New inductees of Omega Eta Chapter at New River Community College in Virginia are welcomed by Executive Director Dr. Rod Risley, speaking from Tennessee.
Dr. Rod Risley first spoke at a Phi Theta Kappa induction in 1974, for the Zeta Xi Chapter, on the campus of Wharton County Junior College in Texas.
His most recent induction speech was delivered this month to the Omega Eta Chapter at New River Community College in Virginia, although Dr. Risley himself was in Tennessee.
In the 37 years that elapsed between these inductions, much has changed. Dr. Risley was National President of Phi Theta Kappa in 1974, and a community college student. Today he is Phi Theta Kappa’s Executive Director.
And communications technology made it possible for him to be in Nashville speaking to a meeting of Tennessee community college and university presidents, and minutes later be connected to New River College in Virginia for a cyber-based induction address welcoming 80 new inductees, their families, Omega Eta Chapter representatives and college leaders.
The cyber speech was a joint effort arranged by chapter advisor Brian Clark and Chapter Relations Manager Garon Tate, the chapter’s Headquarters representative. Clark proposed using New River College’s Blackboard Collaborate platform, and worked with Dr. Risley to make the connection.
Having the Executive Director speak was a highlight of the induction ceremony, Clark said. New member Amanda Mills agreed.
“Being welcomed into Phi Theta Kappa by Dr. Risley was an exciting experience and his enthusiasm for our organization is quite evident. His informative and uplifting message made me feel even more honored and excited to be a member of such a wonderful network of hardworking and bright people, whose futures are made brighter by the opportunities afforded by membership in Phi Theta Kappa,” Mills said.
“I was most struck by Dr. Risley’s comment concerning how our induction spoke to our academic potential, ” said new inductee J.M. Walden. “He drove home the idea that, although this was an honorable step, it was but a first step. Until that moment I had remained intellectually uncommitted to Phi Theta Kappa. Dr. Risley’s comment was both approbation and a challenge, one that peaked my interest and aroused my intellectual pride. I smiled for the first time that day – challenge accepted. After that, I was committed.”
Dr. Risley said the experience points the way for all kinds of new possibilities for communicating with chapters. “When I was first associated with Phi Theta Kappa, communications were mainly to the chapter advisors, and consisted of printed pieces delivered by mail. We have come a very long way since then and we have endless possibilities to explore.”