History of the Alpha Chapter

On November 3, 1922, Elizabeth Zeigler and Jean Ballou of the Class of 1925, and Thyrsa W. Amos, Dean of Women, discussed informally the advisability of organizing a sophomore honor society for women leaders of student activities at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1920, a chapter of Druids, a sophomore honorary society for men, had been installed at the University, and this had raised the question of a similar society for women. Miss Amos suggested that the question be referred for final decision to women of the sophomore class active in the various undergraduate organizations for women. University of PittsburghThese leaders were then notified that there would "be a meeting of all sophomore girls interested in promoting freshman and sophomore scholarship and activities in the Heinz House, Tuesday, November 7, 1922, at 12:30 o'clock." It was agreed that such a society ought not be given a Greek letter name, but like Druids, have a name that would "stand out because it was different." It was agreed also that sincere effort must be made by such a society "to foster activities for all freshman and sophomore women" and to select for membership in the spring of the freshman year those freshmen who displayed the finest Pitt spirit, showed good scholarship, and expressed interest in activities through fine participation in them. Elizabeth Zeigler then moved that "this group present proceed to form an organization for sophomore women leaders and elect temporary officers." The motion was carried unanimously. Agnes Hewitt was elected temporary chairman, and Jean Ballou, temporary officer. The motion was carried unanimously. Agnes Hewitt then took the chair and Miss Amos took her place as member of the group. Upon request, Miss Amos acted as administrative advisor also. On Friday, November 17, reports were given and action taken on some of them. The Committee on Name reported that they had gone to Anglo-Saxon and Sanskrit sources for names. The Committee proposed three names: Cwens, Anglo-Saxon, meaning "lady" or "queen"; Sanskrit for "bond" or "band"; Witan, Anglo-Saxon for "leaders" or "wise men". The emblems suggested were: a tiny branch of mistletoe to be done in green and white enamel; a crown resting upon a scepter to be done in gold; a circlet of green enamel mistletoe leaves surrounding a monogram of gold letters indicating the name of the society. After much discussion, "Cwens" was chosen as the name, and the scepter and crown as the emblem. The first members of this society were:

Jean G. Ballou
Agnes T. Hewitt
Elizabeth Highberger
Louise M. Hoge
Theresa Kahn
Frances M. Koenig
Stella Mulligan
Mildred Pickrell
Margaret Porch
Elizabeth D. Seville
Sarah M. Stoughton
Elizabeth G. Zeigler

In the spring of 1976, thirty-six women were initiated into the National Society of Cwens. These women were:

Celeste D. Barringer
Ellen R. Nord (Corresponding Secretary)
Cynthis L. Obetz
Rozlyn M. Berty
Maryellen Orcutt (Ritual Chairman)
Linda Percy
Judith L. Chappel
Marie Ribik
Carmelita T. Civitarese
Katherine A. Rockar (Recording Secretary)
Linda S. Roll
Rosemary J. Colecchia
Karen J. Roney
Janice Crain
Elsie Sauer
Aloise E. Dumbovich
Debra L. Shufler
Cheryl L. Gallagher (Historian)
Stacie Gaynor
Mary Sisak
Ann C. Hansen
Jane V. Smith
Lauran Hausdorff (Diamond Editor)
Caryn J. Hirsh
Kathy A. Starry
Carol Levenson
Joyce Tasillo
Judith A. Lynn
Kim M. Vercamen (President)
Nancy J. Vido
Anita D. McAtee (Vice President)
Alexis Megaludis
Phyllis Woodard (Treasurer)
Eleonora M. Zych
Mary Moran
Melanie Moyer

In June of 1976, we were notified of Title IX and that we must reorganize and admit male members. This was a difficult task set before us since we ourselves were new to the organization. During the summer, the newly elected officers started initiating future goals for the new organization Lambda Sigma. A list of eligible male members were obtained and the selection process took place. Twenty-six male members were initiated. A first annual banquet of the Alpha Chapter of Lambda Sigma was held in their honor Since officers had already been elected, two positions were temporarily created so that male members could be represented on the executive board. The new members were as follows:

Daniel D. Abrams
Christopher A. Maranuk
Thomas Bonavita
Mark W. Morrissey
Richard B. Charny
Robert Moulton
Tab H. Crooks
Robert E. Mowder
Scott H. Davidson
Kurt Nellis
James Ditaranto
Harry V. Patchin
Martin J. Geisler, Jr. (Executive Board Member)
Joseph E. Ross
David J. Hesidence
Thomas Schauble
Gordon R. Iben
Dan A. Sciullo
Geoffrey Joseph
David Tepper
Martin Klanchar
Astrophel C. Tiburcio
Charles Kunkle
Rick E. Wagner
David Mann
Arthur D. Wong

History of the Lambda Sigma Society

By: Dean Ruth W. Knights, Advisory Dean to Cwens and Lambda Sigma from Allegheny College and
Jane Price Harmon, National President 1997

Dynamic creativity, coupled with vision and courage, is not confined to the college and university administrations of the current decade. In the early 1920's, Dean Thyrsa Amos of the University of Pittsburgh, had the kind of imagination and foresight from which came the National Soceity of Cwens to give recognition to sophomore women outstanding in scholarship and leadership. Some 50 years and 36 chapters later, during which time the Society added dimension and meaning to the lives of hundreds of sophomore women in the colleges and universities where chapters were located, another aspect has been recognized.

