Oregon State University

Brief History and Philosophy

Phi Kappa Phi was first founded in 1897 as Lambda Sigma Eta at the University of Maine. In 1990 it expanded to included Pennsylvania State College and the University of Tennessee. This organization differed from any other honor society then in existence in that it honored high achievement in any academic or professional field. The founders of this broadly conceived new honor society selected as a motto the Greek phrase “Philosophia Kratei Photon”, The love of learning rules the world. As a name for the society they took the initials of the motto, the three Greek letters Phi Kappa Phi. The motto was later changed to “Philosophia Krateito Photon,” which is currently translated “Let the love of learning rule humanity.” The Society has grown over the years. In early 1996 there were 275 chapters and approximately 120,000 active (dues paying) members. There are chapters in every state, the University of the Philippines, and the University of Puerto Rico.

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi came to Oregon State College in 1924. Over the years, the Society has engaged in a variety of activities. Early traditions included a “sneak day” as a part of the initiation and the use of a song written for the chapter. The chapter has been a sponsor of the yearly biology colloquium since 1939, and supported the establishment of resident student counselors in campus living groups. The OSU Chapter was involved in the publication of the first issues of the Phi Kappa Phi Newsletter, and held an annual program of Freshman Honors until freshmen honor societies were installed on the campus. The current activities of the Society are described in the Activities section of this web site.

Since being chartered in 1924, the Oregon State Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi has honored thousands of men and women undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and alumni by inviting them into membership. This fellowship includes many of the outstanding students and faculty of the University. Phi Kappa Phi will continue to recognize and demonstrate our desire to keep “the love of learning” uppermost in our minds as a guiding light throughout the world.