The Sweet Briar Class of 2005 inductees to the Theta of Virginia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa recently picked up their PBK keys and formally accepted lifetime membership to the nation’s original academic honor society.
Phi Beta Kappa is considered the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the United States and is the model on which subsequent ones are based, said Eric Casey, SBC professor of classics, philosophy, and religion, and a Theta Chapter member. Sweet Briar’s Theta Chapter was created in 1950, and is one of about 270 colleges accepted by the national organization.
“It’s a mark of distinction just for the College to have a chapter,” Casey said.
This year’s Sweet Briar inductees are: Diana Rumenova Boncheva, Nell Guenna-Beatrice Champoux, Ana Ciric, Elizabeth Katharine Conner Eager, Elizabeth Jane Glen, Denva Edelle Jackson, Sarah Elizabeth Kidd, Casey Dineen Knapp, Heather Lauren Link, Savannah Elizabeth Oxner, Robin Lynn Parkinson, Ashley Jean Rogers, Karlena Mariel Sakas, Charlotte Leigh Speilman, Amanda Morgan Swan and Melinda Katherine Wolfrom.
Jamie Jensen was elected during the 2003-2004 academic year.
Casey researched the organization’s history and spoke on the topic during the initiation ceremony earlier this month. PBK began as a secret society at the College of William and Mary in 1776 as an alternative to clubs that were, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, more inclined to drunken “debauch” than intellectual discourse. The PBK motto in Greek, “philosophia biou kubernetes,” means “love of wisdom is the guide of life.”
Faculty members nominate students who demonstrate a love of learning through both performance and the breadth of their academic experiences. Chapter members — faculty who were elected to PBK as students — make the final selections.