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Phi Beta Kappa Alpha Alpha Chapter of New York: Chapter Founding

The University at Albany's chapter of the national undergraduate honor society, Phi Beta Kappa

Establishing a Chapter

The application process for a University at Albany chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was begun in the late 1960s by a dedicated group of Phi Beta Kappa faculty.  They formed a committee, with Thomson H. Littlefield, Associate Professor of English, as chair.  The application process included the preparation of a comprehensive report covering the organization, students, educational results, curriculum, staff, library, labs, athletic policy, and financial condition of the university, as well as a campus visit from Phi Beta Kappa.  Final approval for the establishment of a chapter was received from the national office of Phi Beta Kappa on August 30, 1973.  The chapter was installed on March 7, 1974.  Bentley Glass, distinguished Professor of Biology and former Academic Vice President from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, was the installing officer.

First Initiation Ceremony

At the first initiation ceremony of students into the University at Albany chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the speaker was Robert Alan Donovan.  His address was entitled, "The Life of the Mind in the Last Quarter of the 20th Century."

Ceremony of Installation

The Alpha Alpha chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was formally installed at the University on March 7, 1974.  The officers were (left to right)  Arthur Ekirch, Jr., Professor of History, Historian; DeWitt Ellinwood, Professor of History, President; Janet Hood, Director of Student Health Services, Treasurer; Perry Westbrook, Professor of English, Secretary; and Malcolm Smiley, Professor of Mathematics, Vice President.  The charter members of the Albany chapter were 99 Phi Beta Kappa faculty members.



First Phi Beta Kappa Initiation at UAlbany

The first initiation of students into the Albany chapter was on May 9, 1974, at the Campus Center Assembly Hall.  In the photo below, Dr. Fernand Vial, chairman of the selection committee, presents candidates to President DeWitt Ellinwood.