HONORARY SCHOLASTIC SOCIETIES
Phi Beta Kappa
ALTHOUGH the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts is the oldest unit of the University on the campus, dating from 1841, and for the first years offered only a classical program, the local chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was not established until 1907. The Alpha chapter of Michigan was an outgrowth of a society, which had started in the spring of that year, known as the Alpha Honor Society. It was founded by Phi Beta Kappa men on the faculty, who looked forward to the time when a chapter of the national society should be granted. For many years the need for formal recognition of intellectual and scholarly achievements of students had been keenly felt by both students and faculty alike, and at times this interest had been openly expressed but without results.
In the autumn of 1907 the National Council of the United Chapters granted to the members of the society, who were on the faculty of the University of Michigan, a charter for a chapter to be known as the Alpha Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa in the state of Michigan, the first in the state. Twenty-four names of these faculty members appear on the charter.
Although the oldest "Greek letter" society, originally organized in 1776, it is no longer in any sense of the word a secret body. Its founders were really and avowedly bound together to devote themselves to the encouragement and recognition of undergraduate scholarship Page 1930and its responsibilities. Since 1883 the various chapters have been united in a representative organization, the members of whose council meet every three years to transact general business. Its helpful traditions and stimulating personal associations have contributed materially to the friendship and fellowship of scholars.
One of the few references to the early period at Michigan reads:
Nearly fifty years ago a movement to organize a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Michigan was set on foot, but the absence of a marking system and the indifference or hostility of the Faculty defeated the project. It is to be regretted that there exists among us no society instituted for the purpose of high scholarship in classical studies; and perhaps the obstacles in the way of founding such a society are not insurmountable.
(The Michigan Book, 1898, p. 184.)
Phi Beta Kappa was not mentioned in the "Minutes" of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts of that period. According to record, the faculty on July 10, 1848, forbade the students to organize a literary society. It is possible that this society could have been a proposed chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, but it is more likely that the organization was to have been a local society with an active undergraduate program.
An unsigned and undated history of the Alpha chapter of Michigan reads as follows: "The official historian of the University remarks that as 'an indication of its free spirit … it is characterized by the total absence, from the beginning, of a marking system, and of a hierarchy of college honors, and the sole reliance upon natural incentives to secure study and win scholarship.'" These words explain two difficulties which so long attended the introduction of a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa into the University of Michigan: its aim of fostering scholastic distinction was felt to conflict with the educational ideal of the University, and in the absence of a marking system it was argued that the appropriate machinery was lacking for selecting students with accuracy and fairness. Apparently, the gradeless recording system resulted from a belief that distinctions, even on the basis of scholarship, were out of place in a state university. Many educators, however, were of the opinion that grades encouraged high scholarship, and no doubt many members of the first University of Michigan faculty were well aware of and concurred in this view. Although not positively known, it is believed that their decision to dispense with grades sprang from sincere conviction and that the choice was made for the purpose of preserving democratic equality.
No account of a preliminary discussion of grades has been preserved, for the marking of passed, not passed, or conditioned had become established in the five years before the record of faculty meetings was begun. This record shows that the members of the faculty were men of stern temperament who were more disposed to give a student demerits for inattention to his studies than to hold out inducements for superior work. The task of a faculty member, as thus conceived, was to hold the student unremittingly to the performance of his duty. On January 9, 1865, Professor Alexander Winchell wrote in his diary: "Had call from Tutor Adams in reference to a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in the University." Winchell was absent from many of the faculty meetings in that eventful year, and apparently nothing came of the suggestion.
President Angell was greatly surprised Page 1931at the absence of grades when he came to the University in 1871, but soon became an earnest advocate of the practice which he found here. Various comments on the subject are made in his annual reports. The quality of the class work, he said, proved that the mature student did not require grades as an incentive. The upperclassmen, in particular, were studying not for marks or credits, but "with a sincere devotion to learning seeking in a most generous and earnest spirit the broadest and deepest culture obtainable here." Students who might otherwise have suffered from a planless program under the freer elective system, which he favored, by the lack of grades were thus spared the temptation of choosing courses simply to obtain a high average. Although President Angell was a member of Phi Beta Kappa (Brown University, 1849) and served as a member of the first senate (1883-92), he did not early encourage the establishment of a chapter on this campus. By 1883, when the United Chapters were organized, Phi Beta Kappa was represented by a total of twenty-five chapters, the "West" being represented by three in Ohio — Adelbert College of Western Reserve University, Kenyon College, and Marietta College. The geographical distribution of chapters rapidly changed, however, in the decade 1887-96; six of the sixteen added during that time were in the Middle West, and of these, four were in state universities younger than the University of Michigan.
The traditional indifference of the University toward recognition of exceptional scholarship persisted outwardly, but with the passage of time and the increase in the material prosperity of the state, different ideas of education arose. Students who had done good work here were resentful when former high-school classmates proudly displayed Phi Beta Kappa keys won at other institutions. This injustice was recognized by faculty members who as undergraduates elsewhere had been elected to the society.
In 1898-99 definite action was taken. A petition, signed by both undergraduates and graduates, requesting the establishment of a chapter was handed to Professor Henry S. Carhart to be presented to the proper authorities. Although it failed of its purpose, it precipitated much discussion.
Professor Robert M. Wenley reported on the objections (Mich. Alum., 6[1899-1900], p. 47). In outline, among his principal points, were these:
- I. Theoretical or even imaginary objections.
A. The judgment of the world may reverse that of the society; hence, an election to Phi Beta Kappa has no value.
- Answer: All academic judgments are subject to the same risk, but this by no means lessens the value of education or the rewards which are conferred upon outstanding students.
