Mission and History

Epsilon Pi Chapter of

Sigma Theta Tau International

Valdosta State University College of Nursing

Valdosta, Georgia

     The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, provides leadership and scholarship in practice, education, and research to enhance the health of all people.  Epsilon Pi Chapter (# 134) supports the educational and professional development of our members who strive to improve nursing care locally and worldwide.

Mission Statement and Vison

     Epsilon Pi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International exists to model the vision of the Honor Society of Nursing, which is to create a global community of registered professional nurses who effectively lead using scholarship, knowledge, and technology to improve the health of the world’s people.  The mission of Epsilon Pi is to support the learning, knowledge, and professional development of registered professional nurses committed to making a difference in health worldwide.  

History

Vision of Chapter Plans

The history of the Epsilon Pi chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International formally began in 1979 when the Division of Nursing at Valdosta State College in Valdosta, Georgia, had a vision for the establishment of a chapter of this prestigious honor society. At this time, the College also desired to transition to a School of Nursing, further expand the baccalaureate program in nursing for generic and RN-BSN students, and develop a graduate program in nursing (MSN). In 1979 there were three Sigma Theta Tau International members from other chapters on the nursing faculty.  The following three faculty members led the initial efforts to begin the process of creating the chapter on this campus:  Dr. Anne Boykin, a member inducted at Emory University who was the Assistant Director of the Division of Nursing; Professor Janet Owens, a member inducted at the University of Florida who taught maternal-child nursing; and Dr. James Humphrey, a member inducted at the University of Alabama in Birmingham who taught Adult Health Nursing and coordinated the senior teaching team.  They were strongly supported and encouraged by Valdosta State College President, Dr. Hugh C. Bailey; Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Ray Cleere; and Division of Nursing Director, Dr. Virginia Harmeyer.  Although not actual Sigma Theta Tau International members, other faculty, students, and community nursing leaders in or associated with the Division of Nursing provided their time, commitment, and leadership toward creating a chapter on this campus.  Additionally, this historical narrative would not be complete without mentioning the tremendous assistance and support from Mrs. Joan Bailey, wife of Dr. Hugh C. Bailey and First Lady of Valdosta State College at that time.

Nursing Honor Society at Valdosta State College

On May 30, 1979, a preliminary organization, known as the Valdosta State College Honor Society of Nursing, was established, and much work was begun to induct outstanding charter members.  Additional induction ceremonies were held on April 12, 1980, and again on January 31, 1981.  During this time, the Honor Society held educational and scholarly meetings and conferences on a variety of important topics.  The successful establishment and functioning of this group were prerequisites to being chartered as a Sigma Theta Tau International Chapter by the parent organization’s headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.   Sigma Theta Tau International closely monitored and evaluated this initial process for chartering.

Chartering of Chapter

On February 20, 1982, Epsilon Pi received its charter as Chapter # 134 after almost three years as a successful Honor Society of Nursing at Valdosta State College.  Following a site visitation and evaluation by a national officer and nurse leader from the headquarters of Sigma Theta Tau International, the delightful Dr. Rebecca Markel, Epsilon Pi became the fourth chapter in Georgia, following those at Emory University, the Medical College of Georgia, and Georgia State University, in that order.  The charter induction ceremony, featuring Sigma Theta Tau International officer, Dr. Beth Vaughn-Wroebel, was a very festive occasion held at the College’s Whitehead Auditorium.  It was followed by a beautiful reception at the lovely home of Valdosta State College President and First Lady, Dr. and Mrs. Hugh C. Bailey. 

Epsilon Pi inducted 78 new members into Sigma Theta Tau International and also received nine transfer members from other chapters that day for a total of 87 charter members.  Dr. Frances W. Brown, who taught adult health nursing in the Division, became the first President; Barbara D. Tucker, who taught emergency medical services at Valdosta Technical Institute, became the first Vice President; Candice Pittman, an RN-BSN student in the Division, and Rebecca Sands, an emergency department nurse at South Georgia Medical Center, became the first Recording and Corresponding Secretaries, respectively; Irma F. Jewell, who taught nursing leadership and mental health nursing, became the first Treasurer; and Dr. James P. Humphrey, who taught adult health nursing and coordinated the senior teaching team, became the first Counselor of Epsilon Pi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International. 

