Purpose, Background, and Activities

The Phi Tau Phi Scholastic Honor Society was organized in China in 1921 at the suggestion and the subsequent vigorous advocacy of Joseph H. Ehlers, then a Professor of Structural Engineering at the National Pei-yang University in China. He died in 1991, at the age of 99 in Washington, DC and left a donation of about $100,000 to Phi Tau Phi for the promotion of what he deeply convicted. The first National Executive Council consisted of the Minister of Education and the Presidents of six leading universities in addition to Professor Ehlers who acted as the Secretary.

Phi Tau Phi stands for Philosophy, Technology, and Physiology that collectively represent all disciplines of learning with logic and spirit of performance. The purposes of the Society were, and still are: (1) to encourage high scholarship, (2) to stimulate research, and (3) to form bonds of intellectual and professional fellowship. Membership in Phi Tau Phi implies a degree of recognition. It affords the comradeship of people with similar ideals and provides opportunities for self-improvement and public service.

The establishment of Phi Tau Phi in the U.S. was due mainly to the dedication of Dr. Shu-tien Li (Phi Tau Phi, 1922) who was the acting Chairman of the National Executive Council. In 1964 the Society was separately organized in the United States as three regional chapters; namely, the East America Chapter, the Mid-America Chapter, and the West America Chapter. Dr. T. C. Tsao (Phi Tau Phi, 1924) started the East America Chapter and became the First President and has been an active member and advisor since 1964. Dr. David K. Cheng (Phi Tau Phi, 1938) was elected as the First National President. At the same time, the Taiwan Chapter was also formed. In 1989, the Toronto Sub-Chapter of the East America Chapter was formed and Professor Julia Ching was elected as the First President. The Phi Tau Phi members elected in the Taiwan Chapter and the Toronto Sub-Chapter are accepted in the U.S., and vice versa. Hopefully, Phi Tau Phi activities will be revitalized in China in the near future.

The regional chapters have held annual or semiannual meetings and have gradually expanded their respective memberships by inducting new members who have attained notable professional distinction and who are genuinely interested in the Society's aims. Since 1972 the Society has been formally incorporated in the State of New York under Section 402 of the not-for-profit Corporation Law of the United States. The Society was approved by the Internal Revenue Service as exempt from federal income tax.

The activities of the Society, besides social gatherings, initiation of new members and issuance of membership directories, include sponsorship of seminars, awarding of scholarships, and publication of a newsletter that serves as a communication medium as well as a forum for exchanging ideas. Other activities in consonance with the purposes of the Society are also planned.

(From the former website of Phi Tau Phi, the East Chapter)

History of Phi Tau Phi (in English)