Alumni News

    We are taught by great actions that the universe is the property of every individual in it. —Ralph Waldo Emerson (ΦBK, Harvard University, 1828)

    Phi Beta Kappa members are selected from among the brightest students in the liberal arts and sciences.

    Each year, about one college senior in a hundred, nationwide, is invited to join.

    The hard work, ambition, and dedication to excellence that helped our members earn their gold keys continue to fuel their success in life.

    We are delighted to note our members' accomplishments when reported in the media and even more pleased when you write to us.

    Share your news with us and with your fellow members! Write to

  • In Memoriam

    Robert Keith Murray

    (ΦBK, Ohio State University, 1943)

    Robert Keith Murray (96) of University Village Inn, Tampa , Florida, died on February 9, 2019. Born April 9, 1922, he was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn Fay Keller (2015). Murray received a Bachelor of Arts (1943), a Bachelor of Science in Education (1943), a Master of Arts (1947) and a doctorate in Modern American History (1949), all from Ohio State University. Murray and all three of his children are Phi Beta Kappas; Murray was inducted at Ohio State and his children at Penn State. After serving in Intelligence in World War II and completing his degrees, Murray accepted a job at the Pennsylvania State University in 1949 where he was promoted to Professor of American History in 1959 and served as Head of the History Department there for ten years from 1959 to 1969. From 1964 to 1967, he was also Assistant Dean in the Graduate School. While at Penn State, he published six books, more than thirty articles, numerous book chapters, and many book reviews. Murray helped open the Harding Papers, which were thought to have been burned. His resultant Harding Era (1969) was a History Book of the Month Club selection and also received the McNight Distinguished Book Award and the Phi Alpha Theta National Book award in 1970. He appeared on the Today Show and was widely interviewed in connection with his 103rd Ballot (1976), which was also a History Book of the Month Club selection. His computer survey involving historians' ranking of the presidents (Greatness in the White House, 1989) set a standard for historians judging presidential performance. He retired from Penn State in 1984 after 35 years of service. After that, he moved to Tampa, Florida. Throughout his life, Murray had many interests in addition to history: travel trailering through the US National Parks, blue water sailing in the Virgin Islands, travel to foreign countries, church work, and work for various professional organizations to which he belonged. He is survived by one son, William, and a brother, Richard, both of Tampa. He is also survived by two daughters, Vicki McKeefery of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Connie Sargent of Brooklyn, New York. Services for Robert Murray took place at gravesite on February 16. a

    Posted On: 3/14/2019

  • In Memoriam

    Samuel H. Miller

    (ΦBK, Case Western Reserve University, 1943)

    Samuel H. Miller, a 1941 Case Western Reserve alumnus who became one of Cleveland’s most influential business leaders, died Thursday. He was 97 years old. The son of immigrants who grew up poor and speaking only Russian and Yiddish, Miller was able to enroll at the university because of financial assistance it provided. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa, he attended Harvard Business School on a full scholarship, and then served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Upon his return to Cleveland, Miller joined a local lumber and hardware business known as Forest City, and went on to play a key role in its evolution first into a real estate firm and then a nationally recognized commercial developer. No matter how professionally successful he became, however, Miller maintained great empathy for those who faced economic challenges similar to his own growing up. He made significant contributions to a Case Western Reserve program providing science enrichment programs for local high school students, for example, and later endowed a large undergraduate scholarship fund. (Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University)

    Posted On: 3/11/2019


    (ΦBK, University of California, Berkeley, 1990)

    Alison Pearlman is an L.A.-based art historian who writes about contemporary art, media, design, and restaurants. She is the author of Smart Casual: The Transformation of Gourmet Restaurant Style in America (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and Unpackaging Art of the 1980s (University of Chicago Press, 2003). Her most recentbook is May We Suggest: Restaurant Menus and the Art of Persuasion (Agate Surrey, 2018). 

    Posted On: 5/16/2018

  • In Memoriam

    Douglas J. Holmes

    (ΦBK, University of Utah, 1955)

    Douglas J. Holmes passed away on March 23, 2018. He was born on April 15, 1932, in Ogden, Utah. He received a debate scholarship to Weber Jr. College where he attended before receiving his four-year degree from the University of Utah in 1955. He received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1952. In addition to being a proud and active member of Phi Beta Kappa, he was a member of the Air Force ROTC and Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He married Peggy Ann Slade on March 18, 1955, and later that year began his 24-year adventure as an officer in U.S. Air Force as a Second Lieutenant. He finished his career as a highly decorated, full Colonel earning the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, and the Meritorious Service Medal. During his time in the Air Force he earned his Masters of International Relations degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1967. After retiring, he earned his Law Degree from the University of Utah in 1983. He was an avid reader and instilled in all of his family members the importance of high achievement and excellence in education. He believed in being an active community member and spent many hours trying to improve the lives of others through his work as a Utah state legislator and in many other civic organizations in Ogden. He is survived by his three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

