What do six of the current Supreme Court justices, presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, James A. Michener, John Updike, Elizabeth Dole, Benazir Bhutto, Stephen Sondheim, Dr. Jonas Salk, poet laureate Rita Dove, and Buffalo Bills coach Marvin Levy have in common? The answer is: membership in Phi Beta Kappa. Father Hesburgh, Father Malloy, and Father Jenkins are members; so are more than 100 Notre Dame faculty and staff members.
Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776, is the oldest academic honor society in the United States. It is also widely recognized as the most distinguished academic honor society for the liberal arts and sciences. Of the approximately 2000 four year colleges in the United States, about 250 have Phi Beta Kappa chapters.
The University of Notre Dame is among those institutions, the Notre Dame chapter being known as Epilson of Indiana.
Each year approximately 100 seniors from Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters and College of Science are invited to membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
The single most important criterion for election is the student's academic record. Students cannot apply for membership in the Society. Their selection is carried out by a group of faculty, themselves members of Phi Beta Kappa, carefully examining student transcripts and recommending to the full membership of the local chapter those students deemed deserving of membership. The Notre Dame Chapter then invites the students chosen to membership in the Society. Initiation takes place during graduation weekend.