Interest in establishing a Sigma Theta Tau Chapter at UMKC was expressed by various faculty members for several years prior to program accreditation. Dr. Virginia Nixon, former Director of Undergraduate Studies was instrumental in nurturing this interest in scholarship recognition. In the fall of 1985 Dr. Nixon became seriously ill; however, she continued to inspire faculty in the realization of her dream. Prior to Dr. Nixon’s death, Dr. Pat Conners, Dr. Jean Braun, Dr. Jan Russell, Pat Needles and other members of the Steering Committee laid the groundwork for a future Sigma Theta Tau chapter by developing a UMKC Nursing Honor Society. The first Steering Committee meeting was held on July 2, 1986 and from that point committee work progressed in earnest. Bylaws were written and a financial plan was put into place. A chapter application subcommittee investigated the chartering procedure for a future Sigma Theta Tau chapter.
On March 24, 1988, the UMKC Honor Society sponsored its first annual research day. Carol Germain, RN, EdD, FAAN served as the keynote speaker addressing the issue of “Qualitative Empirical Nursing Research”. Eighteen research projects were presented. The second annual research day cosponsored by the UMKC Nursing Honor Society was held on March 23, 1989. The theme was “Nursing Research: Making a Difference”. Sixteen nursing research projects were presented and for the first time awards of excellence were given to a paper presenter, Priscilla Wallingford, RN, MS and a poster presenter, Carol Byrd, RN, Ph.D.
After significant growth and development of the Honor Society’s membership and leadership, a STT evaluation visit was requested and set for March 29-30, 1989. Dr. Kathleen J. Mikan, STTI Secretary was the Evaluation visitor. After review of all aspects of the Honor Society including membership, committee and financial records, student, alumni, administrative and community support, numerous positive observations regarding rapid growth and demonstrated leadership within the nursing community. Dr. Mikan recommended our prospective chapter for STT membership to the president of STT who in turn communicated that to the House of Delegates. This communication was presented to the 30th Biennial Convention on Nov. 17, 1989. Several of the UMKC Honor Society members were able to attend (including Nancy Hoffman, Dean Kathleen Bond, Jan Russell, Kathy Dexheimer, Irma Schweiterman, Connie Evenson, Kathleen Lorfing, Dorothy Phillips, Kathy Keller and Lois Mall). Travel to Indianapolis was via Amtrack and evidently a good time was had by all.
Following the successful charter petition, notification was made that our chapter’s name would be Lambda Phi and that our chapter installation ceremony would be held April 20, 1990. An Installation Arrangement Committee was established which included Loral Lacey-Haun, Jan Russell, Dorothy Phillips, Connie Evenson, Nancy Hoffman, Rose Marie Fowler-Swartz, Kathy Keller, Jeanne Wissmann and Martha Gragg. The first Installation Ceremonies took place on Friday, April 20, 1990 at the Marriott Plaza Hotel. The first officers of the now official Lambda Phi Chapter of STT were Connie Evenson, President, Lora Lacey-Haun, President-Elect, Nancy Hoffman, Vice Presdient, Rita Haxton, Secretary, Rose Marie Fowler-Swartz, Treasurer and Jan Russell and Elaine Williams, Counselors.