Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association, Inc.

November 2005 Newsletter

PBKNCA home page

From the President

Dear Fellow Phi Betes:

I wish to thank the hundreds of you who responded to the last President’s Letter with membership renewals, dues, and additional contributions. Your support is the lifeblood of this organization and makes all that we do possible.

With Fall definitely upon us, social schedules are beginning to fill up; we hope you are not too busy to consider joining us for some of the events we have planned. Although we have been without a Program Chair for several months, Jean James, Mary Hanel, and Jennifer Jones stepped up to fill the breach as they have on other occasions.

Fortunately our Help Wanted notice in the last newsletter had the desired effect and I am pleased to announce that we now have a new Program Chair, Dr. Stanley Kahn of Berkeley. After practicing and teaching internal medicine for nearly fifty years in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Kahn, along with his wife, Adeline, retired to Berkeley five years ago to be near children and grandchildren and have been actively volunteering ever since. Stanley is a member of Berkeley’s Public Health Commission and Adeline is Manager of the Friends of the Berkeley Library. The Kahns have participated in many of our previous events and say they found them an excellent way to get to know their new community. Perhaps you know other newcomers who would like to join in for similar reasons. We also received a welcome offer of help from Svetlana Thompson, long a stalwart of our Association and former Program Chair. Please feel free to suggest events you think the members would enjoy, either directly to Dr. Kahn or to any other Board member you happen to know.

Respectfully submitted,


Upcoming Events

Person making a reservation MUST BE a Phi Beta Kappa Member, but need not be a member of the Northern California Association.

SPECIAL EVENTS NOTICE: We have been without a Second Vice President – Programs since July. Dr. Kahn has only recently agreed to serve. Therefore, only one program is scheduled after the Holiday Walk (except the Asilomar retreat). Other programs scheduled by Dr. Kahn for January and February, if any, will be posted on our web site.

If you plan to attend any PBK NCA events, please fill out the appropriate coupon, then clip and mail it with your check to the appropriate person at the address indicated. No confirmations or additional details will be sent; be sure to save this newsletter.

NOTE: At press time the Holiday Walk is almost full. If you wish to attend this event, email to determine if there is an opening or a waiting list.

First Vice President - Programs

San Francisco Holiday Walk

This walk was so popular the last two years that we are re-running it…

Do you think of Christmas decorations in San Francisco as Macy's windows and Union Square? Are you suburban types longing for an adventure? Then you are in for a treat. Please plan to join us for a guided tour of the San Francisco holiday scene you have probably never before experienced. Tom Filcich, who regularly leads walking tours of San Francisco for the College of Marin, will be our guide to places most of us never see - at least not during the holidays. We plan to meet at Peets Coffee in the Ferry Building Lobby at 10 a.m. During our three-hour walking tour, we will explore the new Ferry Building, visit hotel lobbies, and see business decorations that you never dreamed existed. We will end our tour with lunch, at your own expense, at the San Francisco center, which offers a variety of choices and prices - not to mention shopping opportunities. After that, you are on your own to shop or return home at your leisure. The cost is $20 per person and our group is limited to 30 people. Dust off your comfortable walking shoes and plan to join us on Friday, December 2, 2005 for a holiday experience you will not soon forget.

Date: Friday, December 2, 2005
Time: 10:00 am
Deadline: November 15, 2005 (limited to 30 participants)

Price: $20.00 per person

Directions: Ferry Building Clock Tower, Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street, San Francisco. The Ferry Building is best reached using public transportation. Marinites can take the 9:15 Larkspur Ferry. Those with access to BART or MUNI can take either to the Embarcadero Station. The historic trolley cars (Line F Market) stop directly in front of the Ferry Building. If you must drive, there are parking lots at the north end of the Ferry Building at Pier ½ and the Pier 3 Washington at Embarcadero Lot. There is limited metered parking on area surface streets. There is also a reasonably priced parking lot at Bay and Embarcadero near Pier 33 but you will have a bit of a hike to the Ferry Building.

