The Rho Rho chapter of Sigma Delta Pi was established on April 24, 1989 and installed on April 28 at the former Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman State University. At that first initiation ceremony seven students were inducted as charter members and two faculty members, Professors Vera Gomez-Piper and William R. Cummins, were initiated as honorary members.
The ceremony was conducted by Dr. Lucy Lee, who was assisted by Dr. Thomas Capuano with Drs. Roy Tanner and Thomas Coates in attendance. Dr. Raymond E. Chandler, National President at the time, was particularly instrumental in assuring that protocol was followed. Since its inception, Dr. Lee served as chapter advisor with the assistance of Professor Michael Buzan from 1994-1996 and Dr. Eric Jewell from 1998-2005.
The Spanish faculty’s decision to found a chapter of Sigma Delta Pi at that particular historical juncture is significant, as the installation of the local chapter paralleled important changes occurring in the university as a whole. As a result of Missouri House Bill 196, signed into law on June 20, 1985, then Northeast Missouri State University’s mission changed from that of an open enrollment, regional and multipurpose university to its current status as Missouri’s only statewide, public, liberal arts and sciences institution with a highly selective admission requirement.
One of the changes accompanying the implementation of the new mission was an emphasis on the teaching of foreign languages as one of the cornerstones of a liberal arts education. To that end, a foreign language requirement was instituted for BA students in the fall semester of 1986, a requirement which was later increased to include all students.
As a result, the foreign language faculty gradually grew from eight members to its current thirty, and the Spanish faculty increased from four to fifteen members. Newly hired Spanish faculty re-wrote the Spanish curriculum in 1986, creating a much stronger and more extensive major, and a Spanish minor was added in 1991 after the university-wide institution of minor programs.
With a growing number of students enrolled in upper-division Spanish courses and strong university support for bringing national honor societies to campus, the moment was propitious to install a local chapter. Dr. Edward Carpenter, Division Head of Language and Literature at the time, was particularly supportive of this endeavor.