Phi Beta Kappa Welcomes New Inductees

Over 40 students were inducted into the prestigious national honor society, which has been part of commencement week activities since Ursinus was accepted into the Tau of Pennsylvania chapter more than 25 years ago.

Ursinus is one of only 10 percent of colleges and universities nationally to host a chapter.

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honors society, established in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. Membership signifies excellence in one’s entire academic experience as an undergraduate.

Mark Schneider, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, welcomed the attendees and honored initiates. Mark Ellison, the David Laucks Hain professor of chemistry, hosted the initiation alongside Christian Rice ’98, a visiting assistant professor of philosophy and religion and assistant dean for civic engagement; Rebecca Evans, an associate professor of politics; and Abbie Cichowski ’10, director of special gift programs and a major gifts officer. All are members of Phi Beta Kappa in their own right and officers of the Ursinus chapter.

The evening began with a moment of silence honoring longtime history professor and proud Ursinus alumnus S. Ross Doughty ’68, who passed away in March. He was one of the first people to be inducted into the Tau Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Ursinus.

Ellison awarded the John M. Wickersham Sophomore Book Awards to members of the class of 2021 with the highest GPA after three semesters. Jon Volkmer, professor of English and co-historian of Phi Beta Kappa of the Ursinus chapter, was the keynote speaker.

Volkmer shared his childhood experience with conservation and urged the inductees to embrace the pledge to “prize intelligence and uphold ethical standards” as they encounter “hard truths and hard choices.” He challenged them to figure out each day how to live more responsibly and to contribute however and wherever they can.

After the induction, Ellison had some wise words to impart onto the new members.

“By graduating from this fine liberal arts institution and accepting membership into Phi Beta Kappa, you are agreeing to become a champion for love of learning over disdain for knowledge. For thoughtful discussion over cheap talk. For reflection and introspection over snap judgments. This is a monumental task, one that might seem to be impossible,” said Ellison. “How will you counter these prevailing winds? You know your own talents best, but I have a couple of suggestions. Lead by example. Let your love of learning and knowledge be clear as day to anyone who meets you. Listen respectfully to others who disagree with you. Speak from the heart, with passion, but with respect for other viewpoints.”

For Indira Joell ’19, the induction made her feel connected to the Ursinus community in an even more in-depth and authentic way than I believed it would,” she said. “My entire college experience has all come full circle and culminated in this moment.” –By Mary Lobo ’15 and Monique Kelly


The following is a list of 2019 inductees:

Class of 2019

Gabriella Altmire, Colleen Becker, Emily Blaszkow, Caroline Buckley, Corinne Cichowicz, Morgan Cope, Julia Dorsheimer, Omar Elghawy, Benjamin Espenhorst, Lauren Feldman, Samantha Garritano, Brittany Gasser, Katarina Gereda, Stephanie Hawkins, Brianna Hurley, Elizabeth Iobst, Sonya Jacobsen, Indira Joell, Laura Johnson, Vilajet Kovaci, Jake Lachowicz, Craig Lauer, Eric LeBlanc, Yuqing Liu, Bailey Ludwig, Joseph Makuc, Heidi Maurer, Cassidy Mazza, Duncan McLeod, Megan McTaggart, Isabella Morris, Faraha Rathod, Emily Reeve, Bridget Sherry, Audrey Simpson, Daan Slaats, John Solomon, Gregory Stryker, Joanna Timmerman, William Wehrs, Leo Welsh, Taylor Wilson, Sarah Wonsidler, Kelly Wright

Class of 2020

Kailyn Cohen, Parker Fairchild, Madison Moses

John M. Wickersham Book Award Recipients

Hakan Atillasoy, Jessica Greenburg, Jamie Haasis, Sarah Johns, Thea Pastras, Elvi Sopiqoti