The Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society has been awarding students for good grades at SJSU every year since 1953 and has initiated 317 members into the society this year, according to chapter president Gus Lease.
Lease, who has been a music professor for 63 years, said he has been the chapter president at SJSU since 2003.
Lease said Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 and it welcomes all disciplines to have recognition in a national honors society.
“We were the 67th chapter in the nation to be invited," he said."Now they have about 315 chapters.”
Lease said 317 is about the average number of students to be initiated each year.
“You can be recognized if your grades are of superior quality,” he said.
Jose Calderon, a senior behavioral science major, said being a Phi Kappa Phi member is more than an honor.
“It is an honor society that holds some of the most successful students in the world and holds San Jose State University's top students,” he said.
Lease said there were some famous members of the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society.
“U.S. President Jimmy Carter and U.S. President William Howard Taft were Phi Kappa Phi members,” Calderon said.
Lease said not all universities are able to have a Phi Kappa Phi chapter because overall average grades are looked at by the committee.
“They look into the background of the university to find out if they're qualified to honor students at a caliber of high grades,” he said.
Calderon, the student vice president of the SJSU
chapter, said being a member is more than just receiving recognition of academic success and that he is a member of an elite society in America.
Calderon received a $2,000 scholarship through Phi Kappa Phi last year and he said it has helped him academically.
“Thanks to that scholarship, I was able to continue on with a smoother year at school and it assured my financial stability,” he said.
Lease said in order to be invited to join the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society, you have to be a second semester junior or above.
“Second-semester juniors have to have a 3.65 GPA, graduating seniors a 3.5, and graduate students a 4.0,” Lease said.
Susan McClory, vice president of the San Jose State Chapter, said it's an honor to be part of an institution like Phi Kappa Phi.
“It shows that you have reached the elite level in your academic career,” she said.
McClory, who has been a member since 2005, said she was inducted as a faculty member and served as an officer since then.
“Phi Kappa Phi is a chance for me to honor a very select group of students.,” she said.
McClory, who is also the director of developmental studies on campus, said she works with first year students who are not quite ready to do college-level work in English or math.
“To see students at the other end of their academic careers who have excelled, is truly a wonderful experience for me,” she said.
McClory said there are benefits to being an active Phi Kappa Phi member.
“There are many benefits that are offered to active members through the national headquarters, but it is mostly an acknowledgement of their hard work and talents,” she said.
McClory also said being a member opens many doors to initiated students.
“It's such a pleasure to have students that have nice GPAs and we try to honor those students,” Lease said.
Calderon said being a member of the honors society is a benefit because he can put it on his resume.
Lease also said Phi Kappa Phi is very diverse.
“You will see every discipline, every nationality, every race, they don't limit it to anything, everybody's welcome if your grades are superior,” Lease said. “It's very diverse and well represented."
Lease said he has enjoyed being the chapter president.
“We're very proud of our chapter,” Lease said. “It has a great history to it.”