The national Pi Sigma Alpha organization was founded in 1920 at the University of Texas for the purpose of bringing together students and faculty interested in the study of government and politics. Professor C. Perry Patterson was an early leader of the first chapter and served as national president of PSA from 1920 until 1932. The success of the honor society at the University of Texas prompted other institutions to apply for chapters, with the Universities of Oklahoma and Kansas establishing chapters by 1922. In March of that year the society held its first national convention at the University of Oklahoma. Growth in the honor society was gradual throughout the 'twenties and 'thirties and accelerated after the Second World War; today there are over 460 chapters throughout the country, 24 having been established in 1994 and 1995 alone. There is at least one college or university with a PSA chapter in every state and the District of Columbia and, as of 1995, the U. S. territory of Guam.
Purpose of an Honor Society
The Articles of Incorporation of Pi Sigma Alpha state as one of its purposes "to stimulate scholarship an intelligent interest in political science." The society functions at the national level, sponsoring programs and events of value to the profession and teaching of political science, and at the chapter level. Each chapter is encouraged to provide a framework for enriching the exposure of its members and the wider university community to the study of government and issues of public concern. The goals of PSA are consistent with the aims of the Association of College Honor Societies as set out in the ACHS Booklet of Information. This material provides a good framework for understanding the meaning and value of a political science honor society and its place on an American campus, and makes worthwhile reading.
Pi Sigma Alpha and the Association of College Honor Societies
The Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) is the organization linking Pi Sigma Alpha to its 59 sister academic honor societies, both general, and specialized. The ACHS requires its members to submit annual reports including budgets and program descriptions, and holds an annual meeting at which the directors of the member societies share ideas on such issues as governance, management, growth, relevance, academic standards and programs. The member societies of the ACHS range from small (only 28 chapters) to quite large (816 chapters). Pi Sigma Alpha ranks third in size with 463 chapters as of 1995.
Executive Council: Pi Sigma Alpha is governed by an Executive Council consisting of the current officers (President, President-Elect, Executive Director, and Newsletter Editor), the three most recent past presidents, and twelve members elected by the membership, six to be elected every two years for four-year terms. The Council meets annually at the American Political Science Association Convention to take actions to guide the affairs of the society.
Pi Sigma Alpha promotes excellence in the study of political science through a variety of programs, some of them with direct benefit to student members and local chapters and others targeted more generally at the profession of political science. The National Office sends announcements of each year's award programs to chapters, and can provide more specific information on the programs for the profession on request.
Membership Certificate Requests
Once interested students' eligibility has been verified by the chapter advisor and their membership fees arranged for, their names must be sent to the National Office on a membership certificate request form. The National Office then prepares and sends back a membership certificate for each new member and enters the member's name and initiation date in the permanent records it keeps for each chapter. It's important to remember that no one is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha honor society unless he or she has been identified to the National Office and the national membership fee has been paid to the National Office. Chapter officers should take the utmost care in following this procedure to insure that every student who has accepted membership in PSA and who has paid a fee to the local chapter is in fact enrolled in the honor society.