Phi Beta Kappa celebrates 50 years at CSU

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Delta chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Colorado State University’s branch of the nation’s oldest and most respected honor society.

Founded in 1776 at the College of William & Mary by five students, Phi Beta Kappa has expanded to its current 293 chapters across the nation. Phi Beta Kappa is committed to advocating for the arts and sciences’ vital role in shaping professional careers, engaged communities, and meaningful cultural life. The ‘Delta of Colorado State’ chapter (1973) of Phi Beta Kappa was founded by a group of passionate and dedicated faculty, including Ken Rock and Bill Griswold, emeriti professors of history. The founding members worked for several years to apply for and meet national Society standards.

“As a graduate of the CSU Department of History, it was my honor to be inducted into Delta of Colorado after having studied with several of the History faculty who worked hard to establish the chapter here.” said Doreen Beard, (’80). “Only well after I graduated did I truly come to appreciate the volume of work it entailed for them, and how as founders, they insisted a chapter belonged at Colorado’s land grant university.”

“It was my honor to be inducted into Delta of Colorado after having studied with several of the History faculty who worked hard to establish the chapter here.”

– Doreen Beard, (’80)

In the same company as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, civil rights activist, author and Professor of Sociology at the University of Atlanta W.E.B. Du Bois, and engineer and astronaut Ellen Ochoa, Phi Beta Kappa members at CSU include CLA Dean Benjamin Withers, Sociology Department Chair Pete Taylor, Director of Operations at the Avenir Museum Doreen Beard, and President Amy Parsons who was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 1995 while she studied in the Department of Political Science.

A Rare Honor

Only 10 percent of U.S. colleges and universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. Within these chapters, only the top 10 percent of juniors and seniors studying the arts and sciences are asked to join. Considering Phi Beta Kappa’s international status, membership is recognized worldwide as a mark of high academic achievement.

This spring, Phi Beta Kappa invited 64 CSU undergraduate students – roughly half of whom are liberal arts students – to join its roster of accomplished members. To celebrate these nominees, the Delta of Colorado chapter will be hosting an Induction Ceremony in April featuring President Amy Parsons, Delta of Colorado founders and professors emeritus of History Ken Rock and Bill Griswold, and State of Colorado Historian and PBK member Jared Orsi.

“That Phi Beta Kappa members are found among leaders and citizens across many diverse social sectors underscores the central role the liberal arts and sciences play in preparing our society for successful responses to today’s global challenges,” said Pete Taylor, president of the Delta chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

As a champion of the organization, Dean Withers sat down with Frederick M. Lawrence – accomplished lawyer and 10th Secretary and CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society – this past November for a dialogue about academic freedom, bias, and freedom of speech in a democratic society. Scholar, teacher and attorney, Lawrence is one of the nation’s leading experts on civil rights, free expression and bias crimes. The conversation was focused on public speech within a public university like CSU. With topics ranging from the philosophical teachings of Kant to the importance of free expression within the classroom, their discussion showcased Phi Beta Kappa’s commitment to critical dialogue.

For more information on Phi Beta Kappa and how to accept your nomination, visit