Phi Beta Kappa
Thursday, August 7, 2003, Seattle Westin
A meeting of the Western District of Phi Beta Kappa was called to order by Chair Merrill (Mel) Shattuck at 10:05 a.m. The minutes of the previous district meeting held in Philadelphia in October 2000 were approved as published in the Phi Beta Kappa Bulletin 39th Triennial Council.
Present: Mel Shattuck, Northern California Association (& Chair, Western District); Mary Hanel, Northern California Association (& Secretary, Western District); Jean James, Northern California Association; Jeane Paule, Southern California Association; C. Scott Littleton, Southern California Association; Bette Napoli-Harris, Southern California Association; Virginia S. Hornak, Southern California Association; Loraine Reed, Mu of California, UC Irvine; Bruce R. Barrett, Alpha of Arizona, University of Arizona; Jeanne N. Clarke, Alpha of Arizona, University of Arizona; Donald L. Tempkin, PBK Association of Greater Tucson; Harold Schefski, Rho of California, Cal State Univ. Long Beach; Donald S. Lamm, Senator-at-Large (New Mexico resident); Kathleen A. French, Sigma of California, UC San Diego; Wayne Steinmetz, Gamma of California, Pomona College; Kenneth Martin, PBK Epsilon Association, San Diego; Stephen Scott, Beta of Colorado, Colorado College; Michael A. Goldman, Omicron of California, San Francisco State University; Steve Chiappari, Pi of California, Santa Clara University; Myra Lupton, Puget Sound Association; Todd Silverstein, Delta of Oregon, Willamette University; Andrea Dobson, Beta of Washington, Whitman College; Eric Nye, Alpha of Wyoming, University of Wyoming; Dennis Todd, Alpha of Oregon, University of Oregon; Stephen Canham, Alpha of Hawaii, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Todd H. Sammons, Alpha of Hawaii, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Gerald J. Oppenheimer, Puget Sound Association; Leonard W. Johnson, Alpha of California, UC Berkeley; Kurt Olsson, Alpha of Idaho, University of Idaho; Louise Richards, Alpha of Washington, University of Washington; Susan Fedel, Alpha Association of Colorado (Denver); Dennis Barrett, Gamma of Colorado, University of Denver; Jerry Peterson, Alpha of Colorado, University of Colorado; John Peavoy, Theta of California, Scripps College; William H. Beardsley, Delta of Washington, University of Puget Sound; Nancy Blase, Puget Sound Association; Doug Ernest, Delta of Colorado, Colorado State University; D. Kern Holoman, Kappa of California, UC Davis; Evan T. Williams, Gamma of Oregon, Lewis & Clark College; John Doner, Lambda of California, UC Santa Barbara.
[John Churchill, Secretary, Phi Beta Kappa Society was also present at the meeting and Aubrey Farb, Chair, Conference of Association Delegates was present for part of the meeting].
Western District Senator: Due to recent back problems, Western District Senator Gerald L. Alexanderson, Santa Clara University Chapter, was unable to attend the 40th Triennial Council. He sent a written report dated August 5, 2003. In the report he noted that his back problems also made him reluctantly decide that he cannot remain a candidate for reelection to the Senate. He gave background on the Phi Beta Kappa Society building issues from his perspective as chair of the PBK ad hoc Building Committee. He discussed issues facing the Development Committee and is pleased that newly appointed Associate Secretary Scott Lurding will be working closely with the Committee. He mentioned his good fortune in working with extraordinarily talented people on the Senate and in the Washington office while serving as Western District Senator these past years. He hopes the Society will continue to publicize PBK by working with high school and other honor societies and hopes to see a PBK sponsored series on PBS one of these days. His report concluded with his thanks to Western District for allowing him the enriching opportunity to serve on the Senate. A copy of this report to Western District will be filed with the formal copy of these Minutes.
Western District Senator Nominees: Professor John E. Doner, President, UC Santa Barbara Chapter was selected by the Nominating Committee to replace Gerald Alexanderson on the ballot for Western District Senator. Professor Doner was present and Mel asked him to stand and introduce himself. Mel Shattuck noted that he is the other candidate for Western District Senator.
