Western’s Phi Beta Delta honor society named best chapter in Southeast

CULLOWHEE -Western Carolina University’s Delta Zeta chapter of the Phi Beta Delta honor society for international scholars is recipient of the Southeast Regional Best Chapter Award, presented recently at the 2004 Phi Beta Delta conference in Washington, D.C.

Western’s chapter received the award in recognition of its yearlong schedule of campus activities designed to increase awareness of international scholarship opportunities, both for Western faculty and students participating in study-abroad programs and for international students who are studying on the Cullowhee campus.

Coordinated by Western’s Office of International Programs and Services, the Delta Zeta chapter was first instituted in 1998 to recognize students, staff and faculty who have undertaken significant international research, studies or projects abroad. The Delta Zeta chapter also assists with internationalizing the Western campus by helping its members conduct international research and projects throughout the year, said Lois Petrovich-Mwaniki, coordinator of the Delta Zeta chapter and director of international programs and services.

For the past six years, the Delta Zeta chapter has sponsored monthly brown bag lunches, international speakers and an annual travel grant for its members, plus various fund-raising activities, including an international cookbook, Phi Beta Delta polo and T-shirts, and international items sold at the Western International Festival held on campus each April.

Among the 12 new inductees joining the Delta Zeta chapter for 2004 is Western Chancellor John Bardo, who received an honorary membership medallion. Chancellor since 1995, Bardo studied abroad as a Fulbright Scholar at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and was a guest visiting professor in the Social Policy Program at the University of Wales, Swansea. He has written articles for more than 70 professional publications and two books on a variety of topics, including community development, technology in education social and psychological adjustment to migration, and higher education policy. He currently speaks widely on issues of technology in education and the role of higher education in economic and community development.

Faculty and staff inductees this year are Kevin Childers of the Office of International Programs and Services; Mimi Fenton, associate professor of English; Bradford Sims, associate professor of construction management; Bradley Martin, instructor of music; Gustavo Terán, center fellow for the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching; and Pamela Vesely, assistant professor of special education. Student inductees are Kristen Andersen, Wesley Gryder, Emily Melcher, Saretta Tatum and Lionel Villarroel.

Chapter activities for the 2003-04 year included participation in WCU’s annual International Education Week in November, when members arranged for international students to speak to various classes throughout the week, and International Festival in April, when members sold artifacts from around the world to raise money for a student and faculty award fund. The chapter will award $500 to a faculty member to support research overseas.

The Delta Zeta chapter also continued the “Brown Bag Speaker Series” this year. Some of the topics were “Working with the Red Cross in Mexico” by Virginia Fowler, recipient of the Student Delta Zeta scholarship award; “Africa and International Food Day” by Nyaga Mwaniki of the anthropology and sociology department; “Destination: Sud de la France” by Natalie Roberson of the modern foreign languages department; and “A Czech Musician’s Story” by Pavel Wlosok of the music department.

This summer, the Delta Zeta chapter will sponsor an evening of international song and dance as part of the annual Folkmoot USA Festival, an event that brings musicians and dancers from around the world to Western North Carolina.

For more information about Phi Beta Delta, contact Kevin Childers of Western’s Office of International Programs and Services at (828) 227-3455.