YSU’s Gould Society Celebrates 60th Anniversary

By Elizabeth Lehman

The Clarence P. Gould Society at Youngstown State University is celebrating its 60th year since being chartered in 1958 to recognize distinguished students in the liberal arts and sciences.

Jay Gordon, associate professor for English and member of the Gould Society, said being inducted is a very prestigious academic award for a student.

Denise Walters-Dobson, academic administrator in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and Gould member, said inductees must have a 3.9 GPA.

But Gordon said being inducted is about more than just having a high GPA.

“High GPA is important, but we look for students who kind of have some breadth in the courses they have taken, that they’ve branched out a little, students who have two majors but in … different colleges, students who have taken a lot of courses in an area that’s not in their major,” Gordon said.

Martha Pallante, associate dean and professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and another member, said the society requirements include that the GPA must place students in the top one-half to two percent of their class cohort.

“[The students must] exhibit a breadth of scholarship beyond the requirements of their majors. We normally admit approximately 30 students a year,” she said.

Pallante said the society looks for students who have stretched beyond their standard curriculum. She said they might look for a CLASS or College of Creative Arts and Communication student who took math-based science courses or a STEM major who took social sciences or humanities courses too.

“We’re also looking for things like study abroad, research classes or research-based work,” Pallante said.

Gordon said the Gould Society is similar to Phi Beta Kappa in its requirements. Pallante said when the society was founded, YSU wasn’t eligible for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter because it was founded as a law school.

“There were a number of faculty who felt that the standards and the notions promoted by Phi Beta Kappa were important and ought to be reflected here,” Pallante said.

The society was named after the late Clarence P. Gould, who was professor and chair of the history department from 1938 to 1958. He was also holder of the Phi Beta Kappa Key, according to the program from 2017’s dinner event.

Gordon said the annual event will be conducted a bit differently this year.

“We’re trying to have it be more appealing and engaging for students,” Gordon said.

He said in the past, the formal event was a bit stiff. He also said students were often not quite aware of what the award meant until they were invited to the induction. Inductees are selected by a committee and it’s not something they can apply for, so it can be a surprise.

“What we’ve done this time is try to let them know beforehand that they are finalists before we pick the winners … It’s a chance for us to let them know what this thing is about and what may be in store a few weeks later for them,” Gordon said. “Then when we pick the inductees, they’ve already been made aware of what the society is and why it’s a prestigious honor.”

Donald Priour is also a member of the society and an assistant professor in physics and astronomy. He said the Gould Society is different than a professional society.

“It’s an honor, it’s an award … Once a member, always a member, no matter what,” Priour said.

The Gould Society reception will be held for inductees and members on May 3 at the Center for Industry and Labor.