Texas Tech University to Shelter New Phi Beta Kappa Chapter

Texas Tech University joined the ranks of America’s top schools after the Triennial Council of The Phi Beta Kappa Society voted that the university could shelter a new chapter.

Phi Beta Kappa Key Texas Tech University joined the ranks of America’s top schools after the Triennial Council of The Phi Beta Kappa Society voted that the university could shelter a new chapter. Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honors society with chapters at 276 U.S. universities. More than 600,000 members, including students, faculty and alumni, make up the membership. It is considered one of the nation’s leading advocates for excellence in education, particularly in the liberal arts and sciences. The right to shelter a Phi Beta Kappa chapter is granted to the Phi Beta Kappa faculty at the institution, not to the institution itself.

Jon Whitmore, president of Texas Tech, said, “This good news means that prospective students may be assured they can obtain at Texas Tech University an education in the liberal arts and sciences of the quality found only at the top 10 percent of institutions in the United States.

“It means that prospective faculty may be assured of affiliation with an institution whose commitment to excellence is proven and established. It means that every degree granted at Texas Tech University is enhanced in value. It means permanent association with the very best in American education.”

Mary Jane Hurst, professor of English and faculty advisor to the president, said the announcement serves as a crowning moment following years of improvement at Texas Tech to qualify for a chapter.

“Texas Tech faculty members, who are also members of Phi Beta Kappa, have been working on this project since 1982,” Hurst said. “This has been a dream for those faculty members for years. Only universities with premier liberal arts programs may shelter a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter.”

Hurst, who served as leader for the initiative to secure a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, said the honors society has high expectations in terms of student test scores, graduation rates and the breadth and depth of a university’s programs.

Texas Tech began the latest review cycle in 2003, Hurst said, with a preliminary application, a more extensive general application by invitation only in 2004 and a three-day site visit in 2005.

Following recommendation from the organization’s Committee on Qualifications and the Phi Beta Kappa Senate, the final approval came following a positive vote from at least two-thirds of national delegates at the organization’s 41st Triennial Council, she said.

Texas Tech University was one of 34 institutions that applied for a chapter in 2003 and one of six approved this year, she said. The review process takes a minimum of three years.

“Texas Tech has been in the process of true academic and administrative improvement since we began this in the early ’80s,” Hurst said. “Since that time, we have worked to improve the university’s academic and cultural programs. The approval to shelter a chapter says the programs at Texas Tech are among the best of the liberal arts programs in the country and is a mark of excellence for the university as a whole. It will help us to recruit prospective students and staff in the future.”

Gary Bell, dean of the Honors College, said that the Phi Beta Kappa chapter offers a new reason for students to attend Texas Tech University and provides a continuing challenge to maintain the clear academic superiority that exists here.

“Phi Beta Kappa is a nationally recognized symbol of academic excellence,” Bell said. “This will give our fine students another very significant addition to their resume and recognizes them for their academic achievement. We have students at Texas Tech who are academically competitive anywhere in the nation, including at the Ivy League schools, and this provides them with another opportunity that has not been previously available to them.”

CONTACT: Mary Jane Hurst, faculty assistant to the president, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2121 or maryjane.hurst@ttu.edu.