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Article excerpt

New members of Phi Kappa Phi frequently ask me for the names of "famous members." With a membership list of nearly one million dating back 108 years and representing every discipline in modern higher education, one can offer only a highly selective list of recent notables. I hope the following short list will suggest the rich diversity of talent and achievement that we enjoy in Phi Kappa Phi.

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Jimmy Carter is perhaps the best-known individual in the area of government service. He was a Georgia senator and governor, and the 39th President of the United States. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his worldwide efforts to advance the causes of peace, democracy, and human rights. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former First Lady, is currently a senator from New York. Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and candidate for the presidency during the 2000 election, remains active in public service, particularly on behalf of the environment. His book, Earth in the Balance (1992), remains an important document in the struggle for environmental recovery. In addition to these Phi Kappa Phi members, we count numerous current and recent governors, senators, and members of Congress from more than fifteen states.

In the field of literature, Phi Kappa Phi boasts at least five current novelists. John Grisham, attorney and author of eighteen novels, has sold millions of copies in numerous languages of his legal thrillers. Many of his books have been made into popular films, including The Firm (1991), The Pelican Brief (1992), The Client (1993), The Rainmaker (1995), and Runaway Jury (1996). David Baldacci, also a lawyer and prolific mystery writer, is probably best known for his novel Absolute Power (1996), which was made into a successful film starring Clint Eastwood. James Lee Burke, who has written more than twenty-five books, is best known for his series of a dozen novels set in New Orleans and in the bayous of Louisiana and featuring the colorful detective, Dave Robicheaux. Tony Hillerman has written eighteen novels set in the American southwest featuring the characters Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, members of the Navajo Tribal Police. His mystery novels combine genuine suspense with an authentic rendering of Native American culture, earning him special recognition from the Mystery Writers of America and from the Navajo Nation.

Ernest Gaines has won numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Book Critics Circle Award for his depiction of the African American experience. …