WASHINGTON, DC — The Phi Beta Kappa Society installed a new chapter at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., today following dedication of a new public space on campus, Phi Beta Kappa Plaza.
Catherine White Berheide, president of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, and Jeffrey K. Denny, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, professor of mathematics and president-elect of the new chapter, presided over the installation ceremony of the new Zeta of Georgia chapter, followed by induction of 26 juniors and seniors in the College of Liberal Arts.
“Sheltering a Phi Beta Kappa chapter distinguishes Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts as one of the top programs in the nation,” said Denny. “Our inaugural class of inductees is a group of simply amazing individuals. We are very proud to honor our students and to have our university and faculty recognized for their commitment to academic excellence.”
In addition to the students, Zeta of Georgia also inducted seven foundation members, chosen for their commitment to the ideals of the liberal arts and sciences, including former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who shared a videotaped message relating her experiences as “the beneficiary of a liberal arts education that opened my heart and mind ….”
Other foundation members inducted were Mercer Chancellor R. Kirby Godsey, President William D. Underwood, Provost D. Scott Davis, Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Keith E. Howard, Director of Institutional Research Sarah E. May, and Institutional Research Analyst Cynthia Stroud Glance.
The installation of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Mercer is monumental in many ways, noted Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill. “It is the result of decades of accomplishment by faculty, administrative staff, students and supporters who have created an institution of remarkable excellence in the liberal arts and sciences,” he said. “Students in the first induction class and those in the years to follow, can take their place among the very best in the nation.”
A bronze monument with a replica of the Phi Beta Kappa key forms the centerpiece of the University’s Phi Beta Kappa Plaza, which is located near Mercer’s historic quad on the north side of campus.
Mercer University becomes the 285th U.S. college or university to shelter a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Installations of new Phi Beta Kappa chapters occur only every three years and follow an intensive, multi-year application and evaluation process that includes site visits 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.