For immediate release October 22, 2015

The Phi Beta Kappa Society Presents the President’s Award and John Hope Franklin Award at 44th Triennial Council

WASHINGTON, DC — The Phi Beta Kappa Society presented the Society’s President’s Award to former Society President Fred Cate and former Phi Beta Kappa Senator George Greenia on October 8th during the opening event of the Society’s 44th Triennial Council in Denver, Colorado. At the same event, the Society also presented its John Hope Franklin Award to three individuals: Bette Napoli Harris, James Lightner and Don Wyatt. 

The Triennial Council is the legislative body of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest academic honor society founded December 5, 1776, that convenes every three years to carry out the business of the Society. The Society gives the President’s and John Hope Franklin Awards only at the Triennial Council.

The President’s Award

The Phi Beta Kappa’s President’s award, which is commemorated by presentation of the Judith F. Krug Medal, was created in 2009 by the Phi Beta Kappa Senate. It is given in recognition of truly outstanding and extraordinary service to Phi Beta Kappa as a national organization. Former Society President Joseph Gordon received the first President’s Award at the 2012 Triennial Council in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Fred Cate is the Distinguished Professor and C. Ben Dutton Professor of Law at Indiana University, Director of the Indiana University Center for Law, Ethics and Applied Research in Health Information and the Center for Information Privacy and Security. In summer f 2015 he became vice president for research of the university. 

Cate was appointed a Phi Beta Kappa Senator in 2001, and was elected to the Senate in 2003 and re-elected in 2009, when he was elected the Society’s President. As President, he was responsible for streamlining processes and simplifying Society procedures. In 2012, he advanced the idea of a national initiative for the liberal arts and sciences. Phi Beta Kappa’s dynamic National Arts & Sciences Initiative is the outgrowth of that idea.

George Greenia is a Professor of Hispanic Studies at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He served for ten years as Director of William & Mary's Program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and has led many William & Mary undergraduates on pilgrimages re-tracing the legendary routes of the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain.

During his time with Phi Beta Kappa Greenia has been very active in the chapter at William & Mary. He was elected to the Society’s Senate in 2009, and served for six years on the Executive Committee. As an extraordinary ambassador, he has carried his enthusiasm for the Society’s purposes to the national stage. As befits a student of pilgrimages, he is constantly on the move, visiting a long list of campuses all over the country, some already sheltering chapters and some seeking them. 

The John Hope Franklin Award

The John Hope Franklin Award, created by the Phi Beta Kappa Senate in 2011, and named after distinguished historian, author and 18th President of Phi Beta Kappa, John Hope Franklin, honors individuals for exemplary long-standing service to the Society. The three awardees honored at the 44th Triennial are the first to receive this award.

Bette Napoli Harris’ long and broad service to Phi Beta Kappa began in 1987, when she first became President of the thriving Northern California Phi Beta Kappa Association. Since then she has served as served the Southern California Association of Phi Beta Kappa in several capacities, including as President. Harris is very involved with the Western District of the Society, and has just concluded her service as Chair of the Society’s Conference of Association Delegates. 

James Lightner has been a Fellow of Phi Beta Kappa for many years. After he was elected to the Senate in 2006, he served as Chair of the Committee on Chapters. During his Senate years, he was a steadfast champion of chapters, working diligently to make sure the national office understood chapter concerns. While on the Senate, Lightner also served two terms on the Executive Committee.

Don Wyatt has been a longtime stalwart of the Middlebury College Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, serving as its president on two separate occasions, the last for the past twenty-five years. During this time Wyatt also served two terms as a Phi Beta Kappa Senator, and chaired the Committee on Awards. He also is a member of the Society’s Committee on Qualifications, which vets college and universities applying for new chapters.


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