Hope Lam shakes hands with Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Eck during the 2019 Phi Kappa Phi induction ceremony. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter earns Circle of Excellence Gold status

Nov 22, 2021
Kathryne Davis

Brenau University’s chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi earned national recognition after achieving Circle of Excellence Gold status for 2021-22.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Jessi Shrout, assistant professor of biology and current Phi Kappa Phi president. “It means that we are doing more than what’s required of us as a chapter.”

To receive the award, chapters have to meet certain criteria annually, including holding an initiation ceremony, attending training opportunities and submitting reports on time. By achieving gold status, Brenau scored between 95-99%.

“It was really gratifying to see how we came together as a chapter, particularly in this past year with all of the challenges that we were facing with the pandemic,” said Linda Kern, dean of library services and Phi Kappa Phi immediate past president.

Out of more than 300 chapters in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, Brenau was one of only 23 given gold status. Brenau is also one of two institutions in Georgia to earn the honor, and joins other universities such as Florida State University and Mississippi State University. Since chartering at Brenau in 2007, Phi Kappa Phi has inducted 1,285 members and has 225 current active members. On Thursday, Nov. 18, a virtual induction was held for 75 new members.

While Phi Kappa Phi was unable to do much volunteer work over the past year, the honor society spent more time engaging with members and other honor societies on campus. Phi Kappa Phi also quickly transitioned to a virtual induction ceremony, one of the first chapters to do so, according to Kern.

“By moving to Zoom, we were able to include members of our university community that would not normally be able to attend our ceremony in the Downtown Center,” Kern said. “We had students and family members from all over the country. It was an opportunity for us all to come together and to celebrate these new initiates. That was a big accomplishment.”

Phi Kappa Phi, founded in 1897, is the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines. Membership is invitation-only to juniors in the top 7.5% of their class and top 10% for seniors and graduate students, and to faculty, administrators and alumni who have achieved academic distinction. Brenau earned Circle of Excellence Platinum status in 2019-20.