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Phi Beta Kappa Names New Members to UW Chapter

April 20, 2017
head portrait of a man
Tom Buchanan

The nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society has selected 36 new members for the University of Wyoming chapter, including a former UW president elected to honorary membership.

Members of Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) are selected based upon their demonstrated excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.

“To be elected, a student needs to show a balanced liberal arts education that accords with the national stipulations, and which we verify by examining every candidate’s transcript in detail,” says Eric Nye, professor in the Department of English and chapter secretary. “Our chapter requires that candidates have completed a substantial amount of second-language coursework as well as courses in math.”

Nye says members cannot apply or be nominated to PBK, but are selected by faculty members in the chapter. Membership never exceeds the top 10 percent of the graduating class, and Nye says PBK members at UW typically are in the top 4 to 5 percent.

UW’s chapter, Alpha of Wyoming, was chartered in 1940. Since then, more than 2,000 students have been elected into membership. There are 116 resident members among UW’s faculty and staff members.

Most new members are seniors, but a handful of outstanding students are elected as juniors. Each will receive a $1,000 Louise A. Lee Johnson Memorial Scholarship. This year’s recipients are Brent Bihr, of Casper; Mimi Kreuzer and Emily Wood, both from Cheyenne; and Paul Richter, of Skokie, Ill.

Honorary members may be UW faculty members or others whose work in the promotion of educational, literary, social or scientific progress is generally and widely commended. They must meet the provisions outlined in the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s constitution and bylaws.

Tom Buchanan, UW’s 23rd president (2005-2013), will receive honorary membership. Buchanan retired from UW in 2013, concluding a longtime career in higher education. Since 1979, Buchanan served in various capacities at UW, including as professor in the Department of Geography; department head; associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and provost and vice president for academic affairs. As president, Buchanan’s priorities for the university included excellence in academics; promoting access to higher education in Wyoming; and enhancing economic and workforce development in the state.

The new members will be inducted at a public ceremony Friday, April 28, at 3 p.m. in the Wyoming Union Family Room. Buchanan will present the keynote address, titled “A Liberal Education: Now More Than Ever.” Family members, friends and faculty of the inductees are invited to attend.

PBK annually selects new members in each of its 286 chapters nationwide. UW’s chapter sponsors lectures, scholarships and other academic activities.

New PBK members at UW, listed by hometowns and majors, are:

Aurora, Colo. -- Brianna O’Shea, English.

Casper -- Brent Bihr, international studies and Spanish; Kristine Carmen, physiology; and Anna Schenfisch, music and mathematics.

Centennial, Colo. -- Nathan Forest, international studies.

Cheyenne -- Elizabeth Cave, international studies; Margaret Cave, international studies; Cassidy Hysell, psychology; Mimi Kreuzer, social science; and Emily Wood, international studies and German.

Cody -- Trevor Cook, humanities/fine arts and theater; and Briana Roberts, international studies.

Colorado Springs, Colo. -- Deanna Traczek, anthropology.

Elizabeth, Colo. -- Ellen Hughes, history, and environment and natural resources.

Evansville -- Elizabeth Hobbs, English.

Gillette -- Taylor McInerney, international studies.

Laramie -- Shelbi Bailey, humanities/fine arts; Collin Ballard, international studies and religious studies; Joellen Coates, microbiology; Michelle Hardy, journalism; Brie Hein, English, secondary education; Meghan Kent, anthropology and communications; Madison Klopfer, anthropology; James Millett, anthropology; Nathan Phelps, English; Hannah Stansbury, political science and psychology; Corinne Taylor, anthropology; and Sage Weber, philosophy.

Lincoln, Calif. -- Haley Biswell, journalism.

Minatare, Neb. -- Katelyn Myers, history.

Rawlins -- Caitlyn Edwards, Spanish.

Riverton -- Elizabeth Grindle, anthropology, and environment and natural resources.

Skokie, Ill. -- Paul Richter, mathematics, economics and statistics.

Thornton, Colo. -- Ashley Dafoe, anthropology.

Worland -- Larissa Siirila, chemistry.

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