Honor Society Traces Roots to Loras

Delta Epsilon Sigma (D.E.S.) is the national scholastic honor society for students, faculty, and alumni of colleges and universities with a Catholic tradition. It boasts 119 chapters and more than 38,800 members across the country.

And it started at Loras College.

In October 1938, Reverend E. A. Fitzgerald, dean of studies at then-Columbia College, was interested in launching a scholarly organization for similar institutions and surveyed 120 Catholic colleges and universities concerning their interest in participating in such a society. The promising results led to a meeting of interested members following a meeting of the College and University Department of the National Catholic Education Association (N.C.E.A.).

The participants organized a Committee of Founders that was geographically diverse and represented coeducational, male- or female-only Catholic colleges and universities.

Initially, 32 members formed a Committee of Founders, with Father Fitzgerald as chair, to begin the planning process. At a Constitutional Convention held at the Hotel President, Kansas City, Missouri, on March 29, 1940, a one-year provisional constitution was drafted. The convention approved the first 32 chapters of Delta Epsilon Sigma. One year later, the Society would adopt a permanent constitution.

Initial national meetings between 1941 and 1945 were infrequent because of the war, but Father Fitzgerald, the National Secretary-Treasurer, kept the Society alive.

To become a member of D.E.S., undergraduate students must be ranked in the top twenty percent of their class, while graduate students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Additionally, candidates must also have a record of dedication to intellectual activity and community service.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2019, Loras was the second-highest ranked Catholic college in the state of Iowa according to College Consensus, the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the third consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 10th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).