    Posted On: 4/30/2018

  • In Memoriam

    Mary Gertrude Rodriguez Wardrop

    (ΦBK, Rhodes College, 1955)

    Mary Gertrude Rodriguez Wardrop died March 18, 2018 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.  Born August 22, 1933, in Monroe, Louisiana, Wardrop received top honors throughout her educational career, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Rhodes College in 1955 with her baccalaureate degree in mathematics. She furthered her mathematics education by receiving a masters degree from the University of Virginia, and finally receiving her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1964. Her theoretical mathematics research took her into the world of Hilbert’s Space and finally into the academic world of mathematics as a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Wardrop was a role model of philanthropy, with her true passion, among many organizations as well as friends and neighbors, being St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and her alma mater, Rhodes College. Discussions with her always came back to the importance of giving back, especially to those truly in need.

    Posted On: 3/20/2018

  • In Memoriam

    Douglas Foard

    (ΦBK, Randolph-Macon College, 1961)

    Douglas Foard, former Secretary/CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, passed away after a lengthy illness on Sunday, February 25. Foard was the eighth Secretary of Phi Beta Kappa, serving from 1989 to 2001. During his tenure, he oversaw the transition of the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, including recognition of the critically important role that ΦΒΚ associations play in the Society. He helped foster many partnerships to extend Phi Beta Kappa’s mission beyond the academic campus. Prior to this role as Secretary, Foard served as a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities, and taught history at Ferrum College, specializing in modern Spanish history. A memorial service for Foard will be held on April 14 at 1:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, located at 4880 Elmer Derr Road, Frederick, MD 21703. An obituary from the Washington Post can be found here.

    Posted On: 3/19/2018


    (ΦBK, University of Texas in Austin 1964)

    Jane Derrick, MSSW, 1976, BA in Math, 1964, retired in 1999 after working 22 years as a contract manager for the Texas Department of Human Services in Waco. In 2012 she was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. Now five years out from treatment and living in Denver, Colorado, she has published a book about her cancer journey: See Jane Beat Cancer: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, available on Amazon. Her book covers not only her diagnosis and treatment but also all she's done to adapt to her new normal, including changing her diet and lifestyle. For more details visit

    Posted On: 3/10/2018

  • In Memoriam

    Redden Thaddeus Andress II

    (ΦBK, The University of the South, 1954)

    Redden Thaddeus Andress II died February 20, 2018, in Minden, Louisiana. He was born in Minden on August 7, 1932, and was the first child of Harry Carter Andress and Treeby Miller Andress. Thad graduated as co-valedictorian of Minden High School in 1950. Then he went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, where he was named to Phi Beta Kappa. He served in the US Army Corporal Guided Missile Battalion as a collimation man at Fort Bliss, Texas, then went on to Harvard University where he received his Masters of Business Administration. Thad returned to Minden and was vice-president and assistant manager of Andress Motor Company, Inc., from 1958 to 1965. He acquired and operated the R. H. Miller Insurance Company from 1965 through 1994. Thad served as a director of Minden Building and Loan Association from 1965 to 1980 and as a director and member of the Executive Committee of Minden Bank and Trust Company from 1980 to 1999. Thad was one of Minden’s most active participants in church and civic affairs. He was involved for a number of years in the creation of a museum for Minden, while serving as President of the Dorcheat Historical Association and Museum, Inc. He participated in numerous other civic organizations and in his later years was very generous in his financial support.

    Posted On: 3/9/2018

  • In Memoriam

    Bruce Cameron

    (ΦBK, Harvard College, 1956)

    Dr. Bruce Cameron died Friday, January 5, at St. Andrews Village’s Gregory Wing in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. He was 83 years of age. After graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College in 1956, he pursued his post graduate education at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, at which he was one of the first students to follow a dual-degree program, adding a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences to his medical degree in 1962. After medical school, he traveled to Beirut, Lebanon, as a post-doctoral scholar at the American University of Beirut, working under Dr. George Hanania. He later moved to Ibadan, Nigeria, where he joined the biochemistry research team of the University of Nigeria, chaired by Dr. Dennis Irvine, and specialized in the basic science of sickle cell anemia. Upon Cameron’s return to the U.S., he was employed as a senior research scientist at the New England Institute for Medical Research in Ridgefield, Connecticut, then at the Papanicolaou Institute for Cancer Research in Miami, Florida, after which he became the Director of the Cincinnati Sickle Cell Center, associated with Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital in Ohio. While an undergraduate, Cameron made the acquaintance of ENIAC, and developed a life-long fascination with computers and their potential impact on both medical and scientific research. In 1986, he made a critical career change that allowed him to utilize his skills in the technology sector of Houston, Texas. A Memorial Gathering for Bruce Cameron is planned for later this year, date to be determined. Donations in memoriam may be made to St. Andrews Village, Gregory Wing Activity Fund (St. Andrews Village, 145 Emery Lane, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538).

