Rho Chi is a collegiate and professional honor society devoted to the promotion of the pharmaceutical sciences. Induction into the society is a mark of recognized excellence in scholarship and professionalism. Goals of the society are to encourage teaching, scholastic achievement, and research and to encourage promising students to pursue graduate-level study in pharmaceutical studies.
Like many other national honor societies, Rho Chi's primary mission is to recognize academic and professional excellence through induction into the society. Although membership brings the newcomer into association with others of professional caliber in the field of pharmacy, it is primarily the honor of recognition that membership endows on an initiate. However, the society is strongly committed to its mission of encouraging graduate-level study and to that end it cosponsors, with the American Association for Pharmaceutical Education, an annual first-year graduate fellowship to the most promising candidate embarking on a master's or doctoral program at an accredited institution.
In addition the society circulates an annual publication, The Report, which provides a forum for articles of professional, ethical, or educational importance written by its members. Each year the society honors the contributions of a distinguished member of the profession by presenting the Rho Chi Award, and it invites the recipient to deliver an address to the assembled members at a meeting held during the American Pharmaceutical Association's annual conference.
At the local chapter level, the most important event is the induction of new members into the society. The ritual for induction is prescribed by the national committee and is designed to be an occasion of dignified recognition of the inductees' proven excellence. Each initiate receives a copy of The Rho Chi Society, the official history of the organization; a copy of the Constitution and Bylaws of the society; and a key bearing the official insignia of the group. At their graduation ceremony, following completion of their degree programs, they are entitled to wear the purple and white insignia of the society over their graduation gowns.
Undergraduate candidates for induction into the society must be enrolled in a program of pharmaceutical studies at an institution accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) and must have completed at least two years of the course work necessary for earning the degree. They must have demonstrated their commitment to scholastic excellence by earning a 3.0 grade point average (on a four-point scale) and ranking in the op twentieth percentile of their class. Finally, they must be certified as eligible by the dean of their degree program and must have no record of disciplinary problems.
Graduate students must meet similar standards of demonstrated excellence, but the grade point average is higher, at 3.5 on a four-point scale. Membership is also open to alumni of undergraduate or graduate programs, after they have entered the profession, and to faculty teaching pharmaceutical studies, if in the course of their professional work they have earned recognition by the society. Honorary memberships are also occasionally conferred.
New members pay an initiation fee that covers the cost of their key and insignia and entitles them to receive a copy of the annual publication. Annual dues are paid to the national board to support the society's activities.
Individual chapters must have a minimum of five members under the supervision of a faculty member appointed by the dean of the school of pharmacy at the institution. Local chapters are autonomous in planning activities and in electing their officers. The national organization is governed by an executive council, the members of which are elected for two-year terms. At the annual meeting each chapter is entitled to send one delegate and one alternate to represent the local organization.
The impetus for the formation of a national honor society in the field of pharmaceutical studies began at the University of Michigan, where the School of Pharmacy had established a local society in 1908. This group, known then as the Aristolochite Society, decided in 1917 to extend its message to other colleges and universities in the country and had succeeded in gaining the interest of pharmaceutical faculties at Oregon Agricultural College, which established a chapter in 1918. Also in 1917, the president of the national professional organization, the American Council of Pharmaceutical Faculties (ACPF, now the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy) devoted a portion of his annual address to the membership to a call for the establishment of a national honor society, which would promote the council's principles and goals.
The ACPF found that the University of Michigan local organization shared its general philosophy and goals, and ACPE joined forces with them. By 1922 the Michigan organization had succeeded in founding a chapter at the University of Oklahoma and had changed its name to Rho Chi. In that same year it received a charter from the state of Michigan recognizing it as an official honor society.
The Rho Chi society grew slowly during the early years, with only ten chapters by 1932. By 1942, however, it had grown enough to earn recognition by and membership in the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS), and as of 2002 it had seventy-seven chapters across the nation, serving 73,000 members.
RHO CHI. 2002. <www.rhochi.org>.
ROBERT A. BUERKI
NANCY E. GRATTON
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