For immediate release December 10, 2014

The Phi Beta Kappa Society Launches National Arts & Sciences Initiative


Advocacy Initiative to Energize Members, Engage and Recognize National Leaders, and Honor Regional Programs for Extraordinary Efforts in Support of Arts & Sciences

WASHINGTON, DC – The Phi Beta Kappa Society (ΦBK), the nation’s oldest academic honor society, formally launched its National Arts & Sciences Initiative to energize support for a broad-based arts and sciences education for the value and opportunity it brings through all of life. The multi-year initiative kicked off with an evening reception in celebration of the arts and sciences at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, where Senator Lamar Alexander and Representative Rush Holt were recognized as recipients of The Phi Beta Kappa 1776 Award. 

The Society also unveiled The Key of Excellence Awards, a new regional award and event series designed to showcase innovative programs across the country that reflect the excellence, range, and relevance of the arts and sciences to their communities. Arizona State University’s Project Humanities has been selected as the first regional recipient of the award and will be honored in Tempe in February. “This initiative is exciting for The Phi Beta Kappa Society, our members and supporters, because it shines a deserved spotlight on the importance of the arts and sciences in higher education today,” said Katherine Soule, president of ΦBK. “Access to a broad-based education is a critical investment in our country. The arts and sciences drive important economic and societal innovations, as well as prepare individuals to be more resourceful employees and more engaged members of a democratic society.” 

 Hosted by NPR Science Reporter, playwright and novelist, Shankar Vedantam, the kickoff reception recognized ΦBK members Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey with the 1776 Award for their leadership and support for the arts and sciences. 

 “Making our governmental institutions work, just as creating them and the idea of America in the first place, depends less on technology and more upon an understanding of human nature—something that hasn’t changed much over thousands of years,” said Senator Lamar Alexander. “One of the most important ways to understand human nature is to study it, and I’m honored to work with organizations like the Phi Beta Kappa Society to show the importance of arts and sciences in education.” 

 “My own career as a physicist and policymaker demonstrates the importance of access to the arts and sciences in higher education,” said Representative Rush Holt. “I encourage other Phi Beta Kappa members who value their individual experiences with the arts and sciences to speak out about their benefits to decision makers in their communities to ensure the arts and sciences remain available to all Americans and for future generations.” 

ΦBK invites interested parties to nominate for consideration organizations such as nonprofits, state agencies, colleges and universities, and other programs for the Key of Excellence Awards by completing a brief form. To learn more about the National Arts & Sciences Initiative or to nominate an organization for The Key of Excellence Awards, please visit


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 286 colleges and universities in the United States, almost 50 alumni associations, and more than half a million members worldwide. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 39 U.S. Supreme Court Justices and more than 130 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

About The National Arts and Sciences Initiative

The Phi Beta Kappa Society has championed excellence in the arts and sciences since 1776. Higher education is at a crossroads, with many of our country's leaders questioning the need for a broad-based curriculum. To strengthen support for the value of the arts and sciences today, ΦBK has launched a multi-year National Arts & Sciences Initiative. The initiative will demonstrate that a broad-based arts and sciences education expands opportunity, drives ingenuity and innovation, and makes a strong investment in America. 

 Through the initiative, ΦBK will tap into its cross-country network of members, chapters, and associations to connect with our nation’s leaders, share the important story of the arts’ and sciences’ value through all of life, and advocate for policies that strengthen an arts and sciences education.