Constitution and By-Laws of the
Alpha of Pennsylvania Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa

[Constitution (rev. 1983)] [By-Laws (rev. 2002)] [Constitution (rev. 2002)]


I. Name

This society is one of the coordinate branches of the body known as The United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa and by priority of organization is called the Alpha Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society in the State of Pennsylvania.

II. Object

The object of the Phi Beta Kappa Society is the promotion of scholarship and friendship among the students and graduates of American colleges.

III. Membership

The membership of the Chapter shall be elected primarily from the best scholars of the graduating classes of the College; secondly from the best scholars of said College whose work subsequent to graduation entitles them to such honor; and thirdly from persons distinguished in letters, science, art, or education. In addition to scholarship, good moral character shall be a qualification of membership, and any member may be expelled from the Society by a four-fifths vote of the members present at any regular annual meeting of the Society.

IV. By-Laws

The Chapter shall by the enactment of suitable by-laws provide for the election of officers, the initiation of members, and the proper conduct of its meetings; provided, however, that such by-laws shall contain nothing inconsistent with this constitution.

V. Amendment

This constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the members present at any regular annual meeting; provided that the proposed amendment shall have been submitted in writing at the annual meeting preceding that at which action is asked thereon.

By-Laws (rev. 05/1983)

I. Officers

1. The Officers of this Chapter shall be a president, a vice president, a secretary, an assistant secretary, a treasurer, and a historian, whose duties shall be those usually pertaining to their respective offices, as well as those herein prescribed.

2. All elections of officers shall take place at the annual meeting, and shall be by ballot. Nominees shall be Associate Members of the Chapter (III.2). Officers shall continue in office for one year, and the term of office of each officer, except that of the secretary, assistant secretary, and historian, shall not continue for a period of more than three years consecutively.

II. Committees

1. The officers of the Chapter, plus the chairman of the Committees on Scholarships, on Alumni and Honorary Membership, and on Nominations, shall constitute a permanent Executive Committee. This committee shall have power to fill vacancies among the officers and committees until the next regular meeting of the chapter, to appoint any committees it may deem proper, and to direct matters generally between annual meetings of the Chapter.

2. The Committee on Alumni and Honorary Membership shall consist of three members elected to serve for three years, one member of the committee being elected at each annual meeting. It shall be the duty of this committee to consider the qualifications for membership of graduates of the College in classes at least fifteen years prior to said annual meeting, and to canvass the qualifications of any others suggested. Having considered the records and qualifications of all such, the Committee shall report to the annual meeting the names and qualifications of all whom it deems worthy of consideration.

3. There shall be a permanent Committee on Scholarship composed of at least three members plus the Secretary, ex officio. They shall make nominations for membership in course and review criteria for eligibility.

4. A Nominating Committee of three shall be elected by the chapter from nominations made from the floor. The term of office on this committee shall be three years, one member to be elected at each annual meeting. This committee shall present its slate of officers at the annual meeting.

5. Other committees may be appointed as herein provided (II. 1), or elected as circumstances may warrant.

III. Membership

1. This Chapter may elect and receive into its membership three classes, designated as follows:

a. Members in course, elected from among the undergraduate students of the College.

b. Alumni members elected from graduates of the College whose achievements subsequent to graduation shall be deemed such as to entitle them to election. Except in cases of unusual distinction no graduate shall be elected within fourteen years after receiving his bachelor's degree.

c. Honorary members, elected because of distinction in art, science, education, or letters.

2. Members of Phi Beta Kappa who become members of the Faculty or Officers of the Administration of Dickinson College shall be Associate members of the Chapter.

3. Associate Members of the Chapter, together with undergraduate members in course on campus, shall be the resident members. Other members of the Chapter shall have full membership privileges, except the privilege of voting on candidates for election to membership. However, only Associate Members may hold office (I.2).

IV. Meetings

1. The annual meeting shall be held at such time during commencement week as may be fixed by the Executive Committee. Notice of the time and place of the meeting shall be mailed at least one week in advance to all resident members (III.3), together with a brief statement of matters of prime importance to be presented.

2. Special meetings may be called by the president at any time and place designated by him. In his absence, the vice-president or the secretary may issue the call. Further, at the written request of eight members a call for a special meeting must be issued by the Secretary. Notice of the time and place shall be sent by mail no less than one week in advance to all resident members. At the special meeting no business shall be transacted other than that stated in the notice of the meeting.

3. Ten resident members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, except the election of undergraduate members, where one half of the associate members shall constitute a quorum. Members of other chapters who do not qualify for Associate Membership as defined in these by-laws (III.2) may be invited to any meeting with voice but not with vote.

4. At the annual meeting the suggested order of Business shall be:

a. Call to order
b. Reading of minutes
c. Report of Committee on Alumni and Honorary Membership Election
d. Initiation of New Members
e. Reports:

Executive Committee
Committee on Nominations: Election of Officers
Committee on Scholarship
Special Committees (e.g. Audit Committee)

f. Communications:

District Conference
United Chapters

g. Deferred Business
h. New Business
i. Welfare of the Society
j. Adjournment

5. The Chapter shall, whenever possible and convenient, be represented at all meetings of the Triennial National Council of the United Chapters; also at meetings called within the Middle Atlantic District. Delegates shall be selected by the Executive Committee.

