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Purdue relaunches historic Alpha Zeta Honorary Society

Alpha Zeta, an honorary society for agriculture students, has stayed the course with roots that began in 1897. The Alpha Zeta Honorary Society was created at Ohio State University, is the oldest college society in agriculture and now connects students and alumni of agriculture across the nation. Purdue’s chapter was established in 1908. 

Christine Wilson, senior associate dean and director of academic programs, and Jay Akridge, Trustee Chair in Teaching and Learning Excellence and former Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, are alumni members of Alpha Zeta. They joined forces with Elizabeth Byers, assistant director for academic excellence and transformational education, and Zachary Brown,  assistant director of student recruitment and retention to relaunch Alpha Zeta this year after the pandemic had significantly reduced the number of student members and events. They’ll also serve as the new advisors of the society.

While founded as a fraternal society, Alpha Zeta is now an academic, honorary society. Through the discussion of its relaunch at Purdue, student members decided to focus Purdue’s chapter around three pillars: community, leadership and scholarship.

Morgan Murff, an undergraduate in Botany & Plant Pathology, is the Chancellor of Alpha Zeta and played a major role in relaunching the society. “Each of our founding pillars will have its own committee and chair dedicated to planning events and activities in that sector. I’m excited for these events and the opportunity they’ll provide for students to learn from each other and work on their skills.”
The officer of Alpha Zeta from left are Amirah Haweit, Morgan Murff, Ethan Lucas, Abby Meier and Dev Patel. The officers of Alpha Zeta from left are Amirah Haweit, Morgan Murff, Ethan Lucas, Abby Meier and Dev Patel.

Not only will students gain valuable experience and bolster a community around agriculture, they will carry their membership for life. Students have to meet a 3.75 GPA requirement after completing at least 45 credit hours to be invited for membership.

“Alpha Zeta brings needed, renowned recognition to students of agriculture,” Wilson said. “It will be a distinguished signal of academic achievement for their resumes, and it will connect them to a network of alumni that have gone on to become former secretaries of agriculture, scientists, business professionals and legislators.”

Byers and Brown were not alumni members, but they are joining Alpha Zeta along with the student inaugural group this year to advise the transformational experiences the society will bring.

“This society is really student-driven—the students took the initiative to relaunch Alpha Zeta,” Byers said. “Every incoming student will choose a committee to join and will participate in the event planning that will make this society an important resource across campus and give back to the community.”

Brown is equally impressed by the students and excited to see what they do in the coming years. “Our mission is to cultivate genuine leaders who will dedicate themselves to serving humanity. We are confident that this organization will evolve into a premier transformative experience, setting a new standard of excellence within the college of agriculture.”

This year Alpha Zeta welcomed 57 new students during an initiation ceremony on February 21 in the Beck Agricultural Center.

One new initiate at the event, Spencer Wilson from Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, shared, “I joined Alpha Zeta because I wanted to engage more with the Purdue agricultural community and other agriculture students. I’m glad we’re rebuilding this society to make those connections and to create a legacy of our own at Purdue.”
The 2024 inaugural class of Alpha Zeta at Purdue University. The 2024 inaugural class of Alpha Zeta at Purdue University.

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