The above picture was taken from a brochure published by the Phi Beta Kappa Society, 1606 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009. Telephone: (202)-265-3808, Fax: (202)-986-1601.
Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's preeminent honor society for the liberal arts, has established chapters at a select group of colleges and universities. Election to membership is a special honor reserved for approximately the top ten percent of each graduating class. A group of juniors meeting even higher standards may be selected each year. Election is based on performance in liberal arts courses only, excluding courses in professional schools, internships, practica and other pre-professional courses.
In the past at Binghamton, several methods were used to identify students potentially qualified for membership, including advertising, word-of-mouth, and computer pre-selection based on GPA. Selection required many hours of faculty time to analyze transcripts against a set of complex criteria.
To bring our chapter more in line with the standards of the national Phi Beta Kappa organization, which uses the GPA as the basis for selection, and to make the procedure more accurate and efficient, the officers of our chapter have entirely revised the process. Details of the new procedure -- in effect since 1994 -- are given below. All students who are eligible will be found and notified. No applications are required.
For each student, let Total equal the total number of credit hours passed. Let Transfer equal the number of hours of transfer credits from non-Binghamton sponsored programs and let Exam equal the number of exam hours. Let Indep equal the number of credit hours for independent study and let IndepExcess equal Indep - 8 if Indep is greater than 8, 0 if Indep is less than or equal to 8. Let Ineligible equal the number of credit hours from ineligible courses, which are defined below. Let Eligible = Total - Transfer - Exam - IndepExcess - Ineligible. Let EGPA be the Grade Point Average computed from just the Eligible credits. If some Indep credits are included in Eligible, but IndepExcess is not equal to 0, then the 8 Indep credits included in the EGPA calculation should be those with the best grades.
We define juniors to be those students with Total between 80 and 107, and seniors to be those with Total at least 108. Let Seniors and Juniors be the total numbers of seniors and juniors, respectively.
The following courses are ineligible.
A maximum of eight credits of independent study courses will be eligible. Courses in foreign language study as well as conversation are eligible. Credits taken abroad under Binghamton-sponsored Overseas Programs as indicated in the Bulletin, are not considered to be transfer credits.
Prof. Ronald Mellor, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, presented a public lecture at Binghamton University, Nov. 11, 2011 in the Casadesus Recital Hall (Fine Arts 117) at 4:30 PM. A reception followed.
Title: East Meets West: Encounters Along The Ancient ``Silk Road". Long before the dawn of recorded history, traders and migrants moved across vast distances by land and by sea. They did not just carry products - precious metals, fabrics, or foodstuffs - but they brought their own culture with them: languages, writing systems, new forms of agricultural technology, animals, and even their diseases and systems of belief.
The most famous of these trade routes - the ``Silk Road" - stretched from China to the Mediterranean. Though this wonderfully exotic term conjures up a superhighway 5,000 miles long across Eurasia, there was no such thing as a ``Silk Road." Rather there were many individual roads, desert tracks, and mountain passes through which traders and nomads, armies and missionaries passed in both directions across the Eurasian steppe. We usually focus on the great civilizations at either end of this long trading network - Rome, Byzantium and the Near East at the western end, and imperial China in the East - but today's lecture will also examine the peoples and activities across the less known expanse of Central Asia.
Background of the speaker: Ronald J. Mellor, Distinguished Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles.
Ronald Mellor is professor of history at UCLA, where he has been teaching Greek and Roman history since 1976. He served as chair of the department from 1992 to 1997. His research has centered on ancient religion and Roman historiography, and he is the author of Thea Rome: The Goddess Roma in the Greek World; Tacitus; The Roman Historians; Tacitus: The Classical Heritage; Augustus and the Creation of the Roman Empire; and Tacitus' Annals (forthcoming, 2010). In connection with his award-winning work with teachers in the California History-Social Science Project, he served as the coeditor of The World in Ancient Times, a series of nine volumes for young readers (Oxford University Press).
His teaching has included frequent travel study courses in Rome, Florence, and Greece. He has been a fellow or visitor at University College London, the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University, the American Academy in Rome, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has held fellowships from the NEH and the ACLS.
