The 46th Honors Institute Kicks Off at Villanova

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Phi Theta Kappa’s 46th Honors Institute has begun, and who better to welcome the hundreds of members, advisors and special guests to the historic city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, than two of the United States’ most prominent historical figures: Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson address the 46th Honors Institute.

More than 500 attendees — a near record — will spend the week at Villanova University further exploring the Honors Study Topic, The Culture of Competition. They will hear world-class keynote speakers discuss the topic and will meet with smaller seminar groups to gain a deeper understanding of the topic and how it relates to the world at large.

Civil Rights activist Carlotta Walls LaNier, television personality Bill Rancic and author and anthropologist Dr. Temple Grandin are each scheduled to speak during the week. Honors Institute attendees will also spend one day touring the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the Independence Visitor Center, followed by an evening at the ballpark as the Philadelphia Phillies take on the Washington Nationals. Finally, the week will wrap up with a performance by The Capitol Steps.

“This premier learning experience is something in which only a small number of our members will ever participate,” said Susan Edwards, Phi Theta Kappa’s Dean of Academic Affairs and Honors Programs, noting that Honors Institute is patterned after seminars at England’s Oxford University.

The week’s first General Session was the Cordier Lecture, which commemorated the service of the late June Cordier. Cordier was a faculty member at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago and helped develop the idea of the Honors Institute.  

Honors Institute attendees got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Both men served in President George Washington’s first Cabinet, as Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury, respectively.

The two figures gave an inside look at the principles on which this country was founded as well as their personal reasons behind the beliefs they held and supported. They also took questions from the audience, giving attendees a glimpse into the minds of two of America’s Founding Fathers.

“I thought it was really good, the way they expressed themselves, said Bruno Dos Santos, a chapter officer from the Alpha Delta Iota Chapter at Palm Beach State College in Florida and a first-time Honors Institute attendee. “And I thought they portrayed the characters very well. The entire presentation was really great.”

Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and was our nation’s third president. He later founded the University of Virginia.

Hamilton was one of the most influential interpreters and promoters of the Constitution. He founded both the nation’s financial system and the first political party.

Honors Institute continues Tuesday, June 18, with presentations from Carlotta Walls LaNier and Bill Rancic.