    Posted On: 2/27/2018

  • Laure Astourian

    (ΦBK, University of California, Berkeley, 2007)

    Laure Astourian is a French film scholar and previous winner of Phi Beta Kappa's Walter J. Jensen Fellowship and the Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship in French Studies. Having recently completed her PhD at Columbia University, Astourian is currently preparing a book based on her dissertation, “Outside the Metropolitan Frame: The Nouvelle Vague and the Foreign, 1954-1968.” In November 2017, Studies in French Cinema published Astourian's "Jen Rouch's Moi, un Noir in the French New Wave,the first article based on research funded in part by her ΦBK fellowships.

    Posted On: 2/5/2018

  • Daniel Powell

    (ΦBK, University of Maryland, 2000)

    Daniel Powell was recently elected a 2018 Hawthornden Fellow and will spend a month writing new fiction in Scotland's Hawthornden Castle, an international retreat for writers. Daniel describes himself as a "proud member of Phi Beta Kappa,” noting that he graduated from UMD, College Park, with a degree in English. He went on to graduate school to study film after working in publishing, and is now a fiction writer and screenwriter.

    "When I earned membership in ΦBK, it was the first real embrace I received—beyond my parents, professors, and peers—for being an English major and studying the humanities," Daniel recalled. "I knew that literature was my home, but ΦBK's acknowledgement and support meant that being a student of books, language, and our human experience had significant value and implications far outside myself." For Daniel, "ΦBK was and continues to be that light in the darkness that seeks to destroy the value of a liberal arts education and college in general; make society question truths; and undermine the beauty of diversity of thought, knowledge, and people."

    Posted On: 12/21/2017

  • In Memoriam

    Muriel Anna Cullis Back

    (ΦBK, Denison University, 1944)

    Muriel Cullis Back died on November 4th at Havenwood in Concord, New Hampshire. Muriel Anna Cullis was born on July 26, 1922 in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. She was valedictorian of the Park School Class of 1940. In 1944, Muriel graduated from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, with a B.A. in English literature. While at Denison University, Muriel married Robert Nelson Back. Muriel and Robert Back lived and worked and raised four children in communities in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Muriel earned a Master’s Degree in Library Science at the Southern Connecticut State College in 1976 and worked for nine years at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Connecticut. Muriel is survived by her four children, Martha Aguiar of Campton, NH, Ann Back Price of Barrington, RI, Robert Back of Elmwood Park, Michigan, and Timothy Back of Thurmont, MD, and her nine grandchildren, Gretchen, Jessica, Laura, Max, Katie, Karen, James, Tony, Shawn and her seven great grandchildren, Seamus, Hattie, Henry, Beatrice, Hazel, Neema Anna, and Bodhi. Muriel will be buried with her husband Robert in the memorial garden of the church they built in 1952, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, in Glenside, PA on February 17, 2018. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Ferguson Library Fund.

    Posted On: 12/21/2017

  • Jeong yun (J.Y.) Chun

    (ΦBK, Columbia University, 2014)

    After graduation from Columbia University, ΦBK member Jeong yun (J.Y.) Chun, wrote, directed, produced, edited, and starred in Cover, a short film about identity and perception. The story follows an idiosyncratic character who wears different wigs, assuming various personas. The film was inspired by a conversation J.Y. had with her mother about hair loss and alopecia. Recently, J.Y. launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds to complete the film. The campaign ends November 23rd, and if the goal is not met, no funds are raised. You can find the official trailer for Cover here. For more information, please feel free to visit the film's website. J.Y. Chun is a Brooklyn-based actor-filmmaker who won the 2014 Andrew Sarris Memorial Award for Film Criticism, the German Consular Book Award, and the Lamont Younger Poets' Award

    Posted On: 11/8/2017

  • In Memoriam

    Pamela Ann (Maky) Boyarsky

    (ΦBK, Denison University, 1963)

    On Sunday, May 14, Pamela Ann (Maky) Boyarsky left us. She graduated from Denison University at age 21 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Beta Phi. Pam married Ron Boyarsky in 1965, and they stayed married for the next 52 years; they were best friends. She spent 32 years as a teacher of high school Spanish in South Euclid and in Maple Heights, Ohio, and of preschoolers in Solon, Ohio. She spent 17 years as an insurance underwriter with First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association. She watched her three boys grow up to be teachers, in one form or another, then move away to Alaska. Pam visited them 20 summers and loved her Alaskan adventures with her “young men.” She reveled in her two grandchildren’s smiles. Son John Boyarsky remarked, "Mom was the smartest woman in any room she entered, and she will be missed by everyone who knew her." 

