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Mission and History


In 1897, 10 senior students, two faculty members and the University of Maine president created a new kind of honor society, one that recognized excellence in all academic disciplines covering a wider range of students than any other honor society in existence at that time.

Under the leadership of student Marcus L. Urann, who created the bylaws and constitution for the organization, the group formed the Lambda Sigma Eta Society. Upon Urann's graduation, the school's president Abram Harris led the way for promoting the Society. 

In 1900, the Society was renamed Phi Kappa Phi from the letters of the Greek words forming its motto, Philosophía Krateítõ Phõtôn, "Let the love of learning rule humanity." The group also gained support from the presidents of Pennsylvania State College and the University of Tennessee to expand into a national organization. 

Today, the Society has chapters on more than 325 campuses in the United States, its territories and the Philippines. Its mission is "to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and engage the community of scholars in service to others."

What is Phi Kappa Phi up to today? Check out our latest news to see how the Society is making headlines 100+ years after its founding.

Photo caption: Phi Kappa Phi members pictured in the 1900 University of Maine Prism Yearbook.