B. Election to Phi Beta Kappa from the senior class tends to place too much emphasis upon the first degree.
- Answer: If this means that it might weaken the incentive to seek distinction by doing graduate work, it should be noted that the very students earnest and able enough to enter Phi Beta Kappa are the ones most likely to proceed with graduate work and that the best graduate schools are in those institutions in which Phi Beta Kappa maintains a chapter.
C. It will cause undue rivalry among the students.
- Answer: The student body at the University of Michigan is far too large to suffer from such rivalry, and scholastic honors must compete with those bestowed for participation in such activities as athletics.
D. The age-old difficulty, women.
- Page 1932Answer: The constitution of Phi Beta Kappa does not prevent the election of women members; in fact, several chapters have made such elections and still survive.
- A. The judgment of the world may reverse that of the society; hence, an election to Phi Beta Kappa has no value.
- II. Practical difficulties.
A. The lack of a grading system, which many think absolutely necessary to the proper conduct of elections of Phi Beta Kappa.
- Answer: The society is able to adapt itself to existing conditions.
B. The difficulty of making a choice under the existing conditions.
- Answer: The task is not impossible, and the society will undertake it.
- A. The lack of a grading system, which many think absolutely necessary to the proper conduct of elections of Phi Beta Kappa.
An event which fostered the cause of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Michigan was the abolition in 1901 of the four time-honored degrees of bachelor of letters, bachelor of philosophy, bachelor of arts, and bachelor of science in favor of an omnibus bachelor of arts degree and an almost completely elective program of studies. In a few years the effects of the greater freedom became noticeable. Less serious students sought the path of least resistance; others were overwhelmed by their own ambition. Out of the confusion emerged the necessity for encouraging high scholastic achievement.
The Michigan Chapter of Sigma Xi was established in 1903. For a few years thereafter, membership was open to seniors in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts who had done the greater part of their work in science and had excelled in scholarship. This award for superior students in science made the lack of a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa the more conspicuous. The final successful attempt to establish a chapter came from the students themselves. A feeling was growing among the more serious undergraduates that higher scholarship would be promoted by such academic distinction as Phi Beta Kappa could confer. At length in 1906 a new movement was begun under the leadership of two organizations, Quadrangle and Mortar Board, made up of members chosen on the basis of high scholarship and literary achievement. A petition was prepared in which the following points were brought out:
- 1. That investigation has made clear that the desire for some formal recognition of scholarship and personal worth is strong throughout the student body.
- 2. That the University of Michigan recognizes merit along other lines but makes no formal acknowledgment of intellectual and scholarly attainments of the students.
- 3. That Phi Beta Kappa selects its members in the senior year, when the students of the University have demonstrated their ability and their personal worth.
- 4. That Phi Beta Kappa has a chapter in all the other large colleges of the country, and so helps to uphold a certain standard of scholarship and character in the college world, and it seems accordingly desirable that the University of Michigan, as a recognized power in education, should contribute her support to this end.
- 5. That Phi Beta Kappa confers distinction without material advantages.
- 6. That Phi Beta Kappa is a democratic institution, in that its methods are known to every student and it is not exclusive, since its honors are open for the competition of all.
- 7. That the plan under consideration does not necessitate a definite grading or marking system.
On January 30, 1907, a meeting of the faculty members of Phi Beta Kappa was called to consider the question of organizing a chapter at the University of Michigan. The names of the eleven professors who responded to this first call were: Arthur G. Canfield, Arthur Fair-banks, John A. Fairlie, Francis W. Kelsey, Alfred H. Lloyd, Joseph L. Markley, Frederic L. Paxson, Walter B. Pillsbury, John S. P. Tatlock, Hugo P. Thieme, and Robert M. Wenley. Mr. Page 1933Lloyd was elected temporary chairman and Mr. Fairlie temporary secretary. The student petition was then read. On the motion of Mr. Paxson those present formed themselves into the Alpha Honor Society of the University of Michigan, and a president, a secretary, and an executive committee of three were elected. After conferring with President Angell a constitution for the present honor society was drawn up, and a formal application was forwarded to the senate of the United Chapters requesting its endorsement for a charter. This application was signed by Henry C. Adams, Henry S. Carhart, Arthur L. Cross, William V. N. Garretson, William H. Hobbs, Herbert A. Kenyon, Edward H. Kraus, John F. Shepard, F. M. Taylor, W. H. Wait, H. L. Wilgus, and Max Winkler, in addition to the eleven who had organized the Alpha Honor Society.
On March 8, 1907, the senate of the United Chapters unanimously recommended to the Council that a charter be granted for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Michigan. On the strength of this action, the Alpha Honor Society then proceeded to apply to seniors in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts the same estimates and tests of personality, character, and scholarship that would have been applied had the election been made to a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and on May 8, 1907, elected to membership ten men and nine women.
On May 28, 1907, a reception in their honor, followed by a dinner, was held in Barbour Gymnasium. Professor Alfred H. Lloyd, president, presided. Professor Herbert C. Sadler, as representative of Sigma Xi, welcomed the new organization to the University community; the other speakers of the evening were Professors Cross, M. L. D'Ooge, Fairbanks, Hobbs, R. Hudson, and Kelsey.
The National Council of the United Chapters, on September 12, 1907, adopted the recommendation made by the senate in the previous March.
Two months later, on November 13, 1907, the Alpha chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa of Michigan was installed by the president of the United Chapters, Professor Edwin A. Grosvenor of Amherst College. The names of President Angell and the twenty-three faculty members who had signed the application appear on the charter. Students from the senior class of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and members of Sigma Xi were guests at the ceremony, which took place in Sarah Caswell Angell Hall. The Michigan chapter thus founded comprised sixty-four members. The men and women of the class of 1907 who had previously been admitted to the Alpha Honor Society were formally elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and the Alpha Honor Society ceased to exist.
