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Phi Beta Kappa Society installs chapter at Elon University

The nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society installed its newest chapter Tuesday during Elon University’s Convocation for Honors, where faculty and staff members of Phi Beta Kappa were charged with upholding the society’s values by committing themselves to intellectual freedom, the pursuit of knowledge and the ideal of excellence in scholarship in the liberal arts and sciences.

Forty-seven students were inducted into the society later in the evening during a dinner and ceremony in McKinnon Hall. The installation brings to 279 the number of Phi Beta Kappa chapters at college and universities across the United States.

Phi Beta Kappa Society Secretary John Churchill greets Russell Gill, a professor of English and president of Elon's Eta Chapter of North Carolina, during the installation of Phi Beta Kappa on April 13 at Convocation for Honors.

About 10 percent of U.S. colleges and universities shelter Phi Beta Kappa chapters, and Elon becomes only the seventh institution in North Carolina to meet the high standards of excellence in the arts and sciences advocated by the Society.

In both ceremonies on April 13, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof spoke of the need for students to couple their idealism with knowledge and experience to enact change in the world.

Phi Beta Kappa Society President Fred H. Cate, Phi Beta Kappa Society Secretary John Churchill, and Don Wyatt, a Phi Beta Kappa Senate member who led the team visiting Elon during the application process, were present for the installation and the inaugural induction ceremony.

At each event, they urged inductees and current members to advance the society's mission by advocating for liberal arts and sciences education, by applying skills and knowledge to daily life, to commit themselves to excellence and intellectual inquiry, and to speaking the truth.

"The society welcomes Elon and is enriched by its inclusion within our ranks," Wyatt said.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert and Provost Steven House were also inducted Tuesday as foundation members of the society. Lambert, prior to the installation at Convocation, said he hopes that Elon's chapter serves not as a capstone, but rather as a cornerstone, on which to build in the coming years.

Forty-seven Elon students were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in an April 13 evening ceremony.

Fifty-seven current Elon faculty and staff members are Phi Beta Kappa members. The new Eta Chapter is headed by Russell Gill, Elon's Maude Sharpe Powell Professor of English and Distinguished University Professor; associate professor of English Jean Schwind serves as vice president; and math instructor Helen Walton serves as chapter secretary/historian/treasurer.

New inductees said they value their liberal arts education and believe it will be a lifelong benefit, as will their membership in Phi Beta Kappa, which was founded in December 1776 by five students at the College of William & Mary.

"Phi Beta Kappa is a family legacy and it's an inspiration to continue my education wherever I go," said senior math major Parker Cramer. "It's a call to use everything I've learned at Elon in a responsible and active way. It's taking your education and using it in a community of people who want to do the same thing."

For senior biology major Monica Poteat, the liberal arts have expanded her knowledge on ideas and topics unrelated to her area of expertise.

"If I had gone to a school not as honed in on the liberal arts as Elon, I wouldn't be able to hold conversations with people outside my field," she said. "It really does broaden my understanding of different subjects."

The 47 new inductees into the Eta Chapter at Elon University include the following students:

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert (pictured) and Provost Steven House were also inducted on Tuesday as foundation members of the Eta Chapter.

Carly Erin Altizer
Jennifer Leigh Batchelor
Alexandra Megan Bauernschub
Ryan Matthew Bleam
Amanda Kathryn Brown
Devon Nicole Brown
James Dorsey Burns
Margeaux Rose Corby
Parker Conrad Cramer
Kelsey Christine Davis
Ashley Morrow Day
Lorelle Marie Dennis
Danielle Nicole Dufour
Kimberly Brooke Duggins
Katrina Jane Folsom
Alexandra Laine Ford
Sarah Catherine Foushee
Jordan Leigh Frederick
Melissa Katherine Gaisser
Sabine Martina Gempel
Cynthia Anne Goodson
Benjamin Carey Goodwin
Roberta Jo Hawthorne
Grace Anna Helms
Eva Christine Jorgensen-Graham
Amanda Danielle Kennison
Elisabeth Paige Kensrue
Carolyn Marie Kurtz
Jonathan Smith Mahlandt
Katherine Leigh Meyer
Kelsey Anne Miller
Paul Stephen Mirek
Mariana McLean Rohrbach Poole
Monica Deshay Poteat
Nichole Marie Rawlings
Julia Elinor Roberts
Patricia Michele Serdy
Daniel Marshall Sharpe Jr.
Kristine Elizabeth Silvestri
Joseph Allen Simmons
Martha McNeill Smart
Heather Nicole Smith
Avra Weisberg Stackpole
Amanda Rose Stamplis
Jenna Danielle Stout
Hannah Elizabeth Williams
Amanda Brittany Wilson

Eric Townsend,
4/13/2010 9:53 PM