Thursday,
June 29, 2017

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University 'Taps' Top Students for Phi Kappa Phi Membership

Phi Kappa Phi tapping at UT Dallas

UT Dallas President David E. Daniel extended Phi Kappa Phi invitations to a group of undergraduates during their neuroscience class. Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective collegiate honor society for all disciplines.

Neuroscience junior Paul Nguyen-Lee wondered why his professor made a special point to check that he'd be class on Sept. 16. As a top student, Nguyen-Lee was not one to miss class.

The reason became clear with a knock at the door.

Wearing full academic regalia, UT Dallas President David E. Daniel and Rafael Martín, associate vice president for research, interrupted the class in a tradition known as “tapping,” or inviting students for membership in Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective collegiate honor society for all disciplines.

Nguyen-Lee, who hopes to attend medical school, was among 448 juniors and seniors at UT Dallas who were invited in September to join Phi Kappa Phi. Membership is by invitation only.

The tapping occurred Sept. 15-16, but others were invited later by email.

“I was definitely caught off-guard. I’m at a loss for words,” said Nguyen-Lee, adding he nonetheless planned to text his mom as soon as he returned to his seat. “I just do what I do, and hope that I will be able to help people one day.”

Paul Nguyen-Lee

Paul Nguyen-Lee

Faculty and administrators visited several classrooms to “tap” or invite some of the 184 juniors and 264 seniors on their list of candidates; others were invited by email. Those who decide to join will be honored at a reception in November. Graduate students will be invited during the spring term.

In one classroom, students audibly gasped when they saw Daniel draped in the orange-barred robe and velvet tam.

“No, you’re not graduating early,” he assured them.

Instead, Daniel, who is a Phi Kappa Phi member, shook hands and extended invitation letters to each student called to the front of the room.   

Brooke Hinson

Brooke Hinson

“It’s so rewarding to enter the classroom and see the excitement on students’ faces as we read off their names for this distinctive honor,” Daniel said. “UT Dallas students are exceptional, and it is a joy to be able to recognize them publicly and honor their hard work.”

Having a Phi Kappa Phi chapter is part of UT Dallas’ effort to highlight academic achievement and continue its drive toward becoming a Tier One research university.

The UT Dallas chapter has 380 active members this year. Since March 2011, the chapter has inducted 46 faculty and staff, 583 students, 72 alumni and two honorary lifetime members.

The honor society is open to upperclassmen and graduate students who meet a set of eligibility requirements. Graduate students who have completed at least 18 graded graduate credit hours at UT Dallas with a minimum of a 3.8 GPA must be nominated by their program chairs. Undergraduates must have completed at least 72 hours of course work with 24 hours completed at UT Dallas.

The UT Dallas chapter chose the top 7.5 percent of juniors and the top 10 percent of seniors across each school.

It’s so rewarding to enter the classroom and see the excitement on students’ faces as we read off their names for this distinctive honor. UT Dallas students are exceptional, and it is a joy to be able to recognize them publicly and honor their hard work.

Dr. David E. Daniel,
UT Dallas president

Brooke Hinson, a psychology and child learning and development senior who wants to become an occupational therapist, said the invitation from the University’s administrators was “a good surprise.”

“It was really cool that they took the time to do this,” Hinson said. “UT Dallas is full of great students. To be recognized as one of the top students feels awesome. It makes me proud of what I’ve done for four years here. Hard work does pay off.”

Phi Kappa Phi membership benefits include eligibility to apply for more than $800,000 in scholarships from the national organization, mentoring and career assistance. In addition, the local chapter offers grants to support academics and professionalization that are available to all members.

“We are very pleased with the continued growth of our chapter membership,” said Martín, who is president of the UT Dallas chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. “Recognition of excellence is a key driver for the University’s push for Tier One status, and Phi Kappa Phi plays an important role in promoting this goal.”

Media Contact: Robin Russell, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, robin.russell@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu.


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