Peyton Nalle Rhodes Prize
On December 5, 1949, the 173rd anniversary of the founding of Phi Beta Kappa, the Gamma Chapter of Tennessee was established on the campus of Rhodes College (then Southwestern at Memphis). Instrumental in securing our charter was Dr. Peyton Nalle Rhodes, longtime Professor of Physics (1926-1949) and later President of the College (1949-1965). A highly esteemed teacher and scholar, Dr. Rhodes understood the radically transformative nature of the liberal arts, and he persuaded others of its value. To cite his own words from his inaugural address, he believed that a college ought to "do a few things excellently rather than to scatter efforts over many fields, with mediocrity as the inevitable result." His commitment to the values embraced by the Phi Beta Kappa Society stands as an inspiration to excellence for the entire Rhodes community.
In honor of Dr. Rhodes, our chapter awards the college′s highest academic honor each year at commencement. The Peyton Nalle Rhodes Phi Beta Kappa Prize is given to the graduating senior who has best demonstrated an exceptional combination of scholarship, creativity, achievement, and a commitment to the liberal arts. In 2014, the Rhodes Prize was endowed by donations from dozens of generous members nationwide.