ACADEMICS | Loyola Marymount University joins a select list of academic institutions as The Phi Beta Kappa Society has approved LMU’s application to shelter a chapter at the university.
“Being selected to have a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at LMU affirms the exceptional quality of our faculty and their dedication to the liberal arts and sciences,” said Robbin D. Crabtree, dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. “The quality of our academic programs was demonstrated unequivocally during the application process, with a critical emphasis on the role of our humanities-rich Core Curriculum as the central feature of an LMU undergraduate education. I’m also particularly gratified to know that The Phi Beta Kappa Society recognizes LMU’s deep commitment to academic freedom and shared governance, as these are abiding values we share. LMU is on the move in so many ways. As we stretch and grow, all the while we remain committed to our distinctive mission and its necessary foundations in the liberal arts.”
Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776, is America’s most prestigious academic honor society, highlighting education in liberal arts and the sciences. Before a chapter is sheltered, a university undergoes an extensive evaluation process.
Rae Linda Brown, Ph.D., former vice president for undergraduate education, provided the impetus, vision, and laid the groundwork for pursuing Phi Beta Kappa membership in February 2015. LMU’s application effort, led by Nick Rosenthal, associate professor of history and faculty chair of the process, included a 237-page pre-application submitted in November 2015. Based on its positive review, LMU advanced to be one of seven finalists and was invited to submit a 480-page full application, which it did in November 2016. LMU then hosted four members of the PBK Committee on Qualifications in March 2017; the three-day visit included 32 meetings and involved more than 150 members of the LMU community. Earlier this year, following a vote of the PBK Senate, LMU was formally invited, along with three other institutions, to send representatives to the 45th Triennial Council of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, where the final vote took place.
“The establishment of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter,” Rosenthal said, “signals LMU’s deep commitment to the values of a broad-based education focused on the arts and sciences, during a time when the liberal arts are increasingly called into question and under attack. And it rewards our students who obtain academic excellence and embrace the values of a liberal arts education with a mark of the highest distinction, along with lifelong membership in a community that encourages free thought, vibrant engagement, and a love for learning.”
“Our membership to PBK reaffirms the excellence of our institution and the strong commitment to liberal arts and sciences education at LMU,” said S.W. Tina Choe, dean of the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering. “We join a select group of institutions with the same passion for teaching and learning that matters. Our mission and values align with PBK to educate students for a life of meaning and purpose. With the membership, our amazing students will have the opportunity to join one of the most prestigious academic honor societies in the country and network with other high achievers. It’s exciting to imagine the many new programs and initiatives that will result in the coming years.”
About 50 faculty and staff members currently teach and/or work at LMU who were inducted into PBK by other universities and colleges during their undergraduate years. Once LMU’s chapter is installed – likely during the 2018-19 academic year – qualified seniors, and in some instances juniors, would become eligible for nomination by their professors. In addition, Phi Beta Kappa chapters also sponsor campus programs and activities, including visiting scholars, public lectures, teaching awards, fellowships and scholarships, writing prizes and book awards.
Bryant Keith Alexander, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts, said “For Loyola Marymount University to have received a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society through its rigorous process of assessment and validation is to have been recognized as an institution with the highest standards and practices of academic excellence. It confirms, and further emboldens, our efforts in offering students the highest of educational experiences. This is always undergirded by our full embrace of a liberal arts education, broadly articulated yet particular in its application. This is all made manifest in the traditions of the Jesuit heritage of our university with commitments to the critical and creative endeavor of educating the whole person for lifelong learning, towards the transformation of self and society.”
Thirteen of the 28 Jesuit institutions in the United States have chapters of PBK. Creighton University was the most recent, awarded in 2012. Santa Clara University is the only other Jesuit institution in the West with a chapter, established in 1977.
Since 1939, LMU has hosted a chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu – a national honor society comparable in status to Phi Beta Kappa within the Jesuit network, recognizing students of Jesuit institutions for their scholarship, loyalty and service. While requirements are different, qualified students may be inducted to one or both organizations.