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winter 2018

From the Archives

Phi Beta Kappa turns 75.

When Dr. John West Harris (Wofford Class of 1916) filed an application for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Wofford College in 1930, he didn’t know it would take a decade to realize his hope to establish a chapter at his alma mater. In the summer of 1940, the Phi Beta Kappa Triennial Council, meeting in San Francisco, Calif., voted to grant a chapter to Dr. Henry Nelson Snyder, Dr. David Duncan Wallace, Dr. Herbert E. Vermillion, Dr. Walter A. Stanbury and Dr. Olin B. Ader, the five members of the Wofford faculty who at that time were already members of Phi Beta Kappa.

On Jan. 14, 1941 — 75 years ago this winter — Phi Beta Kappa President Marjorie Hope Nicholson, dean of Smith College, came to Spartanburg to install the Beta of South Carolina chapter at Wofford. Those five charter members subsequently elected other faculty and alumni as honorary or alumni members, and then later that year elected the first group of Wofford students. These students joined a tradition stretching back to 1776 when Phi Beta Kappa was founded at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. Phi Beta Kappa remains the nation's oldest and most prestigious liberal arts honor society. 

Since 1941, more than 1,000 Wofford students have been elected to membership.

by Dr. Phillip Stone ’94, college archivist