On Thanksgiving, the University of Wyoming marked its 75th anniversary as a member the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa.

Phi Beta Kappa chapters exist in only about 10 percent of higher education institutions in the country; of those institutions, lifetime membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Society is only extended to roughly 10 percent of arts and sciences graduates.  Roughly 5 percent of UW College of Arts and Sciences graduates were selected last spring–41 seniors and four juniors.

The process for membership application at UW is unique in that the cost of lifetime membership for newly elected students is covered by the UW Alpha Chapter in the amount of $65 from private funds per student.  This is in line with a Wyoming constitutional requirement that UW education be “as nearly free as possible.”

Scholarships for juniors with a 4.0 GPA inducted into Phi Beta Kappa who return for studies the following fall are provided a scholarship with funds from the Louise A. Lee Johnson endowment.  In 1940, Johnson participated in the chartering of UW’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

The Visiting Scholar series may be the most well-known of the chapter’s contributions; the series brings distinguished arts and sciences lecturers to give talks at UW.

The University of Wyoming was honored this year as one of the nation’s top two public university chapters during the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s recent Triennial Council meeting in Denver.  The society recognized UW for its almost unheard-of 100 percent initiation rate and stout history of visiting scholars and speakers.

Dr. Eric Nye, UW Chapter Secretary and professor in the Department of English, was elected as UW’s first-ever representative to the PBK senate.  He is one 24 senators that will serve a six-year term representing the society in its governing body.