Two of the College of Education faculty are members of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Darlene Russ-Eft, Discipline Liaison & Professor, Adult Education & Higher Education Leadership, and Karen Thompson, Assistant Professor of Cultural and Linguistic Diversity.
Darlene Russ-Eft was inducted into Kappa chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and later became member and president of the Northern California Association of Phi Beta Kappa. She says, "Phi Beta Kappa is important to teachers, faculty, and administrators because the society models, supports, and recognizes the love of learning and intellectual development that continues throughout one’s life."
Karen Thompson was elected to the Rhode Island Alpha chapter of Phi Beta Kappa when she was a junior at Brown University. She recommends students strive for membership because, "Phi Beta Kappa membership can provide access to networking opportunities and can serve as a mark of distinction noticed by employers."
Oregon State University has been awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter after a rigorous three-year application process.
Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest honor society for liberal arts and sciences. A total of 26 universities applied for the honor three years ago, and five were chosen for a site visit last year, including Oregon State.
This week, the Phi Beta Kappa Triennial Council voted to award a chapter to Oregon State and two other schools.
Phi Beta Kappa chapters exist at only about ten percent of colleges and universities, and only about ten percent of each institution’s arts and sciences graduates are invited to join Phi Beta Kappa each year. Invitees must demonstrate not only outstanding academic performance but also a record of coursework in the liberal arts and sciences that shows depth as well as breadth. Phi Beta Kappa members have included 17 U.S. Presidents, 39 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and more than 130 Nobel Laureates.
Oregon State President Edward J. Ray has been a member of Phi Beta Kappa since he was a senior at Queens College in the City University of New York, and there are more than 100 other Phi Beta Kappa members already among OSU faculty. Ray said he was excited about the prospect of offering membership to some of Oregon State’s many high-achieving students.
“Becoming a member of Phi Beta Kappa had a profound impact on my life and on my career as a leader of higher education,” Ray said. “When I was in college I couldn’t afford the $25 membership fee, but a family friend was generous enough to pay it for me. That’s why my late wife Beth and I set up a fund to make sure OSU students with similar financial limitations aren’t prevented from becoming members.”
The Kay Bowers Fund for Phi Beta Kappa Students, established by the Rays, will support eligible Phi Beta Kappa students who don’t have the resources to cover the expenses to join. Upon learning of the decision to award a chapter to Oregon State, Ray has just doubled the endowment.