The installation of a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa marked one of the most important changes which had taken place at the University in many years. There was placed before the student body a definite challenge which could arouse ambition and quicken interest in scholarly achievements. Unfortunately, some of the old prejudice still lingered. Professor Alfred H. Lloyd, to whose tact, energy, and enthusiasm much of the credit and success for its establishment was due, wrote:
Real democracy must do all in its power to put all men, as well as all the interests and affairs of men, on equal footing in the sense of securing to all equal opportunity, but it can never do without excellence and the cordial, public recognition of it. What renders conscious excellence or publicly recognized and applauded excellence unworthy and undemocratic is, not by any means the excellence itself nor the consciousness or applause of it, but the unconsciousness of its responsibilities. In short, equal opportunity, public recognition of excellence, and public Page 1934service make the real democracy.
(Mich. Alum., 14 [1906-7], pp. 100-103.)
A delicate and difficult task confronted the new organization. Since the election of alumni was permitted by the rules of the United Chapters, it was agreed that good students of former years, who had been denied recognition by the tardy arrival of the chapter, should receive the honor, even if late. The charter members needed assistance in this evaluation, and they accordingly elected eleven other faculty members, all of whom had been graduated from the University and, by reason of their long association with the students, were in a position to render valuable advice. They were Professors Wooster W. Beman, Charles H. Cooley, Martin L. D'Ooge, Joseph H. Drake, Richard Hudson, Moritz Levi, Fred N. Scott, Claude H. Van Tyne, Allen S. Whitney, Dean Myra B. Jordan, and Dean John O. Reed.
From the long list of graduates from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, prior to 1907, recommendations for alumnus membership were made. It was necessary, to some extent, to consider achievement subsequent to graduation, but in making the selections the members of the committee kept constantly in mind the fact that excellence in undergraduate scholarship was a prime prerequisite for election to Phi Beta Kappa. Therefore, so far as older teachers were willing to trust their memories and college records were available, undergraduate scholarship was the determining factor. All in all 452 elections of alumni were made before the chapter decided in 1932 to discontinue elections to alumnus membership. The action was taken not because of any waning of desire to give due recognition but because the loss of many older members of the faculty had made it increasingly difficult to obtain fair means of judgment. Another reason was the growing feeling in the society at large that the practice of electing alumni might easily be carried to excess.
The charter permits the election of honorary members, but the chapter has always been wary in availing itself of this privilege. In the fifty years of its existence only five such elections have been made.
Quite properly, inasmuch as the fraternity was organized with the purpose of giving recognition to high scholarship among undergraduates, the chapter has devoted its energy chiefly to making as careful and discriminating a choice as possible from the classes which have graduated since 1907. The primary ground of distinction is manifested by excellence in scholarship, as well as the qualifications of character and personality stressed by the parent organization. Furthermore, it is expected that only students who have taken at least one-half of their work in languages, literature, fine arts, history, political and social sciences, mathematics, philosophy, and science other than applied science may be considered as candidates.
At first, only seniors in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts were elected, but when the School of Education was opened in 1921 its seniors also were made eligible, since so much of their work was done in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. In 1927 the chapter voted to elect yearly not more than fifteen juniors of exceptionally high academic standing. Since 1930 graduate students who meet the rigid requirements have also been eligible for election; an amendment passed at the 1928 triennial council meeting made such elections possible. The first students from the School of Music were chosen in 1942.
On May 9, 1908, the first annual banquet Page 1935was held at the Michigan Union, at which the principal address was given by Professor George H. Palmer of Harvard University. The election of new members takes place once a year in the spring, and the initiates are honored at a banquet with a guest speaker and two student speakers, one representing the women initiates, the other the men. All in all, to June, 1956, a total of 3,561 elections have been made: 452 alumni members, 5 honorary members, 206 graduate students, 2,366 seniors and 313 juniors from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, 162 seniors from the School of Education, and 57 seniors from the School of Music.
In addition to the students who have been elected, all members of the faculty who have been chosen by this or any other chapter are considered active members of the Alpha Chapter of Michigan. Members of other chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, living in the vicinity, may affiliate with this chapter.
The selection of members is based on experience that undergraduate scholarship is a good test of both ability and character. It is impossible to avoid occasionally missing an eligible student. Sometimes, men of great ability make poor showing in their college work, but in the long run the intellectual leaders in a class are at its head, and these are they whom Phi Beta Kappa wishes to add to its list. Since the Alpha chapter of Michigan was ushered into the University community, it is believed that high ideals of scholarship have been materially promoted.
The Society of the Sigma Xi is a national organization, the aim of which is the furtherance of scientific research by the banding together of workers who have contributed, or may be expected to contribute, to the advancement of knowledge in any science. It was founded at Cornell University in 1886 through the merger of two independent movements started there — one for the encouragement of pure science, which had originated in the field of geology and had later been broadened under the name Society of Modern Scientists, and the other a local engineering society called Sigma Xi. The new Sigma Xi soon became a national society designed to promote all scientific research, but, spreading first to schools of engineering, it emphasized the applied aspect of science until it had become established in large endowed and state universities of more general scope. At the end of fifty years, sixty-eight regular chapters were functioning, besides thirty-four clubs or associations not possessing the privilege of electing new members.
In May, 1903, thirty-five members of the faculty and graduates of the University of Michigan obtained the charter for a chapter of Sigma Xi. The local organization declined a proffered Greek letter in favor of the simple designation the "Michigan chapter." Under this name it was installed June 4, 1903, with Professor J. Playfair McMurrich as president. The Michigan chapter later relinquished to the University of Missouri all claim to the letter M or its equivalent.