In the two and one-half decades (25 years) of Epsilon Pi's existence at then Valdosta State College, and Valdosta State University since 1993, there has been excellence exhibited by this chapter in a number of different ways. First, annual and then semi-annual inductions of new members; holding of education, research, and other scholarly meetings and conferences; installation of officer functions; sponsoring of and then partnering with Mu Pi Chapter (# 302) at Georgia Southwestern College and State University in Americus; participation in regional Sigma Theta Tau International meetings and conferences as presenters and attendees; and participation in Sigma Theta Tau International biennial conventions and other national and international conferences as delegates, presenters, and attendees. 

Members have very fond memories of local event locations, including the VSU campus, Ocean Pond Lodge, Willy’s Hofbra House Restaurant, Mom’s and Dad’s Italian Restaurant, the Sheraton Inn Restaurant, Fiddler’s Green, A Touch of Gourmet, and other restaurants.  Some of the highlights of events were the visits and keynote presentations by Dr. Imogene King, internationally known nurse theorist, leader, and educator; and Dr. Anne Boykin, one of the founding members of Epsilon Pi who later became Dean of the College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.  Epsilon Pi also began partnerships with clinical facilities and other nursing organizations, such as the local chapters of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and Georgia Nurses’ Association; South Georgia Medical Center; the Lowndes County Health Department; and John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital to provide community service and offer professional development opportunities to southern Georgia, northern Florida, and the surrounding areas.

 The 20th Anniversary Celebration occurred in grand style, led by President Derotha Presley, with an induction and reception, featuring as speaker and musician, Dr. James P. Humphrey, founding member and Epsilon Historian at the time, who spoke on “Then and Now:  Twenty Years of Nursing Excellence.”  Excellence continued with Epsilon Pi over the next five years with inductions, scholarly programs, and participation by members at local, regional, national, and international Sigma Theta Tau International events as presenters, attendees, and delegates.  With such an abundant history, it is no wonder that Epsilon Pi has now experienced truly 25 years of excellence! 

Formally celebrating its 25th Anniversary on April 13, 2007, Epsilon Pi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International at Valdosta State University College of Nursing is led by the following officers:  Dr. Susan J. Wold, President and Professor of Nursing and Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Nursing at VSU; Dr. James P. Humphrey, President-Elect and Associate Professor of Nursing and Chair of the College of Nursing Faculty Organization at VSU; Dr. A. Jean Temple, Vice President and Assistant Dean of the College of Nursing at VSU; Dr. Maura C. Schlairet, Secretary and Assistant Professor of Nursing at VSU; Dr. Nancy Redfern-Vance, Treasurer and Associate Professor of Nursing at VSU; and Ms. Gayle C. Taylor, Counselor and Instructor of Nursing at VSU.  On this day Epsilon Pi, partnering with the VSU College of Nursing and South Georgia Medical Center, formally celebrated its 25th Anniversary with the Research Day, “Celebrating Nursing Creativity and Scholarship.”  This eventful day, attended by over 250 participants, featured Dr. Cornelia Porter, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor Emeritus of the University of Michigan and former Dean of the School of Nursing at Florida A & M University, as keynote speaker, as well as various other podium and poster presenters of excellent scholarly work from the Valdosta area, northern Florida, southern Georgia, and northern Georgia.  Additionally, various awards and scholarships were given to Robin Crumley and Inez Nichols, graduate students; Staci Thomas, undergraduate student; and Dr. Susan Wold, Professor of Nursing at VSU and President of Epsilon Pi, for excellence in academics, scholarship, and leadership.  Drs. Linda Floyd and James P. Humphrey offered remarks and historical perspectives during the lunch celebration. 

The Valdosta State University College of Nursing, now offering generic and second-degree (SDS) baccalaureate, RN-BSN, RN-MSN, and MSN programs, is a leader for nursing education in Georgia.  Dr. Anita G. Hufft serves as the sixth Dean of the College of Nursing at Valdosta State University.

(written by Dr. James P. Humphrey, March/April 2007)