Established in 1897, the Honorary Society of Phi Kappa Phi was founded to honor academic achievement through offering membership in the Society to the top ten high percent of a college senior class. Organized at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi was envisioned to be a national organization with no specific affiliation to any one academic field or discipline and had grown steadily to encompass 275 chapters in the U. S. and the Philippines by 1996.
The OSU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi was established in 1924 and was the 35th chapter to be chartered. Prior to the establishment of Phi Kappa Phi, a local honorary organization, the Forum Society, operated at OSU from 1914 to 1924. Many of the members of the Forum Society were initiated into Phi Kappa Phi when the earlier club dissolved in 1924. With its primary focus as an honorary society, the OSU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi has over the years organized a number of annual initiation ceremonies and honorary accolades. From 1936 to 1975, the chapter held two annual ceremonies, one in the Fall and one in Spring, to induct new members. Candidates for initiation were usually selected and invited to an earlier ceremony, the Junior Honors Accolade, to consider membership in Phi Kappa Phi. Any returning student in their junior year with a 3.25 GPA or above was invited to the Junior Honors Accolade. A ceremony honoring freshman academic achievement was also held annually for several years. Among the traditions associated with initiation include picnics held at Tunison Park, a 7.5 acre parcel of timbered land near Avery Park that the chapter agreed in 1960 to lease to the City of Corvallis for park development.
In addition to initiation activities, the OSU Chapter has played a prominent role in organizing forum discussions and sponsoring lectures on campus such as the Biology Colloquia series. Administratively, the OSU Chapter was influential in the establishment of resident student counselors in campus living groups. In 1965, the OSU Chapter hosted Phi Kappa Phi's 25th National Convention. As of 1982, 9,055 students, faculty, and alumni had been invited to pursue membership in the OSU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.
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