The Phi Beta Kappa 1776 Award recognizes national policymakers who advance the arts and sciences, and whose leadership provides heightened visibility for their value to the nation.
The Society presented the inaugural 1776 Awards at the National Arts & Sciences Initiative launch event in December 2013 in Washington, DC to Senator Lamar Alexander (ΦBK, Vanderbilt University) and Representative Rush Holt (ΦBK, Carleton College).
“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.”
Senator Lamar Alexander is a Senior Senator from the state of Tennessee. He has also previously served as United States Secretary of Education, Governor of Tennessee, and President of the University of Tennessee. Senator Alexander has long championed the role of the arts and sciences in preparing students for career and citizenship, and gives highly-visible support for the humanities and social sciences by illustrating their importance for a vibrant, competitive, and secure nation.
“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.”
Former Representative Rush Holt served as a Representative for New Jersey's 12th Congressional District for 16 years. Holt is currently the Chief Executive Officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. During his time in Congress, Holt led the successful effort to pass the largest single increase in funding for science research in history. He was also a steadfast supporter of the National Endowments for the Arts & Humanities, and advocated for enhanced funding of international and foreign language education programs.