Awards & Honors
Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society. In 1998, UMBC was among only seven colleges and universities in the United states to be offered Phi Beta Kappa chartership (selected from 47 that applied). The installation of the Eta Chapter of Maryland of the Phi Beta Kappa Society took place on March 16, 1998 in the University Center Ballroom. Honorary memberships were given to Jo Ann E. Argersinger, Provost of UMBC; Robert P. Burchard, Professor of Biological Sciences; Daphne D. Harrison; Director of the Center for the Humanities; Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President of UMBC; Albin O. Kuhn; the first chancellor of UMBC; Jane B. Meyerhoff and Robert E. Meyerhoff, philanthropists; Angela Moorjani; chair of Modern Languages and Linguistics; and Richard F. Neville, former Dean of Arts and Sciences at UMBC. Dr. Jay M. Freyman, director of the Honors College, was named president of the Eta Chapter.
On May 26, 1998, the first class of UMBC’s Phi Beta Kappa members were inducted into the honor society during an early afternoon ceremony in the University Center Ballroom. Qualifications included a minimum 3.5 GPA, 90 credits in both liberal arts and sciences (36 of which must have been received at UMBC), and no more than ten percent of the eligible pool of students could be offered membership to the society.
Originally, UMBC set up a system of academic divisions instead of colleges, including the Divisions of Humanities, Mathematics, Science, Social Sciences. A Dean of Arts and Sciences replaced the Dean of Faculty in 1980, and the the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering were set up by 1984. As the number of academic departments and centers grew, so did the workload and strain grow for the College of Arts and Sciences. The administration and Faculty Senate began to investigate an alternate structure that would best serve the academic departments, faculty, and students, without adding unnecessary barriers between departments and groups that collaborate. A compromise was reached, and in 2004 the College of Arts and Sciences was divided into the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) and the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences (CNMS), joining the College of Computer Science and Engineering at UMBC.