The purpose of this society shall be to recognize outstanding scholarship in the French language and Francophone literatures, to increase the knowledge and appreciation of Americans for the cultural contributions of the French-speaking world and to stimulate and to encourage French and francophone cultural activities.
- Prospective members must fully meet all membership requirements:
- They must have completed at least three years, or the equivalent, of college French, including at least three semester hours of a third-year course in French & Francophone Studies. Those students enrolled in these courses are eligible for membership if the instructor will certify that their work is a B quality or better
- Their grades in all French courses must average at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale;
- They must rank in the upper 35% of their class (sophomore, junior, senior);
- They must have completed at least three semesters or five quarters of college work
Union College Omicron Phi Chapter Requirements:
To recognize the significant work and dedication of students graduating with a French Major from Union College, membership requirements for Pi Delta Phi are equivalent to the requirements for receiving departmental honors.
Membership in Pi Delta Phi is open to all, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or disability, provided that each candidate meets the academic requirements of the Society. Membership is lifetime.
There are two categories of membership: regular and honorary.
Regular membership. This category includes undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a degree program at the sponsoring institution who shall be nominated in recognition of their academic achievement.
Honorary membership. This category includes the French faculty of the sponsoring institution who are not already members of Pi Delta Phi; members of the faculty at large; students who do not meet the requirements for regular membership; college or university alumni who did not become members while attending the sponsoring institution; and diplomats, community and business leaders who have demonstrated support of the French language, and/or of the cultures and literatures of the French-speaking world.
History & Insignia
Pi Delta Phi Key
The first record of the Pi Delta Phi key appears in the 1919 University of California, Berkeley Blue & Gold yearbook. The key was likely based on other keys used by college fraternities, sororities and other academic honor societies. In 1955, the Executive Board selected L. G. Balfour Company of Attleboro, Massachusetts to be the official jeweler of Pi Delta Phi. The Balfour Company served as the jeweler to many academic societies, fraternities and sororities. Pi Delta Phi directed Balfour to develop a miniature key (or recognition pin) based on the official Pi Delta Phi key.
Charter & Initiation Ceremony
Prior to 1951, charters were provided to chapters at no cost. Beginning in 1951, the Executive Committee required a fee for the hand lettering and mailing of chapter charters. Schools seeking to establish chapters of Pi Delta Phi were originally required to apply for affiliation with the Society prior to the submission of any fees. Prior to 1950, no officially approved ritual to initiate new members into chapters existed or was required. Chapters had the freedom to create their own ceremonies provided that the ceremonies reflected the ideals of Pi Delta Phi. In December 1950, the new Executive Committee voted to approve an official initiation ceremony for all chapters. The text was based in the ceremony created by President Richter at Linfield College.
In 1950 the Executive Committee voted to offer for the first time a certificate to members beginning in January of 1951. Professor Jacques Fermaud (Alpha Xi) at the University of Minnesota prepared the French text for the certificate; President Richter was perhaps able to secure the assistance of Professor Fermaud since Ricther had graduated from Minnesota in 1940. Professor Fred Hillman, head of Linfield College Art Department and colleague of President Richter, designed and printed the certificate. The certificate measured. 7.5 x 11 inches, included a facsimile of the Pi Delta Phi key, and a gold Pi Delta Phi paper seal in the lower right corner. The text (or font) used was a combination of Goudy text and Depense italics that Richter noted was “simple, yet elegant, and in keeping with good taste”. (1) After 2010, the Executive Board voted to change the size of the certificates to 8.5 x 11 to allow framing the certificates in standard-sized frames. In 2016 the Executive Board made changes to the certificate so that moderators could print student names and other information using a laser printer.
Following the December 1950 meeting of the Executive Committee, the very first Pi Delta Phi News Letter (two words) was mailed to all chapters. The purpose of the newsletter was “to disseminate announcements of business and administrative nature.” (Louis E. Richter. “Pi Delta Phi Notes.” French Review 23;5 (1950): 427. The aim of the newsletter was to supplement the information that President Richter published in his “Pi Delta Phi Notes” that appeared in the French Review between 1950-1955, and to serve as an initial step toward the republication of Deux Patries, the first publication of the Society (1938-1941) that contained Society news and announcements, as well scholarly articles on French literature and culture. Republication of Deux Patries was, however, never realized.
The very first Pi Delta Phi scholarship was awarded in 1955. First Vice President Dr. H. Wynn Rickey was named to chair the scholarship committee and Dr. C. L Pell of Southern State College in Magnolia, Arkansas served as the second reader. The Executive Board voted to award a $500 scholarship annually to a future teacher of French. The winner of the first award in 1955 was Miss Dorothea Delores Di Paola of New Hyde Park, New York. Di Paola had graduated magna cum laude from Miami University in 1954 with Honors in French. While at Miami, Di Paola was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and served as President of both the Alpha Eta chapter of Pi Delta Phi and the Alpha Alpha chapter of Sigma Delta Pi. Di Paola had been so anxious to begin graduate study that she received special permission from New York University to begin taking courses during the 1954 summer session under the direction of Professor Germaine Brée. The Pi Delta Phi scholarship thus helped Miss Di Paola to pay for her graduate studies.
(1) Louis E. Richter. “Pi Delta Phi Notes” The French Review 25:4 (1952): 333.
Mary Kathryn Pope
2015 (Chapter Induction of Omicron Phi)
Mary Kate MacKenzie