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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Seniors Invited to Join Phi Beta Kappa

<f their graduation from college, students may receive a letter inviting them to join Phi Beta Kappa., a prestigious national honors society that seeks to promote excellence in the sciences and liberal arts.

“I think of it as the ideal of the liberal arts in a lot of ways,” said Professor David Liben-Nowell, Vice-President of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Carleton. ‘It is an organization that argues for the life of the mind in a life-long way.”

Phi Beta Kappa initiates seniors and a very small number of juniors into its ranks after graduation. “It is a big event for us, and a big celebration of Carleton students,” Liben-Nowell added. Only fifteen percent of the graduating Carleton class receives membership into the organization.

Students who received a letter informing them of their membership into the honors society appeared shocked and honored.

“I was pleased to join Phi Beta Kappa, as it is nice to be recognized for my hard work academically,” Karen Eash ‘13 said.
“When I first learned that I was going to become a member of Phi Beta Kappa, I was very excited, said Allie Cooperman ‘13, “I had heard wonderful things about the society, and it is an honor to be recognized for my work from the past four years.

Despite its prestige, many students are unaware the society exists. “I am honored to be a member of Carleton’s Phi Beta Kappa Chapter at a small liberal arts college,” said Rachel Klehm ‘13, “I often feel distant from these national societies so I can’t say I knew much about Phi Beta Kappa before I was elected.”

Some students expressed concerns at the membership fees that students must pay to join Phi Beta Kappa: a lifetime due of $68.

Still, of the membership dues, most of the money returns back to the students who pay it in one form or another. “The fee paid upon joining Phi Beta Kappa is for a lifetime membership, and it basically does nothing more than pay for some of the costs of the initiation ceremony and certificates” said Liben-Nowell. He added that the national organization covers much of the cost of the certificates and ceremony through member donations.

“As many of [the seniors] go on to careers with professional communities, [they] may contribute regularly to similar organizations,” said Kristin Partlo, Treasurer of Carleton’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, “This is [their] chance to contribute as a student for the benefit of future students of the liberal arts.”

Phi Beta Kappa’s Carleton chapter also brings guest speakers from many diverse fields to give talks at Carleton. During Fall term, Sarah Keller, a biophysicist and professor of chemistry, gave a talk at Carleton on understanding our 21st century energy options.

“One part of Phi Beta Kappa that I especially admire is its commitment to celebrating and promoting intellectual engagement and curiosity,” said Klehm. “By hosting lectures and speeches, Phi Beta Kappa members have the opportunity to share their own research and work with others.”

Serena Zabin discussed her own research on the Boston Massacre in a talk this past Tuesday sponsored by Phi Beta Kappa.  “It’s fun to be in tune with all of the lively scholarly action going on across departments,” said Quinn Stewart ‘13.

“It is a mark of recognition to have a chapter established at Carleton,” said Professor Kathie Galotti, President of the Carleton Phi Beta Kappa Chapter. The first chapter in Minnesota began at the University of Minnesota in 1914. Carleton opened a chapter four years later, and is now one of 11 others in the state of Minnesota.

When asked for his vision of the Phi Beta Chapter at Carleton, Liben-Nowell responded “It is the same vision I have for Carleton as a whole, the goals of the liberal arts, of curiosity and breadth and (of) life-long learning.”

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