Alpha Chapter of South Dakota
On December 5, 1776, a group of young men, students of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, meeting in the Apollo Room of the Raleigh Tavern, Williamsburg, formed the Phi Beta Kappa Society, which they dedicated to high purposes of fostering the liberal arts and sciences with eighteenth-century eloquence. Today there are 270 chapters of PBK faculty in various colleges and universities in the United States in seven regional districts. The chapter of the USD PBK faculty was chartered in spring, 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the society and is the only chapter so far in the state of South Dakota.
These chapters, along with 62 Associations (organizations of PBK members that are not connected with a college or university) form the national body of The Phi Beta Kappa Society.
PBK sponsors several book awards in the sciences, humanities, and the intellectual tradition. It supports The American Scholar, a quarterly magazine, under the editorship of Anne Clifton Fadiman, that is recognized as the leading intellectual quarterly published in the U.S. The Society sponsors the Schools Project through which week-long seminars on an interdisciplinary topic are held for the benefit of school teachers and for the enrichment of their classes. Associations also provide college scholarships for top-ranking high school seniors, grants to public and school libraries, and other community projects that enrich the educational and intellectual life of a community.
Alpha Chapter brings to the campus, through the PBK Society's Visiting Scholar Program one speaker a year. During the two-day residence, the scholar meets with classes or seminar, or brown-bag discussions with students and presents a public lecture. Through the Lifto Amundson endowment, Alpha Chapter also hosts annually the Lifto-Amundson Lecturer. In addition to giving a public lecture at the spring initiation, the Lifto Amundson Lecturer meets with classes and with students informally. At its spring initiation, the Chapter awards the Grace L. Beede Scholarship to the top-ranking junior initiate and the Marjorie H. Beaty Award to the top-ranking senior initiate who will enter a graduate program of study at USD.
The chapter takes the stand that, at the minimum, liberally educated students should know the intellectual history of their own culture (i.e. Western Civilization) or of other cultures (comparative civilizations); have an understanding of calculus, which is the basis of most modern theories of science and the technological revolution we are living in; knowledge of what language is and how it gives insight into another culture; some breadth and some depth in the study of social sciences; and a basic understanding of one modern science discipline.