Maintaining the Flame

Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD)

by Alexander Bossakov ’20

The Dickinson chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) was chartered in 1989, more than half a century after the original chapter of the national honor society was founded in 1924 in Illinois to recognize exceptional academic achievement during students’ first year of college. Since then, Dickinson’s chapter has expanded to become one of the most distinguished in the country. In 2013, it was one of six chapters, out of almost 300 nationwide, to receive the Order of the Torch Award. Every subsequent year, Dickinson has received a Maintaining the Flame Award. In 2017, it brought home another Order of the Torch. Alpha Lambda Delta Executive Director Eileen Merberg presented the award alongside President Margee Ensign and Dean Damon Yarnell, saying that Dickinson had “clearly fulfilled the mission of Alpha Lambda Delta.”

ALD at Dickinson strives to foster and sustain a community of inquiry that can empower high-achieving students willing and able to push themselves and the institution forward. As an honor society, it inducts a select number of first-year students at the conclusion of their first semester at Dickinson. The induction ceremony celebrates students’ membership in the society and asks them to pledge to make the best possible use of their Dickinson education.

Throughout the year, the chapter’s executive board works through various campus organizations and departments, such as the Clarke Forum and Office of Academic Advising (now part of the Center for Advising, Internships & Lifelong Career Development), to organize or sponsor receptions with campus speakers, mixers across class years and service opportunities in the greater Carlisle community. Recent programming includes a breakfast with Harvard scholar of international relations Stephen Walt, a morning spent gleaning with Project SHARE and a student lunch series aimed at fostering ties between seniors and underclass students. In addition, advisors from the Office of Academic Advising meet weekly with ALD’s leadership to align common initiatives with campuswide academic strategies.

“What makes me most proud about our Dickinson chapter is how it grows and develops every year,” says Rachael Franchini ’19, 2017-18 ALD president. “So far, every exec board has made something more out of the accomplishments of the previous group.”

Each year, a National Leadership Conference brings together chapter officers from all over the country. In 2017, Tara Vasold Fischer ’02, associate dean of academic advising and advisor to the Dickinson chapter, and two ALD exec board members attended the conference in Phoenix, Ariz., where the Dickinson chapter was recognized with several awards for excellence and high membership yield. Fischer was also recognized with the Outstanding Advisor of the Year award.

“Tara is incredibly passionate about recognizing and nurturing the talents of students with academic excellence,” said Phuong Uyen “Winnie” Le ’19, 2016-17 vice president of the Dickinson chapter. “Her enthusiasm and energy really close the gap between a school administrator and students, and she is, without a doubt, the best advisor one could ask for.”

The national office of ALD offers scholarships to eligible members  for undergraduate assistance, study abroad and postgraduate fellowships. Over the past few years, members of the Dickinson chapter have received several of these scholarships, further honoring members of the Dickinson chapter among the more than 1 million members across the country.

“Alpha Lambda Delta reaffirmed all the benefits associated with lifelong learning and helped me to discover my passion for working in higher education administration,” said Michael Pennington ’07. “The core values of Alpha Lambda Delta stem from working hard at work worth doing by applying useful knowledge for the betterment of the communities in which members live.”

Read more from the fall 2018 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published October 23, 2018