Today in NC State History: Phi Beta Kappa finally arrives

August 13, 2013
By Bill Krueger

blog_series63It took more than two decades and numerous attempts that fell short, but faculty members at NC State finally got the news they had been seeking on this day in 1994 — NC State was getting its own chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Faculty members had tried repeatedly to get a chapter of the prestigious academic honor society on campus, but the university’s bids kept falling short. The primary problem, apparently, was with athletics at NC State.

“The bid was cut short in 1985 due to concerns about the number of student athletes who did not graduate,” read a story in the Aug. 24, 1994, edition of the Technician. The story went on to say, “NCSU’s reputation suffered greatly in 1989 when the NCAA put the basketball team on probation for two years and forbid the Wolfpack team to play in the post-season tournament.”

But on this day in 1994, the dream finally came true. NC State received 239 votes from the society’s national governing board, more than the two-thirds needed for acceptance into Phi Beta Kappa.

pbkkey1“We never had any problem [with the governing board] realizing that we had a quality liberal arts program,” Charles Moreland, co-chairman of the university’s Phi Beta Kappa bid, said at the time. “This time the reviewers were convinced that we had overcome our athletics problem.”

The following year, 162 NC State students became the first members inducted into the university’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter. “I think it’s really exciting that I’m one of the first students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa,” Jennifer Balkcum, a senior in zoology and pre-veterinary medicine, said at the time. “I think it says a lot about State’s reputation, and will put us at an advantage to other schools who don’t have it.”

Then-Chancellor Larry Monteith, speaking at the induction ceremony at the McKimmon Center, was clearly pleased to have Phi Beta Kappa on campus. “NC State students have always been among the best,” he said. “This is just another way to recognize that achievement.”

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