BY HANNAH KESTLY
St. Norbert College’s Alpha Tau chapter of Sigma Tau Delta: The International English Honor Society is well known within the community because of its award-winning success at a school of St. Norbert’s size.
Sigma Tau Delta is an English honor society for students at four-year colleges and universities. It was established in 1924 to confer distinction for high achievement in English language, literature and writing, and is dedicated to fostering literacy in all aspects of the discipline of English.
Sigma Tau Delta is also the second largest honor society in the United States, and there are over 870 local chapters in the U.S. and abroad that are continuing to grow.
One aspect of Sigma Tau Delta that many may not know about is its literary journals. The Alpha Tau chapter at SNC has been privileged to be home to the Sigma Tau Delta Publications for the past 15 years. These include the literary journals, “The Rectangle” and “The Sigma Tau Delta Review,” as well as the bi-annual national newsletter.
After 15 years of distribution at St. Norbert College to over 10,000 members of the honor society that has over 17,000 members total, the Sigma Tau Delta Publications are coming to an end.
Dr. John Pennington, Professor of English, edited the journals for eight years during 1999-2008. Dr. Karlyn Crowley, Professor of English and director of the Cassandra Voss Center and Women’s and Gender Studies, edited the journals for seven years from 2008-2015.
During his time editing and creating the publications, Dr. Pennington first worked with Professor Robert Boyer and they co-edited the journals. Together, they redesigned “The Rectangle” journal and the newsletter. Pennington also created a new journal, “The Sigma Tau Delta Review,” which publishes peer-reviewed critical essays from Sigma Tau Delta members.
“For me, the most important component of the editorship was the opportunities it brought to students on campus,” said Pennington.
Every year, the journals and newsletters were worked on by two editorial interns and one graphic design intern, and Dr. Pennington helped to create the staff infrastructure that helped the publications flourish for so long. Being an editorial intern for the journals has been a prized position, and almost every intern has gone on to graduate school successfully.
St. Norbert is well known within the Sigma Tau Delta organization because of the published journals; the two major journals have been published every year, as well as two newsletters.
“The advantages to having the publications here was of great benefit for students. To be able to experience the cycle of what it is to publish a national journal: reading over 1,000 submissions to determine the next round, which then goes to six other judges from around the country and a final judge before it is edited, laid out and distributed,” said Dr. Crowley.
“It is rare for undergraduate students to have an experience following the full cycle of a journal. This privilege is usually reserved for graduate school, if at all.”
On being published in the journals, Crowley said, “I tell students around the country that getting into the journals is like winning American Idol, the odds are really slim, but if you get in, you have really accomplished something.”
SNC is also well known because its active chapter sends so many students to the national conference, between 12-15 students are sent every year.
“The national convention is like a mini version of the Modern Language Association, where English majors from all over the country get to geek out for four days by talking about books, hearing from writers, and hosting readings,” said Crowley.