University News

WIU's Phi Delta Chapter Wins International Honor

January 12, 2016

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MACOMB, IL - Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, has named Western Illinois University's Phi Delta Chapter its Outstanding Chapter for the 2014-2015 academic year. The award, which is given each year to no more than three of the society's 875 chapters worldwide, comes with a $500 prize and a $350 travel grant to the society's annual convention.

"Our English majors and minors have worked very hard to achieve this international recognition. Last year, our chapter started two major initiatives, a Midwestern regional fall conference that drew dozens of undergraduates from four states, and an annual department magazine, 'The Mirror and the Lamp,' said Timothy Helwig, WIU associate English professor and chapter adviser. "I believe these new efforts, along with the individual successes of our members, played an important role in winning this award."

WIU's Phi Delta Chapter, comprised of 45 members, is committed to fostering the discipline of English in all its aspects, including critical and creative writing. In addition to its new initiatives, members participated in food drives, book drives and other community events. The chapter also continued its signature event, potluck dinners held each semester at the homes of English faculty, and met to share "literary recipes" from popular novels like the "Harry Potter" series.

Helwig, who also serves as the Midwestern Regent for the international organization, added, "With 145 active chapters in the Midwest and 30 chapters in Illinois alone, I know the competition for this award is very high, and winning speaks volumes about our students' talent and hard work."

Six members presented their work at Sigma Tau Delta's juried convention last year in Albuquerque (NM), and seven members will present their work at this year's convention in Minneapolis (MN), where student president and senior English major Justin Kim, of Deerfield (IL), will receive the award.

"The members of our local chapter have shown a propensity for learning, critical thought and community involvement. I am proud of all the work they have done and undoubtedly will continue to do in the future," said Kim.

In recent years, student members of Sigma Tau Delta have gained acceptance into English graduate programs, secured competitive teaching assistantships and presented and published in peer-reviewed journals their critical essays and creative writing.

For more information about Sigma Tau Delta, contact Helwig at

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