Article I. Organization and Officers

Section 1. Classes of Membership

The membership of the chapter includes the following classes:

  1. Resident Members: members elected to any chapter and resident in 
    Blacksburg or its vicinity
  2. Members in Course: all members of the chapter elected as undergraduates 
    or as graduate students
  3. Alumni/ae Members: graduates of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State
    University elected in recognition of scholarly achievement after graduation
  4. Honorary Members: non-graduates of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
    State University chosen on the same basis as alumni members.

Section 2: Membership and Privileges

The full privileges of membership shall extend only to those who are members 
and have paid their dues for the current year.

Section 3. Officers and Their Election

The officers of the chapter shall be a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and a Historian. Officers shall be elected by majority vote at the annual meeting for a term of one year and shall serve as members of the Executive Committee. The duties of each office shall be as follows:

  1. President: The president shall preside at all meetings of the Executive Committee and at all chapter meetings. In consultation with the secretary, the president may propose the agenda for each meeting. In addition the president shall chair the nominating committee, oversee the conduct of the chapter’s affairs, and work with all members of the Executive Committee in doing so. The president shall be ineligible for election to more than two consecutive terms in office.
  2. Vice-President: The vice-president shall act in the place of the president when necessary. The vice-president shall also prepare the nominations of alumni and honorary members and carry out the necessary arrangements for the visits of Phi Beta Kappa Scholars. The vice-president shall be ineligible for election to more than two consecutive terms in office.
  3. Secretary: The secretary shall oversee the recording of minutes at each meeting and distribute them to members of the Executive Committee for approval at the next meeting. In addition the secretary shall maintain current records of the chapter and oversee necessary mailings to the Executive Committee and to the entire membership. The secretary shall also chair the Initiation Committee.
  4. Treasurer: The treasurer shall maintain the financial records of the chapter and report their status to the Executive Committee and the chapter as requested. The treasurer shall also receive deposits into the chapter’s treasury and make authorized disbursements.
  5. Historian: The historian shall keep and maintain chapter records that serve to document the history and growth of the chapter as well as its accomplishments and sponsorship of special events. The historian shall read the history of the chapter at each initiation ceremony.

Section 4. Standing Committees

The chair of each standing committee shall be appointed by the president. The organization of the chapter shall include five standing committees, as follows:

  1. The Executive Committee shall be composed of the immediate past president, the elected officers, and the chairs of standing committees. Additional members may be appointed by the president, one of whom may be an undergraduate or graduate student member of the chapter. The Executive Committee shall have authority to conduct the affairs of the chapter between meetings, subject to instruction from the chapter and except as otherwise specifically provided in these bylaws. The Executive Committee may fill any vacancy in any elective office of the chapter.
  2. Committee on Members in Course: The Committee on Members in Course shall be composed of at least six resident members of the chapter. Two members of the committee shall be appointed by the president each year for a term of three years. Membership on the committee shall be chosen predominantly from teachers of liberal subjects.
  3. Committee on Initiations: The Committee on Initiations shall be composed of three members, two appointed by the president, with the historian as chair ex officio. The two appointive members shall serve for a two year term.
  4. Committee on Undergraduate Awards: The Committee on Undergraduate Awards shall be responsible for the process of selecting the annual recipient(s) of the John D.Wilson/Phi Beta Kappa Essay Prize and any other awards established by the chapter to recognize undergraduate scholarship. The president shall appoint a number of members to the committee as may be required by the selection process.
  5. Committee on Encouragement of Scholarship: The Committee on Encouragement of Scholarship shall be responsible for the process of selecting the recipient(s) of the Sturm Award for Excellence in Faculty Research. It shall be composed of three members appointed by the president so as to give equitable representation to the humanities, social sciences, and natural and mathematical sciences for a term of three years such that the term of only member shall expire every year.

Section 5. Nominating Committee

The president shall appoint annually and chair a Nominating Committee which shall present nominations for officers for the ensuing year to the Executive Committee prior to presenting them at the annual meeting. Other nominations for officers may be made from the floor with the consent of the nominee.

Section 6. Auditing Committee

An Auditing Committee of three resident members shall be appointed by the president to review the accounts of the treasurer and make a report at the annual meeting.

Section 7. Special Committees

When necessary, the president or the Executive Committee shall appoint special committees.

Article II. Meetings

Section 1. Arrangements and Order of Business

The Executive Committee shall make arrangements for the annual meeting and for at least one other regular meeting. At the annual meeting, the normal order of business shall be as follows:

  1. Call to order
  2. Reading of the minutes 
  3. Report of the Executive Committee
  4. Report of the Treasurer
  5. Report of other committees (including elections to membership)
  6. Unfinished business
  7. Communications from the Society
  8. New business 
  9. Election of Officers (annual meeting)
  10. Adjournment

Section 2. Special Meetings

Special meetings may be called by the president or the Executive Committee, or upon written request by four members. No business shall be transacted at a special meeting except that stated in the notice of the meeting.

Section 3. Notice of Meetings

Written notice of each meeting shall be sent by the secretary to all members at least one week in advance of the meeting.The notice shall state the purpose of the meeting and the business to be considered.

Section 4. Quorum

A quorum at meetings shall consist of ten members.

Section 5. Voting

Voting shall be by secret ballot in the election of members of all classes and on any other matter if requested by one or more of the members present.

