Recognizing Excellence: Phi Beta Kappa Fund Seeks Additional Support
Last week, 61 exceptional Davidson College students were inducted into the Gamma of North Carolina Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society. Students are selected based on their outstanding academic achievement and record of meeting high standards of personal conduct and academic integrity.
This is an important honor for Davidson’s top students, and the college is committed to making the honor one that is easy and stress-free to accept. It is a cherished recognition, as noted by Lucy Lewis, a 2020 graduate.
“When I found out that I had the opportunity to join Phi Beta Kappa, I felt very proud to be included among such an illustrious group of people and to be part of such a long-standing tradition,” she said. “I was especially honored when I learned that there was going to be a special ceremony, and my parents were going to come. My sister was even going to surprise me by attending the event. What meant the most of all was the reaction of my 95-year-old grandmother; for over a year, every time I talked to her, either on the phone or in person, she brought up how proud she was to have a granddaughter that was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and she told everyone she knew.”
"Before the establishment of the fund, expenses landed on the students entirely, and so an honor that is supposed to feel special could immediately become a burden. It is not the best thing to say, ‘Congratulations, and here is a bill.’"
In recent years, there has been a $130 cost, per student, associated with initiation. This covers lifetime membership in the national society, and the college holds a banquet with a guest speaker to celebrate all new initiates, though this tradition was put on hold during the pandemic. For some, the cost is prohibitive, and the college has found ways to cover expenses for those who need the help. Moving forward, the goal is for all student expenses to be covered so there is a level playing field for all who earn this honor.
“Through an anonymous gift and other funding through the years, we can cover about $90 per student ourselves, and we have managed to cover some other costs through the vice president for academic affairs’ budget,” said Professor of Mathematics Emeritus Rich Neidinger, who serves as secretary-treasurer of the group. “Before the establishment of the fund, expenses landed on the students entirely, and so an honor that is supposed to feel special could immediately become a burden. It is not the best thing to say, ‘Congratulations, and here is a bill.’”
To ensure Davidson students can be celebrated without being saddled with the cost associated with the honor, the college now aims to raise the Phi Beta Kappa endowed fund from the current $150,000 to more than $200,000.
Ellie Mackintosh ’21 also earned Phi Beta Kappa honors and appreciates what it means for students who are invited to join.
“Phi Beta Kappa honors and validates the intense effort and dedication with which Davidson students approach their work,” she said. “It provides both community and foundational support, shaping students' experiences long after they graduate. It was an honor to join this group of intentional, thoughtful individuals.”
Please consider helping increase the fund, which will allow all selected students the opportunity to feel pride in the honor without worrying over the cost. If you are interested, please contact Jeff Kniple, major gifts officer, at email@example.com or 704-894-2113.