On Wednesday, November 7, 2023 UCI Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) hosted its 3rd annual Fall Book Award ceremony to recognize the rising sophomores who attained a 4.0 GPA in 36 graded units during their freshman year. This event not only celebrates the scholarly achievements that these students have demonstrated so early in their academic careers but also encourages their continued excellence as they progress in their journey at UC Irvine. This year, UCI PBK welcomed over 200 attendees, including 107 honorees, their guests, and staff from the UCI Campuswide Honors Collegium (CHC), the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), and the Scholarship Opportunities Program (SOP). 

This year’s honorees reflected UC Irvine’s diverse student population, as illustrated by the following statistics:

  • 53% of the honorees were female
  • 17% identified as first-generation college students
  • 20% identified as low-income students
  • 40% were STEM majors
  • 42% identified as belonging to traditionally underrepresented minority groups

To celebrate this group of exceptional students, the 2023 Fall Book Award ceremony opened with introductory remarks delivered by Susan King, UCI PBK Chapter President and Professor of Teaching in Chemistry. In her speech, Professor King highlighted the prestigious history of PBK and why it is widely considered the most prominent and respected academic society in the nation. 

“Our mission is to recognize and offer membership to outstanding undergraduates in the hope that membership in the society will unlock priceless opportunities for intellectual advancement, leadership, and service,” said Professor King. She also noted that membership into UC Irvine’s Mu Chapter was very selective, with only the top 5% of seniors and the top 1% of juniors invited to join. She added that PBK membership went beyond getting good grades; it was also a mark of a students’ intellectual character and genuine appreciation for learning:

Phi Beta Kappa nominees are those who, in addition to excellent academic performance, have demonstrated intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views, academic merit, and a broad range of academic interests and coursework outside of the requirements of their major. Members are committed to the liberal arts and sciences, to freedom of inquiry and expression, and to the love of wisdom and knowledge for its own sake.

Following Professor King’s opening remarks, Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Dean of Undergraduate Education, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and PBK member, gave the event’s keynote address. Delivered remotely, Vice Provost Dennin applauded the honorees and shared his excitement for their success. He also expressed his pride in UC Irvine’s PBK chapter and how far the organization has come over the last 50 years. He closed out his keynote by stating his gratitude for events such as the Book Award ceremony, because they offer the opportunity to recognize students for their academic excellence while also providing an occasion for the community to come together and celebrate the true spirit of the university.

After the keynote address, the award presentation began. Honorees were called to the stage to receive a copy of UCI’s 50th Anniversary special edition UCI Bright Past Brilliant Future with a beautifully designed bookplate featuring each recipient’s name, the date, and signatures from Professor King and Chancellor Howard Gillman commemorating their attainment of excellence in their first year of coursework.

The event concluded with an invitation for the honorees and their friends and family to participate in a special awards reception. Honorees were also encouraged to expand their networks and learn about opportunities to maximize their undergraduate experience by connecting with the representatives from PBK, SOP, CHC, and UROP who were present at the reception.

We invite you to join us in congratulating the 2023 PBK Fall Book Award honorees by watching the video recap of the event. Visit the UCI PBK website for more information about the Mu chapter, PBK membership, upcoming events, and much more.