By-Laws

ARTICLE I. Officers

Section 1. The officers of this Chapter shall be a President, a Vice President, and a Secretary-Treasurer.

Section 2. Their duties shall be those usually appertaining to the offices indicated or as otherwise specified by these By-Laws or the practices and rituals of this Chapter.

Section 3. The three officers and the immediate past President (or if he or she is not able to serve, then her or his predecessor) shall constitute the Executive Committee of the Chapter, with the usual powers of such a committee. Any challenge to decisions or actions of the Executive Committee shall be referred to the Chapter where the vote of the majority shall prevail.

ARTICLE II. Election of Officers

Section 1. The officers shall be elected at the Annual Meeting.

Section 2. Only active members of the Chapter as defined in Article V shall be eligible to hold office.

Section 3. Nominations shall be made by the Executive Committee, but other names may be proposed by active members in attendance.

Section 4. If there are no nominations from the members and no objection from any of the members present, the slate proposed by the Executive Committee may be voted upon en bloc. If there are other nominations or objections to voting en bloc, then there shall be a separate ballot for each office. A majority shall determine the election.

Section 5. The officers shall assume the duties of their respective offices immediately after the close of the meeting at which they were elected and shall hold office until the close of the next Annual Meeting.

ARTICLE III. Meetings

Section 1. The Annual Meeting shall be held in September or October, the time and place to be determined by the President.

Section 2. A pre-election meeting shall be held in January, the time and place to be determined by the President, to discuss the criteria and procedures for election of members.

Section 3. A meeting to elect members in course and, when appropriate, alumni and honorary members shall be held each year in February, the time to be determined by the President.

Section 4. Other meetings may be called by the President, or by the Secretary on the written request of five active members.

Section 5. Initiation shall be held during March or April at a time and place determined by the Chapter. At this ceremony no other business shall be considered unless it be of great urgency, and the reading of the minutes shall be deferred.

Section 6. Due notice of each meeting shall be sent by the Secretary to each resident member entitled to attend and shall contain a brief but accurate statement of the agenda.

Section 7. At any meeting the order of business shall be as follows, so far as the nature of the meeting permits:

  1. Call to order
  2. Reading of the minutes
  3. Communications from the Phi Beta Kappa Society
  4. Report of the Treasurer
  5. Reports of the Executive and other committees
  6. Election of members
  7. Election of officers
  8. Deferred business
  9. New business
  10. Adjournment
  11. Supplementary program (if any)

ARTICLE IV. Quorum

Section 1. A quorum shall consist of one half of the active members as defined in Article V. The computation shall be based on the membership roster compiled by the Secretary at the beginning of the academic year and shall exclude all persons who have signified to the Secretary their desire not to participate in the affairs of the Chapter for that year.

Section 2. The presence of a quorum shall be necessary only to permit the presiding officer to convene the session. If one or more of the members present at the start of the meeting leave before its conclusion, and thereby destroy the quorum, any action or vote taken thereafter shall have the same force and legality as if it had been achieved with a full quorum present.

Section 3. If a vote on any proposal other than to adjourn is called for after the loss of a quorum, an active member in attendance may request that the voting be postponed. If two other members second this request, no further action may be taken on the matter under discussion until the next meeting.

Section 4. At no time may business be conducted with fewer than six active members present or without one officer in attendance.

Section 5. If active members who are on campus absent themselves from a meeting without notifying the President prior to the meeting, they shall not be included in computing the quorum for that or subsequent meetings or in any other reckoning of the membership from which a certain percentage must be obtained to validate legislation. If however these members appear at a subsequent meeting, they shall be entitled to full rights and privileges and shall again be included in all computations.

ARTICLE V. Members

Section 1. The members of this Chapter shall be those persons, whether elected to Phi Beta Kappa as members in course or as alumni or honorary members by this or any other chapter, who reside in Mount Vernon or its vicinity, and who have signified to the Secretary their interest in being affiliated with the Chapter. Members are classified as follows:

a. Active members are those in residence who 1) were previously or are presently employed by Cornell College and 2) have signified to the secretary their desire to participate actively.

b. Associate members include those members who do not qualify as active members, and those elegible for active membership who have not signified their desire to participate actively.

Section 2. This Chapter may elect three classes of members:

a. Members in course: undergraduates elected in their junior or senior year.

b. Alumni members: graduates of Cornell College.

c. Honorary members.

Section 3. The business of the Chapter shall be conducted by the active members.

Section 4. Associate members shall be notified of all meetings other than business and election meetings.

Section 5. With the consent of the Chapter the President may appoint associate members as non-voting consultants, especially to committees to nominate alumni and honorary members.

 

ARTICLE VI. Nomination and Election of Members

A. Members in Course

Section 1. Members in course shall be elected at the annual election meeting provided for in Article III, Section 3.

Section 2. A special election may be held any time between the annual election meeting and Commencement if, in the opinion of the Executive Committee, there may be one or more graduating seniors deserving of election who, because of unusual circumstances or mechanical error, were not considered at the time of the annual election meeting.

