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Ohio Wesleyan University to Celebrate its Heritage with Special Phi Beta Kappa Ceremony

February 27, 2008

DELAWARE, OHIO – Ohio Wesleyan University is launching a new annual event to celebrate its long and proud legacy as a leading liberal arts institution. The university’s inaugural Heritage Day event will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 5 in Gray Chapel inside University Hall, 61 S. Sandusky St.

“The purpose of Heritage Day is to celebrate milestone achievements in the university’s history,” said Nancy Bihl Rutkowski, assistant director of student involvement for leadership, recognition, and campus spirit. “It’s important that students, employees, and the broader community have opportunities to come together to learn about the campus and its heritage.”

The inaugural Heritage Day event, “Celebrating the Liberal Arts at Ohio Wesleyan: A Century of Phi Beta Kappa,” will mark the 100-year existence of the university’s chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.

To celebrate, Ohio Wesleyan will conduct an honorary Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony and hear remarks from John Churchill, Phi Beta Kappa’s national secretary and CEO.

During the ceremony, Ohio Wesleyan faculty members Jed Burtt, Ph.D.; David Johnson, Ph.D.; and Robert Olmstead, M.A., will be inducted as honorary Phi Beta Kappa members. (All met the society’s stringent criteria for induction, but attended undergraduate institutions that did not have Phi Beta Kappa chapters.) Currently, the society has 276 national chapters. Only about one in every 100 college seniors is invited to join the organization.

To make Heritage Day a true community celebration, Rutkowski said, Delaware-area Phi Beta Kappa members and high school students who are National Honor Society members have been invited to attend as special guests. The National Honor Society, founded in 1921, also has important ties to Ohio Wesleyan, she explained.

Edward Rynearson, an 1893 OWU alumnus, founded the National Honor Society while he was working as a principal at Fifth Avenue High School, Pittsburgh, Pa. In less than 10 years, more than 1,000 chapters existed across the country.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 40 states and 45 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.