(Fall Induction Speech Nov. 19, 2010 for Pikes Peak Community College Chapter: Alpha Gamma Alpha)
Phi Theta Kappa was founded by presidents of two-year colleges in Missouri who were looking to recognize their students for high academic achievement and to form a common ground for honors organizations on their campuses. They chose to model this Society after the senior honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. Then eleven years later, and 92 years ago today, Phi Theta Kappa was officially recognized by the American Association of Junior Colleges on November 19, 1918; the date we now celebrate as Founders Day.
The first six years Phi Theta Kappa was exclusively for women’s junior colleges, but in 1924 an amendment to the society’s constitution allowed for chapters in all junior colleges. Two years later the society expanded outside Missouri and was later proclaimed to be the official honor society of the two-year college by what is now the American Association of Community Colleges.
In the beginning Phi Theta Kappa membership was awarded to students at their graduation. Few programs and services were offered but the growth of community colleges in the 60s led Phi Theta Kappa to expand even further. Now Phi Theta Kappa is offered to freshman and there are a large number of programs and member benefits offered today.
Submitted by the Epsilon Chapter of Cottey College in Nevada Missouri, the Phi Theta Kappa song, which begins with “Give Us Wisdom,” was adopted in 1923.
By 1988 Phi Theta Kappa had chapters in all 50 states
Phi Theta Kappa became an international society in 1991 when Alpha Tau Delta was chartered at Medicine Hat College, Alberta, Canada.
Today Phi Theta Kappa is the oldest, largest, and most respected honor society serving two-year colleges around the world. There are over 2-million members in over 1200 chapters located in all 50 United States, U.S. territories, Palau. American Samoa, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Germany, Northern Mariana Islands, and the United Arab Emirates. It is estimated that about 200-thousand students participate in Phi Theta Kappa programs each year. The average age of a new member is 29, ranging from 18 to 80 / part-time to full time and the most popular major of Phi Theta Kappans in 2009 was nursing, followed closely by Education and Business.
Phi Theta Kappa is divided up into four divisions that are composed of a total of 29 regions. Colorado is a one-state region and is home to 23 great chapters. The Chapter at Pikes Peak Community College is the Alpha Gamma Alpha chapter. Alpha Gamma Alpha was chartered on June 17th, 1976 and remains to be the biggest and (in my opinion) the best chapter in the state of Colorado. Pikes Peak Community College has 1200 to 1500 students eligible for membership each year. These students are among the top 10% overall, and among those, the students who stand before you today are PPCC’s best and brightest.
Happy Founder's Day!