Links to:

General Directions
Golden Gate Transit

Larkspur Ferry
Others top


The Mechanics Institute Library and Chess Room (website)

Plan to visit the beautiful Mechanics Institute Library and Chess Room. The Institute, a genuine treasure of San Francisco, is currently celebrating its 150th year of existence. Located downtown within one block of Market Street at 57 Post Street, the Institute is indeed a remarkable and unusual organization. First established in 1854 by tradesmen and engineers, a subscription library was soon organized which now encompasses the humanities and the arts as well as technologic subjects. In addition to serving as venue for a series of monthly lectures, the Institute also serves as the home of the Chess Club, the oldest continuously operating chess club in the United States. The current photographic exhibit covers 150 years of San Francisco history as well as that of the Institute in those formative years. We will assemble in the meeting room on the fourth floor of the library.

Date: Thursday, January 19, 2006.
Time: 10:30 am.
Deadline: January 5, 2006.
Price $ 15.00
Limited to thirty participants

Take BART. Exit Montgomery Street Station. Walk up Post to Number 57. Take elevator to fourth floor.
If driving, one might park in the Union Square Garage or the garage at Sutter and Stockton and walk over to 57 Post.

Links to:

Golden Gate Transit
Larkspur Ferry
Others top

Asilomar 2006: Twentieth Anniversary Celebration.

Administration building at Asilomar

About the Asilomar Conference Center

Asilomar was designed by Julia Morgan, who also designed Hearst Castle
Read more about Julia Morgan

Note that our Asilomar Conference now has a special URL www.asilomar.

"2006 Program: The Best of the Monterey Bay Area"
Plan a special getaway to celebrate "our" twentieth anniversary

No, I didn’t mean "your" anniversary. This year is our anniversary – our twentieth year at Asilomar. Plan now to join us for this special celebration. The bustle of the holidays will be over and the chores of spring will not yet have begun. Our Presidents’ Day Weekend is the perfect time to join your fellow members of Phi Beta Kappa and their guests at Asilomar in Pacific Grove for our twentieth annual conference/retreat. Don’t procrastinate. Mark your calendars now, fill out the coupon, and send your check, so that you do not miss a great getaway.

We start our retreat on Friday, February 17, 2006, and end on Monday, February 20. If you've never heard of Asilomar, or have never been there before, Asilomar is a state conference center in Pacific Grove, a small enclave between Monterey and Carmel. And those of you who are concerned about the weather have no cause for worry. The conditions in February along the coast are usually better than in summer. Instead of that season’s cold and fog, we traditionally enjoy sunshine. And even if it does storm, temporary inclement weather does little to mar Asilomar’s beauty and takes nothing at all away from the excellent company of our fellow Phi Betes.

Our retreat/conference always begins with dinner Friday evening and ends with lunch on Monday. During the long weekend, we provide a mix of interesting, thought-provoking speakers and activities, as well as ample free time to enjoy the lovely seaside atmosphere. People who work sometimes come late and leave early. It is even possible to "skip" some programs, as no one takes attendance or gives exams. And because some of you wanted to know: Dress is very casual.

The main goal of our conference is for us to enjoy ourselves in a beautiful setting in good company, but our secondary goal is to raise money for scholarships. The $100 per person registration fee is used to cover conference costs (speakers' expenses, a.v. equipment rental, wine with dinner, postage, duplicating, office supplies, etc.). This past year's profits enabled us to fund two of our $4,000 graduate scholarships. (And for those of you who attended in 2005 and missed this information in the April and September newsletters, $90.31 of the 2005 $100 registration fee – which most of you paid in 2004 - is fully tax deductible.)

How much does Asilomar cost? This year the cost is $336.55 per adult, double occupancy; single occupancy, $541.15; youth (ages 3-17), $196.57. This includes three nights' lodging, and all meals, beginning with dinner on Friday and ending with lunch on Monday. Asilomar handles all room reservations.

The theme for this year’s twentieth anniversary program is the "Best of the Monterey Bay Area." Bob Baronian and his lovely wife DeeDee, who live in Carmel Valley, have provided us with invaluable suggestions for topics and speakers. Because of their extensive help, we have a remarkably strong program lined up. Dr. William Gilley, a marine biologist from Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Lab, will speak to us about the journey John Steinbeck and his good friend Doc Ricketts took to the Sea of Cortez. Another Baronian find, Dr. Gary Glatzmaier from UC Santa Cruz, will do a presentation on his area of expertise: the earth’s inner construction from its mantle to its core. In addition, the Baronians persuaded Grant Voth, professor emeritus of Monterey Peninsula College, to enlighten us concerning the Bach-Beethoven connection.

