Prologue to Prominence

SALEM, Va. —A new book by award-winning education writer George Keller chronicles Roanoke College’s successful journey to being selected to house a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. In Prologue to Prominence, (Lutheran University Press, 2006) Keller tells the story of the College’s last half century in which it has operated under a balanced budget while steadily increasing student enrollment as well as faculty research, campus expansions and the College’s endowment.

Keller shows the personalities and dedication of the leaders who directed the College’s efforts to become one of only 270 Phi Beta Kappa chapters in the nation. Roanoke’s first application was flatly rejected, but the College used that experience as a tool for growth and improvement. In 2003, after multiple applications, Roanoke achieved its impressive goal and installed the Nu of Virginia chapter of Phi Beta Kappa the following year.

Keller is an award-winning writer and editor and one of the nation’s leading experts on higher education. He has been described as one of the most brilliant strategists in the field of higher education. His book Academic Strategy: The Management Revolution in American Higher Education is an influential and informative study of higher education management practices of colleges and universities. He is the former editor of the journal Planning for Higher Education, and he chaired the program in higher education studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

“George Keller nimbly takes us inside the personalities, problems and possibilities of Roanoke College over the past fifty years,” says Richard L. Morrill, chancellor of the University of Richmond. “The themes of intense fiscal discipline, disproportionate success in athletics, and unflagging persistence in seeking and winning a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa provide the plotline of a narrative of spiraling academic quality and institutional strength.”

Prologue to Prominence can be purchased at the Roanoke College Bookstore or online at

Roanoke College, the country’s second oldest Lutheran-related college, is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the “best in the Southeast.” Roanoke’s 1,900 students represent 41 states across the U.S. and 25 foreign countries.
For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.