At one of its earliest business meetings (March 24, 1904), before selecting any students for membership the society voted to admit women. This vote was promptly reconsidered, but promptly reaffirmed, and of the twenty-nine students and five faculty members elected at that meeting, six were women.
Election to membership was conducted, in the early years, by vote of the entire chapter upon recommendations from committees in the various colleges and schools. As the University rapidly Page 1936grew, this method became so unwieldy and erratic that in 1913 the council of the chapter was made the final electoral body. For many years regular nominations for membership were made only in the spring, with additional fall elections in the two years 1921 and 1922. At present nominations are made in November and initiation is in March.
The conditions of membership have changed from time to time. At first the election of students was based, as it was at most other institutions, principally upon scholarship. Undergraduate members were drawn from the upper 10 per cent of the seniors who had done most of their work in science. Phi Beta Kappa, whose University of Michigan chapter was installed in 1907, did not elect seniors pursuing chiefly scientific courses; in effect, therefore, the two honor societies were complementary. A formal proposal to refuse for Sigma Xi any senior who had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa was defeated in 1910, and again in 1919; nevertheless, several students were rejected in 1920 on the specific ground that they had previously been elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
From the first, research was one of the prime qualifications for the admission of graduate students and faculty members to Sigma Xi. These two groups also differed from each other in the qualifications set up. Graduate students who held faculty positions were being chosen as from the faculty in 1915, but at least since 1920 they have been elected as graduate students.
Because Sigma Xi was founded specifically to promote scientific research, high scholarship as a sole requirement for undergraduate admission gradually came to be regarded as an anomaly. Should not the distinction between undergraduate members, with their scholastic requirement only, and graduate members elected on the basis of research, be replaced by a distinction between persons admitted after having conducted research and those who merely gave promise of so doing? The Michigan chapter went on record in 1914, and again in 1916, as favoring the new classification "associate membership" for those elected on the basis of promise, and in 1920, after suitable enabling revisions had been introduced into the national constitution, adopted the distinction.
With the growing insistence on research for admission to Sigma Xi, election of seniors in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts declined, until, by 1920, it had almost ceased. Even associate membership was not usually bestowed on seniors in that College, although it remained open to seniors in the College of Engineering. This gradual abandonment of senior elections in the Literary College left the students of science without an honor society, a condition later remedied to some extent by a change in the rules of Phi Beta Kappa whereby that society elected purely on the basis of scholarship, without regard to subjects, and further, in 1926, by the establishment of a chapter of Phi Kappa Phi at the University.
As early as 1915 the Michigan chapter of Sigma Xi sought, in conjunction with Phi Beta Kappa, to inaugurate some plan by which recognition of intellectual attainments should be given at the Commencement. The idea then germinated bore fruit years later in the Honors Convocation, which has become an established annual event.
The general program of Sigma Xi at the University of Michigan consists of five meetings a year. As compared with its work at other institutions, it has been voluntarily restricted because of the prior existence of the Research Club, which was providing some members of Sigma Xi with an opportunity to meet with representatives of research in the humanities.
The several meetings of the year culminate Page 1937in the initiation banquet in the spring. Some of the meetings between 1921 and 1925 were held jointly with the Junior Research Club. Until 1928-29 the principal feature of each meeting other than the business session was an address of general scientific interest. Many of the meetings since the fall of 1928 have been visits about the campus to places of interest to research workers — the various laboratories, departments of the Library and Hospital, the dictionary offices, and museum collections, including the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments — where representatives of the departments concerned, acting as hosts, have discussed and demonstrated their work. The majority of speakers before the Michigan chapter have been members of the faculty or administrative staff, but more than one-third have been brought from other institutions.
The balance and range of scientific interests of the chapter can be inferred from the variety of subjects represented by its twenty-seven presidents, each of whom has served for two years. Seven have come from marine, electrical, chemical, sanitary engineering, and engineering mechanics, and seven from medical departments — bacteriology, biological chemistry, psychiatry, pathology, and anatomy. One president has been a pharmaceutical chemist, another an economic zoologist, and the other eleven were engaged in basic physical and natural sciences — mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, physics, zoology, psychology, paleontology, and mineralogy.
To the close of 1955-56, the Michigan chapter of Sigma Xi elected directly to membership 1,930 persons, promoted to membership 1,075 who had previously been elected associates either here or at other institutions, and elected 2,471 associate members who have not been subsequently advanced to membership in the Michigan chapter. The total number of different persons elected is, therefore, 5,476. Many others are or have been affiliated with the Michigan chapter after election elsewhere.
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.
Sometime during 1899, or possibly earlier, the idea of a "literary" society began to interest at least three students. Christian Gauss was thinking of an "Omar Khayyam Club." Harold M. Bowman argued for the "Skull and Bones" plan. Clarence B. Morrill wanted something that would bring together those of intellectual interests who might not otherwise find each other in the crowd. Gauss graduated in 1899, to become Instructor in French; the other two were seniors in 1900. Quite likely others were concerned.
An early spring day of 1900 found Gauss and Morrill on the grass in front of the old Library. The subject returned, and Morrill proposed that something be started. They hunted up Bowman in the Library. Forthwith, Quadrangle was born. A second meeting soon was arranged, and shortly Corwin, president of the Senior Class, Slaughter, Assistant in Philosophy, McInnis, Assistant in English, and possibly others, were added.
