Founded in 1776 during the American Revolution, Phi Beta Kappa celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Its campus chapters induct the most outstanding students at America’s leading colleges and universities, and only about 10 percent of the nation’s institutions of higher education have Phi Beta Kappa chapters.

The Gamma Chapter of South Carolina was established at Furman University in 1973, but its quest to host a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa began forty-six years earlier. After the founding of two local honor societies (Zetosophia by the faculty of the Greenville Woman’s College in 1917 and Hand and Torch by the faculty of Furman University in 1927), Furman began triennial applications to host a chapter of the Society in 1927. Its applications were not successful until 1973, when the Gamma Chapter of South Carolina was installed on December 5. The Chapter initiated its first members in course and its first alumnus member, Charles Hard Townes ‘35, Nobel laureate in physics, on April 23, 1974.

membership criteria

Students are considered for election to Phi Beta Kappa on the basis of scholarly achievements in the liberal arts and sciences, broad cultural interests, and good character. Students exemplifying the qualities and intellectual pursuits of Phi Beta Kappa are invited to join the Society during the spring of their senior year, but a small number of outstanding members of the junior class may also be invited. Typically no more than ten percent of a graduating class are invited to join Phi Beta Kappa. Approximately one percent of all college graduates are elected into the Society.


Name Position Department
Liz Bouzarth President Mathematics
Linda Bartlett Vice President Modern Languages & Literatures
Patricia Sasser Secretary Library
Greg Lewis Treasurer Biology
John Barrington Historian History


Each year Furman elects students to the school’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic society. The members are inducted during a special initiation ceremony and dinner on campus in the spring. Meet the Initiates.

Resident Members

The chapter includes more than 60 faculty and staff members. Meet the members.


Connect with Admission

Furman is one of the nation's premier liberal arts and sciences universities. We offer our students The Furman Advantage—an over-arching approach to education that promises every student a four-year personalized pathway, a team of advisors and mentors, and the opportunity for an engaged learning experience that is tracked and integrated with the students' academic and professional goals.

Want more information about the admission process at Furman?

Contact us

Once you see our campus, making the right college decision will be so much easier.

Plan a visit

Undergraduate Evening Studies provides adults the opportunity to receive an education from one of the premier liberal arts universities in the nation.

Whether you are starting or continuing your education, or have been away from the classroom for a few months or several years, our program provides many services to assist you with accomplishing your educational and professional goals.

Apply now

Our graduate studies program is designed for the professional educator.

We know the challenges teachers and administrators face every day, and we are committed to helping you become a leader within your school system or district.

Apply now
  • Furman University