Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most selective undergraduate honor society in the United States, was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Society takes its name from the initial letters (ΦBK) of its Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kubernetes, “Love of wisdom, the guide of life.”
The Phi Beta Kappa Society granted a chapter to the ΦBK members of the University of Puget Sound faculty and staff in 1986. As the fourth college in Washington to be granted a ΦBK chapter, our chapter takes its name from the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, Delta or Δ.
October 30, 2016, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m—Magee Address, Commencement Hall, Tahoma Room
Ronald R. Thomas, President, University of Puget Sound
This talk will be a personal reflection on how the life of a college president might connect with a previous career as a scholar of the Victorian novel. Any student of the Victorian novel will know that the central thematic of the 19th-Century novel is often referred to as the bildungsroman, the novel of personal formation or character building within particularly dynamic social and historical circumstances. In this light, we might call the essential subject of the nineteenth-century novel the making of a human subject. The world was changing over this period from a largely rural to a primarily urban society, from an agricultural economy to an industrial one, from a time when someone’s identity was foreordained by birth and class to the rise of the “self-made man” and “the new woman.” We can think of literary figures like David Copperfield, or Jane Eyre, or Little Dorrit as undefined figures who transformed and redefined themselves, through their experiences, into something and someone else—usually with the aid of some benevolent mentors.
My thinking about higher education is in many ways analogous to this fundamental—and fundamentally nineteenth-century—story-line. At the heart of my beliefs and values—as college professor and a college president—is a sense of the potential of every person, and of our collective responsibility as educators in the liberal arts to develop (as a virtue in itself) a student’s potential into the human subject he or she can become. But this not the predominant discourse in the media, in public policy, or in the marketplace about what higher education can or should be doing in the 21st century, or how it should be valued. My challenge—our challenge—is to tell the story of (and make the case for) the real value of a college education in the making of human subjects in a world in which that story has been replaced by a data-driven account of material accumulation where the human subject as we know it disappears.
March 9-10, 2015, 5 - 6 p.m.—PBK Visiting Scholar Dr. Caroline A. Bruzelius
March 25, 2015, 5 - 6 p.m.—Election of New Members & Business Meeting, Faculty Club
April 15, 2015, 5 - 6 p.m.—Initiation Ceremony, President’s House
May 15, 2015, 12 - 1:30 p.m.—Commencement Luncheon with Trustees