In front of family members and friends, 181 Duke students joined Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest academic honor society, Thursday night in Page Auditorium.
"My family traveled in from Detroit," said inductee Scott Rich, a senior. "It's nice to have my four years in college culminate with my hard work being recognized. It's something I really appreciate, and something my parents really appreciate coming down here to see."
Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa elects more than 15,000 new members a year from 276 chapters across the United States. The honor society is the nation's leading advocate for arts and sciences at the undergraduate level.
The Duke Chapter, Beta of North Carolina, was formed in 1920 at Trinity College. The chapter's four Phi Beta Kappa faculty officers -- Steve Nowicki, president; Lee Baker, vice president; Michael Gustafson, secretary; and Lisa Robinson Bailey, treasurer -- initiated and welcomed the new members with the society's secret handshake.
Dean of Trinity School of Arts and Sciences Laurie Patton delivered the keynote address, encouraging students to remember that love of learning will carry them through all challenges. "This society is all about the intrinsic level of learning," Patton said. "That is why I think the society matters so much. All of these students have in some way or another managed to move across all of the fields of arts and sciences and their accomplishments exemplify what I think is so important about liberal arts in the 21st century, which is the capacity to liberate learning, to adapt your learning style to a new subject, to keep in touch and innovate in ways that allow you to push the curriculum forward even when you are a student."