The Honors Society of Phi Kappa Phi was founded to be fully interdisciplinary, electing members from all fields of learning. At UD, these fields include the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, agriculture, business, education, health sciences, and marine studies. The 1913 Blue Hen Yearbook notes that Phi Kappa Phi “. . . stands for unity and democracy of education and receives the engineer, the agriculturist, the architect, or the chemist as heartily as it does the classicist or man of letters.”
- A History of Phi Kappa Phi
- History of Alpha of Delaware Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi
- Awards Given by Alpha of Delaware Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi
- Contact Information
In 1897, ten seniors at the University of Maine envisioned a society whose membership–unlike that of its sister organization Phi Beta Kappa–would be open to students of superior achievement regardless of the students’ academic discipline. Under the leadership of undergraduate student Marcus L. Urann and assisted by interested members of the faculty, the group formed the Lambda Sigma Eta Society. A year or so later, the name was briefly changed to the Morrill Society, in honor of the sponsor of the congressional act which provided for land grant colleges.
In 1900, the presidents of the University of Maine, the Pennsylvania State College (now Pennsylvania State University), and the University of Tennessee pledged their support; and the Society thus became national, with three chapters. At this time it was renamed Phi Kappa Phi, from the initial letters of the three classical Greek words of its adopted motto: Philosophia Krateito Photon, or “Let the love of learning rule humanity.”
The Phi Kappa Phi emblem consists of a terrestrial globe with a corona behind it made of the sun’s rays configured in eight symmetrical arrangements. Derived from the eight divisions of general education common in 1900, the eight equivalent rays represent the equal value of truth in all academic fields and represent the dissemination of truth as light. Encircling the globe is a band containing the Greek letters (ΦΚΦ) that symbolizes a fraternal bond that girds the earth and binds the lovers of wisdom in a common purpose.
The Seal of the Society has the Badge at its center. It is encircled by a crenellated line that represents the walls of Troy, a great city produced by ancient technology and celebrated in the great Greek poems. Above the crenellation are three stars honoring the Society’s three original chapters. Below are the words “founded in 1897.” Finally, the Seal is completed by a line representing the circle of fire that the ancient Greeks thought enclosed the whole visible universe.
The Ribbon of the Society portrays the meander patter common in Greek art, suggesting the enduring values and ideals of learning promoted by Phi Kappa Phi.
Members of Phi Kappa Phi have served in the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court of the United States. They have won Nobel Prizes, Pulitzer Prizes, and numerous other national and international awards for service and achievement in their chosen fields. Included in membership are Nobel Laureates Linus C. Pauling and George Olah; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, entrepreneur James Barksdale, founder of Netscape; authors John Grisham, Ernest Gaines, James Lee Burke, David Baldacci and Tony Hillerman; astronauts Wendy Lawrence and Bernard A. Harris, Jr.; jazz musicians Ellis Marsalis and Dave Brubeck; sculptor Glenna Goodacre; and soprano Renee Fleming.
The Society’s fifth chapter was installed at Delaware College (now the University of Delaware) on January 13, 1905. Charter members from the faculty contain a number of familiar names: George Harter (Harter Hall), Theodore Wolf (Wolf Hall), Elisha Conover, (Conover Hall), W. O. Sypherd (Sypherd Hall).
Recent Inductees to Alpha of Delaware Chapter Phi Kappa Phi can be found on the chapter website.
- Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship: The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi currently awards fifty-one Fellowships of $5,000 each and six at $15,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study. Each year, the University of Delaware chapter nominates one member to compete for the Society-wide awards. In the last five years, four University of Delaware nominees have received a Fellowship of $5,000. In addition, the University of Delaware chapter chooses from among the applicants a chapter winner, who receives an award of up to $1000.
- Undergraduate Research Essay Award: Each year the University of Delaware chapter awards a $500 prize for an essay by a University of Delaware undergraduate presenting an account of a significant research project for which the undergraduate was the primary investigator. The essay must communicate research results in a way that is both understandable and interesting to a general educated audience. Each essay must have the written support of a faculty sponsor who recommends the research as publishable undergraduate work and helps the selection committee to understand the nature of the student’s contributions to the field. The winner makes a brief presentation of his/her research at the Phi Kappa Phi Induction Ceremony.