Phi Beta Kappa, Nation’s Most Prestigious Honor Society, Installs Chapter at the University of Houston

The nation’s most prestigious academic honor society – The Phi Beta Kappa Society – will install a chapter at the University of Houston and induct its first class of members at a ceremony on Friday, Mar. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Moores Opera House.

Eighty-one students will be recognized at the ceremony, which will be presided over by Phi Beta Kappa Society President Catherine White Berheide. An engraved gold key, symbolic of the society’s emphasis on lifelong learning, will be presented to each inductee.

University-chapter foundation members will also be honored at the ceremony. Foundation members include University of Houston System Chancellor/University of Houston President Renu Khator; Former First Lady Mrs. Barbara Bush; the Honorable Wilhelmina E. Robertson; Lillie T. Robertson; the Honorable Carroll Robertson Ray; the Honorable William P. Hobby, Jr.; the Honorable Jarvis V. Hollingsworth; the Honorable Welcome Wilson, Sr.; the Honorable Ralph S. O’Connor, and Jane Morin Cizik.

The installation of the chapter comes after an intensive, three-year application and evaluation process and signals comprehensive institutional quality and special excellence in undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences.

“As an urban, public institution of distinction, the University of Houston has a tremendous track record of educating a diverse student body to have real impact in the world,” said Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill. “To have grown a core of excellence in the arts and sciences is no small achievement. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to create these pathways for broad, disciplined learning at our public institutions.”

Chapter members are selected by a committee of UH Phi Beta Kappa faculty. Prospective 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 Phi Beta Kappa’s requirements may also be considered as juniors.

“Being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa doesn’t just mean you are smart. It means you have been consistently excellent in your work and have succeeded over time. It’s an indicator of the kind of person you are, a badge whose meaning is recognized in the larger world,” said Churchill.

“This is the undergraduate equivalent of the Tier One recognition the University earned a few years back,” said William Monroe, president-elect of the UH chapter and dean of the Honors College. “Sheltering a Phi Beta Kappa chapter means that we’re a name brand, academically, that we’ve joined the ranks of the very best colleges and universities,” Monroe said. “It also means that many of our best students will be commended, as they should be, by membership in the most prestigious honor society in the country.”

Founded at the College of William and Mary in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's most prestigious academic honor society for the arts and sciences. With more than 280 chapters at U.S. colleges and universities, there are more than 500,000 members worldwide. Members have included 17 U.S. Presidents, 39 U.S. Supreme Court Justices and more than 136 Nobel Laureates. Noteworthy members include author Nathaniel Hawthorne, physicist George Smoot, philosopher John Dewey, director Francis Ford Coppola, composer Stephen Sondheim, quarterback Peyton Manning, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The University of Houston’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa will be the 284th to be installed at a U.S. college or university, and is one of only a handful of large, metropolitan, public institutions to have achieved this distinction.

WHAT: Phi Beta Kappa Society Installation and Induction Ceremonies
WHO: UHS Chancellor/UH President Renu Khator, Phi Beta Kappa Society President Catherine White Berheide, Secretary John Churchill, noted officials including the UH System Board of Regents, honored guests and student initiates
WHEN: Friday, Mar. 4, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Moores Opera House at the Moore School of Music
MEDIA CONTACT: P’nina Topham, University of Houston director of media relations, 713-743-0173,

Selby Frame, The Phi Beta Kappa Society communications manager, 202-745-3273,

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university acknowledged by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation’s fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 42,700 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.

About Phi Beta Kappa Society
Founded on December 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at more than 280 colleges and universities in the United States, 50 alumni associations, and more than half a million members around the world. The mission of The Phi Beta Kappa Society is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence. For more information, visit