Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest and most widely known academic honor society. Phi Beta Kappa celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Its campus chapters invite for induction the most outstanding arts and sciences students at America’s leading colleges and universities. The Society sponsors activities to advance these studies — the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences — in higher education and in society at large.
Five students at the College of William and Mary founded Phi Beta Kappa in 1776, during the American Revolution. For over two and a quarter centuries, the Society has embraced the principles of freedom of inquiry and liberty of thought and expression. These ideas, symbolized on Phi Beta Kappa's distinctive gold key, still lay the foundations of personal freedom, scientific inquiry, liberty of conscience, and creative endeavor.
Phi Beta Kappa at Illinois College is a legacy bequeathed to Illinois College back in 1931 by the efforts of Charles Rammelkamp, then President of the college. His effort to gain recognition for the special qualities of an Illinois College education were rewarded when the first installation of the Illinois College Epsilon chapter of Phi Beta Kappa took place on April 6, 1932. Illinois College is one of only 11 in the state to offer membership to this distinguished society.
President Rammelkamp did not live to see that installation – he died one day beforehand – but he set a commitment to the excellence represented by Phi Beta Kappa firmly in place before he died. Today we are the benefactors of his determination to recognize and to celebrate intellectual excellence and achievement.