Andrew Rothaus ’11 received an ominous email Sept. 29 from his residential college master, who asked him to come to his office about a “time sensitive issue.” For the next half hour, Andrew racked his brain for any punishable offenses he may have committed, so he was relieved when his master informed him that he had earned membership to the nation’s oldest academic honor society.

Last week 52 other seniors and 13 juniors joined Rothaus at Battell Chapel to be inducted to Yale’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Members are elected according to the percentage of “A” grades they have earned at Yale.

“It’s definitely an ‘old school’ Yale moment,” Ryan Jacobs ’11 said in reference to the ceremony, adding that he learned of his election when he was summoned to his master’s office to pick up a “package.”

The ceremony began with opening remarks by Yale College Associate Dean of Academic Affairs George Levesque, who enlightened the audience of Phi Beta Kappa’s long history, which dates back to 1776 and includes the development of a code of laws, an oath of secrecy, and a special handshake. After Levesque recognized each of the students, Phi Beta Kappa Graduate President Haun Saussy GRD ’90 spoke about the challenges of being an intellectual in today’s society. He said in an interview with the News that many people do not respect the values that Phi Beta Kappa has recognized over the course of its history.

“[Phi Beta Kappa] has been supporting the ideal of a liberal education for over 200 years,” he said. “As this ideal is currently under attack – with daily demands that higher education be reconfigured as job training, and non-job-related departments being cut from state university budgets – it’s important to recognize students who can represent [this ideal].”

But Michael Boyce ’11 said while he appreciates that Yale and Phi Beta Kappa recognize students who work hard, the society’s significance has been “hollowed out” over the years since the only criteria for membership is the percentage of “A” grades, which is already reflected in students’ grade point averages.

Phi Beta Kappa Undergraduate President Jeremy Lent ’11, who was inducted as a junior last fall, acknowledged that the society has drifted away from its original purpose to provide a setting for camaraderie and discussion, becoming just something to put on a resume. But he said he hopes to change that. This fall, he has organized weekly lunches for members to get to know each other, he said, and the events draw between 15 and 20 students.

“Last year, the other juniors and I got together pretty regularly, and we decided to keep that going this year because we enjoyed it,” he said. “We’re hoping to bring back more of the fellowship side of things.”

Lent added that he wants to set up a “pen pal” program between Phi Beta Kappa members and New Haven Public School juniors in the spring.

Students are elected to the society during the fall of junior year, the fall of senior year, or at Commencement, by which point no more than 10 percent of the senior class should have earned membership, according the society’s web site.

Associate Chemistry Professor Ann Valentine concluded the one-hour ceremony with a traditional “final charge” that has been used since the earliest Phi Beta Kappa inductions. She said in an email to the News that the traditions that connect students to scholars of previous generations hold special significance.

“I think Dean Levesque and Professor Saussy gave wonderful talks, but for me the highlight is watching a group of really smart people struggle to master the secret handshake,” she said.

Below is the list of students who were inducted last week.

The First Election from the Class of 2012:

Vanessa Marie Baratta

Ilan Uri Ben-Meir

Joseph Keller Carlsmith

Jordan Laris Cohen

Max Gabriel Ehrenfreund

Jessica Tian-Lei Hsieh

Nimit Jain

Michael Hower Jones

Sarah Yael Krinsky

Charlotte Marie Page

Takuya Sawaoka

Meng Jia Yang

Katherine Ismei Zhou

Second Election from the Class of 2011:

Ann Bendersky Atura

Eleanor Rachel Avrunin

Jie Bai

Mary Ellen Barrosse-Antle

Eve Chloe Binder

Michael Ernest Boyce

Ross Evan Brendel

Katherine Li-fan Carmody

Isabelle Claypoole Chafkin

Rachel Chaoran Chen

Laura Rebecca Vera Colman

David Albert Colognori

Elizabeth Burnat Deutsch

Gabriel Phillip Ellsworth

Lauren Elizabeth Eyler

Lidia Mladenova Gocheva

Kelsy Ellen Greenwald

Yingqi Gu

Jane Rebecca Hinkle

Ryan M. Jacobs

Simone J. Jensen

Isis Esther Jimenez

Christina Kyung-Eun Kim

Robert Conrad Klipper

Rachel Han Lee

Brian Matthew Levin

Rebecca Yaffa Linfield

Monica Yun Liu

Peggy Jie Liu

Justin Isaac Lowenthal

Matthew Lowell Meizlish

Elliot Michael Milco

Jessica Alkalay Moldovan

Dylan Humphrey Morris

Susan Elizabeth Morrow

Lawrence Andrew Moy

Benjamin Westgate Ogilvy

Zeynep Pamuk

Ava Tattelman Parnes

Jason Gutekunst Perlman

Diana Yuan Qiu

Amy Johanna Radding

Nicholas Noronha Rosenbaum

Andrew George Rothaus

Rebecca Megan Russ

Naina Rashmi Saligram

Andrew Vincent Saviano

Gavrail Todorov Tatarliev

Mansur I. Tokmouline

Argyrios Tsiaras

Michael David Weiner

Eleanor Avery Wertman

Louisa Xu