Kappa Mu Epsilon is a specialized honor society in Mathematics. Its chapters are located in colleges and universities of recognized standing which offer a strong mathematics major. The chapters' members are selected from students of mathematics and other closely related fields who have maintained standards of scholarship, have professional merit, and have attained academic distinction.
The society is more than a group of chapters devoted solely to the election of honor students to membership. Each chapter is encouraged to be a working organization throughout the academic year, functioning as an integral part of the mathematics department in the promotion of a large number of worthwhile extra-curricular activities.
Kappa Mu Epsilon was founded and continues to exist as a students' mathematics honor society. The society has grown steadily since its founding in 1931. It has over one hundred chapters and approximately sixty-six thousand members nationwide.
Brief History of Kappa Mu Epsilon
The rapid growth of universities and colleges in the United States during the latter part of the 19th Century led to the development of professional societies in every field. Local clubs were formed in educational institutions to promote professional interests, and the desire for affiliation with other groups of similar ideals led to the organization of these local clubs into national and state societies. Various fields, such as law, medicine, science, engineering, and teaching, eventually developed societies with large memberships.
In mathematics, Pi Mu Epsilon became the national fraternity for instructors and advanced students in educational institutions offering graduate work. Since the first fraternities open to mathematics students on the undergraduate level were organized by science departments, the need for a national fraternity that would attract such students through their mathematics departments was recognized. Kappa Mu Epsilon, was organized to fill this need, and Dr. Emily Kathryn Wyant is considered to be its founder.
Dr. Wyant was a graduate of the University of Missouri and a member of Pi Mu Epsilon. In 1930, she went to Northeastern Oklahoma State Teachers College, as a professor of mathematics. Her vigor and enthusiasm helped to transform the mathematics club, which had been in existence since 1927, into the first chapter of Kappa Mu Epsilon, Professor L.P. Woods, who was head of the Department of Mathematics and Dean of Men at the time, became a valuable co-worker concerned with many details pertaining to the project, including the first rituals used for the initiation of members and installation of officers.
Together Dr. Wyant and Professor Woods along with twenty-two other faculty and students became charter members of Oklahoma Alpha, Northeastern Oklahoma State Teachers College, Tahlequah, April 18, 1931. Since Dr. Wyant maintained an extensive correspondence with faculty members at other institutions, the second chapter of Kappa Mu Epsilon, Iowa Alpha, was installed at Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, May 27, 1931. Kansas Alpha, the third chapter, was installed January 30, 1932, at Kansas State Teachers College, Pittsburg. Then came Missouri Alpha, Southwest Missouri State College, Springfield, May 20, 1932.
Today Kappa Mu Epsilon has become a specialized honor society with one hundred fifteen or more active chapters, located in colleges and universities of recognized standing, which offer a strong mathematics major, in thirty-four states. The chapters' members are selected from students of mathematics or closely related fields, who have professional merit and attain academic distinction. Approximately sixty thousand students have been initiated so far, and since Kappa Mu Epsilon was founded, they have helped it to become more than a group of isolated chapters devoted solely to the election of honor students to membership. Indeed, each chapter is encouraged to be a working organization throughout the academic year, functioning as an integral part of the mathematics department through worthwhile extra-curricular activities.
Organization and Purposes
The Association of College Honor Societies, which serves as a general coordinating agency, maintains high standards for the recognition and promotion of academic excellence in higher education. Kappa Mu Epsilon became a member of this Association in 1968 and is pleased to be counted among the sixty cooperating societies, representing many different areas of knowledge, that have joined so far. Dr. J.A.G. Shirk of the Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg, now Pittsburg State University, who succeeded Dr. Wyant as the second president of Kappa Mu Epsilon, aptly said, "History renders the ultimate verdict as to the value of any movement, and the growth and the influence of Kappa Mu Epsilon in a little over a decade give a portent of its greater contributions in the decades yet to come."
Official business of Kappa Mu Epsilon is transacted at the national conventions by delegates from each chapter and members of the National Council: the National President, National President-Elect, National Secretary, National Treasurer, and the National Historian. A national convention is held during odd numbered years for the purpose of receiving student papers, electing officers, voting on motions to amend the constitution or by-laws, voting on motions relating to establishment of new chapters, and deciding matters concerning the society. Since 1972, regional conventions are also held during even numbered years under the sponsorship of a regional director in cooperation with the national council. When a chapter decides to host a regional convention, the chapters in the region as well as those from surrounding states are invited to attend.
Student papers are featured at regional as well as national conventions, and by the time a paper reaches a convention its academic level is sufficiently good to be considered for publication in The Pentagon. The Pentagon, which is published twice each year, is the official journal of KME, and it may have been named after the mathematics club that eventually became the first chapter of Kappa Mu Epsilon. In addition to student papers, it contains news items about various chapters and their activities, as well as interesting problems and book reviews that help to promote the following five-fold objectives of the society:
- to further the interests of mathematics in those schools which place their primary emphasis on undergraduate programs,
- to help undergraduate students realize the important role that mathematics has played in the development of civilization,
- to develop an appreciation of the power and beauty possessed by mathematics, due, mainly, to its demand for logical and rigorous modes of thought,
- to provide a society for the recognition of outstanding achievement in the study of mathematics at the undergraduate level, and
- to disseminate the knowledge of mathematics and familiarize its members with current progress in this important area of human interest.