Phi Beta Kappa
Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and largest academic honor society, is dedicated to promoting excellence in the liberal arts. Founded on December 5, 1776, by five students at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA, Phi Beta Kappa was the first society to have a Greek letter name and to introduce the essential characteristics of such societies: an oath of secrecy (discarded in 1831), a badge, mottoes in Latin and Greek, a code of laws, and an elaborate initiation ritual. Fewer than ten percent of colleges and universities nationwide shelter chapters and together the chapters admit less than one percent of college graduates nationwide.
The national Phi Beta Kappa organization invited Saint Michael’s College to establish a chapter in 2003. To be considered for this honor, an institution must have a faculty with at least ten percent Phi Beta Kappa members. Other criteria include the quality of faculty and their research, the quality of students and extent of student research, the success of students in gaining fellowships and admission to graduate and professional programs, honors programs, and library quality. As the Gamma Chapter of Vermont, Saint Michael’s College is one of only three Vermont institutions to have a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, the others being the University of Vermont (Alpha) and Middlebury College (Beta). Of the more than 200 Catholic colleges in the nation, no more than twenty-five shelter chapters of Phi Beta Kappa.
Election to Phi Beta Kappa is a great academic honor. The number of undergraduates elected in a class cannot exceed ten percent of the number expected to receive a bachelor’s degree in that class. Of these, a maximum of one-fifth may be elected in their junior year.
National PBK Mission Statement:
“Phi Beta Kappa promotes the values of the liberal arts and sciences by inducting into membership the most outstanding arts and sciences students in the nation’s leading colleges and universities, and by advocating academic excellence, freedom of inquiry and expression, informed deliberation and understanding, and active engagement with important issues.”
For a list of current student members at Saint Michael’s, see Inductees.
If you have any questions about the Vermont Gamma chapter, please contact:
Nathaniel Lew, President
William (Sandy) Karstens, Secretary
The Chapter elects undergraduate student members on the basis of scholarly achievement, broad cultural interests, and good character.
The following five conditions are required in order for a candidate to qualify for election:
- The candidate must be fully registered at the College.
- The candidate must have completed at least three full academic semesters in residence at the College, including at least one term of the junior year.
- Candidates in the junior year must have a Grade Point Average (GPA) in the 98th percentile or higher of the class, and candidates in the senior must have a GPA in the 85th percentile or higher of the class. In calculating GPA for this purpose, grades earned in applied or pre-professional courses, as determined by the Chapter, shall not count.
- The candidate must have earned at least three quarters of his or her course credits in the liberal arts and sciences, defined as the traditional disciplines of the natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, and humanities. Courses in other programs of study may be included only if they unambiguously embody the liberal arts and sciences. Professionally focused courses and courses devoted to the acquisition of practical skills do not count.
- An intermediate knowledge of a second or non-native language is a minimum requirement for eligibility. All students in the Class of 2022 and thereafter who pursue a B. S. degree must fulfill this language requirement if they are to be eligible for election to Phi Beta Kappa. Placing out of the current language requirement is one way to fulfill that requirement.
- Knowledge of mathematics is a minimum requirement for eligibility. SMC students must have completed either a course in Mathematics numbered MA 110 or higher, or a course in Statistics numbered ST 120 or higher, or Philosophy 250 (Logic). Advanced placement or other college credit for an equivalent course (MA 110 or higher) is also acceptable. The National Phi Beta Kappa stipulation is “The candidate’s undergraduate record shall include at least one course in the college-level mathematics, logic, statistics, with content appropriate to a liberal art and sciences curriculum.”
- Finally, although a science course is not required for membership in PBK, Saint Michael’s College students have always taken one. Taking a science course counts towards the “breadth” requirement.
Fulfilling these conditions does not automatically guarantee election. In addition, the Chapter examines the eligible students’ records to assess the breadth and depth of the candidate’s study in liberal arts and sciences, giving weight to:
- The number, variety, and level of courses taken outside the requirements of the major,
- The proportion of the candidate’s overall program those courses constitute, and,
- The number of elective courses taken above the introductory level.
- Other academically enhancing experiences pursued in addition to major requirements, which could include academic experiences such as study abroad or summer research.
Finally, in keeping with the interest of the society’s founders in fostering not only academic excellence but also friendship and morality, the Chapter extends invitations to Phi Beta Kappa only to persons of good moral character.
