Gamma Beta Phi was instituted on March 22, 1964, by a group of college educators. It was chartered as a non-profit educational organization under the laws of South Carolina on April 27, 1964. It was granted a complete tax-exempt status by the U.S. Treasury on May 6, 1966.
The Society grew out of the high school Beta Club organization; and Dr. John W. Harris, founder of the Beta Club, served as Gamma Beta Phi's Executive Secretary from 1964 until 1974. After its chartering in 1964, sixty-two chapters were formed over the next five years in twelve southern states. Widespread student apathy on many campuses during the late sixties and early seventies, coupled with a lack of real sense-of-purpose and identity, caused the Society to fall upon hard times. From 1970 through 1974 the Society was withering away. When the National Senate met in June of 1974, no new chapters had been formed for four years, and forty-two of the sixty-two chapters were inactive.
Dr. Harris was very discouraged and was ready to dissolve the organization. After a great deal of discussion, the forty-nine students and advisors present at the Senate meeting decided that Gamma Beta Phi did have the potential of being a top-notch organization of great positive impact. The Senate voted unanimously to keep the Society going! It was realized that a complete re-examination of all facets of the Society needed to be made and that many changes would ensue. Dr. Harris, who was 79 at the time and in poor health (Dr. Harris died June, 1976), decided to retire and recommended National President, Dr. Aaron W. Todd, and Professor of Chemistry at Middle Tennessee State University as his successor. In July of 1974, the National Headquarters, under the leadership of Dr. Todd, moved from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Larry Netherton served as the National President and Dr. Mary Henze served as the National Vice-President. By 1983, the Society had grown to a point where it had become difficult to administer by a single administrator. The National Executive Committee authorized a reorganization of the National Headquarters to include a National Executive Director who would oversee the Society and its activities and growth and a National Executive Secretary-Treasurer who would be responsible for the operations of the Headquarters and the financial affairs of the Society. A search was undertaken to find an individual for the Executive Director's position, and at the 1984 National Convention, the National Executive Committee recommended Mrs. Margaret C. McCauley for the position. The National Senate elected her to this position for a three-year term, and reelected Dr. Aaron Todd to the position of Executive Secretary-Treasurer for a five-year term; the Headquarters remained in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Early in 1985, family illness dictated that Dr. Todd resign from his position, and at the 1985 National Convention Mr. William Russell McCauley, Jr., was elected by the National Senate to complete the remaining four-year term of office of Dr. Todd. In September, 1985, the Society Headquarters was moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In 1987, the Senate reelected Mrs. Margaret C. McCauley as the National Executive Director for a new five-year term. and did so again in 1992. In 1994, a Constitution Update Committee formulated a new, modern Constitution and the document was approved at the 1995 National Convention.
Since those fateful days in 1974, Gamma Beta Phi's character, purposes, material and policies have been thoroughly examined and refined. The Society has emerged as a vibrant, energetic and well-respected organization. At the end of the 1995/96 school year, there were eighty-five active chapters with an average membership of over two hundred members per chapter, with ten thousand members being inducted each year.
The response of students to Gamma Beta Phi has been astounding and most gratifying. The activity and service achievements of the chapters have mushroomed. The vast improvement in the Society has been due to the diligent efforts of many individuals. A spirit of optimism and pride now pervades the organization, and a strong sense of purpose is evident. As in every organization, however, the fight continues against apathy on the part of some members. If you would like further information, please refer to the national Gamma Beta Phi website here.
The Gamma Beta Phi Society is an honor and service organization for students in colleges and universities in the United States. It is non-secret, non-profit, and co-educational; and, membership therein does not exclude a student from membership in any other organization. A chapter of the Society may be established in any two- or four-year academic institution identified by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers in their handbook for acceptance of academic credit as offering academic credit acceptable for transfer to other two- and four-year academic institutions.
The name of the organization is derived from the initial letters of the three Greek words for education, life, and friendship. It signifies that education and friendship constitute the basis of a full and happy life. The motto of Gamma Beta Phi is Progressus per Eruditioneum (progress through education), and its watchwords are Scholarship, Service and Character.
The objectives of Gamma Beta Phi as stated in its Constitution are to recognize and encourage excellence in education, to promote the development of leadership ability and character in its members, and to foster, disseminate and improve education through appropriate service projects.
Dues are $15.00 per year and are to be paid by the end of the Fall Quarter. Members inducted in the Spring Quarter of the past year, are not required to pay these dues for that year (they were part of the $65.00 paid to join). Failure to pay these dues on time will result in probation for one quarter. If the dues are not paid by the end of the Winter Quarter, the member will be dropped from the membership roll.
All members, including executive officers, shall participate in the point system. Members are required to earn six points per quarter. A point can be earned from attending a meeting, working a service project, or anything else as dictated by the officers. Visit the constitution page for more details.