You may use the following link to download a pdf file of the poster for this event. Mellor Poster
The next induction ceremony will take place on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 2:00 PM in the Chamber Hall of the Anderson Center. Letters will be sent out in February 2013 inviting three groups of students to the induction ceremony: (1) Those students who qualified and already joined based on their grades after the Spring 2012 semester, (2) Those students who qualified based on their grades after the Fall 2012 semester, (3) Those students who were selected as juniors and joined within the last two years will be invited to sit on the stage with the faculty and staff members to welcome the new student members. The students in the first group should begin getting the Key Reporter Phi Beta Kappa Magazine after we validate their memberships with the national organization. The students in the second group need to send in their registration fee (which should now be paid online) and must register online using the directions included in the invitation.
The ceremony will take less than one hour, and will be followed by a reception (including refreshments) in the hallway outside the Chamber Hall. All student, faculty and staff members and their families are invited to the reception.
Through the generosity of William and Sharon Hohauser (classes of 1981 and 1982, respectively), a scholarship fund has been established for a junior who has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, with preference for those who have participated in club sports. Established in 2005, the funds for this scholarship have reached a level where the first scholarship award was made to a qualified student inducted in 2010. The award, to be announced at the Induction Ceremony, will be given to the selected student in their senior year. No application is necessary for the award, but juniors who participate in club sports are encouraged to identify themselves and describe their club and intramural sports activities when accepting membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
The William and Sharon Hohauser Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship for 2010 was awarded to Scott H. Greenberg. Scott qualified as a junior, was inducted at the April 11, 2010 ceremony, and has participated is several club/intramural sports at Binghamton University.
The William and Sharon Hohauser Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship for 2011 was awarded to Tara-Marie Lynch. Tara-Marie qualified as a junior, was inducted at the April 3, 2011 ceremony, and has participated is club/intramural sports at Binghamton University.
The William and Sharon Hohauser Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship for 2012 was awarded to Anne Keating O'Connor. Anne qualified as a junior and was inducted at the April 21, 2012 ceremony.
The William and Sharon Hohauser Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship for 2013 was awarded to Aaron Taggart. Aaron qualified as a junior and was inducted at the April 7, 2013 ceremony.
Students who join our chapter sometimes ask if we have honor cords to wear at commencement. There has been so little demand for honor cords that we have not provided them, but students can easily order cords from the same company that makes our membership certificates. Here is a link to the page with the cords, keys and membership certificates.
Hand & Hammer Silversmiths
On December 5, 1776, a group of young men, students of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, meeting in the Apollo room of the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, formed the Phi Beta Kappa society, which they dedicated to high purposes with eighteenth-century eloquence. Chapters were established at Yale in 1780 and at Harvard in 1781, which ensured the perpetuation and propagation of the society when the parent chapter became inactive. During the following half century, four more chapters were founded: at Dartmouth in 1787, at Union in 1817, at Bowdoin in 1825, and at Brown in 1830. At the end of a century of growth, twenty-five chapters had been founded.
In 1883, the national body, the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, was organized. At present there are 283 chapters.
In 1875, the society extended the provilege of membership to women. In 1926, the 150th anniversary of the society's birth was made the occasion for raising an endowment fund and for exploring ways of encouraging scholarship in the educational institutions of this country. The Society now continues, well into its third century of existence, as the beacon of academic excellence and the symbol of scholarship in the liberal arts. In 1971, in recognition of this University's eminence in the liberal arts, the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa approved the chartering of this chapter, Psi of New York.
The original Phi Beta Kappa at William and Mary was a secret society. But as a result of anti-Masonic agitation in the 1830s, most of the chapters followed the lead of Harvard and repealed that injunction of secrecy. They retained, however, the medal or key with its symbolic engraving, which can be purchased from a company selected by the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
The present key, except for its smaller size and the lower stem added by the branch at Yale, is substantially the same as the original medal of the first chapter at William and Mary. It bears, on the obverse, the Greek letters, Phi Beta Kappa, the initials of the words Philosophia Biou Kubernetes, meaning ``The love of wisdom is the helmsman of life.'' In the upper left corner, three stars symbolize the aims of the society; Friendship, Morality and Literature. A pointing hand symbolizes aspiration. On the reverse, the letters S P represent the second name of the society, Societas Philosophiae, the society of the love of knowledge. Below them is the historic date of the society's founding, December 5, 1776, above; the name of the member is inscribed.
