For immediate release December 10, 2014

Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts to Receive Key of Excellence from Phi Beta Kappa

Prize Recognizes Exemplary Efforts to Engage Communities with Arts & Sciences

SEATTLE, WA – The Phi Beta Kappa Society (ΦBK), the nation’s oldest and most-widely known academic honor society, announces today that it will present the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) with the Key of Excellence Award and its $10,000 prize at a reception celebrating the arts and sciences on Wednesday, December 10, 2014.

Phi Beta Kappa will present the award at a ceremony being emceed by David Brewster, editor-at-large of Crosscut.com and founder of Town Hall Seattle, at McCaw Hall in the Seattle Center. Michael Zimmerman, Vice President for Academic Affairs at The Evergreen State College, will accept the award in support of WaCLA’s work.
“The Phi Beta Kappa Society created the Key of Excellence Awards to energize support for the arts and sciences because of their value to the nation,” said ΦBK President Katherine Soule. “The Key of Excellence showcases innovative programs that demonstrate the excellence, range, and relevance of the arts and sciences to their communities. We aim to show decision makers that arts and sciences education expands opportunity, drives ingenuity, and invests in America."

WaCLA is an association of 40 Washington state public and private, two- and four-year higher education institutions and organizations promoting the value of a liberal arts education to the people and communities of the state. “It truly brings together what many might see as unlikely allies to create positive change in the public dialogue about the liberal arts and sciences in communities throughout Washington,” says Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill. “We hope this spotlight inspires others to undertake similar collaborations in their states.”     

Successful recent projects include an employer-educator forum that brought together over 200 academic leaders, regional employers, and state legislators; annual high school and undergraduate scholarship essay contests on the value of the liberal arts; and media outreach.

“To be recognized by an organization as prestigious as Phi Beta Kappa is an amazing honor,” said Zimmerman.  “WaCLA’s work promoting the value and power of the liberal arts meshes incredibly well with ΦBK’s mission and together we can demonstrate that the arts and sciences complement rather than detract from one another.”

Previous recipients of the Key of Excellence Award include Arizona State University’s Project Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Wisconsin Science Festival. 

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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 www.pbk.org.

About The National Arts and Sciences Initiative

Higher education is at a crossroads, with many of our country's leaders questioning the need for a broad-based arts and sciences curriculum. ΦBK has launched a multi-year National Arts & Sciences Initiative to strengthen support for the value of the arts and sciences today. 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. Find facts and statistics about the arts and sciences at www.pbk.org/chArts&Sciences.

About The Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts

The Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts has a mission as simple as it is important: to promote the value of a liberal arts education to the people and communities of the state of Washington. Central to this mission is to articulate a vision of higher education that makes it clear that all facets of human knowledge, the arts, the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences, must be respected and supported if we are to produce an educated citizenry and a productive workforce. Formed in 2012, WaCLA consists of two- and four-year, public and private institutions of higher education as well as non-academic partners. Read more about WaCLA and its ongoing initiatives at www.evergreen.edu/provost/wacla