Mason is maturing, and there is no clearer indication of that than last spring’s induction of the first 131 students to the university’s new chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest honor society.
The idea to bring a chapter to Mason came to Marion Deshmukh, the Robert T. Hawkes Professor of History, in the late 1980s as another way “to reward very good students with accolades,” she says. “But the school was too young and didn’t fulfill enough of the requirements.” Over the years, Mason has acquired what was needed to satisfy Phi Beta Kappa’s rigorous accreditation standards, and the chapter was finally approved. “It’s a real accomplishment for the university, and I think the university deserves it,” she says.
The first crop of 131 inductees—261 were nominated by faculty—finished in the top 10 percent of their graduating class with at least a 3.75 GPA; at least 90 credits of liberal arts and sciences, including lab science and foreign language studies; and at least 45 credits accomplished at Mason, among other qualifications.
Phi Beta Kappa is the gold standard for honor societies, says Deshmukh, Mason’s 2013 Faculty Member of the Year and a Phi Beta Kappa member herself. The society’s name on a resume can catch a prospective employer’s eye and elevate salaries, sometimes on initial hiring. “For students, this can translate into real money, in addition to the honor and prestige,” she notes.
In the coming academic year, Mason may host two induction ceremonies, one in the fall and one in the spring, if the numbers warrant, which Deshmukh says is a distinct possibility.