Document Type




Publication Date

Fall 9-30-2016


WMU’s Phi Beta Kappa Chapter

  • Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society, founded at the College of William & Mary in 1776.
  • Western Michigan University is among 10% of American colleges and universities to host a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Our chapter, Theta of Michigan, was founded in 1997 after more than a decade of efforts by WMU faculty and administrators. We are a WMU “point of pride.”
  • Phi Beta Kappa celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.

The Problem: PBK’s Low Profile on Campus

1)Low student response rate:

  • Students at a large public university are not aware of PBK, especially amid a sea of Greek-lettered organizations and honor societies.
  • PBK invites students to membership at the end of their undergraduate careers; no chance for on-campus involvement.

2) Low faculty participation

  • Structural issues: fewer TT hires; aging professoriate; higher workload.
  • Most active chapter members have been involved for more than 10 years, and retired faculty fill several key roles.
  • The same small group takes on responsibilities each year, risking burn-out (& not attractive for new participants).


Presented at the Teaching and Learning Bash 2016.