Fall 2009

October 13, 2009

The Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa met Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. in room 205 of Morrison Hall with Colon, Foley, Good, Johnson, Kisacky, Matthews, Osborn, Roig, Smith, Wilkins, Woods, and student member Rachel Huntsman in attendance.

Acting chapter president Phillip Johnson called the meeting to order and welcomed those present. He suggested that each person give a brief introduction to the group and this was done. He provided copies of the agenda, minutes from the spring meeting of the chapter, and the chapter membership list. The Baylor chapter consists of 79 faculty/staff members, 18 graduate student members, and 9 undergraduate members. Those in attendance were informed that the secretary collects $3 in dues each year as a way of determining active membership.

Dr. Johnson presented the calendar of events for this academic year. Important dates include:

• November 10, 2009 (Tuesday) tentative -- Chapter meeting, 4 p.m. to consider 20 to 25 individuals for membership

• November 6, 2009 (Friday) – Scholars of Excellence Reception, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. in the Mayborn Museum

• December 2 or 3 (Wednesday or Thursday) – Fall Initiation (Time: TBA) in the Armstrong-Browning Library Treasure Room

• March 2 or 3, 2010 (Tuesday or Wednesday) – Spring Chapter meeting 4 p.m.

• March 16, 2010 (Tuesday) – Albaugh Lecture by Richard Wilbur

• April 14, 2010 (Wednesday) -- Honors Convocation

• April 17, 2010 (Saturday) – Spring Initiation Banquet, 6:30 p.m. Barfield Drawing Room

Dr. Johnson explained that Jeff Fish is presently unable to serve as president of the chapter during this academic year. Elinor Mazé served as interim president last year and her leadership was much appreciated. Chapter vice president, Jennifer Good, and secretary-treasurer, Phillip Johnson, will assume the administrative duties for this year.

Dr. Johnson then gave an overview of the committee memberships for 2009-2010. Members were encouraged to volunteer to serve on a committee since there are several committees that would benefit from one or two additional members.

Reports were heard from representatives of the standing committees.

Jennifer Good reported that the Committee on Members-in-Course has a full slate of members and the committee is in the process of evaluating undergraduate transcripts of August and December graduates for fall initiation. There may be additional graduate students considered for membership, as well. Johnson mentioned that last spring for the first time in almost 30 years the chapter elected three Ph.D. students for membership.

Julie Kisacky reported that the Initiation Committee has several veteran members and their work will begin in the spring. The initiation banquet typically includes 200-225 attendees. Barfield Drawing Room will again be the location for the banquet on Saturday, April 17, as the culminating event of Honors Week. Dr. Kisacky requested a student member for the Initiation Committee.

There was no report from the Publicity Committee or the Honorary and Alumni Members Committee. The Honorary and Alumni Members Committee is often inactive and has no members at this time. The committee becomes active when a name is presented for membership consideration. In 2007 the chapter extended an invitation for alumnus membership to Dr. Harry Sieber (B.A. 1963), professor of Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages at Johns Hopkins University. Alden Smith asked whether an alumnus scholar would be considered on the basis of his or her accomplishments, without evaluation of transcripts. Johnson responded that membership in such a case would likely be based on a long, established career in addition to the undergraduate transcript and that graduates from Baylor or from another university or college could be considered.

Lorin Matthews reported that the reception for National Merit Scholars has a new title, time and location. The Scholars of Excellence Reception will be held from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. on November 6 in the Mayborn Museum. Baylor is emphasizing the recruitment of high ability students. The University has invited 400 students to the reception this year and has increased the budget for the event. Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, Elizabeth Vardaman, and Dean of the Honors College, Thomas Hibbs, will speak during the reception. Faculty members are especially encouraged to attend. The reception provides an opportunity for members to talk one-on-one with these students and if they come to Baylor, they know something about Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Matthews would welcome another member on this committee.

Michael Foley indicated that the Albaugh Lecture is scheduled for March 16 with poet Richard Wilbur. The location and time will be announced at a later date. Susan Colon reported that the Robinson Scholarship Committee will begin its work in the spring. The Robinson Scholarships have been awarded since the early 1980s, with four scholar recipients selected last year. The Nominating Committee is chaired by David Hendon and this committee needs an additional member. In the spring the committee has the responsibility to search for a candidate for the office of chapter historian.

Michael Foley reported for the Audit Committee that he would review the records for the chapter dues that are collected. Phillip Johnson indicated that there was a change last spring to allow students to join the chapter without incurring a cost. Funds for the certificates, honor cords, and dues to the national organization are subsidized by the University. Each student may choose to pay $50 to purchase the Phi Beta Kappa key at the time of initiation into membership.

Susan Colon mentioned that the Intellectual Activities Committee will select the winner of the Wallace Daniel Prize for Undergraduate Writing in the spring. The winning essay will be published in the Pulse.

Dr. Johnson then reported that the chapter had not been assigned a Visiting Scholar from the national office for this academic year. The endowment has decreased, so the national organization has cut back on the program a bit. In the past, a Visiting Scholar has come to Baylor almost every year. In the spring the chapter receives a list of Visiting Scholars that the members of the chapter may review. Chapter members may 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. When a Visiting Scholar comes to campus for the 2-day period, the academic department will benefit from two or three class presentations by the scholar. There is no fee to the department beyond the typical expenses of meals and incidentals. All other expenses are covered.

Phillip Johnson reported on the Triennial Council Meeting that was held in Austin. This year 325 delegates attended. Phi Beta Kappa welcomes 18,000 new members each year and the Baylor chapter has a high induction rate for the students invited to join Phi Beta Kappa. During the meeting the officers for the national organization were elected and the new president is Fred H. Cate from Indiana University's Mauer School of Law, who will serve a 3-year term. Dr. Johnson explained that the national organization coordinates the Visiting Scholar Program; publishes the American Scholar three times a year and the Key Reporter newsletter four times a year; presents three book awards, fellowships, and a professorship in philosophy; and presents the Phi Beta Kappa Award for service to the humanities. This year the delegates debated several changes in the by-laws and constitution and subsequently passed the proposed changes. Four of the 45 applications for new Phi Beta Kappa chapters were accepted during the meeting: Butler University, College of St. Benedict-St. John's University, Elon University, and James Madison University. The next Triennial Council Meeting will be held in August, 2012 in Palm Beach, Florida.

Dr. Johnson expressed appreciation to those in attendance and then adjourned the meeting at 4:45 pm.

Viola Osborn, Historian