Western District Newsletter: A two-page excerpt from the current Western District newsletter was passed out. The newsletter was compiled by PBK Northern California Association webmaster Ray Hendess. The full text of the newsletter can be accessed via the Northern California Association's website at http://www.pbknca.org.
Conference of Association Delegates: Mel noted that Aubrey Farb, Chair of the Conference of Association Delegates was making the rounds of all the District meetings to present issues of concern to the associations. Mel stated that Aubrey would be given the floor upon his arrival.
Western District Officers: After serving two terms, Mel Shattuck said that he had decided to step down as Western District Chair. He called for nominations from the floor for this position. Two nominations were made and seconded. The first nomination was for Bette Napoli-Harris, Past President, PBK Alumni in Southern California. It was also noted that before moving to Southern California, Bette had served as 1987-88 President of the Northern California Association. The second nomination was for Susan Fedel, Alpha Association of Colorado (Denver). A vote was taken. Bette received 17 votes, Susan 12 votes. Bette Napoli-Harris was elected Western District Chair.
Mel reported that Western District Secretary Mary Hanel also wished to step down, so he then called for nominations from the floor for this position. A nomination was made and seconded for Jean Paule, PBK Alumni in Southern California. As no other nominations were made, Jean Paule was elected by unanimous voice vote. Mel told Jean that Ray Hendess was willing to continue to compile the Western District newsletter.
District Dues: Mel called for a discussion on whether the Western District should assess dues from each of its association and chapter organizations. In the past, the District has never formally charged member organizations dues although Western district chapters and associations have been asked for donations in the past to defray the cost of printing and mailing the Western District newsletter and for other mailing expenses.
A lengthy and spirited discussion ensued. Those opposed to dues noted that the only major expense that Western District has ever had was the newsletter and since it is being hosted and distributed online instead of being printed and mailed, it is now virtually cost free. They asked how the Western District Chair and Secretary would use and account for the dues.
Those in favor of dues, including Mel Shattuck, Bette Napoli-Harris and representatives of some of the chapters gave examples of how the funds could be used and how Western District as a whole would benefit if the District Chair and Secretary had the funds to be pro-active. For instance, Oregon has no PBK association but chapters in the greater Portland area would welcome a visit from the Western District Chair with advice and assistance on setting up an association. In addition, one of the colleges nominated at this Triennial for the honor of sheltering a PBK Chapter is the University of San Diego. The University would also become a member of Western District. If funds were available the District Chair could attend the ceremony granting them the chapter and provide a proclamation or certificate welcoming the Chapter to the Western District. Mel also had ideas for distributing publicity promoting the Phi Beta Kappa Society in the Western District.
A great deal of discussion followed on an appropriate dues amount. A motion was made and seconded to assess each Western District chapter and association $25 per Triennial. Further discussion before the vote resulted in a motion which was seconded to amend the original motion to charge each chapter and association $10 per year which would be $30 per Triennial. A vote was taken on the motion to amend. 18 voted in favor, 17 against. Another amendment to the amended motion was made and seconded that in addition to assessing each chapter and association $30 per Triennial, a sunset clause would be inserted such that if the $30 per Triennial were largely unspent by the next Triennial, then dues could be curtailed. This amendment was approved by unanimous voice vote. Since the amendments were approved -- but not the original $25 per Triennial assessment -- a new vote was taken on the twice-amended motion. An aye and nay vote was taken. It appeared that the ayes were stronger, but to be sure, those voting nay were asked to raise their hands. Only 6 nay votes were counted, so it was determined that the twice-amended motion carried. Therefore, each chapter and association in Western District will be assessed $30 dues following this Triennial. If a significant amount of that money remains unspent by the next Triennial in 2006, no dues will be assessed following the 2006 Triennial. The Western District Secretary will provide a financial report for the next Triennial on any dues money expenditures.
Aubrey Farb: Shortly after this discussion, Aubrey Farb, Chair of the Conference of Association Delegates arrived and was immediately given the floor. Aubrey gave a presentation on the concerns of a significant number of delegates that an increasing number of undergraduates who are invited to join PBK have no clue as to what the Phi Beta Kappa Society is and why it is an important organization. As an example, at the University of Texas, Austin, 250 of 500 students offered election to PBK last year, declined to accept.
