Phi Beta Kappa inducts 72

Assistant Dean George Levesque speaks to 62 seniors and 10 juniors at Yale’s Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony in Battell Chapel in December.
Assistant Dean George Levesque speaks to 62 seniors and 10 juniors at Yale’s Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony in Battell Chapel in December. Photo by lauren rosenthal.

Ten juniors and 62 seniors were inducted into Yale’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society at a brief ceremony Monday afternoon in Battell Chapel.

The students, who were selected based on the percentage of “A” grades earned in a wide variety of subjects, joined the ranks of such luminaries as George H.W. Bush ’47, Eli Whitney 1792 and Phi Beta Kappa Graduate President Haun Saussy GRD ’90.

Though Saussy, a “kid of the 1960s” whose grandmother had to convince him to attend his own induction ceremony, rebelled against Phi Beta Kappa in his youth, Saussy told the News that he has come to realize that it is more important to recognize high-achieving students.

“It’s good to have this moment to congratulate people on their hard work,” Saussy said.

The40-minute ceremony began with a welcome and explanation of the organization’s history by George Levesque, Yale College assistant dean for academic affairs, and chemistry professor Ann Valentine concluded the event with a traditional adjournment used throughout the organization’s history.

A student becomes eligible for election to Phi Beta Kappa beginning in the fall of the junior year. Those chosen are inducted in the fall of junior year, fall of senior year or at Commencement in May of their senior year. No more than 10 percent of the entire class may join the society over the course of three elections, according to the society’s Web site.

“I am not sure grades, being such subjective measures of performance, are really the best indicators of one’s love of learning,” molecular biophysics and biochemstry major and new inductee Michael Vishnevetsky ’10 said in an e-mail Monday night. “I think that for most of us, ‘What grade I am I going to get?’ is not the main question in our minds when are doing coursework. The grades probably are indicators of passion for learning and competence in the subject matters we have studied.”

But for Gabriella Tortorello ’11, an art history major, election to Phi Beta Kappa has motivated her during a long and arduous finals period.

“It’s nice to be able to step back, look at the work I’ve done for the past two years and see that it’s come to something,” Tortorello said.

The Yale Phi Beta Kappa chapter was established in 1780.

Correction: Dec. 15, 2009

An earlier version of this article misreported the number of Yale students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at a ceremony this month. There were 72 students in total, not 62. Sixty-two of the inductees were seniors, and 10 were juniors.


  • Recent Alum

    Congratulations to the new elects! Who would have thought that former President Bush was also in PBK, given how liberals love to portray him.

  • rebuttal

    Bush Senior is PBK NOT the son so your attempt to criticize the so-called liberal assault on W’s intelligence is moot. Try harder. Thanks.

  • 62who

    post the 62 names. give the winners public recognition please.

  • rebuttal rebuttal

    Actually, he doesn’t have to. Bush Jr. went to Andover and Yale too, and got better grades than Kerry. Failed policies do not an idiot make. Just look at Obama.

  • rebuttal rebuttal rebuttal

    How do you think W got into Andover and Yale? And HBS?

    It certainly didn’t hurt that Daddy was a Congressman.

  • Alum

    Good to see that at a time when Obama is bringing government spending to unprecedented levels, pushing toward an irreversible move for socialized healthcare and making a mockery of the U.S. abroad, Yalies still see it as a priority to bash Bush in the comments to an article that doesn’t even have anything to do with Bush.

  • Y’96

    What ever happened to Pi Beta Kappa, for those with GPAs above 3.14159? It was a much more welcoming group…

  • @5

    Unfortunately for the liberal agenda, getting in via legacy does very little for STAYING in via legacy (look at Whitman’s son at Princeton). Sure, mock Bush for not getting in on his own merit (something you can’t actually prove anyway), but he still graduated from all three with, as #4 pointed, higher scores than Kerry, and in an era predating grade inflation where a C was indeed the average.

    You DO know that W was an east coast academic BEFORE he turned redneck cowboy, right? Watch the film “W” if you’re too lazy to read up on the man you hate so much. He ditched that line because Texas DEMOCRATS were burning him alive for not acting the way you all condemn.

  • laughing

    The last refuge of people who want to turn any story into a defense of their favorite President W… is to try to bring up John Kerry! That’s a pretty desperate move, I must say. Who cares about John Kerry? Bashing Bill Clinton or Barack Obama would be somewhat more on point… but those guys have academic records of a kind that’s not so useful to W fans.

    I think the contrast between George H. W. Bush, and his son — both in what they did at Yale and especially in what they did immediately following Yale — really tells us a lot that we should have known (and maybe would have known if we’d read more Molly Ivins) before making the mistake of sending the son to the white house.

    The resulting lost decade was one of the great tragedies of American history.