Class of 2017 Seniors Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

On Friday, May 12, 2017 at Faculty House, the New York Delta Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society initiated more than 40 GS students at its annual Induction Ceremony.

May 12, 2017

GS elects no more than 10 percent of its graduating class to the General Studies Division of the Columbia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, established in 1952. Students are selected on the basis of their character, integrity, and academic achievement. With grade point averages above 4.0, they are among the top in their class. However, as Secretary of the Columbia Phi Beta Kappa chapter Dean Victoria Rosner pointed out, there is much more to the inducted students than the numbers on their transcripts.

“One of our graduates came back from drug addiction and homelessness, working her way back to a stable life by cleaning houses…Another one of the students we honor this afternoon started at Columbia in 1992 but was forced to withdraw because of a family crisis. Following distinguished service in the Air Force, he has come back to Columbia finish what he started.”

Students have overcome not only personal challenges but professional ones as well. One inducted student balanced a full-time dance career with the New York City Ballet while attending GS, while others were veterans making the transition back into civilian life.

Speaking to the new members, vice president of the Chapter Dean Peter J. Awn said, “You are extraordinary. The work you have done here at Columbia is truly amazing…It is what you do in the classroom, and your intellectual achievements, that have created the credibility of this extraordinary college.”

Inductees included students from the Joint BA program between GS and the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Dual BA Program Between Columbia University and Sciences Po, and, for the first time, the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program between City University of Hong Kong and Columbia University. 

Inductee Amro Harb received the Phi Beta Kappa Prize, which is awarded to the candidate who best represents the ideals of the society—intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views, and a broad range of academic interests. Harb was honored for his extraordinary academic record and his achievements in the field of neuroscience and behavior.

Upon pledging to “be true and faithful to Phi Beta Kappa, uphold its standards, obey its laws, and seek to reflect credit upon [their] affiliation with this venerable fellowship of learners,” the exceptional candidates became full-fledged members of Phi Beta Kappa.

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest academic honor society, and its initials represent the society's motto: "love of learning is the guide of life." Roughly ten percent of U.S. institutions of higher learning have Phi Beta Kappa chapters, and among those institutions, only about ten percent of arts and sciences graduates are selected for membership, making it one of the highest academic honors for undergraduate students in the nation.

To be inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society, students must be recommended by faculty who work closely with them and are members of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Recommendations are based on the students' academic programs and their ability to support the society's ideals of academic, social, and community-based programs.