By Claire McDonald
On August 3, the Society’s 43rd Triennial Council elected Katherine Soule president of Phi Beta Kappa. Having served as the Society’s vice-president since 2009, Soule spoke enthusiastically about her previous involvement in Phi Beta Kappa and her hopes for the Society’s future.
Soule learned about the Phi Beta Kappa Society long before her own induction. “I grew up at Carleton College, where my father was an English professor and my mother was an administrator. She was the secretary-treasurer for the Phi Beta Kappa chapter there, and my father was the president for a while,” Soule explained. With a grandmother who was also Phi Beta Kappa, Soule herself became a third-generation member in 1988 at Amherst College.
Though Soule is not an academic, her professional life has centered on education. After receiving her master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Soule spent five years working at Shimer College, a small liberal arts school in Waukegan, Illinois. She then went to Dartmouth College, where she currently serves as the Director of Arts and Sciences Finance and Research Administration. In this position, Soule works with different academic departments on spending, assists faculty with research grants, and oversees a budget of about 120 million dollars.
It was at Dartmouth that Soule became more involved in Phi Beta Kappa. After volunteering as the secretary-treasurer for Dartmouth’s chapter, Soule attended her first Triennial Council in Philadelphia in 2000. Soule explained that “it was a wonderful, intellectually alive, growing-concern kind of organization.” As she became more involved, Soule was invited to run as a senator and was elected. She noted, “That was when my interest really took off. Once you get to be involved in the governance of Phi Beta Kappa, you realize how interesting it is.”
Claire McDonald is a senior at Davidson College majoring in history. Davidson College is home to the Gamma of North Carolina chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.