Just over 70 high-achieving upperclassmen — 61 seniors and 12 juniors — were inducted into the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa on Monday.
The inducted seniors represent the top 5 percent of their class, while the juniors represent the top 1 percent of their class. Students are generally elected to the Yale chapter based on the percentage of their grades that are A or higher, according the Yale Phi Beta Kappa Web site.
“The idea is to pick a handful of the really distinguished scholars with a consistently high average in a number of different fields,” said East Asian languages and literatures professor Haun Saussy GRD ’90, the graduate president of Phi Beta Kappa.
Associate Dean of Yale College Penelope Laurans kicked off the hour-long ceremony with a speech on the history of the society and the Yale chapter, Saussy said. Members were then inducted and instructed to write their names in the official book of the chapter.
Undergraduate Phi Beta Kappa president Monica Wood ’09 then gave a speech, followed by remarks from Saussy, who spoke about the importance of a liberal arts education.
“An education that has more breadth and flexibility may not immediately fulfill a certain need,” Saussy said in a phone interview Tuesday. “But it gives people the tools to figure out new solutions to unanticipated problems.”
Roshan Sethi ’09, one of the new inductees, said he thinks belonging to Phi Beta Kappa amounts to more than just a line on a resume. Instead, he said, the society sponsors activities and discussions with faculty members, allowing students — who will hold lifelong membership — to interact with successful individuals.
Yale College Dean Mary Miller said that in addition to the inductees, over 150 other guests were present at the ceremony, which was held in Battell Chapel.
Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776, calls itself “the nation’s oldest academic honor society.” Yale possesses a handwritten copy of the society’s charter, the oldest one in existence, that dates to 1780.