At 9:25 Wednesday morning in the middle of a meeting about commencement, President Shalala was surprised in her office by being tapped for Mortar Board, the second highest honor society on campus.
“What an honor. Do we have initiation on my schedule?” Shalala said.
“Shalala exemplifies everything we stand for. It’s an honor to have her,” Mortar Board president Lilly Guallar said.
” Thank you. I’m thrilled. I was very surprised,” Shalala said.
Mortar Board secretary Ben Young and member Jose Diaz were on hand to welcome Shalala into the club.
With three dings on the triangle by Guallar, a short welcome speech by Young, and the tapping of the mortar board on Shalala’s head by Diaz, she became an official honorary member. Vice president of selection, Lisette Vila, was in charge of organizing the tapping.
“It went really well,” Young said.
“Only 23 students have been chosen to join the new Kappa Tau chapter of Mortar Board,” Young said.
Mortar Board, Inc. is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for distinguished ability and achievement in scholarship, leadership, and service. It began in 1918 as the first national organization honoring senior college women.
Members must exhibit scholarship, leadership and service and must have excelled within and outside of the university, Guallar said. To be considered students must also have above a 3.4 GPA and be a second semester junior.
The UM Mortar Board chapter organizes book drives, scholarships for students, and trips to elementary schools.
“We like to inspire kids to make it because we’ve made it,” Guallar said.
Their first annual scholarship of $500 went to sophomore Dave Fenster for his academic career, and work inside and out of the classroom, Guallar said.
Mortar Board members voted to tap Shalala and then had to send her resume to the national organization for approval.
Mortar Board chapters across the nation are challenged to provide thoughtful leadership to the campus and community, to create an environment of effective communication, and to move toward a meaningful goal
Each chapter has the autonomy to determine its on implementation of the goals, National Project, and resolutions and recommendation set forth by delegates to the National Conference.
When the Society opened its membership to men in 1975, the organization maintained a tribute to the founders and its heritage by strengthening the Preamble to the Constitution by including a commitment to the advancement of the status of women.
Mortar Board is a national network that includes over 200 chapters, 50 alumni chapters, and 25 sections.
Initiation for new tappees takes place on April 7.