V. Nominations and Election of Members

1. Members in course shall be elected primarily on the basis of scholarly achievement, broad cultural interests, and good character. Juniors and seniors who are enrolled in the College and are candidates for the bachelor's degree shall be eligible for consideration, if their undergraduate record fulfills the following minimum requirements:

a. For election at the end of the junior year, the candidate shall have completed at least 25 courses of college work. The calibre of his work should be of exceptional distinction, attaining a Dickinson grade point average of at least 3.75, based on at least 21 courses bearing the grades of A, B. C, D, I or F and their + or - variants. The grade point average shall be defined as in the Dickinson College Bulletin.

b. For election at the middle of the senior year, the candidate shall have completed at least 29 courses of college work. His/her Dickinson grade point average shall be at least 3.60 based on at least 21 courses bearing the grade of A, B. C, D, or F. and their + or - variants calculated as in (a). However, senior midyear elections combined with elections at the end of the Junior year shall not exceed 8 percent of the prospective graduating class.

c. For election at the end of the senior year, the candidate shall have satisfied the requirements for graduation, including residency requirements. His/her Dickinson grade point average shall be at least 3.50.

Each student to be considered for Phi Beta Kappa shall be invited to submit to the Secretary a 500-800 word essay. The invitation should explain the United Chapters' stipulation about breadth in liberal education. This optional essay will allow him to compare his/her own curriculum at Dickinson with the national guidelines, defending it against any apparent discrepancies. He/she may refer to appropriate outside activities, special courses in secondary school, internships, or any other applicable experience. The secretary shall invite letters from:

a. all juniors meeting the criteria for election of the By-laws This letter will be due in the Secretary's hands by August 15 of the summer following the junior year. These letters shall be judged by the Scholarship Committee.

b. all seventh-semester seniors with an average of 3.40 or higher. These letters shall be judged by teams of chapter members, consisting regularly of two faculty members and one student member and representing the three divisions of the College.

2. Students who complete their college course after the close of an academic year and become eligible under 1(c), above, shall be considered with the appropriate eligible group of the next academic year.

3. The number of undergraduates eligible from any class, including those elected as juniors, shall not exceed ten per cent of the number of undergraduates receiving the bachelor's degree in that class; provided that under exceptional circumstances, a further 2 1/2 percent of the class may be eligible. Not more than five percent of the members of any class may be elected as juniors.

4. Election to membership in Phi Beta Kappa is wholly within the discretion of the members of this chapter, subject only to the limitations imposed by the Constitution and By-laws of the chapter and the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, and no right to election shall adhere to any student solely by reason of fulfillment of the minimum grade point average for election to membership in course.

5. Nominations for membership in course shall be made by the Committee on Scholarship from a list of all students who meet the formal requirements for election. This list, once approved by the Chapter, shall be the basis for any further nominations from the floor. All elections shall be by separate secret ballot. Whenever balloting on any candidate shall result in not more than one negative vote, the candidate shall be declared elected. Whenever fewer than a majority of votes are positive, the candidate shall be declared defeated. Whenever two or more but less than a majority of negative votes result, it shall be the duty of the members casting such votes to state the grounds of their action. In case they fail to do so, the person shall be declared elected, notwithstanding; but if at least one makes the required explanation, another ballot shall be taken, and in the second balloting a two-thirds majority of those present and voting shall be sufficient for election.

6. Nominations for election to alumni memberships shall be referred to the Committee on Alumni and Honorary Membership. No nomination for such a membership shall be brought before the chapter for action unless favorably reported by the committee. The committee shall be guided by criteria defined in Article III, 1, b, of the Chapter By-laws, and committee recommendations shall include a written statement of the qualifications of each nominee. Election shall be by separate secret ballot; in case of one negative vote the candidate is elected; two negative votes shall serve to reject. No more than two alumni members may be elected in any year, not more than four in any Triennium of the United Chapters.

7. Procedures for the nomination and election of honorary members shall be the same as for alumni members, except that one negative vote shall serve to reject. A statement of the qualifications of each candidate elected to honorary membership shall be sent to the Secretary of the United Chapters. No graduate of another institution having a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa shall be recommended for election without the consent of that chapter. No more than two honorary members may be elected in any Triennium of the United Chapters.

VI. Initiation

1. The form of initiation shall be according to "A Ritual of Phi Beta Kappa" suggested to the chapters by the National Council of 1928, or subsequent revisions.

2. Provision shall normally be made for initiating new members. In extraordinary circumstances, the Executive Committee may waive initiation.

3. The initiation fee for members in course, alumni and honorary members shall be as designated by the Executive Committee, payable before initiation.

VII. Procedure

Chapter proceedings, in all cases not provided for in the constitution or By-laws, shall conform to the rules laid down in Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, and subsequent revisions.

VIII. Amendments

Amendments to these By-laws, not inconsistent with the Constitution and other lawful regulations of the United Chapters, may be adopted by a two-thirds vote of the members present at an annual meeting, either upon motion presented and tabled at a preceding annual meeting, or upon condition that written notice of the proposed changes has been sent to all resident members at least three weeks in advance of the meeting. All amendments shall be subject to the review of the Senate of the United Chapters.

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