Phi Beta Kappa at SMU
Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most prestigious academic honorary in the US. Above all, the society stands for excellence; superb academic performance is a sine qua non of membership. The other key to our identity, however, is the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.
Gamma of Texas is the title of SMU's Phi Beta Kappa chapter. SMU applied for over two decades before its charter was granted in the Fall on 1949. The first induction ws held on 12 December 1949 and SMU President Umphrey Lee was the first member inducted. Now the chapter inducts members twice a year. The normal induction is held in the spring term before Honors Day. At that time, a student member delivers the annual Phi Beta Kappa Oration. A smaller induction is held in December for those who have been graduated in August or who will graduate in December.
Our motto is "the love of wisdom is the guide of life" (that is what the Greek letters Phi Beta Kappa sta nd for). Putting together a transcript that will get you elected to Phi Beta Kappa does not mean that you may not study, or even have one of your majors, in one of SMU's fine pre-professional programs. It does mean, however, that three quarters of your un dergraduate work (90 credit hours) needs to be aimed at knowledge for its own sake, that is, in the liberal arts as defined by the national and local branches of Phi Beta Kappa.
Not all Phi Beta Kappa members pursue academic careers in the Humanities and Sciences. On the contrary, most graduates so honored enter the professions or choose careers in technology or management. Professionals whose lives are guided by the love of wisdom may do better in their careers, though (albeit the purists among u s argue that it's a violation of our principles to mention that fact). At any rate, they seem to enjoy their careers more, given the added dimensions provided by the disinterested pursuit of knowledge.
Being a member of Phi Beta Kappa means living the life of the mind, living it acutely, with both rigor and intensity.