(1) About Sigma Delta Pi
The National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society (Sigma Delta Pi) was founded in 1919 at UC Berkeley, and currently has more than 560 active chapters in 4 year colleges and universities throughout the United States. Its purpose is "to honor those who attain excellence in the study of the Spanish language and in the study of the literature and culture of the Spanish-speaking peoples; to honor those who have made Hispanic contributions to modern culture better known in the English-speaking world; to encourage college and university students to acquire a greater interest in, and a deeper understanding of, Hispanic culture; and to foster friendly relations and mutual respect between the nations of Hispanic speech and those of English speech" (quoted from the 1995-1998 Booklet of Information on the Association of College Honor Societies).
(2) CSLA chapter, Gamma Psi
The CSLA chapter, Gamma Psi, was founded in 1954, and is number 95 in the chronological order of chapters founded. Dr. Dumitrescu reactivated it in 1990. In spring 2004, the chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary, on which occasion it received a commendation letter from president Rosser. Membership in the chapter is open to Spanish undergraduate and graduate students who have a minimal GPA of 3 on a 4 point scale in all Spanish courses taken, and who rank in the upper 35% of their class, or have at least a cumulative GPA of 2.75 on a 4 point scale. The bases for selection are the scholastic or professional record of the candidate; the distinction the candidate has achieved in the field of Hispanic studies; the candidate's demonstrated support of the goals and ideals of the society; and the character of the candidate. Recruitment and initiation of candidates take place each spring quarter. The chapter officers are elected each year, in fall, and are a president, a vice-president, a treasurer and a secretary. The chapter is chartered on campus with the Associated Students and receives monetary support from them, as well as donations from faculty members. The chapter’s account is held at the University Credit Union.
Among the activities organized by the CSLA since its 1990 reactivation are: (1) group visits to exhibits on Hispanic themes, e.g., "Thirteen Centuries of Splendor - Mexican Art, at the LA County Museum, and "Spain in the Americas: 1492-1600," at the Huntington Library; (2) group attendance at theatrical performances in the greater Los Angeles area; (3) sponsorship of guest-lectures, e.g., Dr. Carlos Loprete (Universidad de Belgrano, Argentina); Dr. Ignacio Galbis (Professor Emeritus of Latin- American Literature and the former national Sigma Delta Pi secretary-treasurer); Dr. Pascual José Masullo (Director of the Graduate Programs in Linguistics at the Universidad del Comahue- Argentina), Lic. Patricia Juárez Dappe (Universidad de Buenos Aires), Dr, Jacques de Bruyne, member of the Royal Spanish Academy and professor at the University of Gent, Belgium, the Chilean writer Lucía Guerra, professor at the University of California, Irvine, the Mexican writers Luis Ortiz-Arias and Ignacio Solares, and others. The chapter has also organized musical performances, dance workshops, and symposia on literary cultural topics, including a very successful symposium on Federico Garcia Lorca, in connection with the theatrical performance of La Casa de Bernarda Alba on the CSULA campus.
Twenty of the CSLA chapter's students have been awarded, over the years, the highly-competitive Gabriela Mistral Award, for academic excellence. Six others have received Sigma Delta Pi summer scholarships to study in Spain and Mexico. Under the direction of faculty adviser Dr. Domnita Dumitrescu, the CSLA Chapter was declared an "Honor Chapter" by the National Honor Society of Sigma Delta Pi each year during the 1991-1999 period. Moreover, for several years, it has also been judged to rank among the top ten of the 21 Honor Chapters distinguished with certificates of honor.
During Dr. Ignacio Lopez-Calvo’s tenure as adviser (2000-2003) the chapter has held several cultural activities, such as field trips to opera concerts, book signings by Latin American authors and poetry readings. The chapter also invited Dr. Jill Robbins (University of California, Irvine), Dr. Carl Jubran (University of San Diego), Dr. Armand Mattelart (University of Paris), Mariam Saada, Felipe Díaz, and Manuel Aguilar (CSULA) to give presentations on Hispanic literature and culture. Dr.Arturo Arias, President of LASA (Latin American Studies Association) and twice winner of the Casa de las Americas Award gave a talk entitled “Dos versiones de la verdad de Rigoberta Menchú: La version de MáximoCajal, y la construcción ideológica de David Stoll", and Mexican poet Citlalli H. Xochitiotzin read some of her poems and gave a talk on contemporary Mexican poetry. The chapter won the National Certificate of Honor and Merit for the academic year 2000-2001.
Dr. Domnita Dumitrescu, who was at that time serving her fourth term as National Vice-president of the organization for the Western region, has accepted to be again the chapter adviser for 2003-2005. Under her leadership, the chapter won again a certificate of honor and merit for its activity in 2003-2004, which included, among other things, the presentation of a book edited by two distinguished Department members- emeriti professors Gigi Gaucher-Morales and Alfredo Morales – in the series of the complete works of the Mexican writer Miguel N. Lira. After the presentation, a group of students read parts of a play by Miguel N. Lira. In fall 2004, professor José Cruz González, director of the West Coast Hispanic Repertory for more than eleven years, gave a lecture on the Hispanic theater in the US and showed footage of his own work with the local Hispanic community. The chapter also invited Dr. Silva-Corvalán, from USC, to be the keynote speaker at its initiation ceremony in Spring 2004, which was attended by almost 100 guests. She spoke on the topic of Spanish in Los Angeles.