Section 3. Those students who are candidates for a baccalaureate degree from Cornell College are eligible for election during their senior year if at the end of Term 3:

a. they have completed a minimum of 24 college credits;

b. they offer a minimum of ten full-credit courses taken for grade-point credit at Cornell College and:

(1) their cumulative grade point average places them in the top fifteen per cent of their graduating class OR

(2) their cumulative grade point average does not fall within the top fifteen per cent, but, in the judgment of the Executive Committee, they are worthy of being considered.

Section 4. Those students who are candidates for a baccalaureate degree from Cornell College are eligible for election during their junior year if at the end of Term 3:

a. they have completed a minimum of 19 college credits;

b. they offer a minimum of fifteen full-credit courses taken for grade-point credit at Cornell College and:

(1) their cumulative grade point average places them in the top five per cent of their graduating class OR

(2) their cumulative grade point average does not fall within the top five per cent, but, in the judgment of the Executive Committee, they are worthy of being considered.

Section 5. In December , the Secretary shall obtain from the Registrar a list of juniors and seniors who ranked according to their cumulative grade point average at the end of Term 3 in the top five percent of their graduating class for juniors or the top fifteen percent for seniors. The Secretary shall circulate this list (with the students' names arranged alphabetically) to the faculty and administration of the College, requesting that the recipients send to the Secretary by a certain date comments of a positive or negative nature about any or all of the candidates on the list. In addition, the recipients of this list shall be requested to recommend to the Executive Committee any juniors or graduating seniors not on the list but who, in the opinion of the faculty member or administrator, may be worthy of special consideration.

Section6. At the pre-election meeting prescribed in Article III, Section 2, the President shall announce the date for the Executive Committee to meet for the purpose of reviewing candidates whose cumulative grade point average does not fall within the guidelines.

Section7. The Secretary shall request from the major or degree adviser(s) of each of the candidates a letter appraising the candidates academic potential, scholarship, creativity, professional attitude, and character.

Section8. The Secretary shall prepare a dossier for each of the candidates, to include:

a. the student's academic transcript, cumulative grade point average at the end of November , degree program, and majors; and, if the student has transferred to Cornell, transcripts with cumulative grade point averages from the previous colleges or universities;

b. letters from the faculty and administration.

Section9. The Secretary shall notify the active members at least two weeks before the scheduled election meeting that the dossiers are available for their inspection and provide them with instructions for completing the ranking sheet.

Section 10. The dossiers shall be kept and perused in a place and manner that protects the confidentiality of their contents.

Section 11. In the election of members the Chapter shall favor those students whose choice of courses, especially electives, demonstrates a broad exposure to the liberal arts--the fine arts, the humanities, languages, the natural sciences and mathematics, and the social sciences--as well as substantive work in areas outside the major(s).

Section 12. Each active member shall rank junior and senior candidates separately in order of acceptability ( the number " 1 " shall represent the highest ranking), employing non-repetitive consecutive integers, and shall return the two ranking sheets either signed in a sealed envelope or by using the Cornell password-protected electronic mail system to the Secretary on or before the deadline announced in the instructions.

Section 13. If a member fails to return the ranking sheets after being reminded by the Secretary, he or she will not be permitted to vote at the election meeting.

Section 14. The Secretary shall prepare two master ranking sheets (one for juniors and one for seniors) in a format approved by the Executive Committee.

Section 15. At the start of the election, the President shall distribute to each active member present copies of the master ranking sheets for the candidates. The election of juniors will precede the election of seniors. To be considered for election, a candidate must be nominated by a member of the Chapter present, and the nomination must be seconded. Nominations must be made in descending order, beginning with the candidate who ranked as the Chapter's first choice and proceeding until the Chapter has elected the maximum allowed by its By-Laws or until the Chapter has voted to close nominations. Nominations en bloc are permitted with the unanimous consent of those present.

Section 16. The members shall not adjourn until the election is completed, except in a case of dire emergency.

Section 17. A vote of three fourths of the active members present (see Section 12 of this Article) shell be necessary to elect. No absentee ballots may be cast. Only the fact that the candidate was or was not elected shall be recorded. The number of votes cast for or against a candidate shall neither be announced nor recorded.

Section 18. Not more than one tenth (or, by unanimous consent of those present, one eighth) of the graduating class shall be elected. This limitation includes those students elected during their junior year.

Section 19. At the end of the election the Secretary shall collect all ranking sheets and other confidential materials.

B. Alumni and Honorary Members

Section 1. Graduates of Cornell College of not fewer than fifteen years' standing who have distinguished themselves since graduation in letters or the humane sciences may be elected to alumni membership. The number elected in any triennium shall not exceed three and might ordinarily be fewer. A triennium is here defined as the time between the adjournment of one Triennial Council of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the opening of the next Triennial Council.

Section 2 . Men and women, not graduates of Cornell College, who have distinguished themselves in letters or the humane sciences may be elected to honorary membership. No graduate of another institution sheltering a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa shall be elected until the consent of the other chapter has been obtained. The number elected in any triennium shall not exceed one.