Article III. Election and Admission of New Members

Section 1. Requirements for Eligibility

Members in course shall be elected primarily on the basis of broad cultural interests, scholarly achievement, and good character. Juniors and seniors shall be eligible for consideration if their undergraduate record fulfill the following minimum requirements: 

  1. The candidate shall have completed at least three full semesters of work (45 semester hours) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and be registered for fifteen hours in the fourth semester.
  2. For election as a senior, the candidate shall have completed at least 95 semester hours overall, and shall be taking a course program expected to include at least 90 hours of liberal work among the total hours required for a bachelor’s degree. The minimum quality point ratio for election as a senior shall be 3.60 in liberal arts work where the grade “A” carries four quality points, the grade “B” three quality points, the grade “C” two quality points, and the grade “D” one quality point.
  3. For election as a junior, the candidate shall have completed at least 73 semester hours overall, and shall have completed or be completing at least 70 hours of liberal college work. The caliber of this work should be of exceptional distinction, including, for all graded work, a quality point ratio of at least 3.80 in liberal arts work where the grade “A” carries four quality points, the grade “B” three quality points, the grade “C” two quality points, and the grade “D” one quality point.
  4. Grades earned in applied or vocational work shall not be counted in computing the quality point ratio for purposes of eligibility. Applied and vocational work shall be understood to include all training intended to develop skills or vocational techniques in such fields as business, education, engineering, human resources, journalism, library science, military and air science, physical education, radio, secretarial science, speech, and applied art and music.
  5. Candidates shall have demonstrated a knowledge of mathematics and of a foreign language at least minimally appropriate for liberal education.

Section 2: Deferred Consideration

Subject to further provisions of the chapter Constitution and these By-laws, students who complete the requirements for their degree at the end of the spring, summer, or fall sessions and become eligible only at that time may be considered with the eligible group of the next academic year.

Section 3. Maximum Class Percentage

The number of undergraduates elected from any class, including those who may be elected as juniors, shall not exceed ten percent of undergraduates expected to receive the liberal bachelor’s degree in that class. A maximum of one-fifth of these may be elected on the basis of junior standing.

Section 4. Discretion in Selection

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 no right to election shall adhere to any student solely by reason of fulfillment of the minimum quality point ratio for election to membership in course.

Section 5. Graduate Students

Graduate students shall be elected to membership in course only in strict accord with the provisions of the chapter Constitution. The number of graduate students elected in any year shall ordinarily be limited to a maximum of five percent of the candidates for doctor’s degrees in liberal fields.

Section 6. Procedure for Selection

Nominations for membership in course shall be made only by the Committee on Members in Course. Election shall be by secret ballot and shall require an affirmative vote by three-fourths of the dues paying members present.

Section 7. Alumni Membership

Nominations for election to alumni/ae membership shall be brought to the Executive Committee by the vice-president. No nomination for alumni/ae 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, Sections 5 and 6, of the chapter Constitution, and the vice-president’s recommendations shall include a written statement of the qualifications of each nominee. Election shall be by secret ballot; two negative votes shall serve to reject. No more than two alumni members may be elected in any year, nor more than four in any triennium.

Section 8. Honorary Membership

Procedures for the nomination and election of honorary members shall be the same as for alumni/ae 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 Society, as provided in Article III, Section 10, of the chapter Constitution. No graduate of another institution having a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa shall be recommended for election without the consent of that chapter. A substantial explanation should accompany any negative response from the parent chapter. No more than two honorary members may be elected in any triennium.

Section 9. Initiation

Provision shall normally be made for initiating new members in course. In its discretion, the Executive Committee may waive the initiation of an alumnus or honorary member.

Section 10. Expulsion

As good character is a qualification for membership, any member of the chapter found, after being given due notice and an opportunity to be heard, to have lost this qualification may be expelled from Phi Beta Kappa by a four-fifths vote of the qualified members present at the Annual Meeting. The name of any member so expelled shall be reported to the Secretary of the Society, with a statement of the grounds for the action.

Article IV. Fees and Assessments

Section 1. Annual Dues

Resident members, except undergraduate members, shall pay annual dues as determined by vote of the chapter or the Executive Committee.

Section 2: Initiation Fee

The Executive Committee shall determine the initiation fee for Members in Course and for Alumni Members. The fee shall cover the registration and Council Fund payments to the Society, an invitation to any social event held by the chapter in conjunction with initiation, and such additional amount as necessary. The chapter shall be responsible for registration and Council Fund payments for honorary members. Payment of the initiation fee shall be regarded as formal acceptance of election and shall be made before initiation. Honorary members shall enjoy the privileges of membership without an initiation fee.

Section 3. Special Assessments

Special assessments may be levied against members by majority vote of the members present at any meeting, provided that written notice of the intention to propose such an assessment is given in the announcement of the meeting.

Section 4. Purchase of Keys

Members in Course and Alumni/ae members are expected to purchase a key. A Phi Beta Kappa key will not be issued to any person until initiation as a member.

Section 5. Registration and Council Fund Payments

Registration and Council Fund payments shall be forwarded by the secretary to the Treasurer of the Society in accordance with Article IV of the By-Laws of the Society.

Article V. Amendments and Suspension of By-Laws

Section 1. Amendment of By-Laws

Amendments to these By-Laws, may be adopted at any regular meeting by two-thirds vote of the dues-paying members present provided that written notice of the proposed change(s) has been sent to all members at least three weeks in advance of the meeting. All amendments must be consistent with the Constitution and other lawful regulations of the Society and are subject to the approval of the Senate of the Society.

Section 2: Requirement for Suspension

These By-Laws shall not be suspended except by unanimous consent of all dues-paying members present.