Phi Kappa Phi
The all-campus award for excellence in scholarship, outstanding character, and conspicuous service to the University is membership in the national honor society Phi Kappa Phi. This organization was established at the University of Maine in 1897 for the purpose of emphasizing the democracy and unity of American higher education. Its point of departure from the policies of other honor societies is that it recognizes no specific academic requirements. Any member of the University, regardless of his major subject or the college to which he belongs, is eligible for membership after his junior year.
Achievement in the various fields of learning, law, the classics, engineering, and medicine is indicated by the eight "points" or groups of rays on the emblem of the society which radiate from behind a flattened globe bearing the initials of the Phi Kappa Phi motto, Philosophia kratei photon — "the love of learning rules the world."
The organization of the University of Michigan chapter in 1926 came about as the result of a suggestion made to President Little by Clarence E. S. Bardsley, who later became professor of civil engineering at the University of Missouri and who was nationally famous for his work and writings in the field of engineering. Both Little and Bardsley were members of Phi Kappa Phi.
The petition for organization, signed by President Little, the deans of the several schools and colleges, and certain professors, eligible alumni, and members initiated elsewhere, was dated June 21, 1926. The installation took place on November 26.
Page 1938The value to the University of a national all-campus honor society was appreciated, especially by those schools and colleges of the University graduating relatively few students. Although individual schools have their own honor societies, the advantage of an emblem of scholarship easily recognized by people in all fields was realized.
Each year a list of candidates, with the names arranged in order of honorpoint rating, is prepared for the executive committee. The residence requirement is thirty hours credit. Only 7 per cent of the class may be elected to membership, and each candidate must rank scholastically in the highest one-fifth of the graduating class of his respective college or school. In the larger colleges of the University, selection has been almost entirely a reward for scholarship, and since no definite measures of character and personality are established, the election, which is made by the executive committee of the local chapter, includes the upper 7 per cent of the class. The smaller schools, colleges, and graduate divisions make specific recommendations, which the executive committee of the society usually accepts, of those in the eligible group. Since 1933, 5 per cent of the graduate students have been also elected each year.
The University of Michigan chapter of Phi Kappa Phi maintains a custom aimed toward encouraging undergraduate scholastic achievement. Every freshman named in Honors Convocation receives from the president of the local chapter a formal congratulation in printed script, similar in appearance to the notification of election.
From 1934 on three graduate scholarships were granted each year by the national society. Several of these scholarships were won by candidates from the University of Michigan.
By 1956 a total of 5,961 members had been initiated, a few faculty members, in addition to graduate students and seniors. Dues of $12 have sufficed to include the key, the certificate, a place at the initiation banquet, and a year's subscription to the quarterly Phi Kappa Phi Journal. A small financial surplus has also been maintained.