Island University Inducts New 2017 Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Members
"CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In recognition of their incredible academic achievements, the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi chapter of Phi Kappa Phi (PKP) inducted 73 new members into its ranks during the Spring Initiation on April 2. Among these initiates was Dr. Whitney Kilgore, a Texas A&M-Corpus Christi alumna who was honored as a PKP Outstanding Initiate"
Watch the ceremony below or read Dr. Kilgore's keynote address here.
Here is the list of the 2017 Phi Kappa Phi Inductees.
Esther Quevedo Delgado
Whitney Kilgore, PhD
George De Los Santos
Mikel Van Cleve
Island University Inducts 2016 Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Members
"CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi held an induction ceremony on April 3 to welcome more than 50 students, faculty and staff, and alumni into the local chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest, largest and most selective all-discipline honor society."
Today we celebrate excellence! We gather to initiate worthy individuals into the honor society of phi kappa phi. These persons have been chosen on the basis of their superior scholarship. We are pleased and proud that each has chosen to become part of a century-old community of scholars and professionals that include individuals who have distinguished themselves in positions of leadership and whose careers have been characterized by achievement. Our members have served in the white house, the congress, and the supreme court of the United States. They have won Nobel prizes, Pulitzer prizes, and numerous other national and international awards for service and achievement in their chosen fields. Phi kappa phi is proud to include among its membership thousands of women and men who, for more than a century, have sought to make a difference in the communities where they live and work. The society’s values are conveyed in its motto, “Let the love of learning rule humanity.” Our mission also states clearly who we are and what we do: “to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.” Phi kappa phi’s standards are unsurpassed and second to none. We seek to reward excellence wherever it can be identified in any institution that has a chapter of the society. By virtue of its interdisciplinary nature, phi kappa phi elects its membership from all academic fields within the university.
Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me, the pleasure of your company, and the honor of speaking to you. As President of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to membership in the nation’s oldest, largest, and most selective all–discipline honor society. Well done.
We are here today because you have excelled. Your presence here signals your commitment to excellence.
This is no small thing. It requires of you a willingness to embrace the hard things, to make of yourself someone who exceeds expectations.
In celebratory moments like this, I believe that it is important to ask, “What is the link between this ceremony and the rest of my life? Why bother with all of this?”
As Dr. Markwood said, this is a homecoming for me. When I attended this university, it was Corpus Christi State and would have been to your eyes unrecognizable. It was only for third– and fourth–year students and total enrollment was under 3,000 students.
During the time I was in college here, public state tuition in Texas quadrupled… to $16 per semester hour! You, of course, pay a lot more than $16 per semester credit hour to attend this great university. What changed?
Well, as states reduced funding for higher education, the cost of attending got passed along to students and their families in the form of higher tuition. This makes it increasingly difficult for many people to afford a college education, even if they take student loans and work.
Why do I bring this depressing news up at a celebration like this? Because, if this situation is to change, it is we who must lead the charge. Some year’s ago, when I taught a first–year seminar course at Texas State, I read a brilliant little essay entitled, Teaching a Fish the Meaning of Water. The story goes like this:
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?"
The two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"
The point of this story is, of course, that the young lack context; that without a context for your life, for your beliefs, for your knowledge, you swim along blind to the very nature of existence. This is a bold claim and one that gets to the heart of what it means to be educated. The question of how we become aware of context is, in fact, the historical basis of a good education.
The first formal university curriculum, dating to the 1200s, was called the trivium. It was comprised (as it’s name suggests) of three subjects: grammar, logic, and rhetoric, where grammar examines how symbols are created and how they are combined to express thought; logic is the art of valid reasoning; and rhetoric examines how thoughts are communicated from one mind to another. These are the foundation of a liberal arts education and the basis of a considered life.
The trivium was preparation for the next phase of study, the quadrivium, consisting of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Taken together, the trivium and the quadrivium comprise the seven liberal arts. The intention of these curricula was to produce disciplined thinkers, capable of addressing complex problems in sophisticated ways. They were designed to create the kind of person who embodies the motto of Phi Kappa Phi, “Let the love of learning rule humanity.”
This kind of broad education is already almost gone. Indeed, I believe that within your lifetimes this type of education will become the purview of the wealthy, with the rest of us consigned to large classes and technologically mediated instruction.
But, what can be done? After all, we’re constantly told that there’s no time for careful consideration. Everything moves too fast. Students today are encouraged to move through college quickly, to focus on a particular discipline, and to treat college as a place for job training. Communication, acquisition, and gratification have become nearly instantaneous. If we’re to keep up, we must move faster, too. Right?
The current Dalai Lama has captured this state of affairs beautifully:
We have bigger houses but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment;
More experts, but more problems; more medicines but less healthiness.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more copies than ever, but have less real communication;
We have become long on quantity, but short on quality. These are times of fast foods but slow digestion; tall men but short characters;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room.
These paradoxes trap us. They make us observers of life rather than participants, alienated from each other and the social, political, and personal contexts of our lives. But it’s as true now as it has always been: If we’re to make the world better, we must take the time to think about the context of their lives, about our world, about how things ought to be.
Now, more than ever, we are called to act upon our beliefs, to embody our ideals, to live our morals, to not take the easy way out. We simply cannot spend our time bemoaning, as David Foster Wallace once said, “A constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.” So, let’s band together in support of our motto and make the love of learning our guiding principle. Let’s celebrate excellence by being excellent.
I encourage you to translate what you have learned here at Texas A&M Corpus Christi into action. Cultivate ideas and engage in actions that make the world better. If you believe in the value of higher education, become a champion. Let other people know what your education has meant to you and work to make it possible for others. Education is not merely a private good. We all benefit from living around and working with other smart, educated people.