News & Events
Phi Beta Kappa Zeta of Georgia Chapter Installation and Induction
April 9, 2016
The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society, installed a new chapter at Mercer University, in Fickling Hall inside the McCorkle Music Building. Following the installation, the new Zeta of Georgia chapter inducted its first class of members, 26 seniors and juniors in the College of Liberal Arts.
Dr. Catherine White Berheide, president of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, and Dr. Jeffrey K. Denny, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, professor of mathematics and president of the new chapter, presided over the installation ceremony of the Society’s 285th chapter in its 240-year history.
In addition to its student inductees, the chapter inducted seven foundation members, chosen for their commitment to the ideals of the liberal arts, investment in the development of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Mercer, as well as their promise to support and maintain the chapter. They include former First Lady of the United States Eleanor Rosalynn Carter, Mercer Chancellor Dr. R. Kirby Godsey, President William D. Underwood, Provost Dr. D. Scott Davis, Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Dr. Keith E. Howard, Director of Institutional Research Sarah E. May and Institutional Research Analyst Cynthia Stroud Glance.
The Phi Beta Kappa Society granted Mercer a chapter last October at its 44th Triennial Council in Denver, Colorado. The affirmative vote by the Society’s delegates, acting on a unanimous recommendation from its Committee on Qualifications and Senate, was the culmination of a years-long and highly competitive evaluation process that included site visits, review of the institution’s educational rigor in the liberal arts and sciences, governance structure, faculty excellence and demonstrated commitment to academic freedom. Installations of new chapters occur only once every three years.
“Sheltering a Phi Beta Kappa chapter distinguishes Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts as one of the top programs in the nation,” said Dr. Denny. “Our inaugural class of inductees is a group of simply amazing individuals. These students have excelled in courses across the curriculum. They also have been leaders in undergraduate research programs, study abroad courses, extracurricular activities such as the Model Arab League, and many other programs. We are very proud to honor our students and to have our university and faculty recognized for excellence.”
Prospective Phi Beta Kappa inductees are usually seniors among the top 10 percent of their graduating class who have completed a broad range of liberal arts and sciences coursework, including foreign language study and mathematics. Exceptional students meeting the Society’s requirements may also be considered as juniors.
The installation of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Mercer is monumental in many ways, noted Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill. “It is the result of decades of accomplishment by faculty, administrative staff, students and supporters who have created an institution of remarkable excellence in the liberal arts and sciences,” he said. “Students in the first induction class of Zeta of Georgia, and those in the years to follow, can take their place among the very best in the nation. Phi Beta Kappa membership is a badge of excellence they will carry for the rest of their lives.”
The invitation-only installation and induction ceremony was preceded by the dedication of the University’s Phi Beta Kappa Plaza outside Willingham Hall.
The new plaza features a monument constructed with granite taken from the foundation of the science building on Mercer’s original Penfield campus. It also includes a bronze replica of the gold Phi Beta Kappa key, which symbolizes the Society’s emphasis on lifelong learning.
New inductees, Phi Beta Kappa officials, Mercer faculty and other invited guests participated in several additional activities throughout the day, including a luncheon, Middle Georgia Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association reception and celebratory dinner.