The Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities is given to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions in the field of the humanities. The award includes a cash prize and a medal named for Mr. and Mrs. William B. Jaffe, whose gift of $25,000 enabled the Society to create the award in 1970. Mr. Jaffe was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Union College

Award recipients are honored at the Triennial Council Meeting of the Council of Phi Beta Kappa.

Nomination Process: 

Nominations should be sent electronically to Jen Horneman. For full consideration, please include a letter detailing your recommendation of the candidate for this award as well as a copy of the nominee's curriculum vitae, and your contact information as the nominator. Please direct questions about the award or the nomination process to Jen Horneman via email or at 202-745-3287. Please see official Call for Nominations  for more details. 

Past Recipients: 

2015 David McCullough, Pulitzer-Prize winning author
2012 Patricia Meyer Spacks, author and former President of the AAC&U
Douglas Greenberg, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University  
2006 Gerald Early, Merle Kling Professor of Letters and Director of the Center for Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis
2003 Robert Pinsky, professor of English and creative writing at Boston University and former Poet Laureate of the United States
2000 Richard Franke, chairman and founder of the Chicago Humanities Festival and CEO of The John Nuveen Company
1997 Joseph Epstein, renowned essayist and former editor of The American Scholar
1990 John E. Sawyer, former president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Congressman Sidney Yates
1988 Daniel J. Boorstin, retired Librarian of Congress
1985 Robert M. Lumiansky, past president of both the American Council of Learned Societies and Phi Beta Kappa
1982 Dumas Malone, the distinguished Jefferson scholar and Jefferson Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia
1979 Charles Frankel (awarded posthumously), teacher, philosopher and former president of The National Humanities Center
1976 Louis B. Wright, former director of the Folger Shakespeare Library
1973 Howard Mumford Jones, Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor for the Humanities at Harvard University
1970 Barnaby C. Keeney, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and former president of Brown University

Love of learning is the guide of life.