Phi Beta Kappa Installs Butler Chapter
The Phi Beta Kappa Society installed its Theta of Indiana Chapter at Butler University on Feb. 4, making Butler one of only 280 universities nationwide to host a chapter of the country’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.
Phi Beta Kappa national Secretary John Churchill led the ceremony in Atherton Union’s Reilly Room. Twenty faculty and staff who already belonged to Phi Beta Kappa (shown standing) were inducted as the chapter’s charter members, along with five foundation members. The latter include Butler alumni the Rev. Sharon Watkins ’75, president of the Disciples of Christ Christian Church; Frank Levinson ’75, philanthropist and pioneer in fiber optic technology; and Dr. Craig Anderson ’76, distinguished professor of psychology at Iowa State University (shown seated, center, with Provost Jamie Comstock). Anderson is internationally known for his work on human aggression, particularly media and video game violence. His daughter Caitlin Anderson ’12 is a current Butler student.
Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa recognizes outstanding undergraduates in the liberal arts and sciences. Lifetime membership in the honorary and its distinctive golden key are considered emblems of high achievement, bringing a competitive advantage for those who qualify.
Only 10 percent of U.S. colleges and universities, and eight of all Indiana institutions, are home to Phi Beta Kappa chapters.
“To be among that group is an honor, and it reflects the fact that Butler provides students with a quality liberal arts education,” said chapter president-elect Kathryn Morris, chair of Butler’s psychology department.
Applying for Phi Beta Kappa candidacy is a three-year process, and new chapters are voted in every three years. Applicant schools are visited by a delegation from Phi Beta Kappa’s national Committee on Qualifications, which assesses the school’s academic strengths and resources. Normally, the delegation will recommend needed improvements, requiring a second three-year cycle of application.
Butler beat those odds, initiating its application process in 2006 and receiving approval in October 2009.
On Honors Day, April 10, Butler will induct around 30 student members, all juniors and seniors, into Phi Beta Kappa.
Morris was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa as a junior at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.
“My father, who was an academic at a liberal arts college, presented me with my first Phi Beta Kappa key,” she said. “I was the first member of the family to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and it was recognition of the significance of the liberal arts in my upbringing and college education.”
Butler fit into her long-held plans to teach at an institution with an excellent liberal arts experience for undergraduates, she said. “But the addition of Phi Beta Kappa is the feather in the cap.”
Irwin Library’s Associate Dean of Public Services Sally Neal is secretary for Theta of Indiana chapter. Professor of Philosophy Stuart Glennan is treasurer.
Provost Jamie Comstock and interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Judy Morrell also became foundation members of the chapter. McGregor Professor in the Humanities Paul Valliere, who chaired Butler’s chapter application committee, said foundation members “are elected to bring distinction to the new chapter and to be sources of wise counsel.
“In inviting Foundation Members, the chapter wished to honor the three classic divisions of the liberal arts—humanities, social sciences and natural sciences—by electing one distinguished Butler alumnus from each. The other two Foundation Members honor the academic administration of Butler.”
Following the chapter installation, the 2010 Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity opened in Irwin Library. The annual exhibit showcases research, publications and art work submitted by Butler faculty and staff members. The Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity will remain on display through Sunday, Feb. 21.
Contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
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