The mortarboard is a classic symbol of graduates and commencement ceremonies worldwide, so it only makes sense to have an organization specifically for honoring students preparing to don one of them!
Founded in 1918 by a group of colleges, Cornell University, The University of Michigan, The Ohio State University, Swarthmore College, Mortar Board is an honor society for college seniors and was the first national organization honoring senior college women. While it extended membership to men in 1975, the organization has remained committed to promoting women’s studies and advancement.
According to their website, Mortar Board “is an association of individuals selected for distinguished ability and achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, which recognizing the advantages of a national union of senior honor societies, has formed a national honor society, whose purpose shall be to facilitate cooperation among those societies, to contribute to the self-awareness of its members, to promote equal opportunities among all peoples, to emphasize the advancement of the status of women, to support the ideals of the college or university, to advance a spirit of scholarship, to recognize and encourage leadership, to provide service, and to establish the opportunity for a meaningful exchange of ideas as individuals and as a group.”
Their mission is to be a “national honor society that recognizes college seniors for their achievements in scholarship, leadership and service, provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to colleges and universities and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.”
Each chapter has its own requirements for membership but requires faculty and student nominations. Additionally, students must have an overall GPA of a B-average of be in the top 35% of his/her class (whichever is higher). While Mortar Board has grade requirements, they’re most interested in well-rounded students who showcase leadership and a dedication to service.
Notable members include:
- Sally Ride
- Drew Brees
- Condoleezza Rice
- Jimmy Carter
- Fred Rogers
Mortar Board currently has over 250,000 members spread across 232 chapters. You’ll recognize these scholars on graduation day by their gold and silver/gray honor cords.
Are you a member of Mortar Board? Let us know in the comments!