    Posted On: 5/30/2017

  • In Memoriam

    Thomas G. Samter, MD

    (ΦBK, University of Indiana, 1948)

    Husband, father, grandfather, and pathologist, Thomas G. Samter, MD was born in Cairo, Egypt, on January 1, 1929. A proud member of Phi Beta Kappa from 1948, he was a graduate of the University of Indiana Medical School Class of 1952 and a retired Air Force Captain. He practiced medicine in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and then spent a wonderful retirement in Hollywood, Florida. He passed away April 19 and is survived by his wife, daughter, son, and granddaughter. 

    Posted On: 5/24/2017

  • Alan Schwartz

    (ΦBK, University of California-Berkeley, 1991)

    The book Listening for What Matters: Avoiding Contextual Errors in Health Care (Oxford University Press, 2016) by Saul J. Weiner and Alan Schwartz received the 2017 PROSE Award for Excellence in the Biological & Life Sciences, recognizing the best book published in the area in 2016. It also received the PROSE subject category award in Nursing & Allied Health. The PROSE Awards are given annually by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the American Association of Publishers.

    Posted On: 2/15/2017

  • In Memoriam

    Haig Khatchadourian

    (ΦBK, Duke University, 1956)

     Haig Khatchadourian, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, died on February 16, 2016 in Milwaukee. He was preceded in death by Arpiné Khatchadourian (Nee Yaghlian), his wife of 61 years. He is survived by children Apraham (Susan), Vicken, Sonia, grandchildren Eric and Marc, relatives and friends throughout the US and abroad. He was born in the Old City of Jerusalem, Palestine and was educated at the American University of Beirut (BA with Honors, 1948; MA, 1950) and Duke University (PhD, 1956). He taught at the American University of Beirut (1948-49, 1956-68); Melkonian Educational Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus (1950-51); Haigazian University, Beirut (1951-52); University of Southern California (1968-69); and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1967-68,1969-94). He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii-Manoa (1976-77) and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque (1978-79). His areas of specialization included: aesthetics and philosophy of the arts, ethics, philosophy of language, political philosophy, and social philosophy, among others. He received numerous honors and awards, including Outstanding Educators of America Award, 2000; Outstanding Intellectuals of the 20th Century; and 2000 Outstanding Academics of the 21st Century. He was a member of learned societies, presented papers at international conferences (1958-2007), and published 19 books, including three books of poetry and one play, as well as 130 articles (1961-2015). His most recent book, How To Do Things With Silence, was published by DeGruyter in the fall of 2015. At the time of his death, he was working on several other books, including his autobiography, Leaves From A Life, and World Tragedies: Visions of the Protagonist. Khatchadourian was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at Duke University in 1956 and was a charter member of the Eta of Wisconsin chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. 

    Posted On: 2/13/2017

  • In Memoriam

    Margaret Alice Fortmann

    (ΦBK, Syracuse University, 1944)

     Margaret Alice Fortmann (Head, Davis) passed away peacefully on December 18th at the Atrium in Park Ridge at the age of 93. Margaret was born August 14, 1923 in Frankfort, New York. She was predeceased by her parents, James and Abigail Davis also of Frankfort, husband Richard Head and husband Bernhard Fortmann. She is survived by her sons Peter (Donna) Head of Brockport, New York and Jeremy (Patricia) Head of Wantage, New Jersey. She is also survived by four grandchildren, Melissa Head (Joe Welch) of Fairbanks, Alaska; Kevin Head of Brockport, New York; Jeremy Head (fiancé Ashley Jackson) of Wantage, New Jersey; and Kyle Head of Hollywood, California. Margaret was a retired teacher in the Park Ridge, New Jersey school district and was a devoted parishioner of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Montvale, New Jersey. She was also a proud member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society from the time of her graduation from Syracuse University. 

