For immediate release April 02, 2019

Mississippi State University


The Phi Beta Kappa Society Installs 287th Chapter at Mississippi State University

WASHINGTON, DC — The Phi Beta Kappa Society installed a new chapter at Mississippi State University Tuesday, April 2, at a ceremony at The Mill at MSU Conference Center in Starkville. Following the installation, the new Gamma of Mississippi chapter inducted 77 students selected for their extraordinary academic achievement in the arts and sciences. 

Frederick M. Lawrence, Phi Beta Kappa Secretary/CEO, Lynn Pasquerella, Phi Beta Kappa Society President and Association of American Colleges and Universities President, and Robert West, Professor of English and president of the Gamma of Mississippi chapter, presided over the installation and induction. A celebratory dinner followed the ceremonies, attended by Mississippi State University leaders, including MSU President Mark E. Keenum, 45 Phi Beta Kappa faculty and staff members, and newly inducted students, many with family members attending.

Lawrence, acknowledging the significance of the university’s achievement, said, “Mississippi State University’s commitment to the liberal arts and sciences as well as its nurturing of an environment that allows its students to soar should be recognized and celebrated. In a challenging time for public higher education, this commitment is an inspiration to us all. We congratulate the university and our newest Phi Beta Kappa members on their accomplishment, and look forward to a bright future for the chapter here in Starkville.” 

Prospective Phi Beta Kappa inductees are among the top 10 percent of their graduating class who have completed a broad range of liberal arts and sciences coursework, including foreign language study and mathematics.

In addition to the students, Gamma of Mississippi also inducted eight Foundation members, chosen for their commitment to the ideals of the liberal arts and sciences, including President Keenum and best-selling author and Mississippi State alum John Grisham. The chapter also honored the following individuals as Foundation members:  

  • MSU Provost Judy Bonner;
  • MSU Rhodes Scholar Donald “Field” Brown;
  • Renowned art director and designer Myrna Colley-Lee; 
  • Retired physician, philanthropist and MSU alumnus Dr. Richard Holmes;
  • MSU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Rick Travis; and
  • Retired MSU Professor Robert Wolverton. 

“The installation of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Mississippi State University is the culmination of years of dedicated work on the part of so many scholars on this campus, past and present,” said President Keenum. “We celebrate this accomplishment as a university family and I’m particularly grateful to English Professor Robert West for leading this effort in recent years. This will serve our high-achieving students here for generations to come.”

MSU becomes the 287th U.S. college or university to shelter a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Installations of new chapters occur only every three years and follow an intensive, multi-year application and evaluation process that includes two rounds of data collection and a visit from members of the Phi Beta Kappa Committee on Qualifications. Among the criteria reviewed are the university’s educational rigor in the arts and sciences, governance structure, faculty excellence, demonstrated commitment to academic freedom, and institutional dedication to liberal education.

Later this month, three additional Phi Beta Kappa chapters will be installed at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California, Chapman University, Orange, California, and University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.

The 77 students selected for Phi Beta Kappa membership in the Gamma of Mississippi chapter.

About Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University is a comprehensive, doctoral degree-granting university designated by the Carnegie Foundation as an R-1 “Very High Research Activity” institution. The university offers a wide range of opportunities and challenges for learning and growth to a diverse and capable student body. Also listed among the National Science Foundation’s Top 100 research universities, MSU provides access and opportunity to students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries. With a strong portfolio in the humanities, MSU’s largest academic unit is its College of Arts and Sciences, which includes more than 5,300 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

About The Phi Beta Kappa Society

Founded on Dec. 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation's most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at 287 colleges and universities in the United States, 50 alumni associations, and more than half a million members worldwide. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 41 U.S. Supreme Court Justices and more than 140 Nobel Laureates. The mission of The Phi Beta Kappa Society is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence. For more information, visit