Alpha of Kansas - since 1890

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest, most prestigious liberal arts and sciences honorary society. KU is home to the Kansas Alpha Chapter, founded in 1890. Our motto is "Love of Learning is the Guide of Life."

History

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.

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.

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.”

Honorary Members

Each year, Kansas Alpha elects an honorary member. In 2018, we are excited to offer honorary membership to Chancellor Girod. He will be initiated and make brief remarks at our initiation ceremony on May 13. Other recent honorary members include Vice Provost DeAngela Burns-Wallace and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean Carl Lejuez.

Election and Initiation

Elections take place in the spring each year. Committees made up of KU faculty and staff members of Phi Beta Kappa review transcripts from eligible students to make their selection, and students are notified in March of their election.

The Kansas Alpha Chapter hosts its initiation ceremony on Commencement day at KU. We meet at 8:00 a.m. in the Big XII room across from Woodruff auditorium in regalia (or business casual clothes for juniors) and proceed to Woodruff for an 8:30 a.m. ceremony featuring a student speaker and a newly elected honorary member. We finish with plenty of time for everyone to continue on to the main campus Commencement ceremony.

Initiation for 2018 will take place before commencement on May 13.

Campus Activities

We meet throughout the year with the prior year's elected students still in residence for informal activities and elect student officers. 

Since 2017, we have presented a book award to first-year students.

The Kansas Alpha chapter occasionally hosts Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars. Most recently, in February 2018, we hosted Visiting Scholar Mary Miller.

Current chapter board members:

  • President: Associate Professor Meagan Patterson (Educational Psychology)
  • Vice-President: Assistant Professor David Slusky (Economics)
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Dr. Anne Wallen (Office of Fellowships)

2017-2018 Student Officers:

  • Mario Balcazar, Co-President
  • Toni Rufledt, Co-President
  • Susana Geiger, Vice President

 


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
KU Today