Volunteer Spotlight: Ruth Palmer

Marla Elsea
Apr 21, 2022

Phi Kappa Phi continues its annual celebration of National Volunteer Week by hearing from another long-time volunteer within the Society. As an organization dependent upon volunteer board members, committee members and chapter officers serving on more than 300 college campuses, Phi Kappa Phi could not be where it is today without their commitment to service.

Ruth Palmer was invited to join the Society in 2003 and was encouraged to join by one of her colleagues. She also saw membership as a learning opportunity. "I was convinced that I would learn about ways to further help my teacher-education students participate in an organization that represented all levels of higher education. That turned out to be true," she said.

Having grown up surrounded by family and teachers who modeled community service and volunteerism as something to be expected, Palmer continued that tradition throughout her schooling and career. "When I became a high school teacher, I volunteered to help students at-risk for school failure. As a principal at an all-girls high school, I introduced in-school volunteerism as an essential for academic success. In higher education, and with volunteerism as part of the academic expectation, I chose to expand my own learning," she shared. "Phi Kappa Phi allows me to advance the work of students across all parts of higher education."

On a national level with Phi Kappa Phi, she has chaired the Fellowship and Graduate Research Committees and currently sits on the Pioneer Program Development Committee. "Serving on the awards committees as I have, is an incredible mixture of challenging and exhilarating," said Palmer. "The applications make very transparent the outstanding and engaging work in which students are involved and provide insight into their aspirations to excellence, their agency and future orientation."

Palmer sees volunteering as a commitment to the mission of an organization. "This organization offers an opportunity to the community of higher education scholars to participate in service to others; it is an extension of scholars’ primary academic obligation to the scholarship of teaching research and service," she said. "Volunteering is also a learning experience. Faculty participants in Phi Kappa Phi benefit from growing into the role of advocate for students and advocates for excellence."

Not a volunteer yet, but looking for ways to get involved? To learn more about volunteer opportunities available for Phi Kappa Phi members, visit

To learn more about National Volunteer Week, visit