In Spring 2005, the keynote address was given by Dr. Cristian Ricci, Assistant Professor of Spanish at UC Merced, and Cal State LA alumnus, on the topic: “The Moors Return to Spain: Frontiers, Immigration, Racism and Transculturation in the Contemporay Maghrebi Literature.”After the lecture, Spanish songs were performed by Angela Estrada, from the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, also a Cal State LA alumna.
The chapter also invited Berta Tapia, a Cal State LA alumna, to present the Who’s who in Ecuador dictionary, that she published, and in which several CSULA graduate students and alumni were included. The ceremony was presided over by Professor Ruzickova, who was in charge of the chapter at that time.
The major event in the chapter life is the annual ceremony for the initiation of new members and the fraternity dinner that follows. In Spring 2008, under Dr. Maria Costa’s leadership, the chapter held a successful initiation of new members at El Cid Restaurant. The most recent initiation ceremony took place on April 9, 2010, when the following 17 students were inducted as active members: Olivia Aguilar, Brian K. Bennitt, Jorge A. Encinas, Jardiel Ferreyra, Paola Gómez, Mee Elizabeth González, Suzette González, Victoria Harding, Esther M. Hernández, Ana Cecilia Iraheta, Miriam Monroy, María Isabel Oliveros, Heriberto A. Orea, Dulce E. Pichardo, Manrique Ramírez, Juancarlos H. Roque, and Ivett Romo Verdín. Also, graduate student Moisés Albarrán was awarded the prestigious Gabriela Mistral Prize, for his outstanding academic achievements and active participation in the chapter’s life. During the fraternity dinner, which was attended by the chapter’s members, their families and friends, as well as Spanish professors and a number of alumni who are now teaching Spanish at colleges in the area, professor Manuel Castillejos, Chair of the Department of Modern Languages at Mount San Antonio College, was distinguished with the Order of the Discoverers in recognition of his exemplary efforts to promote the Hispanic culture in the US and his sustained and active involvement in all the major cultural events of our Department.
At the Sigma Delta Pi Initiation Ceremony on April 9, 2010
Photo on the right: Professor Manuel Castillejos (left), Professor Domnita Dumitrescu (center), and Mr. Moises Albarran (right).
Professor Dumitrescu, who acted as interim adviser of the chapter in 2009- 2010, made a few welcoming remarks and acknowledged the financial support from emeritus professor Alfredo Morales, member of the Order of the Discoverers, and professor José Cruz González, from the Theater Arts Department, who is a honorary member of our chapter. She saluted the presence, in the audience, of Cuban poet and essayist Néstor Díaz de Villegas, and she ended her talk by reading some passages from the writings of Elena Poniatowska and álvaro Mutis, praising the beauty and the richness of the Spanish language.
At the end of the dinner, while the attendees were tasting a delicious cake with the inscription “Congratulations, Sigma Delta Pi,” there was a musical program, which included three Spanish songs sung, accompanied by his guitar, by Luis Moreno, a longstanding member of the chapter, and then several Hispanic “big hits” of all times, including “Bésame” and “Granada”, among others, as well as the aria of Don Quijote from “Man of La Mancha,” in the brilliant interpretation of Manuel Castillejos, who electrified the audience.
Since its reactivation, in 1989, the chapter has initiated more than 300 new members. The chapter has also recognized several of its faculty members by distinguishing them with the highest orders of this prestigious honor Society. So far, the Order of the Discoverers has been conferred on Dr. Dale, Carter, Dr. Gaucher-Morales, Dr. Alfredo Morales, Dr. Hildebrando Villarreal, and Dr. Joseph Chrzanowski, besides Professor Castillejo, already mentioned. Dr. Dumitrescu, the faculty adviser, has won in 1995 the José Martel prize for an outstanding adviser, in 1997, the Order of the Discoverers, and in 2003, the Order of Don Quijote. The chapter has also a number of honorary members, among them: Dr. Felipe Díaz, Dr. María Costa, Dr. Alejandro Solomianski, Dr. Elena Ruzickova, Dr. Pablo Baler, Dr. María Fernanda Márquez, and Professor José Cruz González, from the Theatre Arts department, among others. One of the recently elected honorary members of the chapter, Dr. Maya Márquez, has accepted to become the new adviser in Fall 2010.
In January 2010, Professor Dumitrescu has been appointed Honorary President of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society Sigma Delta Pi. According the the press release sent to the University at that time, “Her outstanding advocacy of Sigma Delta Pi and her ongoing accomplishments in academic leadership earned her this exclusive recognition that prior to 2009 had only been granted to 12 other Hispanists during the Society’s 90-year history. Professor Dumitrescu along with Dr. Susan Carvalho of the University of Kentucky will be the first female Honorary Presidents of Sigma Delta Pi when they are formally appointed during the Society’s Triennial Convention in Guadalajara, Mexico on July 12, 2010. Professor Gerardo Piña-Rosales, President of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language (www.anle.us), will be the other Honorary President appointed next summer.”
Updated in June 2010.