Their Greek letters are Pi Sigma Alpha (ΠΣΑ), representing the organization's three ideals: scholarship, leadership and service.
Mortar Board was founded nationally in 1918 at Ohio State University, Swarthmore College, University of Michigan and Cornell University. The Knox chapter, the Adelphi-Gnouthautii chapter, was founded two years later in 1920, making it the tenth-oldest chapter. It is named after the two former debate societies on the campus.
Mortar Board started women only, but began accepting men after Title IX in 1975, which prohibited discrimination based on sex in organizations on campuses that receive federal funds.
Mortar Board carries out many philanthropic activities during the year. In fall 2007, the organization picked up cigarette butts around campus and stored them in a large clear plastic container that they put on display in the Seymour Gallery in Seymour Union. They also organized a book drive at the end of the term.
Mortar Board sends a request for membership to students who have high GPA's. These students then must fill out an application, and the group will select new members based on this. They not only look for good grades, but a history of positive leadership and service.