The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest and most distinguished academic honorary society in America. It was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, and chapters were subsequently established at Yale in 1780 and at Harvard in 1781. In 1989 a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter--Beta of Oklahoma--was chartered on the University of Tulsa campus, the second to be established in the state of Oklahoma.
The Society champions and promotes the freedom of scholarly inquiry and the liberal ideal in education. By liberal we mean free and broad, in the sense of an educational breadth that crosses disciplines, and is suffused with a relish for the adventure of lifelong learning. Liberal Studies generally refer to disciplines and courses in the arts and sciences (such as English literature, psychology, art history, biology, and physics) that are not just for the purpose of preparing one for a profession, but also for providing an understanding of the complexity and diversity of the world around us, the vastness of the universe that encompasses us, and the cultural and historical foundations of human societies that comprise our global communities. A liberal education leads to the formation of a broadly educated person who is equipped with the tools and skills for effective and critical thinking, writing, and speaking; and it enables one to make a positive and a distinctive difference in the world, regardless of what profession or environment one enters. Election to membership in Phi Beta Kappa acknowledges that an individual has attained high scholarly distinction and possesses the potential for a lifetime of learning and outstanding achievement.
To be invited for membership, students must presently have junior or senior standing, maintain a high GPA, and show proficiency in a foreign language and in mathematics. Students majoring in the traditional liberal arts and sciences are considered as long as they have taken a breadth of courses indicative of a broad liberal education. The chapter historically has also extended membership to qualified students from the Colleges of Business and Engineering and Applied Sciences. Election into Phi Beta Kappa is one of the highest academic honors and is almost universally regarded as evidence of superior scholarly attainment.
Along with the yearly election of student members, the University of Tulsa Beta Chapter inducts into membership distinguished Honorary and Alumni/ae Members. Past honorees include renowned artists, scientists, writers, scholars, and educators.
The local chapter of Phi Beta Kappa sponsors guest speakers and special programs during the academic year, and these events are open to the University of Tulsa and greater Tulsa communities.
The culmination of the year’s activities is the annual Initiation Ceremony, held the evening before May Commencement. During this ceremony new student members (Members in Course) and distinguished Alumni/ae and Honorary Members are inducted in a formal and memorable ceremony that publicly recognizes and honors each inductee. The honored alumni/ae or honorary member gives a short but meaningful address. In 2012, an address was delivered by each of the new Alumnus Members, Edward S. Dumit, professor emeritus of communication, and Robert L. Canfield, cultural anthropologist. Twenty-eight TU students were inducted and honored at the ceremony. The ceremony was attended by University President Steadman Upham and Chapter President Brett McKinney, who congratulated each of the inductees. Also present were Resident Members of Phi Beta Kappa, representatives of the University administration, faculty and staff, and relatives and friends of the initiates.
For a complete program of the event please see the Events page
TU senior history and English major Cara Dublin was selected as an intern with the Phi Beta Kappa National Office in Washington, DC. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa 2012. She will write six publishable articles from Tulsa for the online version of The Key Reporter, Phi Beta Kappa's news and alumni magazine. Cara has also just been awarded a Fulbright to study for a master's program in England.
Marche Academique - Processional for the Phi Beta Kappa Initiation Ceremony, by Professor Joseph L. Rivers, Beta of Oklahoma (inducted Alpha of South Carolina). University of Tulsa Brass Quintet. Commissioned by Beta of Oklahoma and played annually at each induction ceremony since 1991. To obtain a score, email firstname.lastname@example.org.