For immediate release October 22, 2015

The Phi Beta Kappa Society Elects New President and Vice President at its 44th Triennial Council

WASHINGTON, DC — Catherine White Berheide, Professor of Sociology at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has been elected President of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, and Paul Lukacs, Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Humanities at Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, has been elected Vice President of the Society. The election of officers for terms from 2015 – 2018 took place October 9 at the Society’s 44th Triennial Council in Denver, Colorado. 

The Triennial Council is the legislative body of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest academic honor society founded on December 5, 1776. The Council convenes every three years to carry out the business of the Society, including the election of officers to serve as President and Vice President for the following three years. 

John Churchill, Secretary and chief executive officer of the Society, praised the election of Berheide and Lukacs. “Both of these outstanding Senators have distinguished records of service to Phi Beta Kappa,” said Churchill. “We look forward to working with them as they bring their vision and experience to the leadership of the Society.”

President Catherine White Berheide

Catherine White Berheide was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at Beloit College, and received her M.A. and her Ph.D. at Northwestern University. She has a distinguished history of service to Phi Beta Kappa, as an officer of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Skidmore (1982-1985), as a long-time member of the national organization’s board, the Senate (2000-2012), and as Co-Chair of the Phi Beta Kappa Task Force on Stipulations (2008-2011). Most recently she served as Vice President of the Society (2012-2015).

As a Phi Beta Kappa Senator, Berheide always devoted herself to whatever Phi Beta Kappa needed, including as a member of the Senate’s Awards Committee (2000-2009) and as a member (1994-2014) and Chair (2003-2012) of the challenging Committee on Qualifications, which vets colleges and universities applying for new Phi Beta Kappa chapters.

Berheide’s academic career began at Indiana University Southeast as an Assistant Professor of Sociology (1976-1979), after which she moved to Skidmore College, where she has been teaching since 1979 and was Chair of the sociology department twice (1982-1987, and 1990-1992), and Director of Women’s Studies three times, most recently from 2008-2011. She has been a Carnegie Scholar twice, has won the Hans O. Mauksch Award, and has served as Secretary of the American Sociological Association (2012-2013). Berheide is the author of five books and more than 50 scholarly articles on work, gender, and undergraduate education.

As President, Berheide says she will “continue to strengthen the Society’s role, nationally and locally, as an advocate for the liberal arts and sciences through the Associations, Chapters, Fellows, and other vital initiatives, such as the National Arts & Sciences Initiative, The American Scholar, the Visiting Scholar Program, and the Society’s various awards and fellowships.”  She also looks forward to enhancing “the engagement of all our members, especially recent graduates, with each other and with the Society’s activities.”

Vice President Paul Lukacs

Paul Lukacs, Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Humanities at Loyola Maryland University in Baltimore, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at Kenyon College, and received his M.A. and Ph.D. at The Johns Hopkins University. He was a founding member of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Loyola Maryland and served as President of the chapter from 1996 to 1999. He became a member of the national organization’s Committee on Qualifications in 1998 and served as Chair of that committee (2012-2015). Lukacs has also been a member of the Senate (2006-2015), which is the national organization’s board, and served on the Executive Committee of the Senate (2012-2015).

Lukacs has taught English at Loyola University Maryland since 1981, and was department Chair from 1991 to 2006. He has had several other posts at the University including Director of the University Honors Program (1988-1991) and Director of the Center for the Humanities (2007 to the present). He is the author of articles and essays on subjects ranging from nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and the culture and history of wine, to the synergies between aesthetic and physical taste, which have appeared in journals and magazines such as Clio, American Heritage, and The American Scholar. He is also the author of three books, including two award-winning titles about wine, Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures, and American Vintage.

Lukacs believes Phi Beta Kappa leadership must be a voice in opposition to the current notion that “our values are…antiquated or irrelevant.” He says the Society is doing that through the National Arts & Sciences Initiative, but must do more, “especially on campuses that shelter Phi Beta Kappa chapters, but that devote more and more of their resources to pre-professional programs.”


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