Geographers’ Honor Society Established at UT Dallas
Sep. 8, 2010
UT Dallas has been granted the Mu Gamma chapter of the international geography honor society Gamma Theta Upsilon.
The organization was started in 1928 and is one of the discipline’s best-known honorary societies.
Dr. Daniel Griffith, an Ashbel Smith Professor in the Geography and Geospatial Sciences program, was surprised that the program was contacted by the society early this year.
The invitation to start a chapter is an honor in this stage of the program's history, Dr. Daniel Griffith says.
“I was not expecting their email asking if we wanted to apply for a chapter,” he said. “We are a relatively young, small program. We just graduated our first two PhDs, and our undergraduate GIS program began this semester, so I didn’t think we had the national profile yet to draw their attention.”
But the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences’ geography program recently was ranked first in Texas and 16th nationally in a survey of faculty scholarly activity. The Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, compiled by Academic Analytics, measured the productivity of faculty using their book and journal publications, journal article citations, federally funded research grants and professional awards.
“I think the people in Gamma Theta Upsilon saw our high ranking and realized that we should be part of the organization,” Griffith said. “I’m glad our students will get a chance to join the society and earn acknowledgment for doing outstanding work.”
To qualify, students must have completed a minimum of three geography/GIS courses, completed at least three semesters of college course work, and have a GPA of at least 3.3 overall as well as in geography/GIS courses.
Mu Gamma inducted five undergraduates and 13 graduate students during its first initiation ceremony in May. Because of their academic status, the program’s faculty members also may join as regular members, and three were inducted this year. Griffith and his colleague, Dr. Stuart Murchison, a clinical professor in geographic information systems, were elected to the society as undergraduates and remain members.
The primary benefit for members is the prestige of qualifying for a top organization in their field of study. They also are eligible to apply for five scholarships awarded annually to Gamma Theta Upsilon members: four to undergraduates and one to a graduate student.
Most chapters sponsor visiting speakers, social events and service functions. Members also become part of a network of geography students and can share ideas about research and other subjects. They may choose to attend annual meetings of the society. After graduation, alumni members are encouraged to join Omega Omega and continue their active affiliation with the society.