For immediate release October 5, 2016

The Phi Beta Kappa Society Celebrates City of Portland as an Arts & Sciences City of Distinction

Region Lauded for Cultural Vibrancy and Accessibility

WASHINGTON, DC — The Phi Beta Kappa Society—which recognizes outstanding college students at graduation—is naming Portland as an Arts & Sciences City of Distinction. The award is designed to showcase metropolitan areas with exceptional artistic vitality, cultural vibrancy and scientific engagement.

To celebrate Portland’s arts and sciences community, the Society will host an invitation-only reception on October 19, 2016 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by a round of "lightning" talks from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. The lightning talks are free and open to the public at the museum's Empirical Theater.

“Portland is a national model for what can happen when citizens, nonprofit groups, colleges and universities, businesses, and local governments support and invest in cultural institutions,” says Phi Beta Kappa Secretary/CEO Frederick M. Lawrence. “In particular, we applaud the region for its commitment to ensuring broad public access to the arts, humanities, natural and social sciences.”   

At the award reception, Eloise Damrosch, Executive Director of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, will accept the Phi Beta Kappa Arts & Sciences Cities of Distinction Award on behalf of the metropolitan region.

“I am delighted to accept this honor on behalf of Mayor Hales and all Portlanders,” says Eloise Damrosch. “Our city has long had a thriving arts community and over the past decade it has become a magnet for young creatives, entrepreneurial design firms, artists of all disciplines, and cultural tourists. As our population rapidly diversifies, we welcome and celebrate the rich tapestry of cultures and the range of artistic and scientific offerings our cultural community provides to us all.”

Phi Beta Kappa also will give prizes to four exemplary organizations that build creative exchanges with new and diverse audiences in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences or mathematics. They are: 

  • The Right Brain Initiative is a sustainable arts education partnership of public schools, government, foundations, businesses and the cultural community bringing creativity to all 110,000 K-8 students in the Portland metro region.  
  • Literary Arts is a nonprofit literary center that builds community around great literature by engaging more than 13,500 writers, readers, teachers, and students across Oregon each year through programs like Portland Arts & Lectures, Writers in the Schools, Delve, and the Oregon Book Awards & Fellowships.
  • Lewis & Clark College’s Community Engagement and Leadership in Science strengthens pathways into math and science education for students from underrepresented backgrounds while preparing Lewis & Clark College of Arts & Sciences student’s to pursue careers as future educators in a diverse and changing society.
  • Portland State University’s Archaeology Roadshow brings together community partners including universities, tribes, agencies, companies, historical societies, and students to introduce the public to the science of archaeology and instill a sense of stewardship for cultural resources.

Following the award reception, the evening continues with a series of electrifying talks, free and open to the public, “(En)Lightning Talks Portland,” from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the museum’s Empirical Theater emceed by OPB’s Think Out Loud host Dave Miller. This event features five experts in the arts and sciences who get just five minutes each to spark audience interest. Presenters include: poet Turiya Autry; arachnologist Greta Binford; classicist Ellen Millender; cultural theorist Anoop Mirpuri; and marine biologist Rebecca Vega Thurber. Seating is limited and reservations are required.


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 Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)

The RACC provides grants for artists, nonprofit organizations and schools in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties; manages an internationally acclaimed public art program; raises money and awareness for the arts through Work for Art; convenes forums, networking events and other community gatherings; provides workshops and other forms of technical assistance for artists; and oversees a program to integrate arts and culture into the standard curriculum in public schools through The Right Brain Initiative. RACC values a diversity of artistic and cultural experiences and is working to build a community in which everyone can participate in culture, creativity and the arts. For more information visit