Spring 2007

March 20, 2007

The Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa met Tuesday, March 20, 2007 in room 110 of Morrison Hall with Arterbury, Colon, Daniel, Fish, Foley, Good, Hendon, Johnson, Kisacky, Matthews, Mazé, Ortuño, Osborn, Owens, Sheets, and Stewart in attendance.

Chapter president Marian Ortuño called the meeting to order and welcomed those present. Reports were heard from representatives of the standing committees. Julie Kisacky indicated that the Initiation Banquet committee had met and preparations for the spring initiation were under way. The ceremony will be held April 28, 2007 in the Banquet Hall of the Cashion Academic Building. Brad Owens reported on behalf of the Alumni and Honorary Members committee and presented a proposal that Harry Sieber (B.A. 1963), professor of Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages at Johns Hopkins University be extended an invitation to alumnus membership. Dr. Sieber is an internationally-known scholar in areas of Renaissance and Baroque Spanish Literature during a career that has spanned over forty years. A motion was made by Janet Sheets and seconded by Lorin Matthews that the chapter extend membership to Dr. Sieber. The vote was unanimous in the affirmative. Jeff Fish reported on the Albaugh Lecture, given January 25, 2007 by Dr. Leon Kass of the University of Chicago. Dr. Kass' evening presentation was "Brave New Biology: The Challenge for Modern Bioethics," preceded that afternoon by a presentation and discussion with students in the Honors College. Dr. Fish thanked members of the committee for their good efforts and indicated that the committee would be open to suggestions for future Albaugh lectures. Jeff Fish also reported on behalf of the Robinson Scholarship committee. Transcripts of qualified students of junior standing are now available to the committee and deliberations regarding candidates for the Robinson Scholarship will begin soon.

David Hendon reported for the Nominating committee and presented a motion that the current officers of the chapter be reelected for another year. There were no nominations from the floor and the motion was unanimously approved. There was no formal report of the Audit committee but the chapter secretary reminded everyone that the financial transactions of the chapter are all processed through the normal financial channels of the University. Brad Owens and Susan Colon reported for the Intellectual Activities Committee and informed the members that essays under consideration for the Daniel Writing Award were currently being evaluated and that the presentation of the award would take place April 24 in Alexander Hall. Lorin Matthews spoke regarding the PBK Visiting Scholar scheduled to be on campus March 21-23. Dr. Eric Heller of Harvard University would be presenting a public lecture on "Electrons in Semiconductors and Rogue Waves in the Ocean" the afternoon of March 23. He would also visit and make presentations in three classes during his visit. The chapter extended its appreciation to Dr. Matthews for her excellent work in organizing and coordinating the visit of Dr. Heller.

Jeff Fish reported on behalf of the Members-in-Course committee. A slate of 60 graduating seniors and 6 juniors was presented for the approval of the chapter. It was noted that the minimum GPA for this group is almost identical to that of the past two spring elections, perhaps indicating that some stability in grade inflation is beginning to take effect. The list of candidates is attached.

Jennifer Good presented a report prepared by an ad hoc committee on the Election of Graduate Students to Zeta Chapter. The committee, comprised of Jennifer Good, Ann-Marie Bowery, and Ken Wilkins, prepared an extensive examination of both sides of the issue and proposed that the chapter approve the following motion:

"The committee recommends that the following statement, developed from the model constitution provided by the national office, regarding the initiation of graduate students into the Zeta of Texas chapter be adopted:

"Graduate students who are in Ph.D. programs in the College of Arts & Sciences and who have completed two full years of course work may be considered for election to Zeta of Texas. They must be completing their course of study with an unusually high record of academic achievement and must meet the same standards regarding liberal studies as are applied to undergraduate students at Baylor University; i.e., they must be the possessors of a superior standing in their undergraduate work. They shall be graduates of institutions not having a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at the time of their graduation. The number of graduate student initiates must not exceed 5% of any graduating class of Ph.D. students. Because of the high level of accomplishment required for recognition, it is quite possible in any particular semester that no doctoral graduate might be identified who meets the standards."

In addition, the committee recommended that two more members be added to the Members-in-Course committee to be involved in the evaluation of both graduate and undergraduate transcripts. Following brief discussion, the motion of the committee was passed by the chapter members. (The full report of the committee is available upon request).

Phillip Johnson announced that information for the Visiting Scholar Program for 2007-8 has been received. Chapter members can find biographical information about the participants on the web at www.pbk.org. Chapter members may also request a visiting scholar for their department by coordinating with their chairperson and then contacting the chapter secretary, who will make the formal request to the national office. There is no fee to the department beyond the typical expenses of meals and incidentals. All other expenses are covered. The deadline for requesting a visiting scholar is April 10. Dr. Johnson also proposed that the date of the spring banquet be moved up approximately 2-3 weeks in order to avoid conflicts with many other end-of-semester activities and events. This will mean that the election of students and the spring chapter meeting will be earlier as well. It was decided to proceed with this change on a trial basis.

Marian Ortuño reported on the status of the replica bronze key which is to be placed on the stone marker outside of Morrison Hall. The sculptor initially provided a work in December which was not satisfactory. Very detailed plans and specifications were requested and provided and the sculptor is currently in the process of completing new castings. We are hoping to have more details in the next several weeks.

Dr. Ortuño expressed appreciation to those in attendance and especially to those serving on the committees. The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 pm.

Recorded by:

Phillip Johnson