On the centennial of Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit institutes of higher education, 100 Boston College students were welcomed into the society in an induction ceremony held on Sunday afternoon. Parents, faculty, and supporters watched on as students proceeded down the aisle of St. Ignatius Church to receive one of the highest honors awarded on a Jesuit campus.
Alpha Sigma Nu is a distinguished society comprised of students across 31 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and South Korea. The society—the only honor society permitted to bear the designation “Jesuit”—recognizes students who have excelled in their commitment to the Jesuit ideals of scholarship, loyalty, and service. Beyond academic achievement, the honor society seeks to acknowledge students who have shown a holistic understanding and appreciation of Jesuit ideals throughout their studies and commitments.
“Alpha Sigma Nu encourages its members to a lifetime pursuit of intellectual development, deepening Ignatian spirituality, service to others, and a commitment to the core principles of Jesuit education,” Stephen Ferguson, Alpha Sigma Nu chapter president and A&S ’15, said in his opening remarks.
The society began in 1915 as a men’s honor society at Marquette University, before expanding to other schools in the U.S. and eventually merging with the women’s counterpart—founded in 1924, as Gamma Pi Epsilon—in 1973.
Membership to the society is open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students who rank in the top 15 percent of their classes, with each university chapter nominating no more than four percent of students from each class, according to the ceremony’s program. Beyond academic credentials, eligibility to join the society is holistically determined by each individual university chapter, against the criteria of scholarship, loyalty, and service.
“The invitation to membership in Alpha Sigma Nu has been based upon the journey you began on the first day you matriculated at Boston College,” Ferguson said.
Following the procession of inductees, Fr. Joseph O’Keefe, S.J., faculty advisor to Alpha Sigma Nu, gave an opening prayer. The Alpha Sigma Nu’s chapter officers gave a reading of the Alpha Sigma Nu tenets—scholarship, loyalty, and service.
“The true scholar realizes that education and knowledge are lifelong pursuits, but never loses contact with the world of reality beyond the library or the classroom,” said Lucy Methven, chapter vice president and A&S ’15. “Through a balanced integration of experiences, the scholar advances in both knowledge and wisdom.”
The inductees then recited the Alpha Sigma Nu pledge, which acknowledges a life-long commitment to the service of others and to the pursuit of the moral, social, and religious ideals of Jesuit education. University President Fr. William P. Leahy, S.J, then officially confirmed the candidates as members, who were presented before the audience by the Deans of their respective schools.
Alpha Sigma Nu also allows for the induction of honorary members who have exhibited a commitment to the honor society’s ideals. This year’s honorary inductees were David Quigley, Provost and Dean of Faculties, and Min Hyoung Song, professor in the English department. Hyoung Song was also honored with the Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Book Award.
James Gips, Professor and Egan Chair of Information Systems in the Carroll School of Management (CSOM), was awarded with the Teacher of the Year Award—which was nominated and selected by the students of Alpha Sigma Nu. Gips was recognized for his developments in technology and his active commitment to his students, both in and outside of the classroom.
“A great teacher develops not just the mind, but also the person, empowers his students, he believes in his students—Professor Gips does this everyday,” said Ferguson.
Gips’ work in the technological world is currently divided between two projects: EagleEyes and Camera Mouse. These technologies help people with severe physical disabilities develop and be educated to their fullest by enabling them access to computers, according to the EagleEyes website.
“Every day I try to do one unexpected act of kindness. It is a form of prayer and thanksgiving for me—it becomes a habit,” said Gips. “It might not seem like much, but over decades, thousands of people are affected. An unexpected act of kindness; I recommend it to you.”
The ceremony concluded with final remarks from Leahy, who exhorted the newly inducted members to continue their commitment to the ideals of Alpha Sigma Nu.
“I want to offer my congratulations to those who have just been inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, you are individuals who have excelled not only in the classroom, but also in service and in loyalty, in engaging this institution and this community,” said Leahy.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor