Pacific Lutheran University students may soon see their professors, dressed in commencement regalia, coming to classes with a special invitation to join one of the most prestigious honor societies in the nation.
This week, PLU joined the ranks of schools with a Phi Kappa Phi chapter, bringing students scholarships and opportunities beyond the classroom. In other chapters, Phi Kappa Phi members have been able to connect with each other across the nation and network.
More than having a successful network of members, Phi Kappa Phi also provides volunteer opportunities for students who want to advocate for literacy in younger classrooms.
Phi Kappa Phi is the oldest all-discipline honor society in the United States, and students from each of PLU’s major fields will be invited to join. The group centers around students’ academic achievements.
“The biggest draw for students will be the scholarships,” said Hal DeLaRosby, director of Academic Advising and Phi Kappa Phi member.
PLU was officially established as the 333rd chapter of Phi Kappa Phi on Friday, Feb. 19, with a ceremonial installation. At the installation, national board members for Phi Kappa Phi swore in PLU members and signed the chapter’s charter, making PLU an official new hub for Phi Kappa Phi.
Phi Kappa Phi members will invite juniors, seniors and graduates from all academic disciplines. The top 10 percent of seniors and 7 percent of juniors will be inducted into the society this spring. Faculty will hand-select the students, who will participate in an initiation ceremony this May.
Students may propose and petition Phi Kappa Phi for scholarships to fund scholastic projects. DeLaRosby said students have control over how much work they invest in their membership with Phi Kappa Phi.
“When I joined I never thought I’d use it for anything other than just being a member,” DeLaRosby said.
But several years after joining, DeLaRosby reached out to Phi Kappa Phi to help fund his dissertation research. The scholarship DeLaRosby received was the Love of Learning award in 2013 for a pilot study investigating characteristics of successful college students who were persisting to graduate. The award helped DeLaRosby cover expenses as he traveled the West Coast, meeting with students. It also paid for a transcription service to help transcribe the interviews.
In need of funding, he turned to Phi Kappa Phi and he was able to finish his project with the society’s help, after proposing his research and getting it approved.
“Being a part of this is really a recognition and an honor,” DeLaRosby said. “Even if you don’t think you’ll use it, you never know.”
Board members for the new PLU chapter include DeLaRosby, School of Business Dean Nancy Albers, Vice President of Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis and Provost Steven Starkovich.
“I joined because of the opportunities that the organization provides for networking across and within disciplines – and the learning that I have experienced as a result,” Royce-Davis said.
She also noted her excitement that Phi Kappa Phi will expand opportunities and celebrate talented students, faculty and staff on campus.