Newsletter Issue #160 August 2020

Newsletter Email version of the current newsletter (includes contact emails for chapter advisors.)


Category Dollars Percent
Initiation Fees $         14,950 97.78
Dialogue Subscriptions 120.15 0.78
Alumni Chapter Dues 110.00 0.72
Charter Fees 0.00 0.00
Gifts 0.00 0.00
Retained earnings (cash) 115,168.14 not included
Other Income 110.00 0.72
TOTAL $    15,290.15 100.00


INCOME FROM CDs    $       2,547.41


Category Dollars Percent
Supplies $      442.28 1.93
Printing costs 1,867.29 8.14
Postage 2,341.54 10.20
Dialogue Printing 15,652.48 68.21
ACHS Dues 551.00 2.40
Website 1,739.50 7.58
Other Expenses 353.50 1.54
Total $ 22,947.59 100.00


Cash Balance on Hand $   107,510.70
Current Amount in CDs 104,542.41
Current Amount in Savings 100.45
TOTAL ASSETS $   212,153.56


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Pandemic Effects on the Society

It should come as no surprise that income for last year was somewhat less than it had been for a number of years. In fact, for the 2019-2020 school year, we had a net loss of $5,110.03. For the past number of years, we have had a net income gain of about $10,000.00 per year, and so far as I know, Phi Sigma Tau has never had a year when expenses exceeded income. For several years we have been planning to use some of the retained earnings to assist in the transition to a new Executive Secretary, a position we may have to fund in part because the task has become too time-consuming for a full-time faculty member to do it without help. (You no doubt know that Phi Sigma Tau has always been a volunteer operation; no officer of our organization has ever been paid.) However, as you can see from the financial tables above, we are in a good position to continue to serve students.

For the 2019-2020 school year, we inducted only 598 paid new members; a number of students who were financially impacted by the virus were inducted into Phi Sigma Tau at no cost, though we asked all those who could afford to pay to do so; many were able to handle the induction fee, but the numbers of new members were about half that of previous years.

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From the Executive Secretary

What a strange year! As noted, this is the first year that Phi Sigma Tau is operating at a deficit, but this is also the first year we have operated in a pandemic. As a consequence of the pandemic, most schools had to close in-person classes in the midst of the term. Faculty had to make a sudden change to online instruction, and this no doubt affected Phi Sigma Tau. Our advisors already work to keep chapters alive along with their normal teaching duties, and the extra work required for the quick change to online work simply added to an already heavy load of teaching and research. It should be no surprise that Phi Sigma Tau responsibilities had to be sacrificed for the sake of other obligations to students.

Nevertheless, a number of chapters did report during the year. Some had inductions in the fall, and some were able to hold inductions before the pandemic closed schools. After closures, a number of advisors, along with their students, were able to adapt and hold a ZOOM induction; I have received a number of reports of such inductions, and a couple of advisors even forwarded pictures of those inductions. Kudos to those who were able to induct members even when a campus was closed!

And advisors, along with departmental assistants (whose help was indispensable) agreed not to ask for individual mailing of certificates. As the lone person working with certificates, I could not have mailed a certificate to each person inducted even when there were only half the usual number.
This has been a difficult spring term. I have been unable to get to the Pepperdine campus for mail on a regular basis, and I have tried to avoid entering the post office while others are there. So, getting information from advisors has been difficult and slow, and my mailing has been limited to about once a week, on Sunday mornings when the post office is closed except for a machine in the lobby. I apologize for delays, but many advisors have been very kind in letting me know that they face much the same problem. I have mailed a number of certificates to advisors’ home addresses because advisors cannot get on campus. And departmental assistants have stepped up and helped with induction materials by providing a contact. Thanks to all advisors and assistants. And thanks to all student members for their patience.

I believe this also the first year when we have not chartered any new chapters; we have chartered at least one new chapter every year since 1974, and our records do not go back beyond that. Additionally, during the year, we revoked the charters of fifteen chapters for prolonged inactivity, because of cancellation of the philosophy major, or at the request of the advisor or chair of the department. So, during the year, the number of chapters (active and inactive) has dropped by fifteen. Our usual practice is to mark chapters as inactive if they do not report or induct members in the past year; however, this year, because of the pandemic, the Executive Council has not marked any chapters inactive that were not already so marked. Actually, there were 62 chapters that did not report during the year, and that means that quite a few chapters did report (somehow!). Thanks to all who managed to report.

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Chapter Notes

This is a very abbreviated section this time. I have received many notes from advisors, but many of the notes simply indicate that a school has closed a campus, cancelled a lecture, or cancelled a conference. In the event that a student has prepared a paper for a conference or a lecture, I encourage submission of the work to our editor, Dr. Steve Barbone (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for consideration as a Dialogue paper.

FL-IOTA(1009) [Jacksonville University; advisor, Matthew Groe] The Jacksonville chapter inducted two members and elected Patrick Farrell as chapter President. 

GA-GAMMA(1103) [Agnes Scott College; advisor, Jared Millson] Congratulations are in order for several members of the Agnes Scott chapter. Abby committed to the Columbia University PhD philosophy program; Laura will attend Georgia Tech’s PhD program in mathematics. Claire was accepted into a summer program in the philosophy of science. Connie, Kiran, and Issis also have summer plans.

Our chapter also talked about electing officers for the new year. We want new members to have an opportunity to serve as officers, gain experience, and provide continuity for the chapter. Next school year, courses are planned in logic; contemporary feminist issues; issues in life creation and termination; metaphysics; and life, death, and immortality. Dr. Millson will direct a senior research seminar. In the next term, courses in introduction to artificial intelligence, existentialism, philosophy of science (which might actually be a philosophy of mind course), philosophy of race, contemporary moral problems and ethno-epistemology will be offered. These courses, however, are dependent upon securing a tenured position at Agnes Scott, with the possibility that the philosophy program might be terminated. Philosophy students will also petition and support the continuation of the philosophy program.

IL-ALPHA(1401) [Loyola University, Chicago; advisors, Freya Mobus and Richard Kim] NEW ADVISORS.

IL-IOTA(1407) [Lake Forest College; advisor, Paul Henne] NEW ADVISOR.

KY-EPSILON(1805) [University of Louisville; advisor, Julianne Chung] NEW ADVISOR.

MD-THETA(2108) [Notre Dame of Maryland University; advisor, Jina Fast] NEW ADVISOR.

MA-GAMMA(2203) [College of the Holy Cross; advisor, Bill Stempsey] NEW ADVISOR.

NJ-ETA(3107) [Seton Hall University; advisor, Denise Vigani] NEW ADVISOR.

NY-DELTA(3304) [SUNY at Stony Brook; advisor, Harvey Cormier] NEW ADVISOR.

NY-ETA(3307) [LeMoyne College; advisor, William Day] NEW ADVISOR.

PA-UPSILON(3920) [Slippery Rock University; advisor, Andrew Colvin] NEW ADVISOR.

PA-ALPHA BETA(3926) [Lehigh University; advisor, Patrick Connolly] NEW ADVISOR.


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 International Honor Society in Philosophy

 Dr. David E. Gibson, Humanities Division

Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy

 Malibu, CA 90263-4225

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.