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Phi Beta Kappa Award Is Just Ducky

May 17, 2007

Fran Simon

As 52 Tulane students are inducted into the university's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa today (May 17), the academic honor society will honor the memory of Karlem "Ducky" Riess, a longtime professor at Tulane and booster of the organization.


In today's (May 17) ceremony, the Tulane chapter of Phi Beta Kappa presents an award honoring the late Karlem "Ducky" Riess, (at right in top photo), with Tulane President Scott Cowen at the 2002 commencement ceremony, where Riess received the President's Medal. Phi Beta Kappa members wear the coveted key (lower photo).

The inaugural Karlem Riess Memorial Award will be given to an outstanding inductee into the Tulane Phi Beta Kappa chapter - Alpha of Louisiana. The honor includes a $500 cash award and is given to a student who has demonstrated a breadth of experience in the liberal arts and sciences.

The award is named for Riess, who served as a member and officer of the Alpha of Louisiana chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for more than half a century.

After receiving his undergraduate and master's degrees from Tulane, Riess earned a doctorate from Brown University and then returned to Tulane as a faculty member in physics. He passed away in 2005.

The recipient of the first Karlem Riess Memorial Award will be Robert Elliott Tillman, a graduating senior majoring in psychology and philosophy. A student in the Honors Program at Tulane, Tillman spent his junior year abroad at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

051707_ducky2_1"Phi Beta Kappa is one of the highest honors for a graduating student in liberal arts and sciences," says Adam Krob, who has served as president of the Tulane chapter for eight years.

"Our yearly induction of a new class into the Alpha of Louisiana chapter represents two important affirmations. First, it affirms and recognizes the outstanding scholarly achievements of our inductees. Second, it affirms Tulane University's continued commitment to the liberal arts and sciences."

Krob, director of end-user support in Tulane's office of academic technology and support services, calls Tillman a "stellar" model of the Phi Beta Kappa ideal. "This is a really strong group of students," Krob says.

"I'm very impressed with them overall." This year's class of inductees represents the top 6 percent of the graduating class at Tulane.

Krob says he is looking forward to next year, when the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Tulane inducts its 100th class. Membership in the society is for life.

All members of Phi Beta Kappa are invited to this year's induction ceremony at 4 p.m. in the ballroom of the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000