Nathaniel Lew, President
Candas Pinar, Vice President
William (Sandy) Karstens, Secretary
Anthony Bassignani, Treasurer
Peter Vantine, Historian
Stacey Knight, Member at Large
George Dameron, Immediate Past Chapter President
Ms. Dina Alsaffar – Academic Support Services
Dr. George Ashline – Mathematics
Mr. Anthony Bassignani – Library Information Services
Dr. Carol Begley – Latin Emerita
Dr. Ronald Begley – Philosophy & Latin Emeritus
Dr. Donna Bozzone – Biology Emerita
Ms. Allison Cleary – Media Studies, Journalism, & Digital Arts
Dr. Maura D’Amore – English
Dr. George Dameron – History Emeritus
Mr. Nicholas Drake – Office of Admissions
Mr. Ryan Hay – MOVE
Dr. William Karstens – Physics
Dr. John Kenney – Religious Studies Emeritus
Ms. Stacey Knight – Library Information Services
Dr. Adrie Kusserow – Sociology and Anthropology
Dr. Crystal L’Hôte – Philosophy Dr. Diane Lander – Business Emerita
Dr. Nathaniel Lew – Fine Arts
Dr. Malcolm Lippert – Biology Emeritus
Dr. Dagan Loisel – Biology
Dr. William Marquess – English Emeritus
Dr. Carolyn Marsden – Biology
Ms. Denise Martin – Biology, retired
Dr. Molly Millwood – Psychology
Ms. Elizabeth Murray – Marketing and Communications
Dr. John J. Neuhauser – President Emeritus
Dr. Megan Ohler – Student Life
Dr. Candas Pinar – Sociology
Ms. D. Sydney Rybicki – Alumni Engagement
Ms. Joanne Scott – Business, retired
Dr. Kerry Shea – English
Dr. Laura Stroup – Environmental Studies
Dr. Kimberly Sultze – Media Studies, Journalism, & Digital Arts
Dr. Jeffrey Trumbower – Religious Studies
Dr. Peter Vantine – Modern Languages
Dr. Patrick Walsh – Economics
Dr. Catherine Welch – Student Life
THE PHI BETA KAPPA SOCIETY
GAMMA CHAPTER OF VERMONT
SAINT MICHAEL’S COLLEGE
As amended February 13, 2015
ARTICLE I Officers and Organization
Section 1: The membership of the chapter shall consist of:
a) Faculty/Staff Members: members of the faculty and staff of Saint Michael’s College who are members of other chapters and who are full-time employees or who hold academic appointments at the College; those Faculty/Staff Members who held their positions when the chapter charter was granted shall be called Charter Members;
b) Student Members: students elected to membership during their course of study at Saint Michael’s College, and transfer students and graduate students at Saint Michael’s College who are already members of other chapters; Student Members remain in this category until graduation, at which point they become Continuing Members;
c) Alumni/ae Members: graduates of Saint Michael’s College elected to membership after their graduation, in recognition of scholarly achievement;
d) Honorary Members: non-graduates of Saint Michael’s College elected to membership in recognition of scholarly achievement; those Honorary Members elected at the granting of the chapter charter shall be called Foundation Members;
e) Continuing Members: former Student Members who have graduated and former Faculty/Staff Members who no longer hold full-time positions or academic appointments at Saint Michael’s College;
f) Other Members: part-time staff and part-time faculty without academic appointments who are members of other chapters.
Section 2: All members of the chapter, as described above, shall have full membership privileges, except that the privileges of (1) voting on candidates for election to membership, (2) voting on expulsion of members, and (3) voting on amendments to these Bylaws, shall be reserved for Faculty/Staff Members only.
Section 3: The officers of the chapter shall be a President, a Vice President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and a Historian. The term of office of all officers shall run from June 1st to May 30th.
Section 4: The President and Vice President shall serve two-year terms. At the start of a new term of office, the Vice President from the previous year shall automatically become the President. This precludes any individual from serving successive terms as President or Vice President, but there shall be no other limitation on the number of terms an individual can serve in those offices.
Section 5: The Secretary and Treasurer shall serve three-year terms. Ordinarily, no individual shall serve more than two successive terms in either one of these offices, but there shall be no other limitation on the number of terms an individual can serve in those offices.
Section 6: The Historian shall serve a three-year term. There shall be no limitation on the number of terms an individual can serve in this office.
