Mercer to Celebrate New Chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society with Installation and Induction Ceremony, Dedication of Plaza

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MACON ­– The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation's most prestigious academic honor society, will install a new chapter at Mercer University on April 9, 5 p.m., in Fickling Hall inside the McCorkle Music Building. Following the installation, the new Zeta of Georgia chapter will induct its first class of members, 26 seniors and juniors in the College of Liberal Arts.

Dr. Catherine White Berheide, president of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, and Dr. Jeffrey K. Denny, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, professor of mathematics and president of the new chapter, will preside over the installation ceremony of the Society's 285th chapter in its 240-year history.

In addition to its student inductees, the chapter will also induct seven foundation members, chosen for their commitment to the ideals of the liberal arts, investment in the development of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Mercer, as well as their promise to support and maintain the chapter. They include former First Lady of the United States Eleanor Rosalynn Carter, Mercer Chancellor Dr. R. Kirby Godsey, President William D. Underwood, Provost Dr. D. Scott Davis, Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Dr. Keith E. Howard, Director of Institutional Research Sarah E. May and Institutional Research Analyst Cynthia Stroud Glance.

The Phi Beta Kappa Society granted Mercer a chapter last October at its 44th Triennial Council in Denver, Colorado. The affirmative vote by the Society's delegates, acting on a unanimous recommendation from its Committee on Qualifications and Senate, was the culmination of a years-long and highly competitive evaluation process that included site visits, review of the institution's educational rigor in the liberal arts and sciences, governance structure, faculty excellence and demonstrated commitment to academic freedom. Installations of new chapters occur only once every three years.

“Sheltering a Phi Beta Kappa chapter distinguishes Mercer's College of Liberal Arts as one of the top programs in the nation,” said Dr. Denny. “Our inaugural class of inductees is a group of simply amazing individuals. These students have excelled in courses across the curriculum. They also have been leaders in undergraduate research programs, study abroad courses, extracurricular activities such as the Model Arab League, and many other programs. We are very proud to honor our students and to have our university and faculty recognized for excellence.”

Prospective Phi Beta Kappa inductees are usually seniors among the top 10 percent of their graduating class who have completed a broad range of liberal arts and sciences coursework, including foreign language study and mathematics. Exceptional students meeting the Society's requirements may also be considered as juniors.

The installation of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Mercer is monumental in many ways, noted Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill. “It is the result of decades of accomplishment by faculty, administrative staff, students and supporters who have created an institution of remarkable excellence in the liberal arts and sciences,” he said. “Students in the first induction class of Zeta of Georgia, and those in the years to follow, can take their place among the very best in the nation. Phi Beta Kappa membership is a badge of excellence they will carry for the rest of their lives.”

The invitation-only installation and induction ceremony will be preceded by the dedication of the University's Phi Beta Kappa Plaza on Saturday at 11 a.m. This dedication is open to the public and will take place outside Willingham Hall.

The new plaza features a monument constructed with granite taken from the foundation of the science building on Mercer's original Penfield campus. It also includes a bronze replica of the gold Phi Beta Kappa key, which symbolizes the Society's emphasis on lifelong learning.

New inductees, Phi Beta Kappa officials, Mercer faculty and other invited guests will participate in several additional activities throughout the day, including a luncheon, Middle Georgia Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association reception and celebratory dinner.

Mercer students who will be recognized at the induction ceremony include:

Natalie Elizabeth Biel, a senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology from Cumming
Emily Erin Bless, a senior majoring in international affairs and French from Acworth
Darcy Katherine Callaway, a senior majoring in international affairs, political science and French from Newnan
Colleen Kaylynn Closson, a senior majoring in southern studies and international affairs from Summerville, South Carolina
Rebecca Anne Dickinson, a senior majoring in history and Spanish from Centreville, Virginia
Christopher William Isennock, a junior majoring in Spanish from Douglasville
Jasbir Kaur, a senior majoring in biology and Latin from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Victoria Wynn Konrad, a senior majoring in global health studies and Spanish from Huntington, West Virginia
Michael Ranjan Kshatri, a senior majoring in biology and Spanish from Austell
Elizabeth Claire Lynch, a senior majoring in English from Macon
Lauren Katherine Maxwell, a senior majoring in English and Spanish from Forsyth
Hanin Elizabeth Menchew, a senior majoring in English and Spanish from Macon
Min Hyun Oh, a senior majoring in English from Daegu, South Korea
Kaydren Bailey Orcutt, a junior majoring in chemistry and Spanish from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Utkarsh Parwal, a senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology and Latin from Johns Creek
Carolyn Neal Sartain, a senior majoring in communication studies and Spanish from Gainesville
William Charles Scruggs, a senior majoring in Christianity and Spanish from Birmingham, Alabama
Hetu Rajesh Shah, a senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology from Hampton
Sara Mae Stover, a senior majoring in mathematics from Augusta
Kara Marie Styers, a senior majoring in Spanish and intercultural studies from Dublin, Ohio
Ansley Shelton Whiten, a senior majoring in psychology and Spanish from Fayetteville
Joshua David Wildes, a senior majoring in international affairs, political science and Spanish from Valdosta
Alayna Celeste Williams, a junior majoring in international affairs and Spanish from Macon
Rachel Alison Wilson, a senior majoring in psychology and women's and gender studies from Charlotte, North Carolina
Conner Ruth Wood, a senior majoring in journalism from Cartersville
Soowhan Yoon, a senior majoring in mathematics from Seoul, South Korea

About The Phi Beta Kappa Society

Founded on Dec. 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation's most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at 284 colleges and universities in the United States, 50 alumni associations and more than half a million members worldwide. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. presidents, 39 U.S. Supreme Court justices and more than 130 Nobel laureates. The mission of The Phi Beta Kappa Society is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and to recognize academic excellence. For more information, visit www.pbk.org.

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Kyle Sears