has become a strategic platform for encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration and learning.

One of the modern emphases in higher education involves the creation of "learning communities" of scholars on one or more university campuses. In the definition of Gabelnick et al. (1990, p. 5):

Learning communities . . . purposefully restructure the curriculum to link together courses or course work so that students find greater coherence in what they are learning as well as increased intellectual interaction with faculty and fellow students. . . .  [L]earning communities are also usually associated with collaborative and active approaches to learning, some form of team teaching, and interdisciplinary themes.

Because these learning communities tend to be interdisciplinary, participants with a diversity of academic backgrounds can trade ideas and compare a variety of critical-thinking approaches to problem-solving.  A Pi Gamma Mu chapter is the perfect base of operations for a social-science learning community at your college.

The interaction that occurs in these learning communities is reminiscent of the way in which college students interacted in a previous era.  Gabelnick et al. (1990, p. 10) contrast college life of yesterday and today:

As the number of full-time and residential students declines, community-creating activities, such as late-night dorm sessions, hours spent lingering in a favorite coffee shop, or study break arguments in a library lounge also decline.  For many students, the time and spaces for trying out new ideas in the company of peers no longer exists.  The college experience is sandwiched between work and family, and the set of classes taken during any given term constitutes the only sustained contact students have with their colleges.  In this environment, the curriculum must now assume responsibilities for building community formerly assumed by the college as a whole (emphasis is preserved from the original).

During the vacation between the fall semester of 2000 and the spring semester of 2001, the two students who served on Pi Gamma Mu’s international Board of Trustees--Lisa Contreras and Nilda Pyronneau--initiated their own version of the learning community.  They sent an E-mail message to numerous chapter advisors, and invited them to share opinions about the continuing mystery surrounding whether Vice President Al Gore or Texas Governor George W. Bush had won the 2000 presidential election.  To the delight of Contreras and Pyronneau, a spirited discussion arose.  Pi Gamma Mu members on a variety of campuses were engaging in discussions about issues of social science!  This model can be imitated in any number of forms.


Attending our triennial international convention will be a tremendous experience for your students--and for you as well!  While our conventions are student-oriented, professors find them to be enjoyable and even energizing.

One issue that a chapter may need to address is how to help students afford the cost of travel and lodging.  We want to help you!  Here are some ways in which our international office will help.

  • Did you know that, when you initiate a new member, $2 of his international initiation fee is placed into an account that your chapter can access to defray your members’ travel and lodging costs?  Your chapter accumulates funds in this account just be initiating members, and it usually adds up to an amount that is very helpful in making travel to the convention affordable.
  •  If you have a student member who proposes to present a paper at the convention, and the proposal is accepted, the international Board of Trustees will subsidize one night of lodging at the convention hotel for that student.  And if the student occupies the hotel room with other students, all of them stay in the room for one night for free. 


It is very easy to submit your chapter’s annual report!  It will take just a few minutes, and you can do it online!  Go to the Web page at this URL address:

New Internal Revenue Service regulations will now serve to make it much easier for you to submit your chapter’s annual report than not to submit it!!  In order to preserve your chapter’s tax-exempt/tax-deductible status, our international office will fulfill your chapter’s reporting requirement (Form 990/990-N) based on the information on your annual report.  We’ll take care of it for you, if you submit your annual report!


The mission of Pi Gamma Mu and the mission of most faculty members have a common denominator.  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.

Attracting faculty members to serve as chapter officers of an honor society, therefore, can be, and actually must be, anchored to the concept of doing the right thing for their students.  This is the principal motivation for our most prominent statewide, regional, and international officers’ sacrifice of time and effort on behalf of the honor society.  As-yet-unaffiliated faculty members will not to be informed (or "sold") on the idea that their best students are being under-served if their academic performance is not fairly and publicly recognized and awarded.

You may want to view the content of the Web page at this URL address:

Presented with a list of benefits like this one, some faculty members may respond to the argument that service to Pi Gamma Mu can help them to make their students’ experience at their universities more valuable.


