Phi Beta Kappa

phi beta kappa


Alpha of Oregon Chapter Marks Centennial

Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, the Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest and most prestigious honorary society in the nation. Today its chapters number 276 as the society continues to pursue its mission of fostering and recognizing excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Alpha of Oregon chapter at the University of Oregon became the first Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the state in 1923. Join us in celebrating 100 years of the Alpha of Oregon chapter!


phi beta kappa


The Phi Beta Kappa Society honors students whose undergraduate academic records fulfill the objectives of a liberal arts and sciences education. Each May the Alpha of Oregon Chapter Executive Committee evaluates the transcripts of students who will graduate in spring term or have graduated in the preceding three terms. Students who achieve the rigorous membership requirements, including outstanding breadth and rigor of upper-division course work, exceptional grade point averages, and a high percentage of overall “liberal” credits receive a written letter of invitation as “Members-elect” from the Chapter and the Office of the President to join Phi Beta Kappa and attend the Induction Ceremony.

Honorifics vary in value, but Phi Beta Kappa is more than a mere credential. In the wider world, PBK membership garners recognition as an honor that is neither cheaply won nor widely bestowed. Also, PBK offers opportunities to continue to learn and grow in the company of other members of our Society across the country and across generations. Ask your advisors, mentors, or faculty members about us. We are confident they will tell you what we stand for. I also encourage you to visit the national and local websites to learn more.

The Oregon Six–a distinction originating in 1930 as a signature honor for the six most outstanding Members-elect”–also receive letters of invitation. In addition to the transcript review, the Chapter solicits and reads letters of recommendation from faculty in the Oregon Six nominees’ major and minor departments, as well as the Clark Honors College, to assist with the election.

For more information about the Alpha of Oregon Chapter please contact:

Meet the Alpha of Oregon team


Notable Members

Sonia Sotomayor
Princeton University
US Supreme Court Justice
W.E.B. Du Bois
W.E.B. Du Bois
Fisk University
Civil Rights Activist & Author
peyton manning
Peyton Manning
University of Tennessee
NFL Athlete
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harvard University
US President
ellen ochoa
Ellen Ochoa
San Diego State University
Engineer & Astronaut

Visiting Scholars

Since 1956, the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s Visiting Scholar Program has been offering undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America’s most distinguished scholars. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students. Participants meet informally with students and faculty members, participate in classroom discussions and seminars, and give a public lecture open to the entire academic community. The visits are designed primarily for undergraduate participation. The national Phi Beta Kappa society has organized more than 5,000 visits by more than 600 Visiting Scholars over the course of the program.

villasenor black

Charlene Villaseñor Black
April 17-18, 2023

Charlene Villaseñor Black is Professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

She is the editor of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies and founding editor-in-chief of Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture. Villaseñor Black publishes on a range of topics related to the early modern Iberian world, Chicanx studies, and contemporary Latinx art. Her books include Creating the Cult of St. Joseph: Art and Gender in the Spanish Empire (2006); Renaissance Futurities: Art, Science, Invention (2019); and The Chicano Studies Reader (2020), among others. Her latest book, Transforming Saints: From Spain to New Spain, is forthcoming from Vanderbilt University Press in 2022.

In 2016 she was awarded UCLA’s Gold Shield Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence. She has held grants from the Fulbright, Mellon, Borchard, and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, the NEH, the ACLS, and the Getty. Currently, she is the Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art at Oxford University (2021-22). 


william rosson


General William Bradford Rosson

August 25, 1918 - December 12, 2004

Rosson obtained his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Oregon  in 1940 which earned him membership in the National Honor Society, Phi Beta Kappa.  He was commissioned a second Lieutenant, through ROTC, in the Regular Army in 1940 and saw combat in World War II, earning the Distinguished Service Cross for valor on the Anzio Beachhead in Italy. He also fought in North Africa, Sicily, France, and Germany.  

Learn more

phi beta kappa key

Phi Beta Kappa Key

Each inductee is eligible to purchase a key engraved with the member’s name, chapter, and calendar year of election. The Phi Beta Kappa key traces its origins to the era of the American Revolution. Conceived in 1776 by a group of talented undergraduates at the College of William and Mary as an emblem of their secret “philosophical society,” the key proclaims Phi Beta Kappa’s centuries-old conviction:

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The love of wisdom [is] the guide of Life
Philosophia Biou Kybernetes

As the Society they created encompassed more of the nation’s finest colleges and universities, its key became a universally recognized mark of academic achievement in the liberal arts and sciences. So it remains to this day, whether it is worn by a president, a Supreme Court justice, a college professor, or an entrepreneur, the key’s venerable pointing finger proclaims for all to see the wearer’s commitment to Phi Beta Kappa’s ancient principles (represented in the three stars) – friendship, morality, and learning.

Phi Beta Kappa keys are available in a variety of sizes and styles made to specifications set by the society. Members can order keys directly from Hand and Hammer Silversmiths.

student on bench



Selection for the Alpha of Oregon Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa is not automatic, but students do not have to apply or be nominated for consideration. Instead, our membership committee, comprised of UO faculty and staff who are themselves Phi Beta Kappans, evaluate “masked” transcripts to confirm satisfaction of membership requirements.  Anonymity is maintained throughout the review process by removing the students’ names and UO IDs from their transcripts.

Names of Phi Beta Kappa members-elect appear in the Daily Emerald and in spring Commencement programs, but you are not a member unless you accept the invitation and complete the registration process.

Members-elect who have received a formal letter of invitation from the Alpha of Oregon chapter and Office of the President must follow the steps outlined in your invitation letter to become an official member of Phi Beta Kappa.

►  Requirements for seniors
​​​​​​►  Requirements for juniors

students studying

The Selection Process

Annually, the committee evaluates the transcripts of those students who have applied for spring graduation by the deadline (Sunday at midnight after the fourth week of spring term classes), or in a prior academic term for the immediate prior academic year. Students applying for graduation after the spring deadline will have their transcripts evaluated in the following year.

Following an election meeting in May, members-elect (students satisfying the membership requirements) are contacted and invited to join the society. Also selected are the Oregon Six: those six students deemed to be the most outstanding among those elected to membership in a given year. The membership committee identifies candidates to consider for this prestigious award and solicits letters of recommendation from faculty in their major and minor departments.

Beginning in Spring 2020, the chapter resumed a former practice of electing a select number of Juniors who meet an exceptionally rigorous set of membership requirements.