Mortar Board adviser finds time capsule buried in 1987

Andrea Pedon

For the future members of Mortar Board, a national honor society, the past associates of the organization buried a time capsule behind McCoy Engineering Hall on Sept. 17, 1987. But the current members of the society didn’t even know it was there.

Tony Vidmar, faculty adviser for Mortar Board and vice president of university advancement and public affairs, said, “Behind McCoy Engineering Hall there is a plaque that talks about a time capsule [created] in 1987 by the Mortar Board chapter [which is] supposed to be opened 50 years from now in 2037. Our Mortar Board members didn’t even know it was there.”

Before Vidmar brought the capsule to her attention, Johna Lindsay, Mortar Board historian and former president, said she was uninformed about the capsule’s existence.

“I was unaware of the capsule before he mentioned it to us, but I do think it would be cool to find the Mortar Board insignia [the members] had back then, such as the pins that were awarded at induction and a stole or cord to show how they [the members] were recognized when the time capsule was put together,” Lindsay said.

Paytan Stubbs, Mortar Board president, said she believes there is a letter written for the future members.

“I’ll assume that inside is probably a letter to the members, hoping they’re continuing to carry on the honor club’s legacy,” said Stubbs. “There are probably pictures as well.”

To recognize college seniors for their accomplishments of leadership, services and scholarships, Mortar Board was established in 1918 as the first female national honors society.

Lindsay said, “Mortar Board is a National Honor Society that recognizes college seniors on three major areas, Scholarship, Leadership and Service. We try to promote these three areas across campuses nationwide to recognize and encourage leadership, advance a spirit of scholarship and to provide service to others.”

Since Mortar Board was first founded, it has accumulated more than 250,000 members, yet Vidmar said students on campus don’t know much about the organization.

“Mortar Board isn’t just a nationally recognized organization, it is the earliest female national honors society. Men weren’t even allowed into it until the ’70s,” Vidmar said.

Vidmar said Mortar Board is really known for advancing female leaders because women didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the past.

“It was a place where women could lead because unfortunately in the past everything was separate. Men had their own organizations and then there were women’s organizations,” Vidmar said.

Stubbs said after being involved in Mortar Board for two years, it has provided her with an increased confidence to take on leadership roles both in and outside the classroom.

“In terms of career development, it has given me the mindset of shared responsibility when in a team,” Stubbs said.

Mortar Board Timeline 

  • 1918 | Mortar Board established
  • 1976 | Men inducted into Mortar Board
  • 1987 | Time capsule buried on campus
  • 2017 | Johna Lindsay initiated as Mortar Board president on campus
  • 2018 | Johna Lindsay stepped down as president due to a family emergency and became the historian.
  • 2018 | Paytan Stubbs initiated as Mortar Board president on campus
  • 2037 | Time capsule is to be opened
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