An undergraduate honor society was founded at Lewis & Clark College on June 4, 1993. The mission of the Pamplin Society is to create new generations of leaders by singling out and bringing together teachers and students of the highest caliber in a lifelong association that begins with study at the College. In its programs and through the achievements of its members, the Society promotes attention to the challenges and rewards of leadership in a global society. It also underscores the responsibility of the College to the greater community. Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr., an exemplary alumnus of the College, initiated the endowment that sustains the Society during his five-year term as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. His hope is that the Society, which emulates the purpose and standards of the Rhodes Scholar program, will be a model for other American liberal arts colleges.
Membership is extended to seven students each year as they begin their second year at the College; it is the highest honor bestowed by the College on its students. Upon graduation from the College, Fellows maintain their membership for life. Four endowed professors are also members of the Society: Stephen Dow Beckham was inaugurated as the Pamplin Professor of History in the fall of 1993; Janis Lochner became the Pamplin Professor of Science in the fall of 1995; Curtis Johnson was named the Pamplin Professor of Government in 1998; and Arthur O’Sullivan was inaugurated as the Pamplin Professor of Economics in March 2002. Following the retirement of Professor Beckham in 2011, David Campion assumed the position as Pamplin Professor of History. As teaching scholars distinguished by sustained achievements in their disciplines and committed service to both academic and broader communities, they exercise leadership and use their talents to the fullest.
The students who are named Pamplin Fellows must meet and maintain the following standards; (1) superior intellectual promise and performance in a challenging academic program, with a minimum cumulative 3.7 grade point average at the College; (2) demonstrated dedication to the welfare of one’s community and to the use of one’s individual talents in capacities of leadership on behalf of a free and democratic society; (3) commitment to physical fitness; and (4) unimpeachable integrity. All student Fellows receive an academic support stipend which partially subsidizes the cost of books and thesis research. Financial aid is extended from the Society’s endowment to those Fellows who demonstrate need as determined by federal need-analysis guidelines to guarantee they will not have to use loan programs to meet the cost of tuition and fees.
The student Fellows determine, plan, and implement a number of programs that the Society sponsors to enhance the co-curricular educational environment of the College. An annual Distinguished Visiting Scholar Program engages the participation of the greater academic and civic community. Alumni Fellows are expected to advance the purposes of the Society by engaging with the membership, contributing perspectives and expertise in the areas of their academic, professional, and civic life and sharing their leadership experiences in service to society.