More details about the history of Phi Beta Kappa can be found through the above link to the national society webpages.
I am sometimes asked by qualified students what is the value of membership in Phi Beta Kappa. That is not a trivial question to answer, especially considering that there is a registration and initiation fee of $75, and that there are other honor societies with different purposes contending for members. We find many people we invite refuse to join because they have never heard of Phi Beta Kappa, they think it has no value to them, or they cannot afford it. I would like to address the issues briefly here, but you should not just take my advice, rather you should ask parents, relatives, other professors, what they think of Phi Beta Kappa and what it means to qualify and join. There is also a website for the national Phi Beta Kappa Society on which more historical information can be found.
First, there are not so many colleges and universities that even have a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and it is not possible to qualify unless your school has a chapter. It was a distinct honor for Harpur College to be granted a charter to open a chapter in 1971, based on a rigorous evaluation of our liberal arts program by a committee of the national organization. Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest liberal arts honor society in the United States (founded in 1776), and set the pattern for many other honor societies. So joining makes you part of a long proud tradition of scholars at the highest level of liberal arts education.
What are some of the benefits of joining? It certainly adds a special polish to your resume, which will be recognized by well-educated people and academics. In fact, if you ever worked as a faculty or staff member at a college or university having a chapter, you could participate in their activities and would be entitled to vote in elections of officers and in the selection of qualified students. You may say that the main activity is the election of new members, to honor their high academic achievements, and that is not so valuable to you personally. But the main purpose of the society is the encouragement and promotion of the liberal arts, which get little other support in this country. So many students are just looking for a job, technical training, but there is a deeper tradition of the value of a liberal arts education to enrich the life of the mind. What other society speaks up for that? We do sometimes have speakers (PBK visiting scholars) give talks on campus, but they are open to the public, not just chapter members. We are not a service organization, nor do we raise money for any charity. We do not have tedious meetings, nor do we have student officers because of the sensitive nature of the academic records which must be examined to determine qualified students. Your initiation and registration fee is a one-time lifetime investment which says that you support liberal arts education, not just technical training, in our university. Most of the fee goes to support the national organization, for the visiting scholar program, scholarly book awards and other national programs for the liberal arts. The rest of the fee is used to pay for the individually printed membership certificates and for our chapter to pay for the annual induction ceremony, reception, and mailing expenses associated with the selection process. None of the chapter officers receive any funds for their work, which is a completely voluntary donation of service to the university by faculty and staff who believe strongly in the value of the liberal arts, and in the strong recognition of excellence in academics. If the fee is a real hardship, some students find relatives who think it is worth it and contribute. I know my parents were very proud when I qualified and were happy to pay the fee, which was much less in 1971, when I qualified at Johns Hopkins University.
Since most students are elected to Phi Beta Kappa in their senior year, it does not allow time for students to do very much as members while at school. But many chapters reach out to members who live nearby, and organize them into groups of Phi Beta Kappa associates who may have intellectually stimulating events. Perhaps you will contact an associates group where you settle after college, or organize a new one, and become as deeply involved in Phi Beta Kappa as you like. Or you can just leave it behind as a final capstone to your academic career.
I hope my comments are of some help to qualified students who are still deciding whether or not to join. If new members have some ideas for activities you would like to see our chapter do, consistent with our philosophy and goals, please contact me personally. Congratulations to all students whose excellent academic work in the liberal arts qualified them for Phi Beta Kappa.
Phi Theta Kappa is a honor society for students at 2-year colleges and international schools.
Binghamton University awards several scholarships each fall semester to members of Phi Theta Kappa.
Selection is competitive, and to be considered an
is required by March 15. For further information contact 607-777-2171 or
The following link takes you to a list of Faculty and Staff who are members of Phi Beta Kappa, elected by the chapters where they went to college or university.Faculty Staff Members
The following links take you to lists of students who qualified for Phi Beta Kappa at Binghamton University during the last several years. These lists were taken from the Induction Ceremony Programs, and include those who qualified and joined after the Spring semester and those who qualified after the following Fall semester.PBK 2013
Links back to:
Webpage of Alex Feingold,
Department of Mathematical Sciences,