WMU News

Initiation ceremonies set for first Phi Beta Kappa student members

March 24, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- A total of 107 juniors and seniors and three doctoral students will become the first student members in course of Western Michigan University's new chapter of Phi Beta Kappa during initiation ceremonies Wednesday, April 1.

The public ceremonies will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Kirsch Auditorium of the Fetzer Center and will be followed by a private reception and banquet.

Speaking during the banquet will be: WMU President Diether H. Haenicke; Dr. John W. Petro, chairperson of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and president of the chapter; and Dr. Elise B. Jorgens, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Joseph G. Reish, dean of the Lee Honors College and secretary of the chapter, will serve as the emcee.

Each student will be called forward by name during the ceremonies and asked to sign the new chapter's ledger. In addition, Dr. Linda Lesniak will be initiated into the chapter as an alumna member in recognition of her distinguished scholarship. Lesniak earned her bachelor's degree in 1970, her master's degree in 1971 and her doctoral degree in 1974, all in mathematics from WMU. She currently is a professor of mathematics at Drew University in New Jersey.

Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most widely recognized academic honor society in the country, seeks to foster and recognize excellence in undergraduate liberal arts and sciences. WMU, which was selected to shelter a Phi Beta Kappa charter this past fall, is one of only 91 public universities in the nation and one of only four public universities in Michigan to be so honored. The installation ceremony for WMU's Theta of Michigan chapter took place Feb. 23.

Students were selected for the chapter on the basis of general academic qualifications established by the national Phi Beta Kappa organization. WMU's chapter had the opportunity to further define the criteria.

The chapter's selection committee only considered juniors, seniors and doctoral students with high grade point averages who were enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences. Weight was given to the breadth of the candidates' program of study as well as to their knowledge of mathematics and a foreign language. Not more than 2 percent of the junior class, 10 percent of the senior class and 5 percent of doctoral students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences may be elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

Students could not apply to the organization. The selection committee made its decisions based on transcript information available through the registrar's office and nominations from faculty members, department chairpersons and deans.

Media contact: Ruth Stevens; ruth.stevens@wmich.edu

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