But, that’s not all. After trying for a number of years, we have finally convinced our own Masako Miura’s good friend (and frequently voted best college teacher in Santa Cruz) Sandy Lydon to speak to us. He is keeping to our conference theme with the topic "The Ten Worst Things That Ever Happened to the Best Place on Earth." We were also lucky to persuade one of the pioneer wine producers of the Central Coast – Doug Meador of Ventana Winery – to speak to us about the challenges and rewards of that industry in that area. And Monterey Bay Aquarium Senior Marine Biologist (retired) Steve Webster has agreed to lead us on a tide pool walk, although the tides that weekend will not be really at an optimum low. (In case of inclement weather, he will do an indoor program.)

In addition, we are in contact with and will submit a request to KSBW-TV in Salinas (they won’t schedule until the end of November) to have Jim Vanderzwann, who is the weather anchor there, talk to us. We would like him to discuss weather and climate in the Central Coast and Monterey Peninsula, as well as the recent tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Finally, we plan an Asilomar ranger-led activity for the closing Monday morning program. But as those of you know who have attended Asilomar in the past, it really does not matter who the speakers are. The lovely setting and the extremely interesting attendees are what make our retreat truly special.

Now that you know about Asilomar in general and this year in particular, we hope that you will mark your calendars and join us for our special anniversary celebration, which will begin on Friday, February 17. If you attended Asilomar 2005 (or any other of our Asilomar conferences) and enjoyed yourself, please let your fellow Phi Betes know and encourage them to join us in 2006. (Guests are also welcome.) Just contact me ( ); as soon as I receive your check, I will send you the Asilomar housing form. (Again, Asilomar handles all room reservations.)


, Asilomar Chair

Useto get specific directions from your location:
Address or Intersection:
ZIP Code:
Teaching Excellence Call for Nominees

Scholarship and teaching go hand in hand. Nearly everyone who cares about the life of the mind can remember at least one teacher, and perhaps many more, who made a special contribution to his or her development. And experts are never quite sure of their expertise until they have tried teaching what they know to others. For these reasons, among others, PBK NCA vigorously encourages excellence in teaching. In pursuit of this principle, PBK NCA has for many years made annual Excellence in Teaching Awards. Each award consists of a handsome certificate and a $500 honorarium. Any member of PBK may make nominations. Eligible nominees are faculty members of the seven universities and colleges in Northern California that harbor PBK Chapters.

Please make a nomination for a 2006 Teaching Award. The application form is available here, is printed on page 2 of this newsletter, or it may be obtained by contacting me. Applications are due late fall, but please make them now while memory is fresh. To nominate a teacher, fill out the form including an account of why you think your nominee deserves recognition as an outstanding teacher. Mail the form to me.

Chairman, Teaching Excellence Committee


2005 Teaching Excellence Winners

The following outstanding professors were the PBK NCA 2005 Teaching Excellence Award winners:

Jonah Levy, Professor, Department of Political

Science, UC Berkeley

Armin Rosencranz, Professor, Department of

Human Biology, Stanford University

Andrew Workman, Professor, Department of

History, Mills College

2005 Scholarship Winners

At our Annual Meeting at the Berkeley Faculty Club, PBK NCA awarded nine $4000 scholarships to the outstanding graduate students listed below:

Catherine Becker Art History UC Berkeley

Ayelet Ben-Yishai Comparative Literature UC Berkeley

Michael Cohen Chemistry and Chemical Biology UC SF

Sarah Eyerly (Elizabeth Reed Awardee) Musicology and Criticism UC Davis

Laura Hubbard Anthropology UC Berkeley

Ray Nigatani, Jr. Pharmaceutical UC SF Science

Mary Elizabeth Paster Linguistics UC Berkeley

Matthew Schlesinger Ecology UC Davis

Laura Steele Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology UC Berkeley

