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History of Iota Sigma

In preparation for the celebration of our 15th Anniversary, we reviewed our history about how the program started and who helped develop it.

The Nursing Honor Society of Azusa Pacific College was started in 1980 as a preparatory step towards establishing a national chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (STT). This accomplishment would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of many faculty members, some of whom are still here today.

Lois Kiehm, chairperson of the then Division of Nursing, is credited with the first contact with STT in the fall of 1979. Then assistant professor Rose Liegler, Ph.D., travelled from classroom to classroom, encouraging student participation in the society. Aja Lesh was the first faculty advisor. She, along with Anita Rosebrough and others, created the necessary by-laws for the society.

In the spring of 1981, Azusa Pacific College became Azusa Pacific University and the Division of Nursing became the School of Nursing. Also, that same year the first eleven students were inducted into the Nursing Honor Society of Azusa Pacific University. The society continued to grow with another 10 inductees the following year. Early faculty inductees, in addition to Liegler, Rosenbrough, and Lesh, included Susan Smith and Elaine Goehner.

The honor society received its first university-wide recognition in 1983 when inductees were introduced at the Senior Recognition Chapel. Significant growth took place in 1985 when 47 members were inducted after hearing Marilyn Wood, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, speak about “The Role of the University in Advanced Practice Nursing,” a topic of interest even today!

After this tremendous growth took place, work began in earnest. Barbara Artinian was chair of the Eligibility Committee, Rosebrough was chair of the Induction Committee,and Phyllis Esslinger, Susan McMullen, Sheila Huff, president; and Artinian were Research Committee members.

In November of 1987, Sheila Hoff, president; Rosebrough, president–elect; and Liegler, counselor; presented a petition to the House of Delegates at the STT Biennium Convention in San Francisco. On April 8, 1988, after many years of preparation, the Nursing Honor Society of Azusa Pacific University was granted a national charter with Sigma Theta Tau, and was given the chapter title of Iota Sigma.

Founding members present at this year's 15th Anniversary celebration were School of Nursing faculty members: Barbara Artinian, Connie Austin, Phyllis Esslinger (professor emeritus), Rose Liegler (dean), Renee Pozza, and Shila Wiebe (chair, Undergraduate Program). Retired faculty member Anita Rosebrough, and community leader and alumni Margo Babikian, who also participated.

Many others who are unnamed in this article were instrumental in starting STT. We thank all of you and encourage you to contact us.