Pinnacle was officially born in April of 1989 when a first mailing was made to a select group of 100 colleges and universities around the country informing them of the creation of a recognition society for adult and other non-traditional students and offering them the opportunity to join. However, Pinnacle was actually created in the minds of a half-dozen higher education faculty members and administrators during a series of meetings throughout the 1980s.
The first discussion took place in the spring of 1980 in San Antonio, Texas. The stories were the same from all over the country: even the best non-traditional students had a difficult time being accepted for membership in the "traditional" honorary societies represented on the nation's campuses. Some campuses reported that no adult student had ever been accepted for membership in the traditional honoraries. As the years went by the discussions began to focus on how the recognition needs of adult and other non-traditional students could best be met. Eventually, the group settled on the idea of creating a special honorary society for adult/non-traditional students.
Still the idea was placed on hold for a couple of years until Frank Julian, the Vice President for Student Development at Murray State University in Kentucky, decided to step down from his long-held post and turn his attention to full-time teaching. Frank devoted a part of his interim sabbatical to getting the new organization off the ground. The year was 1989.
In the winter of 1988-89, during a telephone conference call, the name of the new organization was created. The group was considering a number of possible names for the organization when an adult student said, "I don't care what you call it. All I know is that if I were to be selected for membership and recognition, it would represent the pinnacle of my life's achievements." Thus, the name Pinnacle was given to the new honorary society.
The first two mailings drew 25 positive responses and the organization was off and running. It had 50 chartered institutional members by the end of the second year when its sister organization, Spire, was created for students with two-year degrees. Today, over 150 institutions hold membership in Pinnacle/Spire and the number just keeps on growing as word of its existence spreads throughout higher education circles. Member institutions represent a broad cross-section of American higher education, from large public universities to regional universities, to small private colleges, to historically black institutions, to single-sex colleges.
It appears the future for Pinnacle and Spire is bright as the futures of the students who are honored through selection for membership in America's fastest growing honor society.