Since its founding in 1776, the national Phi Beta Kappa Society has been rewarding excellence in the liberal arts and sciences by selecting members who embody superior academic achievement and a love of learning. This month, the Centre College Beta chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, established in 1971 and one of only two chapters in Kentucky, joins in celebrating the 239th anniversary of this, the nation’s most widely-known academic honor society.
Professor of Anthropology Endre Nyerges, himself a member of Phi Beta Kappa and past officer of Centre’s chapter, describes the impact of his work with this select group of academics.
“What comes to mind first for me is the pleasure of associating with such a distinguished group of colleagues, each a highly competent professional in her or his field and all wonderful people to know,” Nyerges says. “The happiest part, however, is learning about the students who’ve excelled so magnificently in their four years here.
“Being inducted means that a student has done extraordinarily well both in a particular field and in a breadth of subjects,” Nyerges continues, “and each new member exemplifies the best of what a liberal arts education can produce.”
Fewer than 10 percent of America’s colleges and universities have a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Those that do have earned the right by demonstrating that the liberal arts and sciences—the traditional core of higher learning—are at the center of their educational program and that excellence in these enduring studies is achieved, maintained and celebrated. Phi Beta Kappa and Centre, along with other host institutions, recognize the value of liberal arts education as the best preparation for professional success, responsible citizenship and personal fulfillment.
A special initiation ceremony is held each year during Commencement weekend to recognize new Phi Beta Kappa inductees.
“For Centre College, a Phi Beta Kappa chapter means that we have a very special and distinctive way of recognizing the highest academic achievement of our students,” Nyerges says. “As a professor, there is really nothing like knowing students who are being inducted and feeling that you’ve had perhaps some small part to play in their success.”
by Cindy Long
December 2, 2015