Dean Lenker III – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa- Clarion University’s Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society chapter held its annual initiation ceremony this past Sunday, April 30 in Hart Chapel. The event began sharply at 12:30 p.m., and Clarion students and faculty alike were initiated into the historical honor society.
Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 at the University of Maine. The founding of this honor society in the late 20th century made it the nation’s very first to recognize excellence in all academic disciplines, something that is still a characteristic today. The Clarion chapter, however, is relatively new; chapter 288 was founded by Dr. Hallie Savage in 2002.
The ceremony began with an introduction from Dr. Pamela Gent, the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs at Clarion University and President of Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 288.
Following Gent’s introductory remarks, there was a series of speeches from active faculty members of the honor society. Dr. Anthony J. Vega of the biology and geosciences department delivered the keynote speech that served to make a strong distinction between memorizing and learning, indicative of the importance of learning that Phi Kappa Phi emphasizes heavily.
The process for being initiated varies for students and those who are members of faculty or the community. For students, being nominated is solely dependent on grade point average.
Both juniors and seniors may be selected, but the criteria varies slightly. A junior must be in the top 5 percent of their class in regards to their GPA, whereas a senior must be in the top 10 percent in order to be nominated for initiation.
This differs for faculty and community members who do not have a grade point average to be considered. The chapter may initiate members of faculty and up to eight people from the community who represent academic excellence. Once a person is nominated, a vote is held to determine whether or not they will be admitted.
In total, 21 people were initiated at the 2017 Clarion University Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Initiation. This number was comprised of 12 Clarion University students and nine others who were either outstanding community members or faculty members. Among the notable initiates were Clarion University President Dr. Karen M. Whitney and Clarion Borough Mayor Daniel Parker.
Gent has been a member of the honor society since the 1970s, and has been a part of the Clarion chapter since it was founded in 2002. To her, being a member of Phi Kappa Phi is more than just something for people to put on their resume. It is an organization that provides networking, scholarships, study grants and more for its members.
“It’s one of those organizations where everything they make goes back to students or members, and that’s what is really cool about it,” said Dr. Gent.
A national fellowship for pursuing higher education is among these benefits for members. Clarion University senior honors student Dylan McGlone was nominated by Clarion University Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 288 for this award, which could bring him up to $10,000 if he is selected.