The Lambda Sigma Society, whose membership included sophomore men as well, has now supplanted Cwens. This is in keeping with the national progressive philosophy and with the stipulations mandated by Title IX. In the changeover, however, the specific significance of the heritage from which Lambda Sigma Society was created continues to be meaningful and viable.

Since the history of Cwens is indelibly linked with the history of Lambda Sigma Society, it is appropriate that Lambda Sigma members be acquainted with how the founding of Cwens came about.

Dean Amos felt keenly the need for an organization designed to recognize outstanding sophomore women on the University of Pittsburgh campus, just as the already established Society of Druids gave recognition to the University's outstanding men. Accordingly, she spoke informally early in November 1922 with some sophomore women whose highly enthusiastic reactions encouraged her to proceed with her plans. Invitations were issued, and on November 7, 1922, twelve sophomore women, in positions of campus leadership, responded and met at Heinz House. The spontaneity of their enthusiasm was evident; they immediately decided to organize a society which would foster activities for all freshmen and sophomore women adn to "select for membership in the spring those freshman women who displayed the finest Pitt spirit, showed good scholarship and expressed interest in activities through fine participation in them." Committees were formed and the organization became a reality. After considerable discussion, the name Cwens, signifying "lady" or "queen" in Anglo-Saxon, was chosen. The emblem selected was a golden crown resting upon a scepter. The purposes proposed included fostering activities and scholarship for ffreshman women, promoting good fellowship and leadership and giving reinforcement to the campus groups responsible for carrying out rules and regulations. The Bylaws, forumalated late that same year, became the model for the chapters to follow. This first chapter was, henceforth, to be known as Alpha chapter.

Dean Amos was, indeed, a woman with both energy and vision. Her presidency of the National Association of Deans of Women and of the Pennsylvania Association of Deans of Women which she founded, established the friendships and contacts which were later to promote interest in this new Society of Cwens. In April 1925, the Dean of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with the assistance of the Mortor Board chapter there, formed the second group of Cwens, to be known as Beta Chapter, with 17 charter members. Miami Cwens offered to host an "intercollegiate conference of sophomore activities groups" in order that such groups in other colleges and universities might consider membership in this new Society. The Dean at the University of Missouri was contacted by Dean Amos, also in 1925, and 19 sophomore women there became the third (Gamma) chapter. (This chapter, however, for reasons history does not record, was active only for a short period.)

With the three enthusiastic chapters at Pittsburgh, Miami, and Missouri, the Society of Cwens held a conference "on the need and place of an honorary society for sophomore women," May 25-26, 1925, on the Miami campus.

In the opening session, delegates voted unanimously to form a national society and to call that the society Cwens. Also by unanimous vote, delegates adopted officially both the insignia and the colors of Cwens at the University of Pittsburgh: "the insignia shall be a small gold pin consisting of a crown resting upon a scepter with a small garnet in the head of the scepter. The colors shall be crimson and silver, signifying, respectively, courage and restraint. The garnet shall symbolize valor." Committees were appointed to draft bylaws and to develop an appropriate ritual based on the Alpha and Beta chapters' rituals.

The first president to serve this new national society was appropriately a member of Alpha chapter. The conference adopted a rough draft of a constituion, voted to secure a national charter, and assessed each member one dollar to cover such costs.

Expansion was discussed, the vote being to limit the establishment of chapters to four-year colleges and universities having a chapter of Mortar Board and/or whose (women) graduates could qualify for membership in the American Association of University of Women. Invitations to become Cwens were limited to ten percent of the women of the freshman class.

The securing of a charter was now paramount if the society was to be duly recognized as a national organization. On November 6, 1925, the Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania certified that no other registered group bore the "aforesaid title (Cwens)." The petition was submitted, and on June 26, 1926, Judge James B. Drew approved the certificate of incorporation, and the charter of the National Society of Cwens was recorded in the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County.

Cwen officers were designated by Anglo-Saxon titles. National conventions held biennially and rotated among the colleges and universities having Cwen chapters also used the Anglo-Saxon title - Witan. The Society's publication, sent to all member chapters, was called The Tid. In later years, and alternating with the Witan, conferences were held involving only the presidents of each chapter.

The 1972 Witan, meeting in Pittsburgh on the Duquesne University campus, observed the Fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of Cwens, climaxed by the Feast in the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus. This ceremony, contained in the Cwen book of rituals known as the Hydan-Bok, was one of the traditions which Cwen members have cherished over the years. Thousans of talented freshman women, during the fifty years Cwens flourished, were given recognition by selection into the mebership of the Society. They, in turn, ably served their respective colleges and universities through their leadership, scholarship, and concern for others, as well as promoting of the interests of their college or university in every way possible.

Then came the years 1975 and 1976 when the Title IX Education Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1972 made mandatory the abolishment of single-sex organizations in institutions of higher learning. The chapter presidents, meeting in conference in October 1975, gave authority to the National Executive Board to disband the National Society of Cwens should no viable alternative be found to sustain it, and to formulate plans for a national sophomore honor society for both mena nd women. After investigating all channels for retaining Cwens in its current structure, the National Board disbanded the National Society of Cwens, and on March 6, 1976, founded Lambda Sigma Society.

The Society's fundamental purposes remain the same: fostering leadership, scholarship, fellowship, and service, as well as promoting and serving in every way possible th einterests of the colleges and universities in which the chapters are located. Lambda Sigma will continue to play a significant and meaningful role in the lives of its members and the campus communities those members serve.