David Granger


AUBURN -- Auburn University was among seven colleges and universities to win approval this past weekend for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa honor society -- the oldest honor society in the United States.

Phi Beta Kappa was founded at the College of William and Mary in 1776 and is considered by many to be the most prestigious collegiate honorary.

Auburn had been seeking a Phi Beta Kappa chapter for nearly 20 years.

"With the charter here at Auburn of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, we have joined a select group of colleges and universities across the country," said Linda Glaze, AU's assistant provost for academic affairs. "This is the latest in a growing number of recognitions and accolades recognizing Auburn's growing reputation for scholarship. We're thrilled that Phi Beta Kappa is finally coming to Auburn."

With its charter, Auburn becomes one of only three schools in Alabama with Phi Beta Kappa chapters, joining the University of Alabama and Birmingham-Southern College.

Other major universities in the Southeast with chapters include the universities of Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas and Louisiana State University. Other land-grant institutions with chapters are Purdue University, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University and Virginia Tech.

Auburn will officially receive its charter at an installation ceremony to be organized in the spring.

In the early 1970s, Phi Beta Kappa members in the Auburn community organized to pursue a chapter. In addition, the Phi Beta Kappa members have annually recognized students who have meritorious records in the arts and sciences.

Phi Beta Kappa principally recognizes undergraduates, although Ph.D. students may be recognized. Students are normally selected for Phi Beta Kappa at the end of the senior year and must be in the top 10 per cent of their class, have a strong foundation in the arts and sciences with at least 90 semester hours from those two areas. They must also have studied mathematics and a foreign language.

In order to acquire a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the Phi Beta Kappa faculty members at the applying university must make the application for a charter. There are about 60 members of Phi Beta Kappa at Auburn, with two-thirds on the faculty of the colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Mathematics.

Of a total of 51 applicants in the society's latest process, Auburn was one of nine chosen for site visits. Seven of those schools -- Auburn, Austin College, Florida International University, Illinois Wesleyan University, St.Joseph's (Pa.) University, Truman University and the University of Mississippi -- were approved to sponsor new chapters.

"It's much like an accreditation visit," Eloise Clark, chair of Phi Beta Kappa's Committee on Qualifications told the Chronicle of Higher Education, "but it's much more oriented to the arts and science activities on campus. Strong scholarship and creativity are two of the most important components that are examined."

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CONTACT: Glaze, 334/844-5771.