Preoccupied as they often are with the need to schedule courses, attend committee meetings, and otherwise cope with the demands on university administrators, a department head or dean may not have in the forefront of her mind an awareness of the vital need that honor societies like Pi Gamma Mu serve.  The reputation and well-being of a university are influenced to no small degree by the success of its alumni.  Pi Gamma Mu and other honor societies help to make a university’s alumni competitive.  Students tend to understand the need to become competitive; often, an honor society serves as the stimulus to a student to work more diligently to become an honor student.  Perhaps these questions need to be submitted to the department head or dean:

-- Is it fair to our best students to send them into competition in the work force without honor-society memberships, when their peers at other universities enter the competition with honor-society memberships?

-- Is it healthy for our university to provide no (or few) recognition opportunities to our most capable students?  Wouldn’t this lack of recognition suppress the level of achievement of our most capable students--thus driving down the overall level of academic excellence among our student body?

If you participate in some of Pi Gamma Mu’s other activities, that can create entries to your annual-activity report to your department head.  Here are some examples:

  • Consider submitting a manuscript to the editor of our International Social Science Review.  Many faculty members affiliated with our chapters submit manuscripts for peer review to the editor, and their articles appear in the journal.  Another form of participation that creates a good entry for your annual-activity report is writing book reviews for the ISSR. Many of our faculty members do that as well.
  • Consider using our conventions as an occasion to work with your students to upgrade their research so that they qualify to present their research papers at a convention panel.  Your college’s "house organ" will probably want to publicize your and your students’ efforts to share their research at an international convention.
  • Consider establishing an interdisciplinary social-science "Learning Community" as a Pi Gamma Mu project.  You could use online instructional software such as WebCT/Vista, and create a connection among various courses in social-science disciplines by using the discussion board to discuss interests of mutual interest.  Many administrators appreciate and reward this type of innovative instruction and development of critical-thinking skills.
  • Others? . . .

If you contact our international office, the executive director will be very happy to send a letter to your department head or any administrator of your choice to acknowledge your invaluable contributions to our organization.


The backbone of the Pi Gamma Mu honor society consists of the many dedicated professors who serve as chapter sponsors and secretary-treasurers and thus ensure the continued operation of the chapters.   With experience, such officers may develop innovative ways to operate chapters more effectively, more efficiently, and so forth.   The experience of these volunteers may be helpful to professors who are in the process of creating new chapters, professors who have just been elected to chapter office, or chapter officers who are re-evaluating their approach to operating a chapter.

The volunteers listed in the table below have indicated their willingness to participate in conversations about or to answer questions about productive ways to operate a chapter.  Feel free to call them or to send them an E-mail message!

You might want to make an inquiry to them about these kinds of issues:

  • "Sponsoring my Pi Gamma Mu chapter is taking up a lot of my time.  How can I reduce the amount of time that I am spending in my Pi Gamma Mu volunteer work?"  (Note:  Being a chapter sponsor does not need to be an onerous undertaking.  We can help you find ways to streamline your chapter's operations.)
  • "How does your chapter raise funds?"


There are many benefits to honor society membership to promote. Pi Gamma Mu's membership of the Association of College Honor Societies, which establishes certifiable criteria for honor society membership, even gives our members a potential boost in entrance grade for some federal government positions. Consider adding this poster to your recruitment notices.



C. Laurence (Larry) Heck, Ph.D.
Newman University,
Chapter Sponsor

(316)942-4291 ext. 2224 • [email protected]

Topics:  International Constitution, invitations to members

Gordon E. Mercer, Ph.D.
Western Carolina University,

Cullowhee, N. C. Chapter

(828) 227-3863 • [email protected]

Topics:  Ideas for chapter growth, advice about ceremonies


Gabelnick, Faith; MacGregor, Jean; Matthews, Roberta S.; and Smith, Barbara Leigh (1990). Learning Communities: Creating Connections Among Students, Faculty, and Disciplines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.