Below: University of Texas at Dallas Provost
Hobson Wildenthal congratulates junior
biology and business administration double
major John Hamati upon being tapped
last September as a Phi Kappa Phi chapter
nominee, under the happy watch of Chapter
President and Associate Professor of
Criminology Denise Paquette Boots. Hamati
accepted the invitation.
Roxanne Minnish, University of Texas at Dallas Web Services
Positive Peer Pressure
By Caroline Cooper
True or false? College officials adorned in academia regalia burst into classes to invite top-ranking upperclassmen to join an illustrious fixture in higher education.
Fact or fiction? Heralded by trumpet fanfare,
similarly resplendent administrators stationed across
campus simultaneously announce who the worthy
students, faculty, and staff are via microphone.
The Phi Kappa Phi chapters at University of
Texas at Dallas and McKendree University engage
in the former “tapping” tradition. Austin Peay
State University’s chapter conducts the latter “big
reveal.” These public affirmations of scholarship
and service not only take the recipients by surprise
but also encourage them to become Society members — to embrace the sudden good news.
“The tapping ceremony was really unique and
awesome,” UT Dallas senior molecular biology
major and Phi Kappa Phi member Andrew T.
Vuong wrote in an email about the interruption to
his biochemistry class last fall. “It was a great
honor to be tapped into the oldest all-disciplinary
honor society, especially by esteemed professors
and faculty members.”
The chapter began tapping in fall 2011 as part
of its first undergraduate initiation. Instructors are
told in advance about the proceedings and urged
to keep them secret. Phi Kappa Phi representatives
proclaim the standouts to the unaware audience
and distribute invitation packets.
“Being a part of the tapping ceremonies and
celebrating the outstanding academic accomplish-
ments of our students has been one of the most
memorable experiences during my tenure as presi-
dent of our chapter,” Denise Paquette Boots, an
associate professor of criminology at UT Dallas,
explained in an email. “Seeing the pride and hap-
piness in the students’ faces as they are recognized
by their peers and faculty is a joy.”
McKendree has tapped juniors and seniors
since 2004 and the rite speaks to the best of the
campus, echoed Chapter Secretary Marsha God-
dard, who also is faculty secretary. “I enjoy sharing
the honor of inviting those who have earned the
right to become a member of a prestigious organi-
zation,” she observed in an email, and “seeing the
look of excitement on the faces of those who are
tapped as well as the look of pride on the profes-
sor’s face and the other students in the class.”
“Being tapped made me feel many different
emotions: pride, accomplishment, and humility,”
remembered McKendree senior Brandon
Hoeflein, a double major in psychology and politi-
cal science and a chapter student vice president.
“Yet the most powerful thought was the realization
that I was special and others appreciated my talent
and hard work.” The event was “unlike anything
else during my time at McKendree,” he continued,
and proved all the more meaningful for the then-
junior because his faculty mentor tapped him,
Hoeflein recalled in an email.
Austin Peay President and Phi Kappa Phi
member Timothy L. Hall stood on the balcony
of the oldest building on campus to debut the big
reveal last February. “The big reveal adds excite-
ment and a personal touch to the Phi Kappa Phi
invitation process,” he said in a press release. “It
is good to see senior faculty and staff proudly ex-
tending membership in this premier honor soci-
ety to our students.”
Dewey Browder, Austin Peay chapter president
and chair of the history and philosophy depart-
ment, concurred. The big reveal helps listeners
“understand and appreciate the value of Phi
Kappa Phi membership” and “the honor of being
named to this prestigious society,” he said in the
press release. “It is a mark of competency and suc-
cess that will last a lifetime.”
That’s how Austin Peay senior professional studies
major Penny Woodson put it after hearing her name
called as a junior and reading up on Phi Kappa Phi.
“I was really excited” to join, she recollected via email.
“I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.”
Caroline Cooper is the Chapter Enrollment
Coordinator at Phi Kappa Phi. She began
working for the Society in June 2011.
Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree in
political communication and French from
Louisiana State University. She is president-
elect of the Baton Rouge, La., Delta Gamma
alumnae group. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.