Antler delivers Phi Beta Kappa keynote address
A portion of the graduating class, as well as a few members of the junior class, were inducted in to the Phi Beta Kappa society on Saturday as part of the Mu chapter of Massachusetts. Approximately 10 percent of the graduating class and one percent of the class of 2015 receive this honor each year, recognizing their outstanding academic achievements.
The ceremony began with a brief introduction by the master of ceremonies, Prof. Kathryn Graddy (ECON), followed by an address from University President Frederick Lawrence. In speaking to the inductees, Lawrence said that to be Phi Beta Kappa means “to have challenged yourselves at the highest level, and then to achieve at that high level.”
Lawrence went on to give the recipients a piece of advice that he said had stuck with him since his French horn teacher told it to him when he was younger. “Teach yourself to be your own harshest critic—your mother will always say it sounds good,” he said.
Then, Prof. Craig Blocker (PHYS) gave a brief history of Phi Beta Kappa. He explained that only about 10 percent of schools in the United States have chapters, making Phi Beta Kappa membership a unique honor, and told the inductees that they were joining the ranks of over half a million members including several former presidents.
After Blocker told of the history of Phi Beta Kappa, the graduates were inducted into the society, with Prof. Alice Kelikian (HIST) reading the names of the students honored. Each student walked across the stage to receive the traditional Phi Beta Kappa key as well as to shake hands with Lawrence.
After all of the new members had been initiated, Prof. Joyce Antler (AMST) delivered the keynote address. She spoke about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous Phi Beta Kappa address at the Harvard College ceremony in 1837 titled “The American Scholar,” which encouraged students to engage with the world and their academic endeavors actively, rather than simply being “bookworms.” She also spoke about Margaret Fuller in response to the sexism in “The American Scholar,” and suggested that there is a lot to be learned from her feminist academic pursuits.
She finished by telling the graduates to “[s]eek to find the balance between all the varied aspects of your lives, only in so doing can you be truly nourished.”
The ceremony finished with closing remarks from Graddy, and the ceremony was followed by a reception for the honored students and their families.