Alpha of Florida Founding


Only academically rigorous institutions offering strong liberal arts curricula, maintaining extensive library holdings, and staffed by nationally recognized faculty are eligible to apply for chapters of Phi Beta Kappa.  

On January 8, 1926, ten faculty members of the Florida State College for Women, our predecessor institution, began to compile the extensive academic documentation for submission to the national office. Meanwhile, a group of faculty 145 miles southeast of here, at the University of Florida, had started their own campaign in pursuit of chartering the first Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the state of Florida. Representatives of the FSCW and UF met and decided that rather than applying jointly, each institution should pursue its own chartering. 

After entertaining visits from the Secretary of the National Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and the Presidents of the University of Georgia and Randolph Macon, both of whom were united chapter officers; sending a delegate to the national assembly, our local officials learned in December 1933 that the Phi Beta Kappa Senate had voted to recommend FSCW for a charter. We were granted the charter in September 1934, as the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in Florida. The official installation occurred in March 1935, attended by more than 70 guests. The ceremonies included speeches by Christian Gauss of Princeton, David Robertson of Goucher College, William Ellis of the Florida Supreme Court, Congressman Claude Pepper, et al. The first class of new members was initiated in 1935.

Beta of Florida, Phi Beta Kappa, was established in Gainesville in 1938, three years later.  So, at each of FSU’s Phi Beta Kappa initiations, we honor an achievement record that will stand for eternity: FSU will forever remain three years ahead of UF in this nationally certified, highly prestigious academic competition. . . . 

Several of the buildings on the Florida State University campus have been named in honor of the faculty who helped found our Alpha of Florida chapter – Smith, Rogers, Richards, and Dorman Halls.  

Furthermore, an initiate from the class of 1936, Alpha of Florida, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Doctor of Chemistry Katherine Blood Hoffman, served as an officer and active member of our chapter for over six decades. The Hoffman Teaching Laboratory of Chemistry is named after our beloved Kitty Hoffman.