Just about now in a “normal” year you would be receiving word about the Lowcountry Phi Beta Kappa Association’s annual awards banquet. Indeed, we were especially excited about that banquet this year because we had made two changes in the awards program.
One change is to honor outstanding students already majoring in the liberal arts and sciences—the areas Phi Beta Kappa strongly supports—who were about to begin their final semester or year in residence at one of the three local universities (College of Charleston, The Citadel, and Charleston Southern). The other is to increase the scholarship award from $2000 to $2500.
Then came COVID-19, disrupting life as we knew it and having consequences we cannot yet imagine. For the Lowcountry Phi Beta Kappa Association, the pandemic, with its restrictions on in-person gatherings and the required closure of restaurants, means we must forego our annual spring scholarship awards banquet this year.
Some 30 members and friends gathered on 10 February 2020 at the Charleston Library Society. Anne Cleveland, director, and Doerte McManus, development director, offered an informative presentation on the massive renovations the Library Society is completing as well as several new program initiatives being undertaken. Attendees were given a tour of the vault, where they examined some of the prized items in the collection, including one of the 4 extant copies of the 1669 Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, Another highlight was visiting the new Igoe Shakespeare Library, which houses one of the finest collections of Elizabethan materials in the region.
Over 80 jolly revelers gathered at the Charleston Library Society for the annual Lowcountry Phi Beta Kappa Association buffet dinner and holiday party. Seasonal music was provided by pianist Tom Bailey and a choir of spirited wassailers. Alums from the Ivy League schools joined with PBK members and friends to celebrate the holidays.
Twenty persons attended the fall program at the home of association vice-president Tom Campbell and his wife, Dorothy Knuppel. Our special guest for the day was Maura Hogan, recently named the first arts critic for the Charleston Post and Courier. In her informal remarks, Ms Hogan noted the stunning surge in arts activity in the Lowcountry over the last two decades, adding that having an arts critic (as well as a separate arts reporter) not only demonstrated the increasing importance of the arts but also gave the arts a voice, an advocate.
Joining Ms Hogan was her husband Scott Watson, who serves as the director of the cultural affairs office for the city of Charleston. Both discussed some of the challenges the arts face in South Carolina, given the lack of public funding. Before and after Ms Hogan’s presentation, members and guests enjoyed a festive reception.