Section 7: At the annual meeting, the chapter shall elect the Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Historian as necessary by a majority vote.
Section 8: The Executive Committee shall consist of the immediate past President (if present on campus), the five elected officers, and one additional at-large member appointed for a one-year term by the President. The at-large member may be any type of member. The Executive Committee shall have authority to conduct the affairs of the chapter between meetings, subject to instruction from the chapter and save as otherwise specifically provided in these Bylaws (e.g., election of members).
Section 9: The Membership Committee nominates candidates for Student, Alumni/ae, and Honorary Membership. The voting members of the Membership Committee shall consist of the Vice President (ex-officio voting member) and three other members. Of these four, at least three must be members of the teaching faculty of Saint Michael’s College. In addition the Secretary of the chapter shall serve as a non-voting ex officio member of the Membership Committee. Each year, the President shall appoint one member to the committee for a term of three years. Ordinarily, unless elected to the office of Vice President, no individual may serve more than two successive terms on the Membership Committee, but there shall be no other limitation on the number of terms an individual can serve on the committee. The Membership Committee elects its own chair.
Section 10:Each year, the President shall appoint an Auditing Committee of two members to review the accounts of the Treasurer and make a report at the annual meeting.
Section 11:The President or Executive Committee shall appoint additional ad hoc committees as necessary.
ARTICLE II Meetings
Section 1 The Executive Committee shall make arrangements for the annual meeting and for other regular meetings. At the annual meeting, the normal order of business shall be as follows:
Call to order
- Approval of the minutes of the preceding annual meeting or meetings
- Report of the Executive Committee
- Report of the Treasurer
- Reports of the Auditing Committee and any ad hoc committees
- Unfinished business
- Consideration of communications from the Society
- Report of the Membership Committee, including nomination of candidates for Student, Alumni/ae, and Honorary Members
- Election of Student, Alumni/ae, and Honorary Members
- Other new business
- Election of officers
Section 2 The Secretary shall send written notice of all meetings to all Faculty/Staff Members and Student Members at least one week in advance of the meeting. The notice shall state the purpose of the meeting and the business to be considered. Communication by electronic mail shall constitute written notice.
Section 3 A quorum at meetings shall consist of six Faculty/Staff and Student Members.
Section 4 Any vote shall be by secret ballot if requested by one or more of the members present.
Section 5 The chapter may invite members of other chapters who do not qualify for membership as defined in Article I, Section 1, of these Bylaws to any meeting, but they shall not participate in the transaction of business.
Section 6 Special meetings may be called by the President or Executive Committee, and shall be called upon written request by four members. At the special meeting no business shall be transacted other than that stated in the notice of the meeting.
ARTICLE III Eligibility of Student Members
Section 1 The chapter shall elect undergraduate Student Members primarily on the basis of broad cultural interests, scholarly achievement, and good character, subject to the following conditions:
a) The candidate shall be enrolled in the junior or senior year at Saint Michael’s College.
b) The candidate shall have completed at least three full semesters of work in residence at Saint Michael’s College and be fully registered at the College.
c) For election in the junior year, the candidate shall have completed at least one academic term of the junior year. The caliber of his or her work shall be of exceptional distinction, including a Grade Point Average (GPA), as computed by the Registrar, placing him or her in the 98th percentile or higher of the class.
d) For election in the senior year, the candidate shall have a GPA placing him or her in the 85th percentile or higher of the class.
e) Grades earned in applied or professional work, as determined by the chapter, shall not count in the computation of the GPA for purposes of eligibility.
f) The chapter shall give weight to the breadth of the candidate’s program of study as shown by the number and variety of courses taken outside of his or her major. The chapter shall also give weight to the balance and proportion in the candidate’s degree program as a whole.
g) Candidates shall have demonstrated knowledge of mathematics and of a foreign language at least minimally appropriate for a liberal education.
Section 2 Subject to other provisions of the chapter Constitution and these Bylaws, the chapter may consider those students who complete their college course and become eligible at the end of the summer session along with the eligible group during the following academic year.
Section 3 The number of undergraduates elected from any class, including those elected in their junior year, shall not exceed ten percent of the number of undergraduates expected to receive a bachelor’s degree in that class. A maximum of one-fifth of the members elected from any class may be elected in their junior year.
