The Society's 43rd Convention officially commenced yesterday, August 8, at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch. Dr. E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University, kicked off the Convention as the keynote speaker.
Dr. Gee, who has served as president at five universities over the past 35 years, addressed the state of higher education during his speech. "We cannot afford to not change. America must change. Higher education must change," he said.
Continuing, he emphasized that higher education administrators—including those serving as Phi Kappa Phi chapter officers at the more than 300 colleges and universities—must bear the responsibility to further advance the institution of higher education.
"We have to understand the power of higher education," he stressed.
Following Gee's inspiring address, chapter delegates, other chapter representatives, board members and staff moved into the first governance session of Convention.
"We have made remarkable strides," declared Society President Dr. Diane G. Smathers in her State of the Society Address.
During the session, Dr. Smathers and Society Executive Director Dr. Mary Todd highlighted the key achievements of the Society from the past biennium. An echoing theme, "Everything connects to everything," was reiterated throughout the breakdown of the successes, which included:
- The announcement of two new award programs—a doctoral dissertation award and a $100,000 Excellence in Innovation achievement award to be given to a deserving institution
- The installation of nine new chapters including a tenth to be installed August 18
- The creation of a "Healthy Chapter" initiative designed to strengthen Society chapters nationwide
- The acquirement of a membership marketing agency to assist with a large-scale reinstatement and awareness campaign
The session closed with Dr. Todd reporting on the strategic plan for the Society moving forward. Dr. Todd explained in depth the four guiding principles on the agenda for Phi Kappa Phi's near future: identity, members, chapters, and resources.
Voting for the 2014-2016 Board of Directors takes place today. Stay tuned to the blog for results and additional Convention highlights.