New Group of Top Students Gets 'Tapped' to Join Phi Kappa Phi
Oct. 19, 2016
Dr. Andrew Blanchard (left), dean of Undergraduate Education, and Dr. Edward Harpham (right), dean of the Honors College, visited the Naveen Jindal School of Management to recognize students on their list of candidates for membership in Phi Kappa Phi. More than 530 UT Dallas juniors and seniors were invited to join the honor society this fall.
In keeping with a century-old tradition, faculty and administrators at The University of Texas at Dallas paid a surprise visit to classrooms recently to recognize top students and invite them to join a prestigious honor society.
The tradition is 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. Membership is by invitation only.
Dr. Andrew Blanchard, dean of Undergraduate Education, and Dr. Edward Harpham, dean of the Honors College, stopped by the Naveen Jindal School of Management to recognize students on their list of candidates.
“I was shocked,” said Iqra Ali, an accounting and finance senior who was among the 532 juniors and seniors invited to join Phi Kappa Phi. “I had heard of PKP, but when I saw the procession of faculty in their academic robes, I was really surprised. It was nice to see this happen in one of my classes.”
Blanchard, president of the UT Dallas chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, made a point of shaking hands and extending invitation letters to each student whose name was called.
“We want everyone on campus to know that honoring students is how we do business. We do it in a public way to recognize these students in front of their peers as a model of academic excellence,” said Blanchard, Mary McDermott Cook Distinguished Chair for Undergraduate Education and Research.
Faculty and administrators visited several classrooms to recognize dozens of juniors and seniors in person. Other students were invited by email. Those who decide to join will be inducted in late October. Graduate students will be invited during the spring term.
Harpham, who became a member of Phi Kappa Phi as an undergraduate student in 1972, said UT Dallas needs academic traditions because it is a relatively new institution.
“We want everyone on campus to know that honoring students is how we do business. We do it in a public way to recognize these students in front of their peers as a model of academic excellence.”
“This is a way to build traditions on campus,” Harpham said of the tapping ritual. “Phi Kappa Phi has a 119-year-old tradition, and UT Dallas needs to be part of it.”
Since March 2011, the chapter has inducted 86 faculty and staff, 936 students, 75 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 coursework with 24 credit 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.
Michael Cheney, an accounting and finance senior, said it was especially nice to be recognized in front of his peers.
“It was a great honor. It’s impressive, because this is such a studious school. I knew my ranking was pretty good in the School of Management, but I didn’t know how I ranked within the whole university. It was cool,” Cheney said.
Phi Kappa Phi membership benefits include eligibility to apply for more than $1.4 million 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.