Scarlet Key

The Tradition

BU’s Scarlet Key was founded in 1938 as an activities honor society with new members voted in (or “tapped”) annually by existing ones. (Initially, members literally tapped their future inductees on the shoulder to hand them their induction ceremony invitation.) The formal initiation ceremonies took place each spring and fall. A semiformal dance at the University President’s home was also an annual tradition. Before the early 1970s, Scarlet Key members often served as hosts for University events, much like President’s Hosts today.

Although no new Scarlet Key members were inducted from 1972 to 1978, in 1979 the General Alumni Association (now the Boston University Alumni Association) revived Scarlet Key as an honor awarded to outstanding juniors and seniors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in student activities and organizations; service to their school or college; and scholarship.

Today, BU faculty and staff nominate potential inductees annually in the spring for fall tapping. The Class of 2014 includes 84 candidates for induction on May 15, 2014.

As Scarlet Key continues to expand, many of its more than 1,500 alumni have assumed leadership positions at the University. Ten members of the current Board of Trustees are Scarlet Key members, as are three members of the Executive Committee of the BU Alumni Association and numerous faculty members, including the Dean of the School of Management.

Honorary recipients include Presidents emeriti John Silber and Aram Chobanian. Most recently, President Robert Brown, former Executive Vice President Joseph Mercurio, and former men’s hockey coach Jack Parker were tapped to become members of the Honorary Scarlet Key Society.

Stay In Touch

Stay up-to-date on exciting developments at BU when you give Alumni Relations your current contact information and let them know you’re a Scarlet Key member. You’ll help us build a better Scarlet Key alumni database, too.

If you have any questions about the Scarlet Key Honor Society, please feel free to contact Susan Richardson in Alumni Relations (617-353-2360).

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by our office:
Development & Alumni Relations
1 Silber Way/595 Commonwealth Avenue
Suite 700
Boston, MA 02215