100 Years at Cottey College

Phi Theta Kappa isn’t the only one celebrating 100 years — the Epsilon Chapter at Cottey College is also in its centennial year as a PTK chapter.

The Epsilon Chapter has the unique distinction of being the oldest continually operating chapter in Phi Theta Kappa. It was one of the eight original chapters founded in 1918; the other chapters have since disbanded because their college either closed or transitioned to a four-year university.

“As a historian, I am thrilled to be involved with Epsilon Chapter,” said Angela Firkus, co-advisor of the chapter. “Last summer, I spent some time traveling to the schools and former schools that were also founding members. I am very proud not only that Cottey College has survived but that it also has continued its commitment to the first two years of college.”

Cottey College is a small, all-women’s college in Nevada, Missouri, that offers both associate and bachelor’s degrees. It was founded in 1884 by Virginia Alice Cottey and was gifted to the P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) Sisterhood in 1927. This group oversees the college today.

Alice Cottey was there, at Stephens College in Missouri in 1918, when Phi Theta Kappa was born. The chapter also submitted the Phi Theta Kappa song, which is still performed today.

“Being a part of the oldest chapter in our country is very rewarding, and I feel honored to be a part of something to amazing that helps change young women’s lives,” said Robin Mallinson, chapter co-advisor. “Though very rewarding, I feel the pressure of not letting down our founders of PTK and keeping our Cottey history within PTK alive and strong.

“I feel a sense of drive and motivation to keep our Epsilon Chapter stronger than it ever has been.”

Firkus said the chapter typically has about 30 or 40 members — roughly 15 percent of the student population — and an acceptance rate of about 90 percent. The chapter was recognized as both a REACH Chapter and a Five Star Chapter in 2017.

“Students here find membership to be a great honor,” she said.

The Epsilon Chapter regularly conducts Honors in Action and College Projects. This year, for its College Project, the chapter partnered with the college faculty and community members to offer a series of “adulting” classes to help students prepare for life beyond college.

The chapter is also working on a project to empower students to make their own decisions about conspiracy theories. The students are encouraged to take personal action to find the missing knowledge.

“Being a PTK member offers a unique opportunity to be involved on campus on a deeper level than other organizations do,” said chapter secretary Rebecca Robinson. “Being in PTK encourages members to be a link between the student body and the faculty, as well as to be leaders and helpers on campus.”

The chapter is still making plans to celebrate its 100th anniversary, although advisors do plan to bring as many members as possible to PTK Catalyst 2018, April 19-21 in Kansas City, Missouri, for Phi Theta Kappa’s Centennial Celebration.

They also plan to honor the legacy of those who came before them.

“Overall, the history of our chapter and our advisors both promote a strong foundation to shape hard-working and determined young women, and I am honored to serve on a board with women such as these,” said Veronica Wright, the chapter’s publicity coordinator.

You can read more about the Epsilon Chapter at Cottey College in the upcoming issue of Visionary, which will be published in January 2018.

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