Section 4 Election to membership in this chapter of Phi Beta Kappa is wholly within the discretion of the members of this chapter, subject only to the limitations imposed by the Constitution and Bylaws of this chapter, and no right to election shall adhere to any student solely by reason of fulfillment of the minimum GPA for election to Student Membership.
Section 5 Since good character is a qualification for membership, the chapter may, by a four-fifths vote of the qualified members present at the annual meeting, expel from Phi Beta Kappa any member of the chapter found, after having been given due notice and an opportunity to be heard, to have lost this qualification. The name of any member so expelled shall be reported to the Secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, with a statement of the grounds for the action. As provided in Article I, Section 2, of these Bylaws, only Faculty/Staff Members are eligible to vote on expulsion of members.
ARTICLE IV Election of Members
Section 1 Election of members may only take place at a chapter meeting. The Executive Committee cannot elect members. Voting on election of members of all types shall be by secret ballot, if requested by one or more of the members present. As provided in Article I, Section 2, of these Bylaws, only Faculty/Staff Members are eligible to vote on election of members.
Section 2 Members shall refer their suggestions for candidates for Student, Alumni/ae, and Honorary Membership to the Membership Committee. No candidates for Alumni/ae and Honorary Members shall be brought before the chapter without the nomination of the Membership Committee. In considering candidates for Alumni/ae and Honorary Membership, the Membership Committee shall be guided by the criteria defined in Article III, Sections 5 and 6, of the chapter Constitution.
Section 3 The Membership Committee shall not nominate a graduate of another institution having a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa to Honorary Membership unless the parent chapter has been notified and has raised no objection within a two-month period. A substantial explanation shall accompany any negative response from the parent chapter.
Section 4 Election of candidates for Student Membership nominated by the Membership Committee shall require an affirmative vote of three-fourths of the qualified members present at the meeting when the election takes place. Members may also nominate candidates for Student Membership from the floor during a meeting when election of Student Members takes place, but in such cases election shall require an affirmative vote of four-fifths of the qualified members present. No candidate shall be nominated twice at the same meeting. Elections shall continue until all candidates have been voted on or until the maximum number of members allowed by these Bylaws has been reached.
Section 5 The Membership Committee shall prepare a written statement of the qualifications of each candidate it nominates for Alumni/ae and Honorary Membership. One negative vote by a qualified member shall serve to reject a candidate for Alumni/ae or Honorary Membership. The chapter shall elect no more than two Alumni/ae Members and two Honorary Members in any two-year period.
Section 6 The Secretary shall send a statement of the qualifications of each candidate elected to Honorary Membership to the Secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, as provided in Article III, Section 10, of the chapter Constitution.
Section 7 The chapter may make provisions for initiating members. At its discretion, the chapter may waive the initiation of an Alumni/ae or Honorary Member.
ARTICLE V Fees
Section 1 The chapter shall determine the initiation fee for Student and Alumni/ae Members. These fees shall cover, or, if other sources of funding are available, shall contribute to the expense of the initiation ceremony and the registration and Council Fund payments to the Society. The chapter shall be responsible for these costs for Honorary Members, who shall pay no initiation fee.
Section 2 Payment of the initiation fee shall be regarded as formal acceptance of election and must be made before initiation.
Section 3 Newly elected Student Members and Alumni/ae Members shall be expected to purchase a key and shall be requested to take out an initial subscription to The American Scholar at the special introductory rate for new members.
Section 4 All members except Student Members and Honorary Members shall pay annual dues at a rate set by the chapter.
Section 5 By a majority vote of the members present at a meeting, the chapter may levy special assessments against members, provided that written notice of the intent to propose such an assessment is given in the announcement of the meeting.
Section 6 The Secretary shall forward registration and Council Fund payments to the Treasurer of the Phi Beta Kappa Society in accordance with Article IV of the Bylaws of the Society.
ARTICLE VI Amendments
Section 1 As provided in Article I, Section 2, of these Bylaws, only Faculty/Staff Members are eligible to vote on changes to these Bylaws. Adoption of amendments to these Bylaws, not inconsistent with the Constitution and other lawful regulations of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, shall require a two-thirds vote of the qualified members present at a meeting, either upon a motion presented and tabled at the preceding meeting, or upon condition that written notice of the proposed changes has been sent to all qualified members at least three weeks in advance of the meeting. All amendments shall be subject to the approval of the Senate of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.