    Posted On: 1/9/2017

  • Virginia Howard

    (ΦBK, University of Alabama, 1964)

    Virginia Howard is the editor of THEMA, a theme-related journal with three goals. One is to provide a stimulating forum for established and emerging literary and visual artists. The second is to serve as source material and inspiration for teachers of creative writing. The third is to provide readers with a unique and entertaining collection of stories, poems, art and photography. Learn more about THEMA and how to submit your work on the journal's website at

    Posted On: 10/21/2016

  • Robert B. Davis II

    (ΦBK, University of Redlands, 2016)

    Philosopher and author Robert B. Davis II has launched a new website,, to share his views through posted essays and to provide links to buy or download his books. The site also features videos, cartoons and doodles, rhymes, and the author’s recommended reading. 

    Posted On: 8/17/2016

  • Abby Vegas

    (ΦBK, Carnegie Mellon University, 1995)

    Abby Vegas (ΦBK, Carnegie Mellon University, 1995) has published her debut novel, a women's fiction/romantic-suspense crossover entitled Clean Break. The "Feeding My Addiction Book Reviews" blog praised Clean Break as "a heartwarming, at times funny journey," adding: "If there was an award for breakthrough author, I would nominate Abby Vegas. I truly believe she is one to watch in the future!" 

    Posted On: 5/3/2016

  • William E. Winter

    (ΦBK, University of Illinois, 1942)

    William C. Winter shared with us two wonderful memories of his father, William E. Winter (left) — both father and son, it seems, cherished their memory of Phi Beta Kappa.

    "He was inducted into Gamma of Illinois at the University of Illinois on December 8, 1941," William writes. "And for as long as my brother and I can remember, his ΦBK certificate was displayed on a wall of his home."

    "My earliest 'recognition' of my father's honor came when I was in the second grade," he recalls. "I was having trouble with penmanship, and I was getting low marks for my cramped style. My mother, also a teacher, was not an argumentative type, but something about the 'problem' bothered her. She told me that my handwriting was much like my father's...and he was a Phi Beta Kappa. I wasn't sure what that meant, so I asked her to write it on a card so that I could remember."

    ΦBK member William E. Winter was the former chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the Seven-Up Company. He led the development of the famous “Uncola” advertising campaign and pioneered corporate sponsorship of humanitarian causes. 

    Posted On: 3/24/2016

  • Anna Olswanger

    (ΦBK, Rhodes College, 1975)

    After graduation from Rhodes College, Anna Olswanger wrote Greenhorn, a children's novel about a young Holocaust survivor who arrived at a Brooklyn yeshiva in the 1940s with only a small box that he wouldn't let out of his sight. The book was based on a true story she heard from the rabbi of her synagogue. Greenhorn was published in 2012. Last year Anna co-produced an indie film adaptation of the book. Greenhorn premiered at the Landmark NuArt Theatre in L.A. and at The Museum of Tolerance in New York. It was named the 2015 Audience Award Winner for Best Short Film Drama at the Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival in Memphis, and aired on Memphis public television station WKNO last April and this past October. It screened again at The Museum of Tolerance in New York as part of the museum's Holocaust Remembrance Day observance, and on Kentucky Public Television. It was also part of last month's Festival Internacional De Cine Judio en Mexico. The film is distributed by TMW Media.

    Posted On: 2/1/2016

  • Daniel Scott

    (ΦBK, CUNY City College, 1994)

    Daniel Scott’s newly released novel, Valedictory, is set at a university in New York in the 1980s during a student takeover that shuts down the campus, and it focuses on the struggles of Earl Castle, the university’s would-be valedictorian. The book is partly based on Scott’s experiences as a student at the City College of New York, where he was valedictorian of the class of 1994. Scott is the author of two previous books of fiction, Some of Us Have to Get Up in the Morning (2001) and Pay This Amount (2008). He is also the recipient of various grants and fellowships from sources such as the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony.

    Posted On: 1/28/2016

  • Linda S. Campanella

    (ΦBK, Amherst College, 1980)

    Linda Campanella, who was a German major at Amherst College, describes herself as “a walking advertisement for the value of a liberal arts degree.” She is an award-winning author and a Connecticut-based management consultant serving nonprofit organizations of all sizes and missions. Previously she has worked as a corporate executive, a college administrator, and a trade negotiator. Her 2011 book When All That’s Left of Me Is Love was a 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards finalist, 2012 Nautilus Book Award silver medalist, 2012 Living Now Book Awards gold medalist, 2012 Readers Favorite silver medalist, and 2011 ReaderViews Literary Awards first-place winner in two categories: memoir/autobiography/biography and parenting/families/relationships. The book is a memoir of her last year with her terminally ill mother.

    Posted On: 1/28/2016