Before further action, Wenley was called in, and soon he was entertaining eight founders of Quadrangle in his home. He contributed a good deal to the organization. Before coming to Michigan in 1896 Wenley had already been a member of a club of this type at the University of Glasgow, where he had been "University medallist in Philosophy and Theology, Fellow, 1884. President of the Students' Representative Council, President Page 1939of the Union, President of the Liberal Club, President of the Philosophical Society, Glasgow."
Under the title "Academic Tensions" Wenley's contribution to "The Quadrangle Book" gives, in delightful style, what is perhaps the only record of his knowledge and experience of university clubs. He tells how a number of students at Oxford rather spontaneously organized Old Mortality about 1860, naming their club after Scott's eccentric tombstone-carving character. A little later, when Glasgow was rising to her heights, the Old Mortality idea was adopted, and Glasgow's Witenagemot club came into being.
The 1900 Michiganensian prints the first list of members of the Quadrangle Club: Dons — Robert M. Wenley, George Rebec, and Benjamin P. Bourland. Members — Benjamin P. Bourland, Harold M. Bowman, Ira A. Campbell, Edward S. Corwin, Arthur L. Cross, Frank D. Eaman, Christian F. Gauss, Evans Holbrook, Edward C. Marsh, Lewis W. McCandless, Norman K. McInnis, Clarence B. Morrill, Harlow S. Person, George Rebec, Thomas L. Robinson, William D. Russell, Frederick B. Shoaff, Frank S. Simons, John W. Slaughter, James S. Symons, Harry I. Weinstein, and Lafayette Young.
In his "Academic Tensions" Wenley, to "help Quadrangle to become more conscious of itself," quoted from something a member of the Old Mortality Club had written: "By some of the members of the society its meetings are remembered as the very salt of their university life. The free discussion of everything in heaven or earth, the fresh enjoyment of intellectual sympathy, the fearless intercommunication of spirits, the youthful faith that the key of truth lies very near to our hands, gave a unique zest and charm to those meetings of students with students, before the inevitable parting of the ways of manhood has come." Wenley conferred on Quadrangle the privilege of "free discussion of everything in heaven or earth." Such discussion he had enjoyed as a student. And the quotation he gives speaks of "students with students" — hence, a liberal club for students.
As Holbrook pointed out, two of the faculty founders, Wenley and Rebec, were in philosophy, one, Bourland, in Romance languages. This gives the clue to the club's principal interests in early years — literature and philosophy. But change is inevitable. Fred N. Scott put his stamp on the club's trend of interest during the early period. Scott's effect was literary, of course, and one imagines there was less philosophy and more literature while he was active. It is safe to guess that Charles H. Cooley opened the door to let a little sociology trickle in. One does not need to guess about David Friday; economics would have a fair share of attention after 1908, if he and Henry C. Adams were to be kept interested. And if political science had been neglected up to 1910, Jesse Reeves appeared about then to set matters straight. History probably had naturally been given a fair deal; at any rate, it never languished for want of support after Claude Van Tyne's or U. B. Phillips' advent.
If the preceding paragraph seems to indicate faculty domination to the exclusion of proper mention of student interests and activities, it probably stands for a true picture. The faculty stayed on year after year; they are known, they are remembered, they have left their imprint. The students came and were soon gone, unless they could get nothing else to do and had to join the faculty. Moreover, from the very beginning, faculty members were handed a large share of control, to make sure of the election of none but high-standing students. However, Page 1940Quadrangle was a students' club, following Skull and Bones to the extent of electing fifteen students each year. And now, quoting from a letter from a founder, Clarence Morrill:
Membership is perpetual.… Consequently, our meetings along about 1906-8, when I last saw Quadrangle, were attended by many members of the faculty. This, however, I do not think repressed the baker's dozen of undergraduates, because of the character of our meetings. After a desultory dropping-in period, order was called by the Provost and a paper or brief lecture was presented by some member, usually a youngster, most often a graduate student. Once in a while we had wonderful talks from men like Scott, Wenley, McLaughlin, Cooley. Rebec was also an unfailing fount of ideas in conversation.
After the supper a discussion followed which, at first, was general and followed the subject; but it inevitably wandered away and broke the meeting into little groups. It was in these group conversations that the wonderful intimacies between celebrated professors and callow undergraduates sprang up which gave Quadrangle its remarkable character, and which counteracted the tendency of mere numbers to swamp the individual in a university. Late in the evening a diversion occurred. Coffee, chocolate and buttered buns came up from Tuttle's — the real Tuttle's — and this broke up the little groups, which usually reassembled again. Then the older men went home to bed, while the youngsters wrangled over philosophical niceties into the wee hours.
Thus, even by 1908, Quadrangle was largely a faculty club, but the attendance was predominantly of undergraduates and instructors. Students have always been elected, with a minimum of perhaps ten in any one year; latterly, the number has exceeded fifteen a year. Also, the society began with philosophical and literary interests — so much so that each member, on contributing a paper, did his best to turn writer or philosopher at least for a night, no matter what his calling. But inevitably, the introduction of strong personalities has swung Quadrangle's attention through a wide range of human interests, even as "Old Mortality discussed everything in heaven or earth."
Early meetings were held in the Chi Psi house on Huron Street, also in a room over one of the State Street stores. For several years quarters were in the Groves Building at the corner of State and Liberty streets. About 1906 a move was made to the top floor of the Calkins Drug Store building on State Street, from which outlook Quadrangle frequently viewed the campus until 1920. The Union took care of matters for another two years. Thereafter, meetings were held at the homes of various faculty members until, in the 1930's, the club settled down in quarters assigned to it in the Michigan Union.