Section 3. Nominations of alumni and honorary members shall be made by a committee appointed by the President with the approval of the Executive Committee. It shall comprise three persons, at least one of whom shall be a member of the Executive Committee.

Section 4. The committee may submit its report to the Chapter at any business or election meeting. Each nomination must be supported by a written citation of qualifications, which, if the person is elected, shall be entered in the minutes.

Section 5. Election shall be by secret, written ballot, one candidate being voted upon at a time. Three fourths of those present shall be necessary to elect.

ARTICLE VII. Initiation

Section 1. The initiation of members in course shall take place as prescribed in Article III, Section 5. In exceptional cases, the Executive Committee or, upon authorization by it, any other chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, may at any time initiate persons duly elected by this Chapter.

Section 2. No member-elect shall be considered a member or permitted to wear the Phi Beta Kappa Key until he or she has been initiated into this Chapter.

Section 3. No member-elect shall be initiated until he or she has paid to the Secretary-Treasurer the initiation fee determined by the Executive Committee, the payment of which shall be regarded as the formal acceptance of election.

Section 4. The ritual of initiation shall be that adopted by the Chapter.

ARTICLE VIII. Amending the By-Laws

Section 1. To be considered for ratification an amendment to these By-Laws must be read and approved at two meetings.

Section 2. At its first reading, the amendment must be approved by a majority of the members present.

Section 3. After the first reading, the Secretary shall send to each active member at least five business days in advance of the next meeting a written copy of the proposed amendment along with the time and place of the forthcoming meeting.

Section 4. Any active member who cannot be present at the second reading may submit to the Secretary an absentee ballot (see Article IX).

Section 5. At its second reading, the proposed amendment shall be ratified if approved by three fourths of those voting and provided that those carrying the vote constitute a majority of the active members of the Chapter.

ARTICLE IX. Absentee Balloting

Section 1. Active members shall have the right to vote by absentee ballot on all motions to suspend or to amend the By-Laws.

Section 2. An active member who cannot be present for the second reading may submit a ballot to the Secretary in advance of the meeting, and the Secretary shall cast the ballot provided that no amendment or alteration of a substantive nature shall have been introduced into the draft that the absent member had read.

Section 3. The ballot thus submitted shall contain the full date, the motion on which the member is voting, and the words "I approve" or "I disapprove."

Section 4. The absentee ballot must be submitted either in writing and signed or by using the password-protected Cornell electronic mail system.

Section 5. If the vote is by secret ballot, the contents of an absentee ballot shall not be disclosed and shall be known only to the President and the Secretary who cast the ballot unless the voter specifically requests that her or his vote be announced.

ARTICLE IX. Absentee Balloting

Section 1. Active members shall have the right to vote by absentee ballot on all motions to suspend or
to amend the By-Laws.

Section 2. An active member who cannot be present for the second reading may submit a written
ballot to the President Secretary in advance of the meeting, and the President shall instruct the Secretary to shall cast the ballot provided that no amendment or alteration of a substantive nature shall have been introduced into the draft that the absent member had read.

Section 3. The ballot thus submitted shall contain the full date, the signature of the member, the motion
on which the member is voting, and the words "I approve" or "I disapprove."

Section 4. The absentee ballot must be submitted either in writing and signed or by using the password-protected Cornell electronic mail system.

Section 45. If the vote is by secret ballot, the contents of an absentee ballot shall not be disclosed and
shall be known only to the President and the Secretary who cast the ballot unless the voter specifically
requests that her or his vote be announced.

ARTICLE X. Suspending the By-Laws

Section 1. Whenever it shall seem necessary to the members of the Chapter to proceed in a manner not prescribed by or contrary to these By-Laws, the By-Laws may be suspended by a vote of two thirds of the active members of the Chapter. Such consent may be obtained from members who cannot be present in the manner prescribed in Article IX.

Section 2. The suspension of the By-Laws shall in every case apply only to the specific item of business for which it was invoked. The motion requesting the suspension must state the item or purpose for which the suspension is being asked.

ARTICLE XI. Assessments

Section 1. The Chapter shall at the Annual Meeting decide whether the active members shall be assessed and, if so, how much their assessment or dues shall be. The vote of the majority shall decide.

Section 2. No one shall be denied any of the rights and privileges of active membership because he or she fails to pay the assessment.

 

APPROVED NOVEMBER 4, 1987

Amended (ARTICLE V, Section 1) on December 10, 1996.
Amended to allow for the election of juniors on October 13, 1998.
Amended (ARTICLE V, Section 1) on January 18, 2001.
Amended (ARTICLE VI) to allow election of seniors who may not graduate by the end of the year on October 25, 2001.
Amended to allow for electronic voting and to regularize procedures for election of juniors and seniors on October 25, 2001.

Note: On October 27, 1988, at the 35th Triennial Meeting, the name of the national organization was changed from "The United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa" to "The Phi Beta Kappa Society."