It was suggested that one reason that fewer people have heard of PBK is that the Phi Beta Kappa Society has underutilized the business acumen, talents and public relations potential of alumni in the associations by failing to include their representatives on the governing, policy and working committees of the National Society. Some current Senators have been sympathetic to the concerns of the associations. Senator Gordon Weil, for instance, prepared a position paper that the associations should be offered more of a role in the running of PBK. In order to utilize the talents of association members, some PBK committees need to include association members.
The Conference of Association Delegates will be making proposals at various meetings and plenary sessions to make the Strategic Plan more specific, to revise a section of the constitution, and to nominate at-large candidates for the Nominating Committee and the office of Vice President.
Aubrey asked that delegates give a fair hearing and be open to proposals coming from the Associations. Aubrey did say that he was pleased to report on one success that resulted from the National Society listening to the advice of the Conference of Association Delegates regarding the chartering of new associations. An arbitrary rule not required by the Constitution or Bylaws pertaining to how long an unchartered association must remain in that status was rescinded. Therefore, this Triennial will be able to welcome five viable new associations into the ranks of PBK that would otherwise have had to wait until the 2006 Triennial.
Aubrey concluded by asking the chapter delegates to remember that association members were initially elected to chapters and do care as much as chapter faculty and academics about PBK.
New Initiate Acceptance Rate: Although Aubrey had to leave to give his talk to another District, a question arose regarding his presentation. A chapter delegate from a small liberal arts college said that his chapter has always gotten 100% acceptance from the students it elects to Phi Beta Kappa and that PBK is considered a prestigious organization on his campus. He asked whether the "low acceptance rate" of students elected to PBK is more myth than reality. PBK Secretary, Dr. John Churchill, who was in the audience, responded. He said the information is provided for the previous year on page 24 of the Manual for Council Delegates. Overall the acceptance rate is very good, 100% at 104 of the 262 Chapters and at least 90% at 152 of the other Chapters. At about 15 chapters though the acceptance rate is only is the 50% range and many of these 15 are large universities located in big metropolitan areas. The problems of large and small universities in publicizing PBK and being able to reach out to those it elects to PBK are very different.
A spontaneous discussion ensued as to what some of the middle-sized universities do to ensure a 90% or higher acceptance rate by students. UC Santa Barbara, for instance, has managed the last 2 years to get the chancellor to pay the new elects initiation fee. The University of Arizona enlists its Tucson Alumni Association to get in touch with each student that it wants to elect to PBK. UC Davis noted that its acceptance rate among students still on campus is very high but students who finished a quarter or two early and are no longer on campus -- either already working or attending graduate school elsewhere -- can be almost impossible to track down. A couple of the associations mentioned that not only do they send the letter of election but also a fact sheet about PBK to the students and to their parents. Besides sending the letter, others also make personal contact with the students.
John Churchill noted that the National Office has started a survey and letter writing campaign to university presidents and provosts looking for more support for chapters. The almost universal response is that the administration is aware of the prestige that a PBK chapter brings to their university and would lend any support needed to ensure that they not lose their chapter. Dr. Churchill said he would be happy to contact the administration on behalf of any chapter that feels it needs more support on its campus.
Other Candidates for National Office: It was noted from the floor that although Mel introduced himself and Professor Doner as candidates for Western District Senator, he had not introduced the Senator-at-Large Candidates from Western District. Mel apologized and asked any candidates present to stand and introduce themselves. Bruce Barrett of the University of Arizona and Kurt Olsson of the University of Idaho stood and were acknowledged. Senator-at-Large Donald Lamm, a New Mexico resident, who is the candidate for Vice President stood and was also acknowledged.
Kudos for Mel: C. Scott Littleton of PBK Alumni in Southern California made a brief speech thanking and congratulating Mel for his work on behalf of Western District over the past six years. A round of applause followed.
Adjournment: Mel adjourned the meeting at 11:35 asking Mary Hanel to provide an extra copy of the Minutes of this meeting to Ray Hendess to post on the web along with the Western District Newsletter.
, Secretary (outgoing)
Western District, PBK
The Western District thanks Ray Hendess and the Northern California Association for use of their site for this newsletter.