The Phi Beta Kappa Society

Photo of PBK Induction
May 2018 PBK Induction Ceremony

Founded in 1776 to celebrate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and promote freedom of thought, Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) is America’s oldest and most eminent academic honor society.

Only about 10 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities have been awarded PBK chapters. At each college with a chapter, no more than 10 percent of a particular year’s graduating class is inducted. Students are elected whose achievements reflect broad cultural interests, outstanding scholarship, and good character.

Image of Phi Beta Kappa keyHollins was the 171st college to earn a PBK chapter: the Iota of Virginia. The commonwealth’s ninth chapter was awarded to Hollins in 1961 with installation taking place on February 20, 1962. Over the years, more than 900 Hollins students have been elected to the society.

One of the many benefits of having a PBK chapter is the society’s Visiting Scholars Program, which offers students the opportunity to spend time and exchange ideas with some of the nation’s most distinguished scholars. Those who have come to Hollins previously include:

  • Classicist Moses Hadas
  • Chekhov scholar Ernest J. Simmons
  • Nobel Prize-winning physicist Polykarp Kusch
  • Artist Lamar Dodd
  • Harvard nutrition expert Jean Mayer
  • Economist William C. Greenough

Linda GregersonHollins welcomed Visiting Scholar Linda Gregerson, the Caroline Walker Bynum Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. She is the author of six books of poetry and two books of criticism and the coeditor of one collection of scholarly essays. Gregerson’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Granta, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, The Best American Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. Among her honors and awards are grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Mellon, and Bogliasco Foundations; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Institute for Advanced Study; the Poetry Society of America; and the National Humanities Center. In 2014, Gregerson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Gregerson presented “Can We Talk to One Another? Poetry in an Era of Social Division,” on Thursday, October 3 at 5 pm in Talmadge Recital Hall, Bradley. There was a book signing and reception (6 pm), followed by dinner (6:30 pm) in the Botetourt Reading Room. RSVP to

Phi Beta Kappa’s name originated from the motto “Love of learning is the guide of life.”