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About the Fellows


The Phi Beta Kappa Foundation was chartered by the University of the State of New York as a corporation empowered to hold and administer trust funds accruing through gifts and bequests. Directed by trustees elected by the Senate of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the Foundation has sought to increase the Society’s effectiveness by securing an endowment sufficient to make Phi Beta Kappa financially stable.  

In 1940, the Foundation’s endowment stood at $290,000. In that year a group of Phi Beta Kappa members, realizing the inadequacy of that amount, undertook to form the Phi Beta Kappa Associates, now called the Fellows, to provide the Foundation with an additional and assured source of income, and to assist the Phi Beta Kappa Society in realization of its objectives. By 2008, the market value of the Foundation’s assets were over seven times the 1940 value, adjusted for inflation. 

Regular Membership in the Fellows is limited to 300 members of Phi Beta Kappa who have demonstrated their devotion to the ideals of the Society. Each Fellow contributes $500 annually for 10 years to the Foundation, at which time he or she becomes a Life Member. Contributions are deductible on income tax returns. Election involves no contractual obligation to complete payment of $5,000 and membership may be resigned at any time during the 10-year period.       

For many years, the Fellows have been a substantial factor in the growth of the Foundation, which now provides about a sixth of the Society’s annual income. Fifteen directors, elected by the membership for staggered terms of three years, form the ruling body of the Fellows. The board of directors fills vacancies in the Regular Membership. 

The Fellows Lectureships were established in 1942 to help chapters and associations obtain outstanding speakers for their meetings. Through its four regional panels of lecturers, the Lectureship assists Phi Beta Kappa groups with arrangements for addresses given at honors convocations, annual and initiation banquets, and similar events, as many of the groups otherwise lack the resources to secure nationally recognized lecturers for such occasions.   

In addition to underwriting the Lectureship, Fellows’ donations provide some of the funding for all of Phi Beta Kappa’s programs and activities: Visiting Scholar Program, The Key ReporterThe American Scholar, and more. Meetings of the Fellows are typically held in conjunction either with the annual Richard W. Couper Lecture or the annual Fellows’ Lecture. The Fellows also meet at triennial Councils and at occasional meetings of the Senate.


Murray Drabkin, President
Myra S. Hatterer, Vice President
Jack B. Williams, Secretary-Treasurer

Other Directors:
David Alexander
John E. Bassett
John Brademas
Fred H. Cate
John Churchill
Joel Connaroe
Claire Gaudiani
William W. Kelly
Francine L. Kupferman
Michael Lubin
L. Jay Oliva 
Alfred R. Schneider
Malcolm B. Smith
Philip Winterer

Honorary Directors
Charles F. Barber
Robert C. Birney
Allan W. Ferrin
George P. Jenkins
George C. Seward
Herbert P. Shyer


Murray Drabkin 2001-Present
Alvin Edelman 1996-2001
Milton J. Margolis 1994-1996
Richard W. Couper 1989-1994
Stanley A. Frankel 1984-1989
Robert W. Meserve 1982-1984
Herbert P. Shyer 1979-1982
Allan W. Ferrin, 1975-1979
George C. Seward 1969-1975
Cloyd Laporte 1962-1969
Harold J. Baily 1957-1962
Thomas C. Desmond 1947-1957
Lincoln Cromwell 1946-1947
Lily Murray Jones 1944-1946
Gano Dunn 1943-1944
Dave Hennen Morris 1942-1943
Arthur T. Vanderbilt 1940-1942

Love of learning is the guide of life.