Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for distinguished ability and achievement in scholarship, leadership, and service. Mortar Board began in 1918 as the first national organization for women. When the Society opened its membership to men in 1975, the organization maintained a tribute to the founders and its heritage by strengthening the Preamble to the Constitution by including a commitment to advance the status of women. In 1932, the San Diego State University Chapter of Mortar Board gained official establishment as the Cap & Gown Honor Society. In 1965, our chapter received recognition as a member of the National College Senior Honor Society, or simply what is known today as Mortar Board. 

The Jane K. Smith Cap and Gown Chapter accepts 45 students from an eligible pool of over 4,000 based on scholarship, leadership, and service. We hold monthly meetings and put on many events during the school year. One of our biggest events is the Faculty-Staff Appreciation Dinner, which allows each member the opportunity to invite faculty or staff members who have particularly inspired the member during his or her college career. In the past, we held the Emeritus Faculty & Staff Outstanding Service Awards Ceremony, which honored community members of San Diego State University for their service to the community by placing a bronze plaque at the base of a campus tree.

Tapping of Mortar Board initiates occurs during the spring semester. During tapping, current members of Mortar Board go into the classes of the 45 newly selected students and invite them publicly to join the society.

If you are eligible, we strongly suggest you apply! Being selected to Mortar Board is a high honor.

Mortar Board Ideals 

The preamble of the Mortar Board organization describes scholarship, leadership, & service:

  • To facilitate cooperation among senior honor societies and to contribute to the self-awareness of its members,
  • To promote equal opportunities among all people,
  • To emphasize advances in the status of women,
  • To support the ideals of the university,
  • To advance a spirit of scholarship,
  • To recognize and encourage leadership,
  • To offer service and to set up the opportunity for a meaningful exchange of ideas as individuals and as a group.  

Local Chapter Activities 

Members of Mortar Board work together to play an active role in leadership and service on campus and in the community. Present activities of the Cap and Gown Chapter include: 

  • Faculty and Staff Appreciation Dinner
  • Philanthropy Projects
  • Mortar Board Daily Planner and Calendar of Events
  • Tapping Honorary Members
  • Alumni Reception
  • Senior Luncheon 

Requirements for Active Members

Mortar Board is a highly active organization that requires a time commitment and consistent participation from its members. Other campus honors organizations offer membership to students without establishing societal responsibilities. Membership into Mortar Board is not the same. Consideration for admittance requires an extensive application & essay before students are selected.  Our members must engage themselves in local chapter activities, monthly meetings, and special events.

Publication of Our Chapter's History

Former Chancellor and Chapter Adviser Darlene Davies has published a history of the Jane K. Smith Cap and Gown Chatper. The book can be purchased at the SDSU Bookstore or online at Amazon.

Mortar Board History Book