The Quadrangle Book mentioned above is a 1914 publication of contributions to "Q" — a private edition of 150 copies, one copy being kept in the University Library. "Q" occurred at the end of the evening, following refreshments, when contributions, which are anonymous, were read. In any one year there has been poetry of both kinds — good and bad — satire, wit, serious and hard thrusts at whatever may seem to the author to need bashing, humorous essays, and so on. Each year, on the average, the bound, typed manuscripts of "Q" have amounted to a fair-sized book. Many a now-famous personage has left his silliness at least partly behind by giving vent to it in "Q."
The conservative element on the campus in times past cast a wary eye at Quadrangle. At one time a Quadrangler incautiously recommended a man for a teaching position by saying he was a former provost of the club; it immediately developed that no good had been achieved, and there was considerable Page 1941defending to do. And how things — and men — can change! Wenley, the liberal who was a founding member, was met one day by a member on Wenley's return to the campus after World War I. The member wished to know if Wenley would be attending meetings. Not he. "That place," replied the philosopher, "is overrun with too many radicals."
Freshman Honorary Societies
Phi Eta Sigma
In order to encourage and reward high scholarship among the men students of the freshman classes, Thomas Arkle Clark, at the University of Illinois, conceived and developed the idea of Phi Eta Sigma. The fraternity came into existence on March 22, 1923. The seeds of the national organization were sown in the spring of 1926, and they began to bear fruit in the following fall when the University of Michigan petitioned for admittance.
On November 19, 1926, the University of Michigan chapter was installed by Dean Clark, W. Donald Forsyth, and S. S. Howe of the University of Illinois. Dean Bursley was elected to honorary membership and was chosen as the adviser for the chapter. President Little and Dean Effinger were initiated as honorary members, and forty-six freshmen met the membership requirement of at least half A and half B for a normal schedule. In the spring of 1927 Dean Bursley, who had been actively interested in the activities of Phi Eta Sigma on the campus since its inception, was elected grand vice-president of the first national organization.
Previous to 1928 the only motive of the organization was recognition of superior scholarship, and meetings were very informal and irregularly called. In 1928 Phi Eta Sigma undertook the projects of supplying freshman advisers at the beginning of the year for the new freshmen, and of formulating a plan to install the honor system in the projected University College. Upon the abandonment of the plan for the College the latter project was given up.
During the intervening years the main activities of the club have been smokers for freshman men and dinners at the Michigan Union for members. On these occasions speakers have been engaged. It has never been the intent or policy of the society to participate in campus activities or social life. Instead, Phi Eta Sigma brings the subject of scholastic attainment to the attention of the college freshman immediately upon his entrance into college and thus achieves its primary purpose of elevating standards of scholarship.
Alpha Lambda Delta
Alpha Lambda Delta was formed at the University of Illinois May 31, 1924, for the purpose of recognizing high scholarship among freshman women and of inspiring them to study. The University of Michigan chapter was founded in 1928, the fourth member chapter of the national organization.
Alice Crocker Lloyd ('16), Dean of Women from 1930 to 1950, was a charter member of the chapter at Michigan and served continuously as its faculty adviser. She was one of the six members-at-large on the National Council from 1936 until her death in 1950, and served as national vice-president in 1948.
Any freshman woman who in her first semester attains a scholastic average equivalent to at least half A and half B on a normal schedule is automatically elected to membership.
Since the principal function of Alpha Lambda Delta is merely to encourage the intellectually promising women students at a critical phase of their college careers, and to make underclassmen aware of the value of scholastic success, the society attempts no program except its annual Page 1942initiation banquet in the spring. At this time new members are given the privilege of wearing the emblem — a pin which represents a tiny candle — and they elect officers from among their own number. The officers, with the help of the faculty adviser, carry on business with national headquarters, arrange for delegation at national conventions, and issue invitations to those of the next freshman class eligible for membership. The outgoing officers, the only sophomores at the banquet, conduct the initiation and install their successors in office.
Tau Beta Pi
Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, was founded in 1885 at Lehigh University. In 1904 Professor Henry H. Higbie came to the University of Michigan from Columbia University, where a chapter had recently been installed. He was influential in establishing Michigan Gamma chapter in the spring of 1906.
As a minimum requirement of eligibility the candidate for membership must be in the upper one-fourth of the senior class or in the upper one-eighth of the junior class and must also show promise of giving especially valuable and useful service to the engineering profession.
Achievement in industry is recognized by the conferment of membership with distinction upon prominent engineers. The custom at the University is to admit one such member each year.
The society's aim, as stated in the preamble to its constitution, is "to mark in a fitting manner those who have conferred honor upon their Alma Mater by distinguished scholarship and exemplary character as undergraduates in engineering … and to foster a spirit of liberal culture in the engineering colleges of America."
The plan for the engineering honor society of Iota Alpha was formulated by faculty members of the College of Engineering at New York University in the spring of 1919. The name consists of the initial letter of the first and last words of a phrase from Hesiod's Works and Days (line 288), translated "toil before achievement." The emblem, an elongated hexagon, represents a crystal, the fineness and purity of which symbolize the product of labor and discipline. On the face of the emblem are the letters Iota Alpha and a sprig of laurel, traditional mark of the recognition of achievement.
The founding of Beta chapter at Michigan in 1925 marked the beginning of a conservative program of national expansion adopted the previous year. Members are elected from senior and graduate students in November and initiated in January. They remain as junior members, however, until they are thirty years old and have completed seven years of professional experience in engineering. Junior membership then lapses, but one who has held it may be considered for full membership upon application. This device of the national organization was invented to eliminate "deadwood" and thus to keep the character of the society such as to deserve the respect of the more mature members.
The aim of the society is to stamp approval upon good work done by students, in all branches of engineering, yet place character and the promise of future usefulness upon a par with scholastic excellence. Efforts are made, especially, to stimulate young engineers engaged in practice, as well as to recognize by honorary membership prominent members of the profession.
