Singing WaCLA’s Praises

Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts Receives Key of Excellence Award

By Anne Tria Wise

On December 10, Phi Beta Kappa presented the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) with the fourth Key of Excellence Award and its $10,000 prize at an evening reception in Seattle. 

David Brewster (ΦBK, Yale, 1961), editor-at-large of and founder of Town Hall Seattle, was the emcee for the celebration held at the Seattle Opera’s state-of-the-art McCaw Hall. Michael Zimmerman, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Evergreen State College, accepted the award on behalf of the consortium’s members. 

WaCLA is an association of 40 Washington state two- and four-year higher education institutions and organizations. “It truly brings together what many might see as unlikely allies to create positive change in the public dialogue about the liberal arts and sciences in communities throughout Washington,” says Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill. “We hope this spotlight inspires others to undertake similar collaborations in their states.”

Its successful recent projects include an employer-educator forum that brought together over 200 academic leaders, regional employers, and state legislators for purposeful discussion about the kinds of college learning experiences that prepare students for work, leadership, life, and citizenship; annual high school and undergraduate scholarship essay contests on the value of the liberal arts; and media outreach. 

“To be recognized by an organization as prestigious as Phi Beta Kappa is an amazing honor,” said Zimmerman. “WaCLA’s work promoting the value and power of the liberal arts meshes incredibly well with ΦBK’s mission and together we can demonstrate that the arts and sciences complement rather than detract from one another.”

To learn more about the National Arts & Sciences Initiative, visit the program homepage on the Phi Beta Kappa website.

L-R: Rebecca Korf, 2013 WaCLA Essay Winner; John Churchill, Phi Beta Kappa Secretary; Representative Brady Walkinshaw, Washington State Legislature; Lee Hood, Institute for System’s Biology; Michael Zimmerman, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs at The Evergreen State College; David Brewster, and Town Hall Seattle; Frank Blethen, The Seattle Times; Julie Ziegler, Humanities Washington.

Anne Tria Wise is the Director of the National Arts & Sciences Initiative at Phi Beta Kappa. She can be reached at (202) 745-3230 or