Founded in 1776 by students at the College of William and Mary, Phi Beta Kappa is recognized as the oldest, largest and most prestigious honor society in the nation. PBK's main objective is to emphasize the importance of a liberal arts and sciences while also recognizing those who strive for excellence in academics.
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The Roanoke College Phi Beta Kappa Nu Chapter was founded in March of 2004. After more than 50 years of trying to start a chapter, five founding members, C. Homer Bast, President Emeritus Norman D. Finel, Charles H. Fisher '28, Carol Swain '83 and John R. Turbyfill '53 were inducted at the installation ceremony. Every member of the PBK honor society is presented with a gold key engraved with the society's initials. The initials represent the Greek motto for "Love of learning is the guide of life," and the society was the first to have a Greek-letter name.
Roanoke College is among fewer than 300 universities and colleges across the nation to have a Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. At these selected universities, only around 10% of the total arts and sciences graduates are invited to join the society each year.
In order to be eligible for membership, students must be pursuing a bachelor's degree in the arts and sciences and must demonstrate exceptional academic achievement. Juniors and seniors are typically the only students applicable for membership, however, exceptional gifted sophomores demonstrating outstanding academic achievement also can be considered.