Sep 20, 2019
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Phi Kappa Phi honors student excellence

The Fresno State chapter of the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi initiated 136 new student members April 17 and awarded three student scholarships, one of them in tribute to retiring university President John Welty.

Alex Tran, a senior majoring in biology, received the John D. Welty Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship. 

Honora Chapman, chapter president, and director of the Smittcamp Family Honors College, said the scholarship “celebrates academic excellence and community service hallmarks of Dr. Welty’s impact on this university.”

The chapter also presented a local chapter scholarship to Esther Verrinder, a junior majoring in music performance, and recognized its national graduate fellowship nominee, Audra Iness, a senior in biology who is graduating this May.

Special recognition initiates were faculty members Andrew Lawson (plant science) and Andrew Fiala (philosophy); staff member Peter Robertson (alumni association); administrators Sharon Brown-Welty (graduate studies and doctoral program in educational leadership) and Lisa Kao (environmental health and safety, risk management and sustainability); and alumna Deborah Adishian-Astone (Auxiliary Operations and Enterprise Development).

More than 800 students, faculty and staff are current members of the Fresno State chapter.

“You look at their majors and their GPAs and you realize — looking at that list of over 800 names — how much talent is walking around this campus. And you don’t realize it because you’re not taking classes with them,” Chapman said.

Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Baton Rouge, La., Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective all-discipline honor society with chapters on more than 300 select colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines.

Chapman said Phi Kappa Phi is the equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa at liberal arts schools. Fresno State, like many other universities, is considered a “comprehensive university” because it grants degrees in technical and vocational fields like industrial technology, nursing and animal science.

“When you think about it, we should be very proud of the breadth and depth of the education we provide here because if you go to a school— that is a liberal arts school—you receive a very fancy diploma, but you never could take an enology class or a plant science class,” Chapman said. “Nor could you study nursing. Nor could you study many of the majors that we offer. And so, Phi Kappa Phi is a really interesting honors society because it embraces such a wide variety of majors.”

In 1953 Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 62 was installed at Fresno State. Phi Kappa Phi has since initiated more than 7,500 individuals and served as the university’s honor society, recognizing superior academic achievement by students in all academic fields.

To qualify, students must be in the top 7.5 percent of their junior class and 10 percent of their senior class, as well as those in post-baccalurate studies.

The soceity would like invite and initiate as many qualified members as possible, Chapman said.

“Honors on your resume is a huge plus. Other people who belong to Phi Kappa Phi will recognize the stellar quality of your academics,” she said. “There are also other benefits including scholarships you can appply to through Phi Kappa Phi as a member, and discounts from national corporations—insurance companies and such.”

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