Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Phi Beta Kappa Society

Phi Beta Kappa (ΦBK) is the oldest and most prestigious academic honorary society in the country. Members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 42 Supreme Court justices, and more than 150 Nobel laureates, as well as Oberlin’s own President Carmen Twillie Ambar, Dean David Kamitsuka, and dozens of our illustrious faculty members.

Our society believes that the academic subjects traditionally called “the liberal arts” are the core of human wisdom. Our motto, Phi Beta Kappa (ΦΒΚ), stands for Φιλοσοφία Βίου Κυβερνήτης which means “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.”

An invitation to join PBK is a rare honor. Only 10 percent of U.S. colleges and universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. These chapters select only 7–10 percent of their arts and sciences graduates to join.

Headshots of some of the American politicians and justices.

Zeta of Ohio, Oberlin’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, was chartered in 1907 and remains the pinnacle of academic achievement. The symbol of Phi Beta Kappa is a key—and it is a key to success, recognized as a sign of excellence by leaders and influencers on every career path.

Students are inducted into the society at a solemn ceremony on the Saturday before graduation, celebrated by their families and friends for this achievement.