Luther College Chips

Seniors inducted to Phi Beta Kappa

Devin Hedlund ('18) signs her induction into Phi Beta Kappa.

Devin Hedlund ('18) signs her induction into Phi Beta Kappa.

Kristen Wuerl (‘18) | Chips

Kristen Wuerl (‘18) | Chips

Devin Hedlund ('18) signs her induction into Phi Beta Kappa.

Kristen Wuerl, Staff Writer

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A group of Luther seniors were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, America’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall on Sunday, April 29.

Formed as a secret society at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa’s founding members wanted to encourage inquiry and seek truth. Today, the society recognizes academic achievement in the liberal arts.

“I was thrilled when I received the [acceptance] letter in mid-March from [Professor of English and Campus Chapter President] Kate Narveson inviting me to join the society,” inductee Emily Osborne (‘18) said. “It feels incredible to be part of an organization with such a positive legacy. I feel very honored and proud to be inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa society.”

In order to be a Phi Beta Kappa-affiliated college, Luther has to demonstrate that the college offers high-quality programs for its students. Luther joined the society in 1983.

“Phi Beta Kappa is the gold standard of academic societies,” Narveson said. “We think about how we committed ourselves to be a liberal arts school and intellectual inquiry for its own sake.”

To be selected as a Phi Beta Kappa inductee, a committee of Luther faculty and staff who are Phi Beta Kappa members review transcripts of graduating seniors each year at the start of  spring semester. The committee only looks at courses that are not professional courses and then selects, based on academic achievement, students who have taken 90 credits purely in liberal arts courses.

“Students [selected] have expressed achievements in a broad range of fields and excellence in their majors,” Narveson said. “[The society] creates a campus culture that values educating the whole person.”

Inductee Michelle Brown (‘18) took courses in multiple disciplines during her time at Luther and she attributes her academic achievement to her diverse educational experiences.

“I started as a music education major but switched [my major] to psychology and later decided to study Spanish,” Brown said. “This type of path speaks to the liberal arts experience and that it’s not something to be frowned upon. Having benefited from the [liberal arts education], I definitely encourage it. I’ve had some unique opportunities because of my education at Luther.”

At the Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony each student signed his or her name in a book, which signified formal induction into the society.

After the induction, artist and educator Scott Thoe (‘68) gave the Ruth A. Davis Memorial Lecture on his exploration of academics throughout his life. The Albert Lea, Minnesota native also presented pictures of some of his paintings, sculptures, and public art projects in the Lofoten Islands in Norway where he currently resides.

Inductee Sam Scheidt (‘18) embodies an educational philosophy similar to that of Thoe’s due to of his studies in multiple disciplines at Luther. He partially attributes his induction into Phi Beta Kappa to his Paideia class taught by Associate Professor of English Amy Weldon almost four years ago.

“I was lucky to be with Weldon, and right from the beginning we fostered the idea of exploration and community,” Scheidt said. “For me, Weldon has been a huge part of helping me understand what a liberal arts education is all about. Having that experience right away, I never questioned getting involved in lots of different things and for that I’m really grateful.”

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