The history of Phi Kappa Phi has been characterized by a constancy of purpose and an unswerving commitment to its mission. It was a desire to effect change that brought ten senior students, two faculty members, and the school president together in 1897 at the University of Maine. Under the leadership of undergraduate student Marcus L. Urann, they sought to create an honor society that was different from the few others then in existence- one that recognized and honored excellence in all academic disciplines. Thus was born Lambda Sigma Eta (later to be renamed Phi Kappa Phi), a community of scholars whose membership has grown to more than one million.

Today there are chapters on the campuses of nearly 300 college and universities in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Phi Kappa Phi has been and remains a unifying force for academic excellence on these campuses, inducting high-ranking undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, professional staff, and alumni. From the original thirteen members in 1897, the Society now annually confers membership on more than 30,000 persons. Today’s initiates, like those who preceded them, are the “best and brightest” and will greatly influence economic, political, social, and educational life in the coming decades.