The University of Kansas is the home of the Alpha Chapter of Kansas of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Kansas Alpha was founded in 1890 as the oldest chapter west of the Mississippi and only the 31st chapter in the nation.
Phi Beta Kappa was founded at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1776. It is the oldest and most prestigious national academic honorary society, which for more than 240 years has recognized high academic achievement (top 5-10 % of a graduating class) by students who pursue both a broad and substantive liberal arts curriculum. Selection to membership, therefore, is based not solely upon the evidence of achievement as measured by grades, but also upon the Chapter’s belief that a program of study has been consonant with the Society’s aims. There is no monetary award associated with election.
According to the national website, Phi Beta Kappa “celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Its campus chapters invite for induction the most outstanding arts and sciences students at America’s leading colleges and universities. The Society sponsors activities to advance these studies — the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences — in higher education and in society at large.”
The Kansas Alpha chapter marks its year with a handful of activities: