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Association Chartered June 14, 1946

March 2024

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All memberships (except Auto Renewals) expired on December 31.

If you haven’t yet joined, or renewed your membership, it is time to contribute now.

From the President

Dear fellow Phi Betes,

Nearly one hundred enthusiastic Phi Beta Kappa members gathered at the PBK NCA conference held at Asilomar from February 16th to 18th. It was an exceptional event featuring world-class speakers who shared their expertise on a diverse array of topics - see the end of this letter (page 4). If you haven't had the opportunity to attend this remarkable annual gathering, or if it's been some time since your last attendance, I encourage you to join us next year. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who participated in this year's conference, including the esteemed speakers, dedicated volunteers, and especially Deirdre Frontczak and Mike Sitzer, whose efforts were instrumental in making the event a success. 

The nominations for this year's Teaching Excellence Awards have concluded, and we are excited to learn about the outstanding educators. We are seeking two additional Phi Betes to join the Teaching Excellence Award committee for 2024. The time commitment required is minimal, and I will personally guide you through the process. Serving on this committee is an honor and a delightful experience. Please reach out to me directly at if you can help. Your assistance is greatly appreciated!

I am pleased to announce the return of our Annual Awards Luncheon, which had been on hiatus due to COVID-19. This cherished tradition allows us to celebrate our student scholarship recipients and Teaching Excellence Awardees. Further details about this event are in this newsletter (page 2). I hope to see you there! 

We at Phi Beta Kappa actively advocate for education in the liberal arts and sciences, which is essential for nurturing well-rounded individuals equipped with critical thinking. We believe investing time, money, care, and energy in the liberal arts and sciences is an investment in democracy, a thriving US economy, and a healthy planet Earth. If you haven’t done so, please renew your membership (Click here), invest in our students and educators as they strive for excellence, consider volunteering for a service position, and join us for an event. 

As we navigate the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, I extend my sincerest well wishes to all of you. Whether immersed in academia, managing outside responsibilities, or applying for graduate programs or teaching positions, I hope you find strength and fulfillment in your endeavors.


Melissa X. Stevens, President

Upcoming Events

Currently, the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association suggests masking for indoor activities.

Note: The price of the events is for current NCA members; elapsed- or non-members (except guests of members) will pay a surcharge. Full event information, and means of credit card payment, are available on our website  If you want to register for an event but don’t have Internet access, please contact O’Neil Dillon, cell 510-207-8761.

If you won’t be able to make an event, contact O’Neil Dillon at ASAP, or if it is the day of the event call him at 510-207-8761 as there may be others on the waiting list who will then be able to take your place.

No-shows do NOT receive a ref­­­und! Cancellations probably do.

Sign up for events at

It’s been a while. Have you missed it?

Can’t wait for it to happen again?

Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon,

Sunday, April 28, 2024, 12 noon to 4 p.m.

You are in luck. After a four-year hiatus, we are planning to resume our Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon this year on Sunday, April 28, at the Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley. This is your opportunity to meet the outstanding scholars and professors whom we have selected to receive our awards, as well as to mingle with long-missed fellow Phi Betes.  Just when you might have lost faith in the future of liberal arts education, seeing and hearing these awardees will act as an inspiring restorative.

Where: Bancroft Hotel, 2680 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

When: Sunday, April 28, 2024, noon to 4 p.m.

How much: $70 (includes salad, main course, dessert; wine; tax and tip).

An anonymous donor is contributing $10 to the scholarship fund for each member attending! 

Registration by credit card at is preferred, or clip the coupon to send a check.

Questions? Contact Jean James at or (415) 328-7978

Bringing Back Nature - the Skyline Gardens Project. Sat., May 25th

Skyline Gardens is a 1.5-mile trail running south from the steam trains at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley to Sibley Volcanic Regional Reserve.  It is on EBMUD watershed land. Skyline Gardens is an East Bay Botanic hotspot for native plants, with more than 280 species. 

The reason it is called a “Garden" is because since 2016 there has been a major volunteer-led restoration program that is removing a massive invasive non-native plant population.  With this help, native plants, animals, and insects have thrived.

This event will be led by two docents and will be not only a Spring wildflower walk, but an education on restoring nature.

Date: Saturday May 25th, Time: 10:30 a.m.

Cost: Members $15, Non-members $25 (for scholarships),

Maximum group size 20

Reservations at, or contact O'Neil Dillon at or 510-207-8761

Dogpatch Art Walk, March 23rd, 2024, 11 AM

This exclusive, guided tour of contemporary art will begin at the Minnesota Street Project, a three-warehouse complex dedicated to educating the public through exhibitions, galleries and programs. Led by collector, traveler and art historian Rhoda Becker; participants will have access to galleries, meet owners and collectors, speak with artists and get an insider’s perspective on this vibrant contemporary art community. Our guide will have previewed the most current exhibits and created a varied itinerary showcasing current artists and works. They recommend allowing three hours to view all galleries and visit with the creatives.

The Minnesota Street Project is in Dogpatch which is the new epicenter of innovation, craft and artistic expression. The Museum of Craft and Design, the California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Center for the Book, entrepreneurial ventures, and various art spaces make this an internationally recognized art destination. After the tour, people may want to explore this vibrant area.

Nearby cafes are available for lunch and refreshments, or bring your own and eat in the nearby park

When: March 23rd, 2024
Where: The Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St. San Francisco
Time: 11 AM, Length: 3 hours
Group limit: 20
Cost: members $40 ($15 for scholarships), Non-members $50 ($25 for scholarships)
Parking: Ample street parking
PBKNCA Rep: Tina Hittenberger Sign up at

38th Annual Asilomar Conference Feb 14–17, 2025

Register now for 2025 at

Recap of the fantastic 37th Annual Asilomar Conference Feb 16–19, 2024. Details here

Friday night:  Brant Robertson, Ph.D., PBK. Astrophysics, U.C. Santa Cruz

Exploring the Most Distant Reaches of the Universe with James Webb Space Telescope

Saturday Morning: Susan Shillinglaw, Ph.D., San Jose State University

John Steinbeck and the Land, People and History of California

Saturday Afternoon: William J. Clancey, PBK, Ph.D., Computer Science,  Stanford / I.H.M.C.

Working on Mars: Voyages of Scientific Discovery with the Mars Exploration  Rovers

Saturday night: Jennifer King, Ph.D., PBK, Stanford

After AI – Will Privacy Exist? What must we do to preserve it?


Sunday morning: Michael Dylan Foster, Ph.D., PBK, U.C. Davis: East Asian Languages and Cultures

The Persistence of the Kappa and Other Creatures of Japanese Folklore

Sunday afternoon: Robert Shanklin, Ph.D., PBK, Santa Clara University, Philosophy

Toward a 21st Century Global Pragmatism 

Sunday night: Lucille Lang Day, Ph.D., PBK, U.C. Berkeley, Poet, Writer, and Science Educator

Poetry as Microscope and Time Machine

Monday morning: Katherine Magoulick, Ph.D. Candidate, PBK, UC Berkeley Integrative Biology

Studying Migrations in the Fossil Record

PBKNCA Book Club

There is an ongoing virtual book club open to interested members.

Contact Program VP O'Neil Dillon at

 ΦBK Board, July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024
 Melissa X. Stevens, President and Teaching Excellence Chair
  Rocklin, (530) 933-1550,

O’Neil Dillon, First Vice President – Programs

     Berkeley, cell (510) 207-8761,
 Joanne Sandstrom, Second Vice President – Scholarships
    Oakland, (510) 339-1352,
 Patricia Kenber, Third Vice President – Membership
    Danville, (925) 838-2296,
 Duncan Missimer, Treasurer
    Mountain View, (408) 368-0835,
 Susan Jenkins, Corresponding and Recording Secretary
     San Jose, (408) 532-6550,
 Deirdre Frontczak, Asilomar Chair
    Santa Rosa, (707) 546-4238,
 Amanda Sanyal, Chapter Liaison
    Campbell, (650) 520-5419,
 Ray Hendess, Communications Chair
    Petaluma, (707) 364-7615,

The editor thanks Dr. Larry Lerner for proofing this newsletter

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