The Michigan chapter became inactive in 1942 because of conditions brought about by the war, particularly the loss of graduate enrollment in the Page 1943University. There is at present no plan to reactivate the society.
Alpha Omega Alpha
Alpha Omega Alpha is a nonsecret, college medical honor society, membership to which is based entirely upon scholarship, moral qualifications being satisfactory. It was organized at the College of Medicine of the University of Illinois in Chicago on August 25, 1902, by William Root. It is the only organization of its kind in this country, and in medical circles holds a place comparable to the position of Phi Beta Kappa in literary colleges. The purposes of AOA are to encourage scholarship, personal honesty, and the spirit of medical research.
The Michigan chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha was the thirteenth formed and first met in 1907. Following the lead of the national organization, the local chapter has the policy of selecting not more than one-sixth of the senior class for membership, and five members of the junior class. The new members are presented to the chapter at an annual initiation banquet held in the fall. This meeting features an address by some well-known medical personality.
The other activities of the chapter center around the Student Day program, which is held each spring. This event gives recognition to those students who have participated in medical research. At the meeting these students present, in formal fashion, the results of their investigations to the faculty and student body of the Medical School.
Rho Chi, the only national pharmaceutical honor society, is regarded highly by pharmacists and professional workers in related fields. Chapters are authorized only in accredited colleges of pharmacy in the United States. The principal objective of Rho Chi is to promote the advancement of the pharmaceutical sciences through encouragement and recognition of outstanding scholarship. The society has a significant research fund from which grants are made and annually holds a convention at which outstanding speakers are heard.
The national society grew out of a local pharmaceutical group at the University of Michigan, called the Aristolochite Society. The parent organization flourished in the College of Pharmacy on the Michigan campus from 1908 until 1922, when it ceased to exist and a charter was granted by the state of Michigan to Alpha Chapter of Rho Chi.
Over the years Rho Chi has grown into a nation-wide and influential organization. Alpha Chapter has been active throughout this period, and its members have served as officers and in various other capacities in the national society.
Students are selected from among the juniors, seniors, and graduate students working in pharmacy on the basis of scholarship and professional contributions to pharmacy. A scholastic average of B is required, together with approval by the dean of the College for recommendation to membership. Election is by ballot of the voting membership of the chapter, and affirmative votes must be cast by three-fourths of this membership.
Initiation is held in the spring, usually in co-operation with the honors banquet sponsored by the Student Branch of the American Pharmaceutical Association of the College of Pharmacy. Alpha Chapter does not hold monthly or other regular meetings.
Alpha Chapter sponsors a number of prizes and one scholarship in the College of Pharmacy. Prizes are awarded to outstanding Page 1944students in the freshman and sophomore classes at the spring dinner, and a $100 scholarship is awarded annually to the student who has shown the greatest scholastic improvement during the preceding year. The basis for this award is unusual in that emphasis is placed on over-all improvement rather than on a high average. A student who at one time may have been deficient in over-all average may be awarded the scholarship.
A comprehensive history has recently been published, "The Rho Chi Society," by Roy A. Bowers and David L. Cowen, in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (19:244-84, 1955). The role of the University of Michigan in originating and helping to develop Rho Chi during recent decades is outlined in this history.
Tau Sigma Delta
To quote from the constitution: "The purpose of this society shall be to bring into closer relation the departments of Applied Arts such as Architecture and Landscape Design, to maintain a higher standard of scholarship in these departments and to supply a common tie between the similar departments of the several universities."
The society was founded here at Michigan in 1913, mainly through the efforts of Herbert L. Burgess, a student in the College of Architecture. Three other students in his class worked with him to establish this, the Alpha chapter. All four names appear on the constitution, Burgess, Fred B. Klein, Harold M. Penney, and Harry F. Weeks. Burgess designed the society insignia. There are now chapters at many other universities.
Eligibility for membership is dependent solely on grades and moral character. Students in the Graduate School are eligible for full active membership. Activities are restricted to monthly luncheons, at which time members of the faculty speak on current topics and trends in architecture, etc. Two initiations are held each year, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Order of the Coif
The American order that bears this name is the outgrowth of an earlier society known as Theta Kappa Nu. This society was founded at the University of Illinois in 1902 for the purpose of promoting scholarship among American law students. The Michigan chapter of Theta Kappa Nu came into existence on November 15, 1910, when a charter was granted to a group of students desirous of organizing an honorary scholastic society in the University of Michigan Law School. The charter members were Arthur J. Abbott, Howard L. Barkdull, McKee Robison, and John S. Prescott, of the Law class of 1911 and Samuel H. Roberts, who was a graduate of the Law Department at the University in 1907.
Theta Kappa Nu had a slow growth, and in 1910 had but six chapters. In the meantime, in 1907, there had been organized at the Law School of Northwestern University a local society having the same object, which took the name Order of the Coif. The undergraduate members of the Order of the Coif in 1910 accepted a charter from Theta Kappa Nu. In 1911 the delegates to a national convention of Theta Kappa Nu decided to submit to the chapters for adoption not only a thoroughly revised national constitution but also a recommendation that the name be changed to the Order of the Coif. The constitution and change of name were ratified by the chapters and, thus, in February, 1912, the first national organization of the Order of the Coif was effected. Today, there are in Page 1945existence forty-six chapters of the order.
The name for this order was derived from an English order of the same name that was one of the most ancient and one of the most honored institutions of the common law. The English order was a small and exclusive association of lawyers from whose members the judges of the Court of Common Pleas, the King's Bench, and the Exchequer were appointed. "Coif" was the word used to designate the cap which all the members of the order were compelled to wear. This close-fitting hood can be seen today in old engravings, pictures, and effigies of distinguished judges and serjeants. With the advent of wigs the "coif" became a piece of white lawn attached to the top of the wig.
