History honors society appoints university professor as new president

Stephen Carls

Phi Alpha Theta history honor society appointed Stephen Carls president of the national organization in January.

Carls is university professor of history and department chairman.

He was formally elected at the business meeting of the delegates Jan.  4 during the society’s biennial convention, which was held in Albuquerque, N.M.

Carls is the first national president whose school is in the state of Tennessee.

“By giving him the opportunity to serve as the president, Phi Alpha Theta is affirming Dr. Carls’s gifts of leadership, organization and enthusiasm,” said Gracie Wise, a senior double major in English and history and president of the Delta-Psi chapter. “These are traits that those of us who are involved in Union’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta have been able to witness consistently over the years.”

Phi Alpha Theta is a national honor society that represents history at a college level. The society offers scholarships for graduate study in history, gives prizes for well-written outstanding papers and recognizes different chapters across the country.

The organization was founded in 1921 and is the largest single-disciplined honor society in the U.S., with almost  350,000 inducted members since it began.

“Phi Alpha Theta is a wonderful organization that has helped promote history for decades,” said Carls. “I am very excited to be a part of that tradition, now at the highest level.”

Union’s Delta-Psi chapter is the oldest in the state of Tennessee, having received its charter in 1953.

The chapter is active in community service, hosting special dinners, recognizing history students for their hard work in the department  and sponsoring history field trips.

Each even year, there is a biennial convention where students present papers to professors who make comments on them.

The vice president and president speak on different historical topics at the conference. Carls served as vice president from 2012- 2014.

Since Carls has taken on the role of president of the national organization, he will be active in judging new chapters’ applications, selecting national officers for the 2014-2016 biennium, representing Phi Alpha Theta and promoting it at various conferences, writing columns in their newsletters and more.

“Having been blessed by his leadership to our chapter of Phi Alpha Theta,” said Wise. “I am confident that his years as president of Phi Alpha Theta will be productive and memorable.”

There were no formal requirements that had to be met in order to qualify for the position of president, but Carls says that he has been a faithful supporter of Phi Alpha Theta for many years.

He also assumed the role of faculty adviser to Union’s Delta-Psi chapter when he started teaching at the university in 1983.

Carls said Union’s chapter has become one of the most active in the national organization and the chapter has won more than 11 straight national “Best Chapter” awards.

“I look forward to telling as many people as I can about Phi Alpha Theta’s history, about what it represents and about what it can offer its members intellectually and socially,” said Carls. “I also look forward to being the society’s president at the 2016 convention, which will celebrate the society’s 95th anniversary.”