Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Celebrates 50 Years at UM

Prestigious organization recognizes academic excellence internationally

OXFORD, Miss. – Following the 50th anniversary commemorating the leadership of James Meredith to integrate the University of Mississippi, another golden anniversary was celebrated quietly Monday (Oct. 22), this one by the campus chapter of an international organization that recognizes the leadership and academic excellence of a diverse group of students.


Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines. Juniors must have completed 72 credit hours and rank in the top 7.5 percent of their class, while seniors and graduate students must rank in the top 10 percent of their class.


“The chapter’s 50th anniversary was marked in 2009,” said Kerry Brian Melear, associate professor of higher education administration at UM and chapter president. “In celebration of 50-plus years of Phi Kappa Phi’s presence at the university, we received a lovely commemorative certificate from the national organization. It has been framed and placed alongside the chapter’s original charter in the entrance hall of the Lyceum.”Chancellor Dan Jones and Dale Flesher, Arthur Andersen alumni professor and associate dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy, made remarks in a brief ceremony. A small gathering of students, faculty and staff assembled for the presentation.


Dale Flesher, Arthur Andersen alumni professor and associate dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy at the University of Mississippi, speaks during a ceremony observing the 50th anniversary of the university's chapter of Phi Kappa Phi honor society. UM photo by Kevin Bain.

“I am grateful to faculty, staff and students from more than 50 years ago who began Phi Kappa Phi on our campus, and to the scores of those who have kept it strong over the years,” Jones said. “It is good to be reminded of the ‘love of learning’ promoted by Phi Kappa Phi and to recommit ourselves to this highest ideal.”


Flesher detailed the chapter’s history in his comments.


“The 21 faculty among the charter members include some of the most famous names in Ole Miss history, including Frank Anderson, for whom Anderson Hall is named; W. Alton Bryant, for whom Bryant Hall is named; A. B. Lewis, for whom Lewis Hall is named; and Chancellor John D. Williams, for whom the J. D. Williams Library is named,” Flesher said.


“Many of the other charter members are also familiar names, including J. Allen Cabaniss, who wrote a history of the university.”


Chapter presidents have included at least seven deans, numerous associate deans and other university leaders, Flesher said. Alternatively, people in these high-level positions have not dominated the organization.


“It has been quite democratic, with a large number of both faculty and staff holding officer positions,” Flesher said. “Speakers in recent years have consisted mainly of university faculty and administrators. In earlier years, those delivering the address included members of the board of trustees of the IHL, members of the Ole Miss Hall of Fame, newspaper editors, university presidents, business executives, at least three judges, the mayor of Oxford, a governor in the person of William Winter and Mississippi’s first lady, Julie Mabus.”


Founded in 1897 at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi has chapters on more than 300 campuses in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Each year, approximately 30,000 members are initiated. Since its founding, the honorary has initiated more than 1 million members into its ranks.