The fundamental purpose of the American Order of the Coif is, "to foster a spirit of careful study and to mark in a fitting manner those who have attained a high grade of scholarship." Consistent with such a declared purpose, student membership is limited to those who, in their senior year, rank in the upper 10 per cent of their class. Each spring the faculty members of the order elect the new student members from this group. In addition, each chapter annually may elect one member of the legal profession who has attained distinction to honorary membership in the society. The Michigan chapter has frequently elected outstanding lawyers and judges to such honorary membership.
Membership in the Order of the Coif is the highest scholastic honor that can be bestowed upon the graduates of the University of Michigan Law School. The membership lists include the names of many men and women who later distinguished themselves as lawyers, jurists, educators, legislators, in government office, or in business. Through 1956 seven hundred students have been honored by membership in the Order of the Coif.
Sigma Alpha Iota
In the early spring of 1903, Mrs. Fredreka Howland, the wife of William Howland, head of the Vocal Department of the University School of Music, suggested that a musical sorority be organized which would aim for high standards of musicianship and for promotion of the highest type of music. A meeting was held in Mr. Howland's studio in Ann Arbor to discuss this idea. There was some talk of a musical club, but finally a sorority was decided upon as better fitting plans for close bonds of friendship. It was decided that only students of fine character and special musical talent combined with excellent scholarship would be eligible for membership. On June 12, 1903, Sigma Alpha Iota Musical Sorority was founded. Following are the names of the founders, who were graduate students and faculty members: Elizabeth A. Campbell, Frances Caspari, Minnie M. Davis (Sherrill), Leila H. Farlin (Laughlin), Nora Crane Hunt, Georgina Potts, and Mary Storrs (Andersen).
Minnie M. Davis was elected the first president of Alpha chapter. The first annual initiation was held March 7, 1904, at which time Mrs. William Howland was initiated as the first patroness and Blanche Abbott as the first active member. Minnie M. Davis presided at this initiation, which was held in her home. A banquet followed. Madame Louise Homer, the first national honorary member, was initiated by Alpha Chapter at the home of Elsa Stanley on May 12, 1904.
In order to have the sorority properly incorporated under Michigan state laws, articles of association were drawn and signed on December 1, 1904, by seven Page 1946active members and two patronesses of Alpha Chapter. The badge was designed by Edward F. Roehm of Detroit. It has a border of fifteen pearls encircling seven pipes of Pan. The enameled plaques of the Greek letters appear between the pearls at each side and top center. The charter was completed under the supervision of Elsa G. Stanley, president of Alpha chapter in 1904-5, who, with Elizabeth A. Campbell, installed eleven members of Beta Chapter, Northwestern University School of Music, Evanston, Illinois, on December 3, 1904.
From this well-founded beginning the growth of Sigma Alpha Iota has been steady and strong so that the national organization today consists of 105 college chapters, seventy alumnae chapters, and twenty-six alumnae groups in cities throughout the United States. SAI began as an honorary musical sorority, but changed to "professional" in 1922. The name was amended in 1928 to that used today: "Sigma Alpha Iota International Musical Fraternity for Women." The membership consists of college students, alumnae, patronesses, and honorary members. The object of this organization is to give moral and material aid to its members, to promote and dignify the musical profession, to establish and maintain friendly relations between musicians and music schools, and to further the development of music in America.
During World War II Sigma Alpha Iota planned for the period of reconstruction with rehabilitation services of music. Many portable instruments, including clinic organs, have been presented to veterans' hospitals for therapeutic as well as recreational purposes. Owing to the needs of foreign countries, music and music library materials have been sent to European countries. Similar aid has also been given to schools in the Philippines and in Korea.
Beta Gamma Sigma
In the field of commerce and business administration Beta Gamma Sigma is the only scholarship honor society recognized by the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business. The purpose of the society is to encourage and reward scholarship and accomplishment along the lines of business activity among students and graduates of colleges or courses in commerce or in business administration in American colleges and universities, to promote the advancement and spread of education in the science of business, to foster principles of honesty and integrity in business practice, and to encourage a more friendly attitude of the business public toward graduates of commercial courses.
The national organization of Beta Gamma Sigma is the outgrowth of a consolidation of three local honorary clubs, the Economics Club of the University of California, Delta Kappa Chi of the University of Illinois, and Beta Gamma Sigma of the University of Wisconsin, the last having been founded in 1907. The consolidation was effected in 1913.
Elections to membership are held each semester and are confined to members of the graduating class who rank in the upper tenth and from members of the junior class who are among the highest 2 per cent on the basis of scholarship. In addition, there are provisions for the election of alumni members and honorary members who have shown distinguished ability in the field of business. Graduate students may also be elected if they were not available for election as undergraduates.
The installation of the Alpha of Michigan Chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma was held on May 23, 1930, at the Michigan Union. The ceremony was conducted by Professor Hiram T. Scovill, of the University Page 1947of Illinois, member of the executive national committee of Beta Gamma Sigma, assisted by Professor Charles L. Jamison of the School of Business Administration of the University of Michigan, who is a charter member of the Alpha of Wisconsin chapter, and by Albert R. Mott, from the chapter of the University of Minnesota. At that time the following active charter members were initiated: Joseph E. Castner, Lemuel L. Laing, Kenneth G. Stuart, Milton J. Drake, Robert T. Beall, Clare E. Griffin, Ernest M. Fisher, Olin W. Blackett, William A. Paton, and Robert G. Rodkey.