Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

From the Executive Director

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

From the Executive Director

Article excerpt

Jerry Baker, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

The role of honor in today's society is to create a plumb line against which we measure actions and behavior. We state that we honor someone, which might mean that we recognize them for a noble action or because of a position they hold. Those honorable attributes contribute to this plumb line and give us a measurement to which we hold ourselves É Sigma Xi "Lor I the Scientific Research Society Someone We frequently are making an inference about character. We imply that the individual is honest and trustworthy. There is also a linkage between being honored and being honorable. Yet, the height of character cannot be judged solely on honesty or position, but also on whether an individual puts their position at risk by standing up for those unable to stand up for themselves and holding all of society accountable to the plumb line. The value of showing gratitude is that everyone else may strive to make contributions to the greater good because we take time to recognize those who have already moved us forward. The founders of Sigma Xi in 1886 understood the timeless importance of honor, and through their constitution identified the term "come up higher" as encouragement to its members. I applaud our founders and also proclaim, Ascende Superiusl

Michael N. Christakis, Ph.D.

National President Omicron Delta Kappa, The National Leadership Honor Society

Let's not underestimate the value of being truly exceptional.

While I don't necessarily share in the chorus of those who claim that we increasingly celebrate "mediocrity" in this country - that is, the notion that everyone is honored so that no one is excluded - I am of the mind that collegiate honor societies may be the last remaining vestige for honoring and celebrating the small percentage of students who truly are exceptional on our campuses each year. The vast majority of college students have already distinguished themselves from their peers by virtue of - __ the fact that they Omcron Delta Kappa chose to apply and were accepted to their respective colleges. Further distinguishing those students who excel in the classroom, outside of the classroom, and in their communities is the unique opportunity that today's honor societies have to distinguish the great students from the good students.

Further, honor societies do more than simply honor, they also bring those whom they are honoring together - introducing exceptional students to other exceptional students. We honor hard work, we honor perseverance, we honor those who are exceptional now and, who will undoubtedly be, exceptional later.

John Churchill, Ph.D.

Secretary, The Phi Beta Kappa Society

Phi Beta Kappa's fundamental purpose is to honor and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. By inducting about 19,000 students annually through our 283 chapters around the country, we honor them and their accomplishments. But in doing so, we also assert the importance of the studies in which they have excelled. Implicit in the honor is the claim of advocacy: that the liberal arts and sciences can be good for everyone. Phi Beta Kappa's current project, our National Arts & Sciences Initiative, is designed to carry that message to those who shape American higher education.

Phi Beta Kappa does not simply single out for attention and admiration those who have done very well at something or other. The world is full of contests; the appetite for competitive spectacle seems insatiable. But we are not just honoring winners. Our mission is to increase the influence, in the world, of humanity enlarged by engagement with the arts and sciences. Recognizing exceptions, it remains true that in general and for the most part, the best way we know for the cultivation of the traits and capacities that tend to make us most fully human, is the pursuit of education in the arts and sciences.

That is why dignity attaches to these pursuits, whatever the student's level of attainment. …

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