Phi Beta Kappa Key

Chapter Activities

The Theta of Texas Chapter seeks to recognize and celebrate scholarship in the liberal arts through its activities.  Examples include sponsoring scholarly lectures and co-sponsoring student initiatives.

Visiting Scholar Program

Each year the Theta of Texas Chapter seeks to sponsor a Visiting Scholar, one of 12 or 13 distinguished scholars selected annually by the national Phi Beta Kappa Society office. These men and women visit over 100 colleges and universities, spending two days at each one, meeting informally with students and faculty members, taking part in classroom discussions, and giving a public lecture open to the entire academic community. 

The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students.  Priority is given to those institutions not located in major metropolitan centers or that do not have extensive resources on which to draw for similar programs.

The 2015-2016 Visiting Scholar event will take place April 7-8, 2016, featuring:

Blaire Van Valkenburgh, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles

The Theta of Texas Chapter has previously hosted the following Visiting Scholars:


Bambi B. Schieffelin, Collegiate Professor and Professor of Anthropology, New York University


Lee Epstein, Provost Professor of Law and Political Science and the Rader Family Trustee Chair in Law
University of Southern California


John A. Agnew, Distinguished Professor of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles


Jack Goldstone, Virginia E. and John T. Hazel Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University


Linda Gordon, Professor of History, New York University


Chris Impey, University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona


Steven Shapin, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University


Virginia Sapiro, Breckinridge professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison


Phillip Gossett, Reneker Distinguished Service Professor of Music, University of Chicago


Giles Gunn, Professor of English and Global & International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara


Susan McClary, Professor of Musicology, University of California, Los Angeles


Manthia Diawara, Professor of Comparative Literature and Film, New York University


James Boyd White, Hart Wright Professor of Law/Professor of English, University of Michigan


Douglass C. North, Luce Professor of Law and Liberty, Washington University

Special Events

In addition to hosting periodic Visiting Scholar guests, the chapter also invites other speakers who embody and support the aims of the Society to foster liberal learning.  For example, in Fall 2011, the Theta of Texas Chapter co-sponsored a panel presentation entitled, “Careers in Research: The Ivory Tower and Beyond.”  The event featured alumni and other professions who gave advice to students about pursuing research, analysis and writing careers in academia, government, the non-profit sector and private industry.  Panelists included:

  • Piper Purcell ’89, MA in Sociology, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, World Relief
  • Sara Daly ’95, MA in International Affairs, formerly International Policy Analyst at The RAND Corporation and lecturer at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, policy analyst for federal agency
  • Rebecca Frost Davis, Ph.D., Program Officer for the Humanities, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE)
  • Gavin Van Horn, PhD, Director of Midwest Cultures of Conservation, Center for Humans and Nature
  • Will Inboden, PhD, Distinguished Scholar at Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law/Assistant Professor, UT LBJ School of Public Affairs
  • Casey Willard, MA in Economics, Director, Hall and Partners (market research firm)
  • Audrey Allen O’Neill ’03, Senior Auditor, Texas State Auditor’s Office