Golden Key International Honour Society

Golden Key International Honour Society

Infobox Organization
name = Golden Key International Honour Society

size = 160px
caption = Golden Key society key
motto = To enable members to realize their potential
formation = November 29, 1977
type = Honor society
headquarters = Atlanta, Georgia
location = United States
membership = Over 1.7 million [cite web |url= |title=Golden Key International Honour Society website FAQ]
leader_title = CEO
leader_name = Alexander D. Perwich, II
website =

The Golden Key International Honour Society is an Atlanta, Georgia-based non-profit organization founded in 1977 to recognise academic achievement among college and university students in all disciplines. The Society currently has nearly 350 chapters at colleges and universities in seven countries: Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

The society offers more than $400,000 annually in scholarships and awards to its members, along with a variety of other opportunities, both academic and career.cite web | title=Scholarships & Awards |url= |date=2008 |publisher=Golden Key International Honour Society | accessdate=2008-05-27]


Golden Key is governed by an international Board of Directors [ [ Board of Directors] Golden Key International Honour Society] Its volunteer advisory structure includes the International Leadership Council, the Council of Advisors [ [ Council of Advisors] Golden Key International Honour Society] and the Council of Student Members [ [ Council of Student Members] Golden Key International Honour Society] The current chief executive officier (CEO) is Alexander D. Perwich, II. [ [ Alex Perwich bio] ]

Community Service

One of Golden Key's core values is community service. Golden Key chapters are involved in a wide variety of volunteer projects in their local communities such as Habitat for Humanity, and Terry Fox Run.Fact|date=June 2007


There have been some claims that the society is little more than an elaborate scam. Articles in UBC's student newspaper The Ubyssey have examined the society's finances and scholarship practices. In 2003, the Ubyssey questioned the society's spending practices based on information obtained from its submission to the Internal Revenue Service. Although the society claims to "return 75 per cent of each membership as benefits and services to local chapters and their members [while the] other 25 per cent is used for administrative expenses," the Ubyssey found that in 1997 salaries, management and general expenses totalled $2,997,827, almost 47 per cent of the $6,430,054 in total expenditures. A second article found that Golden Key spent just $289,461 (US dollars) on scholarships, less than 5 per cent of their total expenditures for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997

Additionally, The Ubyssey discovered that the organization had refused to provide the Atlanta Better Business Bureau with its financial statements, according to Valerie Maclean, general manager of the Vancouver Better Business Bureau. There has also been concern over Golden Key's allegedly "lavish practices," including conferences in exotic locations, and high salaries paid to directors, such as $247,600 (US) in compensation paid to director James Lewis in 1997.Fact|date=February 2007

Another complaint is that the society refuses to subsidize the membership fee for low-income students. According to a 2005 article by Rob Taylor, writing in SFU student newspaper The Peak,

If the GKS is not a scam, it is still an organisation riddled with a number of problems. Most fundamentally, the GKS refuses to subsidise students unable to pay the $70 membership fee, [citing] the difficulties inherent in trying to prove who is "in need" and who is not. Regardless of their reasoning, this condition means that the student with the highest GPA in the university could be denied access to an Honour Society whose goal is to recognize "academic achievers," while a student with a B+ average in a weak program (who [can afford the fee] ), would be allowed entry. This policy also brings into question the broader intentions of the organisation: Are they trying to aid "academic achievers," or are they trying to make a profit? [ [ Is the Gold Key Society screwing you over] ]

Supporters of Golden Key argue that most other United States Honor Societies also charge a membership fee, citing Phi Beta Kappa as an example. Supporters would further argue that a student of B+ average who can afford the fee cannot be invited to join in the first place as the GPA-based invitation is still set at the high standard for all students. In effect, a 'rich' student cannot take a 'poor' student's place because of the constant high GPA requirement. The result is that the Honour Society's membership is made up of just as high GPA achieving students, but just fewer of them.

Another point of contention lies in the method of ascertaining eligibility. The top 15% is derived from the aggregated GPA of students, and membership is for life. This means, a student in the first year of undergraduate study who performs well, but drops out in the second year of study will get in, yet a student who does not perform well in first year, and yet performs well in the second, third and fourth year of study, could not meet the threshold. This has particular relevance in universities with a three year degree structure.

Honorary members

Well-known honorary members of Golden Key include: [cite web | title = What is Golden Key? | publisher = Golden Key International Honour Society | date = 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-26]
*Roberta Bondar, astronaut
*Bill Cosby, entertainer
*Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown
*Ronald Reagan, former US president
*Ian Thorpe, Olympic gold medalist
*Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate and author
*Doron Ofir, celebrity casting director


External links

* [ Golden Key International Honour Society official website]
* [ Association of College Honor Societies website]

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