Seventy of MTSU’s brightest students and three outstanding faculty members are now members of Middle Tennessee State University’s most prestigious honor society.
Meredith Dye, associate dean of the MTSU College of Liberal Arts, delivered the initiation address at Phi Kappa Phi’s fall 2022 initiation ceremony recently in the Tom Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall.
The primary objective of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is the recognition and encouragement of superior scholarship in all academic disciplines. By drawing its membership from all fields of study within MTSU, Phi Kappa Phi also serves as a unifying force in higher education.
The charge to initiates
Dye’s main message to the initiates stemmed from the motto that is the foundation and heart of Phi Kappa Phi: “Let the love of learning rule humanity.”
“Directly related to the motto is the group’s mission: ‘To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others,’” said Dye, a self-confessed “bookworm and lifelong learner” in providing direction for the initiates at the Nov. 18 event. “In essence, the founders and members since 1897 intended for this group to be an inclusive and diverse academic honor society for all disciplines which is united by the love of learning and usefulness to society.
“This is our charge as initiates to Phi Kappa Phi. From the Greek to English to my attempt at translation, it is imperative that our passion for knowledge be the most important and commanding influence on our values in action and that includes kindness and compassion for all people. That is, let the love of learning rule humanity.”
Dye proceeded to explain various aspects of the motto.
Dye’s research interests include the experiences of incarcerated individuals with a focus on suicide in prison and women serving life sentences. She co-authored “Women Lifers: Lives Before, Behind and Beyond Bars.”
She earned her bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Erskine College, Due West, South Carolina, and her master’s degree in sociology from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. She earned her doctorate in sociology from the University of Georgia.
Phi Kappa Phi Student Council President Emma Beard of Clinton, Tennessee, “loves the energy that a gathering of scholars seems to invite. When you pull together academicians from multiple departments, there is always plenty to discuss. That type of intellectual excitement characterized the evening. … This event was clearly a gathering of individuals who love to learn.”
Beard, 22, a senior majoring in French and Global Studies and minoring in Spanish and Honors planning to graduate in May 2023, said observing “your professors and mentors in their regalia, hearing them congratulate you on your academic successes and accepting the welcome they are extending to become a member of a prestigious Honors Society …
“There is something special in these interactions that does not occur in a classroom setting. That ‘something’ is perhaps made even more special because of the state the world has been in the last few years.”
A Buchanan Fellow with the top scholarship MTSU’s Honors College awards annually to 20 incoming freshmen scholars, Beard was among those initiated in an online ceremony because of the pandemic.
‘Feeling accomplished and noticed’
Graduate student Jimmy Amato of Mason, Michigan, near Lansing, said the “nomination by the local chapter not only lets you feel accomplished for your hard work, but it makes you feel that the university noticed it as well. My efforts to maintain a high level of performance in my classes was more of a personal goal that I didn’t really mention much to others.”
Amato, 42, who is in the Master of Science in Professional Science program for biostatistics planning to graduate in August 2023, sees the organization as a great way to network and meet others who understand the love of learning. He was able to share the moment with his mother, an honors society member when she studied surgical technology in Michigan.
“Phi Kappa Phi has volunteer opportunities to help local communities and our dues and donations help to provide scholarships, grants and fellowships to members,” Amato added. “We have more power to make an influence and provide beneficial change in the world together than individually.”
About Phi Kappa Phi
Phi Kappa Phi has chapters on more than 300 campuses in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
According to www.phikappaphi.org, the honor society was created at the University of Maine with a mission “to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.”
To be eligible, juniors must have completed at least 72 credit hours, with at least 24 semester hours and rank scholastically in the top 7.5% of their class.
Seniors also must have completed at least 90 credit hours, with at least 24 semester hours at their current institution and rank in the top 10% of their class.
Graduate students also must rank in the top 10% of their class and have completed at least 18 graduate hours or the equivalent.
Faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also may be eligible for membership.
To learn more about joining MTSU’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter, go to its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pkpmtsu.
For more information, contact Wendi Watts, MTSU chapter coordinator, at 615-904-8431 or Wendi.Watts@mtsu.edu.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)