Honor Society Uses Old Ritual to Welcome the New

'Tapping' Tradition Invites High-Achieving Students to Join Phi Kappa Phi

Sep. 30, 2011

Phi Kappa Phi, a highly selective academic honor society at UT Dallas, invited 662 upperclassmen and graduate students to join its membership for the first time this week.

Juniors who were selected for membership were invited through a tradition  known as “tapping.” Various Phi Kappa Phi members, including UT Dallas President David E. Daniel, Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal and Dr. Denise Paquette Boots, donned full academic regalia and visited classrooms to invite, or “tap,” juniors who were selected.

The students received a formal invitation and were recognized in the presence of their instructors and classmates.

There were more than 80 tapping events on campus.

Phi Kappa Phi Tapping 2011

Seventeen students in a Biochemistry I class were invited to join Phi Kappa Phi on Monday.

Seniors and graduate students who were selected were tapped by e-mail.

Phi Kappa Phi invited 167 juniors, 417 seniors and 78 graduate students. Students who decide to join will be honored at a reception in November.

Boots, who is the University’s founding president of Phi Kappa Phi, said the honor society is excited about establishing a community of scholars.

“We were excited to see those students’ faces during tapping,” Boots said. “We’re looking forward to meeting them at the reception, greeting their families and friends that have supported and encouraged them, and being a part of celebrating their academic excellence,” said Boots, who is an associate professor of criminology in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences. “They work hard, and we don’t always have time to take a minute and just say ‘Congratulations on what you’ve already done.’ ”

Wildenthal said he welcomed the opportunity to recognize the academic achievements of outstanding students in this highly visible way.

“Tapping gives us an opportunity to celebrate scholarly distinction and promote academic excellence,” Wildenthal said. “The tradition of tapping is both hallowed and traditional, but totally new to UT Dallas. I am happy that Professor Boots brought this creative idea into reality as we go forward making Phi Kappa Phi a dynamic part of the UT Dallas culture.”

Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. UT Dallas became the 316th chapter of Phi Kappa Phi last spring, as part of its effort to highlight academic achievement and become a nationally recognized Tier One research university. Forty faculty members were inducted. Membership is invitation-only. 

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

“We’ll have a representative distribution across each school based on the number of students in that school,” Boots said. “If it’s a smaller school, they’ll have fewer inductees. If it’s a larger school, they’re going to have more invited students.”

Membership benefits include eligibility to apply for more than $800,000 in scholarships from the national organization, mentoring, and career assistance. 

Boots said she hopes the new tradition will make students feel even more connected to their alma mater.

“I am so proud to be a professor at this school,” she said. “I brag about my students to everyone and I really feel like we have the best students in the state of Texas. And for me, Phi Kappa Phi is just another example of how phenomenal our students are.”

Media Contact: Marissa Alanis, 972-883-2155, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, 972-883-2155, [email protected].
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Dr. Denise Boots and Dr. David E. Daniel

Dr. Denise Boots and President David E. Daniel made some of the first “tapping” invitations on Monday morning.


Phi Kappa Phi Tapping 2011

The honorees received formal invitations in the presence of their instructors and classmates.


Dr. Denise Boots, Ivan Oropeza, Dr. Hobson Wildenthal

Ivan Oropeza (center) received his tapping invitation from Dr. Denise Boots and Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal in an engineering class on Thursday.

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June 16, 2019