Submitted on behalf of the scholarship committee,

Gerald T. Richards, Committee Member

2005 Membership Report

This has been a very busy year for your membership chair. The Board decided to insure that addresses in our database were correct and current. We did this by printing "RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED" on all mailings last year beginning with our membership mailing in November 2004. This is a request to the Post Office to check each address against its current list and return to us any which is incorrect. This resulted in 280 items returned with the notice "NOT DELIVERABLE AS ADDRESSED, UNABLE TO FORWARD." I removed these members from our current membership list and placed them in a special "bad address file." We will not continue to mail newsletters to these people, but will retain their information for future reference. If the Post Office had an address that differed from the one on our database, it returned the mailing to us with the current address for that person. Using this and the national organiz-ation’s latest list, I updated the addresses in our database with the new addresses so that in the future each of the members will receive our mailings. In all, I updated 245 addresses in our database. Hopefully, these people will now receive our mailings. We are sending out the Directory of members again this year. The Board voted to include in the Directory anyone who has paid any dues since the last Directory was issued in 2002. Thus even those who have NOT paid for 2005 will be included if they paid for any of the past three years. We felt this was fairer since it is easy to overlook payment occasionally and still be interested in being associated with Phi Beta Kappa, Northern California.

Respectfully submitted,
Letitia Sanders
Second Vice President - Membership


In 2004 The Phi Beta Kappa Society raised the dues we must pay for each of our members from $0.50 to $2.00. That prompted the Board to examine our dues structure and our income from dues. After considerable discussion and soul searching, the Board recommended to the membership that our basic dues be raised from $25.00 to $30.00 per year. The members in attendance at our annual business meeting in May 2005 ratified the Board’s recommendation. Consequently, the minimum dues for 2006 have been set at $30.00, which is reflected in the dues envelope included with this newsletter. You are also reminded that the dues are for one calendar year beginning January 1 and ending December 31. Hence, everyone’s membership expires December 31, 2005. Please, pay you 2006 dues promptly.

A Fact Sheet and Invitation to join or renew your Association Membership for 2006!

A common question about membership: "Didn’t I already join the association? I thought it was headquartered in Washington, D.C."? To clear up the confusion implicit in this question, here is a brief primer on the difference between the national PBK Society and the Northern California Association:

The Phi Beta Kappa Society (PBK ) in Washington, D.C.

Once you are initiated into Phi Beta Kappa—usually in your senior year in college—you become a lifetime member of The Phi Beta Kappa Society. The society sends out yearly solicitations for donations and sustaining memberships in order to maintain its services at the national level. It also publishes a newsletter called The Key Reporter. The national society’s WebPages at: www. are an excellent source of additional information about the structure of PBK .

Phi Beta Kappa, Northern California Association, Inc. (PBK NCA)

There are over 50 active PBK alumni associations across the nation that support the aims of the national society by promoting the value of education and awarding scholarships. Our association, PBK NCA, ranks among the top three in the nation--not only in the size of our membership--but in the number of social activities we sponsor, and in the amount of scholarship money that we distribute each year. Our primary goals are twofold:

  • Recognizing excellence in teaching by honoring professors who have been nominated by a PBK member. Three inspirational educators, one from Stanford, one from UC Berkeley, and one from Mills College were honored at our May 2005 Awards Dinner.
  • Helping outstanding graduate students by granting scholarships. We awarded $36,000 in scholarships at our May 2005 Awards Dinner to nine outstanding students.

A Board of hard-working, dedicated and talented volunteers runs PBK NCA. That means the only significant costs we need to cover are postage and printing of the newsletter, so we are able to put our members’ dues and donations directly into our scholarship and teaching excellence programs.

We also offer our members opportunities to get together socially, often for private tours of educational or cultural institutions. See pages 3 and 4 of this newsletter for examples of both our tour offerings and our wonderful Asilomar Conference. All of our events serve as social opportunities and fundraisers for our scholarship program.

Any Phi Beta Kappan who lives in Northern California—even if initiated at a university in another state—is welcome to join the Northern California Association. In fact, many of our most active members were initiated into PBK at a college outside of California, so we would be delighted to get to know you!

Please join PBK NCA in 2006 by going to our membership page.



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